Aug 25, 2011 | Comments 19
Dear Readers of ARP Talk,
A number of people have suggested that the comment below, previously published as a comment under the article A Vision for Erskine as Articulated by the Erskine Facebook Participants be posted as an article. After discussion with the ARPTalk team, I am turning my comments into a post.
Ms. Stacy Hall wrote a very nasty and demeaning letter to President Norman. President Norman responded with a blunt but respectful letter to Hall. The interesting thing about President Norman’s response is that he didn’t say anything to her that he hasn’t said in public to General Synod, to the BOT, and, yes, to me. However, Ms. Hall is a delicate flower! The BOIs (‘bunch of idiots”) must also be delicate flowers! They seem to be able to give; however, THEY CAN’T TAKE!!
As you read the comments below, it will be helpful to remember that Stacy Hall, Cecelia Hall Dunleavy, and Nancy Hall Gautier are sisters, and, I’m sure, there are others who are their cousins in this cauldron of sensitive feelings and brain dribble. Well, I suppose we now have both the three witches of Due West (TWODW) and the BOIs on the alums Facebook site.
It’s beginning to look like a Due West family reunion! I wonder if Mary Lou Holmes will join in and introduce us to the family connections.
Well, whatever the family relations, it now seems that the BOIs and TWODW want a vote of “No Confidence” in President Norman from the alums.
Another Day In the Life of the FaceBook Alums
[The letter below: from Stacy Hall to President Norman]
My letter – sorry for the length:
Dear Dr. Norman,
I am an alumna of Erskine. As are many others, I have been alarmed at what has been going on the last several years. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt to see if you could act as a filter between the people who wish to bring sudden, radical and potentially damaging change to Erskine and the Institution and its heritage. Sadly, it has become apparent that you are not. That’s what the leader of an institution does – work to balance the long-lived heritage of the institution with the whims of short-lived individuals or parts of an institution whose goals and wants will pass on with them. If a leader works to protect the heritage while implementing such goals that help the institution to grow and prosper, his legacy becomes legend. If the leader allows undue small, narrow, divisive and short-lived influence to destroy that heritage and the institution, his legacy becomes nothing, or worse.
I understand that there are clear leadership differences between your generation and mine. Adult boomers have been known for respecting their elders, listening to advice, thinking a decision through thoroughly before implementing it (not so much as adolescents, but as adults). 30-somethings do not do those things, according to research. They have grown up with video games, where if you make decisions that result in catastrophe, you just “do-over”. So for 30-somethings, I understand, the trend is make snap decisions without considering the consequences, and deal with the consequences when they come up. You have removed any number of loyal Erskine employees, whether through your direct action or through concurrence, employees who have nurtured both the institution and its legacy – the students and resulting alumni. The consequence is dire. Beloved professors with inspiring legacies, were they to apply to work at Erskine now, would be denied in the interest of, apparently, eliminating diversity of thought among staff. Elimination of diversity of thought of staff has a likely fallout of eliminating diversity of thought of students. What a shame.
It is also a trait of your generation to surround yourself with those who will simply agree. It may be wise to seek the advice of those who disagree with you. Of course, you didn’t ask for my advice, but I am giving it to you, anyway. I disagree with you, so take or leave my advice as you will. I can’t be “fired” from being an alumna, fortunately.
The alumni have been “dismissed” by some of the folks that want to see Erskine’s legacy go by the way. I believe that’s a mistake. Look at alumni contributions, last year to this year, your first. Look at the names, look at the amounts, be aware of the trend that is shaping up. Alumni dearly love Erskine, and that has been obvious in the past. However, they will not love an Erskine that has been allowed to be destroyed, because that will no longer be Erskine.
Erskine is a wonderful legacy. I hope that you have read or heard of it, and not as a history, but as a living legacy. I can hope that Erskine is a strong enough legacy to recover from the damage of a small number of people who really don’t care about that legacy, but if there is no-one in leadership to filter those narrow goals, to temper them to preserve the legacy, heaven help her. I still have hope that you could be that leader, but it is a diminishing hope. And it may be wise to remember that if one is the pawn of others, it is not the same as being the king. Pawns are dispensable, once they’ve set the strategy in motion.
I do not expect to hear back from you, as that is also, in my experience, a trait of 30-something leaders. And I understand you may have too much correspondence to deal with in a timely manner, at any rate.
Mary Elizabeth Todd: Very well said.
Jim Moore: An excellent letter!
Carrie Ann Shriver: Way to go!
Cecelia Hall Dunleavy: Wonderfully stated!
John Randolph Harrison: Beautifully written Stacy.
Becky Lauderdale: Thanks again, Stacy, for taking the time to write this excellent letter and sharing with us, too!
Stacy Hall: I got a reply:
Wow. How kind of you to write.
I was never much of a video game fan, but it seems you have decided that you have seen enough on the Internet to know the real me, so anything I could say now [to] correct you would just sound dishonest.
I hope, in time, your opinion may change, but please know that I will do what I believe is right whether you or anyone else agree.
I love Erskine, and believe I can help move her beyond the fits of Blog-induced psychosis with which she has suffered these past few years. But if not, I know God will provide for my family another way. Until you are able to run me off, however, please know that I will be doing all I can for the good of your alma mater.
Hope you are having a restful Sunday afternoon.
Mary Elizabeth Todd: Boy the tone in that one was way different from the tone in mine. He has got p&^%ed.
P. Mark Wilson: Dear David, WE did not start this fire.
John Randolph Harrison: WOW!!!!!!! Thats harsh.
Becky Lauderdale: Obviously intends to keep doing what he’s been doing – ridding the college of good quality people and curricula, and he has no use for us..
Gary Bordogna: WOW-A letter like that to an alum!
Nancy Hall Gautier: Good to know that he and his family will be fine once Erskine goes under.
Rick Beard: UNTIL YOU CAN RUN ME OFF!!!
Nancy Hall Gautier: Anyone else get a similar response?
Ann Clarke Judd: Unusual tone from a chief executive particularly when it might be shared with a wider audience.
John Randolph Harrison: He would have been better off keeping those comments to himself. Guess we are getting the other side of the coin now.
Ann Clarke Judd: Probably not quite enough experience at the executive level to understand the ramifications of this type of response.
Becky Lauderdale: What an opening: “Wow. How kind of you to write.”
Rick Beard: this is not good. I don’t understand why the EC Foundation is tip toeing around this situation. They are afraid they are going to make someone upset? Come on!
Ann Clarke Judd: This is an example of the flippant and churlish behavior that the staff deal with on a daily basis.
Gary Bordogna: Rick: It’s usually best to respond after 24 hours or so. That way emotions have died down and you address the issues.
Mary Elizabeth Todd: I have been debating showing my response- I took a religious direction with him- in that pointed out that just because a person does not sign said statement it does not mean that they do not believe in inerrancy- in fact they may have a problem stating the Bible as being inerrant simply because only God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are that. I also pointed out matt 7:1-2-which has the Judge not lest you Judged and goes on to say in the second verse that how you judge you will be judged measure for measure- and that by signing that statement they are passing judgement on their fellow Christians who believe differently and therefore can not do it for ethical reasons. I spoke to him about there are two things that drive us- Power and love- If Power rules you become ruthless- and if love rules- you no longer need power- I asked him was he motivated by power or by love. I told him that I did not need answers to this but he needed to examine his heart to determine which kind of man he was- this is a rough summary of what I sent.
Gary Bordogna: Somewhere Dr. Bill Crenshaw is laughing.
Jim Moore: The only two Erskine presidents I ever had a conversation with were Dr. Stan Bell and Dr. Randy Ruble. I thought a lot of Dr. Bell, and hold Dr. Ruble in equal esteem. In my opinion, they would never even consider communicating like this to anyone, let alone an alumni.
I did notice that Dr. Norman disputed absolutely nothing that Stacy stated.
Ann Clarke Judd: That response does not exactly make alumni want to write a big check to the Annual Fund.
Stacy Hall: Or even a miniscule one.
Ann Clarke Judd: And doesn’t help validate the message we received from Nan, the BOT chair, and the Moderator today.
John Randolph Harrison: You took the words out of my mouth Ann. Glad I gave my last check to help save Philo Hall.
P. Mark Wilson: Instead of assuring us that things would settle down and that he saw a great future for Erskine, he fanned the flames and actually said “until you are able to run me off”. Does he mean like he ran off Woody, Cory and others? If you have any connection to the school, you are no longer welcome. If you love Erskine then you are an impediment to the changes they want. He cleaned out the entire admissions department and hired an outside firm to recruit the students they desire. Hmmm let’s see, why on earth would we be suspicious of him?
Nancy Hall Gautier: I am always telling my kids to not put things in writing that they would not like to be posted for everyone to read. Seems like some thirty somethings have not learned that lesson.
Jim Moore: I suggested this before the last alumni association meeting, and will suggest it again. I think it’s time to consider a vote of no confidence in Dr. Norman.[Ed. emphasis] Hopefully, a measure such as this will help communicate to those alumni not aware of what is going on in Due West to start paying attention. Loyalty is a two-way street. If Dr. Norman chooses to talk to alums the way he spoke to (not with) Stacy, I don’t see how we can honestly place any confidence in him.
Whitney Tillman Marcengill: I think I am going to be sick after reading Norman’s response. Are they drinking the koolaid over there?!!
Stacy Hall: I totally agree, Jim. Who can tell us how to go about lodging such a vote of no confidence? It’s a bit tricky, from my understanding.
Jim Moore: If Robert’s Rules or Order are followed, I would think that any alum can be asked to be placed on the agenda. I imagine that Nan Campbell could give you the details. It is, after all, OUR association!
Stacy Hall: I agree, Whitney. What adult responds to a serious letter from their mobile device, where you cannot see and reflect on the entire text?
Stacy Hall: Jim, am corresponding with ACJ, we’ll see what happens.
Jim Moore: Stacy, I really believe that all it takes is a motion, and a vote. Anything over 50% carries.
Whitney Tillman: Marcengill I hear you, Stacy!
Jim Moore: Stacy, I think you should be the one to make the motion, and Whitney second it.
Cecelia Hall Dunleavy: His response is just bizarre. If he thought Stacy’s assessment of him was wrong, that is his prerogative. However, as a president of a college, you have to show diplomacy at all times, ESPECIALLY, when you are putting things in writing. And to make statements like “I will do what I think is right no matter whether you or anyone else agrees” indicates that he has a huge ego with a “my way or the highway” mentality. This letter alone demonstrates poor leadership qualities. Stacy, your letter was very good and obviously touched a nerve. His letter makes him sound a bit paranoid too, with “blog-induced psychosis ” and “until you run me off”. Well, I must say that my opinion of him has changed in time, but not for the better. I actually initially wanted to give him time to prove himself. Silly me.
John Randolph Harrison: He made a couple of strange comments a few months ago on the other site from his IPAD while out of town. It was late and only a few people saw them. He deleted them almost instantly and changed the whole content. Makes you wonder.
Jim Moore: Cecelia, I actually was pulling for the guy too, until he started letting so many employees go. People don’t treat people like that.
Gary Bordogna: Stacy, Jim, and others. IMHO, if you are going to follow the “no confidence” route, you first need to meet with Dr. Norman. If he doesn’t answer your questions, or refuses to meet with you, then proceed. Otherwise, it looks the same to me as when Dr. Norman got rid of Dr. Gid as Dean without even an interview.
Folks who know me know that I’m usually not one to proceed with caution, but IMHO this is the best way to do it to be taken seriously.
Don’t beat me up too bad over this!
Rick Beard: do you have a fever or something tonight Gary?
Jim Moore: If Dr. Norman is to meet with any alumni, it should be those duly elected to represent the association, in my opinion.
John Randolph: Harrison Gary, David Dangerfield and others have had a number of meetings and conversations with him. I think Dr. D has also.
Stacy Hall: Yes, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, myself. No more. Jim,Gary, f I could make such a motion from such a distance, I would. I think it’s an “in-person” action, isn’t it?
Gary Bordogna: No Rick I’m fine. Believe me, I’m not in Dr. Norman’s corner, but I taught for 30 years and it is best to follow certain procedures if you want to remove an administrator and avoid a law suit.
Jim Moore: Stacy, Robert’s Rules of Order have been amended many times in order to utilize technology. I believe that as long as any alum is offered the opportunity to monitor via skype, cellular telephone, or what have you, there is no problem. Still, I would run this by Nan.
Gary Bordogna: Why don’t a group of us ask to meet with Dr. Norman. It doesn’t have to be the Alumni board as frankly, I think a better cross section of alums are here. If he refuses to meet, or if the group doesn’t like his answers, then proceed.
Gary Bordogna: Gee, no likes about my comments?
Nancy Hall Gautier: So ,Gary are you going to do it and hook those of us to far away up with a Skype feed? I would do that. I just can’t necessarily be there in person. Of course, if he finds out I am Stacy’s sister, he might not let me participate. :)
Gary Bordogna: Nancy: I type with two fingers and my son has to fix any computer problems I have. We need a younger (and smarter) alum to handle IT.
Jim Moore: I think that the college should provide the skype for any meeting with Dr. Norman, and at the alumni association meeting
Nancy Hall Gautier: Gary no one in my family fits that description. I am the youngest and I am well past young.
Nancy Hall Gautier: I have it on computer and I do know how to use it…..more or less.
Mary Elizabeth Todd: Gary- David Tabor courted Doreen using Skype when he was in Germany.
Rick Beard: Skype is very cool
Mary Elizabeth Todd: Can you image David Tabor going into the president’s office and setting all of this up. Somehow that is funny to me
Gary Bordogna: I doubt seriously if Dr. Norman will agree to Skype. I think that well respected people in the Erskine community, like Rick, whose family ties to EC go several back generations, and well respected people (mostly) outside the Erskine community like Jim, who held elected office, and is on several community boards would be great folks to ask questions of Dr. Norman.
Rick Beard: We are checking out the billboard option. The politically correct route seems to be going way to slow.
Nancy Hall Gautier: I agree Rick. We have been way too nice. Where has that left Erskine? The most telling thing to me in his comment is that however it turns out he will be fine.
Rick Beard: we have tried for over 30 years to get help with Philo Hall.
Mary Elizabeth Todd: Yeah- I like the old embarrass them route of the billboards because they cannot hide it anymore.
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