It is not okay for a small group of people to change forever the soul of Chatham College for Women

The following is a guest blog from Dr. Nancy Chubb, Chatham College alumna, Class of 1973.  Nancy gave an impassioned plea to save Chatham at one of the Pittsburgh town halls, and she’s has gladly agreed to follow that up with a guest blog, providing more of her personal reasons for supporting the Save Chatham movement.

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My name is Nancy Chubb, proud member of the class of 1973. Since I left Chatham I taught for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, earned my MBA in Finance from Pitt, worked at Mellon Bank as a financial analyst and credit policy officer, returned to Pitt and earned my PhD in Counseling Psychology and have had a psychology practice in downtown Pittsburgh and Shadyside for 20 years which includes executive team building and executive coaching. I have been a Board member and President of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.

I have followed Chatham’s changes and expansions over the years, read my Recorder, and attended reunions and events. The first I heard of trouble in paradise was the February letter. Since then, I attended both Pittsburgh Town Halls, speaking at the second one, joined the Save Chatham Facebook page, read the postings on Chatham.edu’s feedback page, attended the informal meeting with the Alumnae Board of Trustees, and conversed with classmates via emails and a separate Facebook page.

This is what I have learned so far:

  • There is no interest by Dr. Barazzone in finding a way to not go co-educational.
  • Dr. Barazzone has established a Board of Trustee’s over 22 years that does not challenge her thinking and decisions. It is their job to oversee her performance and they have only affirmed her decisions without deeper thought of consequences.
  • Dr. Barazzone has not been able to keep good faculty, directors, and managers to run the programs because she does not share power and does not accept ideas different from her own. Then she blames the all-women’s structure for recruitment problems instead of the high turnover rate of people implementing programs.
  • Dr. Barazzone has neglected Chatham College for Women while investing time and energy and money in graduate programs and Eden Hall Farm.
  • Dr. Barazzone does not truly appreciate the special experience of a women’s only undergraduate education. If she did, she would have been talking with alumnae about the “problems” a long time ago so that their expertise could be engaged.
  • The plans to go co-educational seem to be many months, probably years, in the making. The goal appears to be to create vertical programs that join undergraduate to graduate programs and to have all of these be co-educational. Chatham College for Women does not fit this design so it has to go.
  • Ideas suggested to save Chatham College for Women have largely been unwelcomed and this has been noticed. Alumnae consistently voice the opinion that this is a “done deal”.
  • The Board of Trustees somehow ended up with the four Officers being ALL men… at a Women’s College. Explain to me how they “get the value of a women’s college”? That feels wrong in so many ways. And this is the inner circle that supports Dr. Barazzone in her decisions.
  • The Board of Trustees has not done their due diligence around the hostile work environment Dr. Barazzone has created for the employees of the University who may not always agree with her. For those who are employed at Chatham, there is a culture of silence that is maintained for safety.
  • The Board of Trustees has allowed Dr. Barazzone to gradually control all publications of the University, including student publications.
  • The Board of Trustees has allowed the quality of the faculty and academics at Chatham College for Women to suffer while resources were provided to Eastside and Eden Hall.
  • Chatham does not belong to Dr. Barazzone and her small executive team. It belongs to all of us. It is not okay for a small group of people to change forever the soul of Chatham College for Women.

This is what I propose to the Board of Trustees:

  • Ending 145 years of tradition and history in a matter of months is crazy. You must know this. Defer the vote for 3 years.
  • Spend the next year putting together an Adminstration and a Board who BELIEVE in the value of a women’s only college and let them see what they can do.
  • It is time for Dr. Barazzone to retire. She no longer has the passion she needs to lead Chatham College for Women. Even the President of the United States needs to move on after 8 years.
  • In 2017 let’s all look at where we stand. If people who “get” Chatham and are not under Dr. Barazzone’s control tell us that this is the only option left, we are much more likely to accept and support change moving ahead.
  • Chatham College for Women needs you now to not give up on her. Vote “no” on co-education.
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2 responses to “It is not okay for a small group of people to change forever the soul of Chatham College for Women”

  1. sandykmiquon says :

    Very well considered and said, Nancy!
    Sandy Kuritzky, another caring and thinking member of ’73

  2. Tricia Chicka says :

    I’m making available here one of the documents we at Save Chatham found, I think it’s very telling on how we got to where we are now, that being, EB’s Trustees not questioning her critically: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4emvJ51bfAceGlieWlLZzVWVHM/edit?usp=sharing
    This article is called “Presidential Essays: Success Stories: Strategies that Make a Difference at Thirteen Independent Colleges and Universities” published in March 2000. Note on page 21 of the document is where Esther Barazzone talks about her success with Chatham College.
    She cites the reason she was brought on board, with the issues occurring in the 80′-90′s.
    She then goes on to cite 7 key actions that had to happen to make the changes successful to preserving CCW, they were:
    1. Creating a clear sense of direction, one that respected tradition and demanded quality while insisting on change
    2. Assembling a leadership team committed to a shared vision
    3. Telling the truth to everyone about the finances and plans for the future
    4. Engaging in strategic investment in the midst of austerity
    5. Creating structures that emphasized accountability and effectiveness
    6. Celebrating progress and people
    7. Maintaining a steady view to the future while working to stabilize the present
    Seems reasonable. However, take a closer look at #5:
    “For example, the board revised its bylaws to make clearer the roles of the board, the president, and the faculty. While becoming more assertive about its authority relative to institutional policy, the board nonetheless resisted the urge to manage the institution and instead strengthened presidential responsibility in that arena.”
    Maybe this is a stretch, but maybe the “effectiveness” of allowing the president more room to run things inadvertently began to overshadow the “accountability” part? Which is fine as long as your president is a “benevolent leader”. What happens when she suddenly (or even subtly) changes course?
    I still pose the question: where did the 1990′s Esther go?

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