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Cue points: 

The Future of Marlboro College 11/23/19

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  • 0:00     Adrian Segar – moderator for the 1st half of the meeting – initiates the conversation
  • 3:45     Determining the make-up of the audience by constituency
  • 6:21     Reviewing format of meeting
  • 7:18     One-on-one conversations between audience members – not intelligible to camera
  • 15:40    Joe Mazur, former math professor at the college: why only 2 options presented in both cases – either U of B and closing the college or Emerson and closing the college? He presents a potential alternative approach including an arts center on the campus.
  • 24:20    Jean Boardman, proprietor of the Whetstone Inn in town: informs people of the 99 year lease held by the music festival; hoping property can be separated from faculty/student deal; questions about students' deal at Emerson.
  • 27:00    David Eichelberger, current non-tenured ceramics teacher at the college: support for Joe's idea, feels it's premature to discuss options when so many questions about deal; hopes to be on working group
  • 30:05    T. Wilson, faculty member at the college for 47 years: concern about the “abominable” process used in creating deals regarding the future of the college, done in secret, not in the Marlboro College spirit, leadership of the college has to change
  • 33:10    Sunny Tappen, long time receptionist at the college: current admin excluded people, staff was discouraged from participating, other criticisms of admin, 128 students when she attended the college and survived that crisis
  • 35:00    Nelly Sargsyan, current tenured faculty at the college: concerned about “us “and “they”, pointed out that trusted faculty were involved in decision making, she trusted the task force 100%, how many re-imaginings have we had over time? Demographics have changed since previous crises which were acknowledged,
  • 40:05    T. Wilson again: Not thinking of faculty as “they”; Kevin Quigley had been negotiating with Emerson for 2 years, he took keeping the campus open off the table before he brought it to the task force, he presented it as an almost done deal.
  • 42:20     Nelly Sargsyan again: pointing out that documents were shared that showed numbers indicating that things were not viable regardless of cutting faculty or other actions
  • 43:20    Sunny Tappen again: Will Wooten's letter in the Reformer and Commons which raised questions about student guarantees beyond the first year in the Emerson deal. Same for faculty. A lot of questions not looked into.
  • 44:56    Robin MacArthur, Marlboro resident: first, love to Nelly for courage to speak; despite her sense of affiliation with the college, it's not her place to decide what to do with it, it's not up to us, she wants to focus on the land and campus, how we can create something new and beautiful that honors Marlboro's legacy.
  • 46:30    Laurie Panther, alum, parent of current student: concerns about daughter; she feelsthat unlike a steel town when the plant closes and the town dies, we're still vibrant; regarding Robin's ideas, to Laurie, the train has left the station regarding her daughter; decision is going to rest with the working group; it's not a done deal until June, if a deal can be put together by then, they would be happy not to give campus to Emerson,
  • 50:05    Joe Mazur again: his question is the wholesale of the campus, why is it everything must go? You've got to leave something for the development of the campus – without     that you've got nothing. Campus costs almost $1.5 to $2 millions per year to maintain. To build anything on that campus, you're going to have to raise a lot of money. Why not get money from whatever the deal is? A little bit. It seems like an all or nothing deal.
  • 52:00    Adrian Segar again: The working group can be ignored if Emerson so chooses. If they don't like their report, they don't have to pay any attention to it.
  • 52:15    Laurie Panther again: That's true after June, We have until June to put together a deal to come up with money to buy the campus (this timeline is contested later in the meeting).
  • 52:22    Adrian Segar: It's not the working group that has any control, Emerson decides.
  • 52:37    Laurie Panther: Until June, the college would like to sell it to somebody else.
  • 53:02    Adrian: The agreement does not say that. Emerson could say yes, they could say no. Emerson gets to decide, not the working group.
  • 53:33    Tom Toleno, current and longstanding faculty member: In the agreement, Emerson made it clear it was not interested in the campus. So the campus would not be part of the merger, but the value of the campus would be part of the deal. The memorandum of understanding will probably be done in February, so pressure is immense on all the working groups, the whole process has been option A and option B with no discussion of other possible choices. Kevin says the Trustees will make the decisions, period.
  • 55:40    Adrian reads from a private e-mail from Kevin Quigley to David Williamson (alum and resident of Marlboro). Working group will most likely set up an RFP to consider offers to purchase the campus and all proposals for use of the campus. Respondents would be required to be in the form of a legal agreement, with earnest money deposit, a mortgage commitment letter plus proof that bidder could cover the maintenance costs. Until June the process would be conducted by the working group who would make recommendations to the strategic options task force and the board, coordinating with Emerson. After July 1st, Emerson will direct the process.
  • 56:50    Dan MacArthur, resident and longstanding school board member: There are options between now and the deadline. School Board is considering the option of moving some or all of Marlboro Elementary to the campus. School Board has hired an architect to look at the facility, putting together a budget for that and how much it would cost to be part of a consortium to purchase the campus.
  • 59:05    David Williamson, Class of '98 and Marlboro resident: was on faculty of Southern Vermont College last spring when it closed, almost all the faculty there have found employment, so the situation is not so dire for faculty. The idea that the school is going to get shot down is a message being sent fervently by the leadership of the college, they have $35 million, they could sustain the college for over 10 years - for the record I am a professor of management. The need to close down immediately is false. He then talks about demographics.
  • 1:01:50    Aaron Palarsich (sp?), student at the college: college and community are one of a kind in the whole world. When interviewing, he was told that there was a community government, student had an equal voice in decision making, students could sit in on committees, everybody had an equal voice in decisions. The way this has happened feels like we have no power. Presented as a done deal, no discussion whatever.
  • 1:07:10    Amy Tudor, class of '98 and Marlboro resident: Understand there's no money, hard to run a business with no money, but a lot of people are in town because money isn't the main driver in our lives. The grant from the college allowed her to get an education, she thinks of the young people who won't have an opportunity like she had.
  • 1:08:52    Lucy Gratwick, worked at the college and Marlboro resident, is the moderator for the 2nd half of the meeting
  • 1:09:50    Adrian Segar, former faculty member and Marlboro resident: Angry about what has happened. I'm a process person and a very different process has been used at the college from what transpired in this case, 23 people have decided to close down the school and transfer the entire endowment and the campus to Emerson. And everyone else – alumni, residents, most people who work and study at the college – was completely shut out. Examples of Hampshire College and Sweetbriar: two colleges that resisted the decisions made by their leadership to close the colleges. At Hampshire, the president was ousted and the board chair resigned. Marlboro College instead found a partner in secret, who accepted a giveaway of the entire endowment and campus in return for providing 20 odd faculty jobs and some number of students. Lee Pelton (President of Emerson) looked gleeful. At Sweetbriar, alumni, students and faculty united to save the college. Eventually the entire board and president were replaced. Shows what can be done if the board announces the intention before making an ironclad arrangement. Many resources available – thousands of alumni who could be interested in saving the school. Quotes Pieter van Loon (alum and Marlboro resident) : “I feel like the solution the powers that be came up with is a sterling example of a flawed process catalyzed with a lack of creative problem solving.” Plan has been devised to pit different constituencies against each other. He would like to bring as much pressure to bear on the board as possible. Wants the town to formally register its outrage with the plan and the president fired and have the board explore other options.
  • 1:17:58    Anne Gengarelly, Marlboro resident and poetry teacher, taught at Hampshire College and daughter graduated from Hampshire: she's concerned about voice, that's what her work is about. The daughter, as an alumnus, gets an e-mail every week about the situation
  • 1:19:08    Jean Boardman again: talks about the circumstances of Poultney Vermont, where Green Mountain College closed recently, have been hit hard. Very much likes Dan MacArthur's idea of the elementary school moving to the campus.
  • 1:21:58    T. Wilson again: A lot of very distinguished alumni – they have not been engaged. Some alums who are in academia contacted the college development people and admissions and said we can help, they were never informed that the Emerson deal was in the works. We need to pull everyone together.
  • 1:23:48     Jenny Ramstetter, alum and Marlboro faculty member: complexity of the situation. Need all the information about what has been explored, etc. Other options: Emerson has remote campuses, why not here? United World Colleges another possibility. Need to demand the information to help us make the best decisions.
  • 1:28:30    Jonathan Morse, Marlboro resident: Share Adrian's anger. Enormous energy in the room. It feels to me (and I don't know anything about this) that Kevin was brought in to close the college. That's how it feels. Describes successful community effort to shut down Home Depot in Brattleboro
  • 1:31:10    Tim Segar, recently retired Marlboro faculty: hope we can find ways to proceed without acrimony among the various constituencies. Torn between pursuing creative solutions for the campus and having a do-over of the process with new leadership. Regarding an arts institute and the cost of maintaining the campus, alums have been supporting the college to the tune of $2 million a year, so there are resources to be used.
  • 1:34:24    Joe Mazur again: He wants to correct some impression about what he said. He's not against the entire deal. He wants a deal that doesn't leave us with an empty campus. Then he points out that for the endowment money to leave the state – to go to Massachusetts – requires the Attorney General to approve that part of the arrangement.
  • 1:36:46    Deanna Noyes – class of '80, 25 years as staff at the college: Back and forth between anger and heartbreak. So many creative minds, so many possibilities for the campus, but there's something big in the way that needs to be gotten rid of (off-camera: he's not that big), I don’t know how to do that. Not sure the board of trustees is interested in doing that. My understanding is that the property is zoned educational, so a variance or re-zoning would be needed for something other than an educational use (a zoning board member affirms this).
  • 1:40:20    Wendy Webber, Marlboro resident: talking about process, wrote down the words divisive and fractured, which is what has happened and coherent and empowered, how can we get from the former to the latter. She advocates for the power of intention.
  • 1:42:32    Adrian Segar: We've heard about a lot of possibilities for the campus. As Diana said there is blockage in the way. There have apparently been 2 offers to buy the campus which have been summarily rejected. The board is hunkered down, they have this plan and they aren't budging. At the other schools mentioned before there was a huge fight about it and look what happened, the wider community prevailed and the school was saved. Unless the president and members of the board who agree with this plan are removed, nothing is going to change. If all the money goes away and the campus belongs to a distant entity, we have nothing to work with. It's hard enough to start an institution when you have seed money, we're talking about giving all potential seed money away and for what. If you actually want something good to occur, we need to get the president out. Then a second point: Emerson is not necessarily in great financial shape, so will they be bought out at some future date? at which point the Marlboro program, who knows?
  • 1:48:47    T. Wilson: One point – one member of the Marlboro board resigned on the day the announcement about Emerson was made.
  • 1:49:50    Julian Ferholt, Marlboro resident, child psychiatrist who is familiar with people advocating who embrace humane values. There are good people who have very confused ways of dealing with moral issues. This section must be watched to understand the depth of what he is saying. He goes on to say, what they are doing here is morally wrong, this agreement is morally wrong. Again, watch this portion.
  • 1:54:50    Jeff Bower, alum and Marlboro resident: According to Kevin (Quigley), the working group has to wrap up by January about what to do about the campus so they can go to both boards in February, signing in May and execution on July 1. There's no way anything can be wrapped up in that time frame. He was in Boston the other day and stopped in at the Emerson College newspaper and asked how they felt about getting the Marlboro students and faculty and they were downright joyous. Brought up the idea of decoupling the campus from the land. Wouldn't it be great if the college gave the land intended for a reserve to the town for $1. 3 words regarding the town's response: swift, clear and unified.
  • 1:59:08    Nelly Sargsyan: When we only speak of the leadership, we are making the work that many of the faculty have done invisible. Fact sheet says alumni giving is 3%, bigger donations come from long term donors and those donors have indicated that they won't be able to donate as much. And the Marlboro College discount rate is over 80%, which allows us to have the wonderful kinds of students we want. We need to have 300 students who pay twice as much as they are currently. For accreditation, we needed to have a partner or $50 million. Regarding Hampshire, what has happened since? Where are they now?
  • 2:01:30    Andy Reichsman, Marlboro resident: It's important that something happens out of this meeting, that action happens. How do we gather all this energy, this passion, this anger and do something with it? We should have a committee of our own.
  • 2:03:15    Jesse Kreitzer, Marlboro selectboard and Emerson alum: The selectboard was given less than 24 hours to appoint somebody to the working group, so out of fairness and neutrality, the best person was a selectboard member. Hopefully he'll be one of two community members. Expresses his aspirations for the committee. First meeting December 9th. His e-mail:
  • 2:05:57    Rick Hearst, resident of Flagstaff, AZ, visiting Marlboro: You guys are really up against it in terms of time, money, power and convenience. I haven't been able to identify the bulldog here who's going to take this by the horns. Another section I'm not going to summarize, so watch it.
  • 2:11:20    Laurie Panther: Suggests 3 groups, elementary school, environmental and arts groups.
  • 2:12:58    Robin MacArthur: I think we are not unified here. There are some people who want to resist but there are other people who want to reimagine, so I suggest we create a list and put your name on to resist or reimagine.
  • 2:13:32    Deanna Noyes: There are already a lot of groups, especially on Facebook, we're grouping ourselves to death. Her suggestion would be for Jesse to call a meeting, everybody who wants to be a part of this, we have a representative. Let's not splinter ourselves.
Production Date: 
Saturday, November 23, 2019 - 14:30

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