Analysis of the Erskine Board Meeting: “Chuck, You’re Killing Us!”

 

In a conversation about a year-and-a-half ago, President David Norman of Erskine College said to the Editor of ARPTalk, “Chuck, help me by ceasing to report on Erskine news and by taking ARPTalk down. ARPTalk is killing us!”

This past Good Friday, in a conversation at the Chick-fil-A in Seneca, SC, then Chairman of the Erskine board Joe Patrick said to the Editor of ARPTalk, “Chuck, you’re killing us!”

According to reliable sources, the “blame” game has begun – well, unofficially, at least! The situation at Erskine is uncertain. At the board meeting on August 17th and 18th, in scattered and private conversations, the lament, “ARPTalk is killing us!”, was overheard. In public discussions, Chuck Wilson and ARPTalk were not to be spoken of out loud; instead, the code used was “the blog” or “blogs”.

The Editor of ARPTalk has a healthy ego, and, when Erskine dies, if the wretches in the administration (and past administrations) and on the board (and past boards) who are actually responsible for Erskine’s demise want to blame the Editor of ARPTalk, he will gladly embrace the opprobrium and sit for a bronze statute to be cast and erected in front of the main street fountain behind which stands the grove of sacred oaks growing in front of the twin towers of infamy which point to the clouds of God’s impending judgment.

To blame the Erskine disaster on Chuck Wilson and ARPTalk is a gratifying but ultimately ridiculous act of blame-shifting. Interestingly, such an act is tantamount to an admission of failure by both the administration and board, for Chuck Wilson has simply reported what they have done, and what he has written in ARPTalk has not been answered. Chuck Wilson and ARPTalk are not responsible for failed budgets, the failure of the institution to thrive, disloyalty to the ARP Church, administrative mismanagement, and the unwillingness of the board to give prudent oversight. Chuck Wilson and ARPTalk are not soloists in this tragic Wagnerian opera unfolding on the stage of Due West. The players are the feckless Presidents, their administrators and the inept trustees who have blinded themselves with their own hands to the goings on at Erskine for the past 40 years. Furthermore, what has Chuck Wilson done with ARPTalk that has made him the target of blame? Well, Chuck Wilson is the lighting technician in the balcony who has used the spotlight of ARPTalk to brightly illuminate and showcase the actors so that their bungling performances may be scrutinized and remembered.

As noted above, on August 17th and 18th the Erskine board met for its August meeting. What were the items with which the trustees dealt? Were the items mentioned in “A Noble Lady; a Double-Minded Board” discussed?

1: When they arrived in Due West, the trustees were greeted with news from Wednesday, August 16th, announcing the resignation of Ms. Becky Pressley as Institutional Director of Financial Aid at Erskine to become the Director of Financial Aid at Presbyterian College and the resignation of Dr. Larry Nycum from the board for unspecified reasons. Ms. Pressley’s resignation warns of another difficult recruiting season. Dr. Nycum’s resignation is an interesting development. One wonders if it will be explained.

2: The August meeting of the board was small. For a variety of reasons, Rev. Max Bolin, Mr. Bill Cain, Dr. Fred Carr, Rev. Andy Putnam, Ms. Lisa Senn, and Ms. Crosland Stuart were missing from the plenary meeting on Friday.

3: Of particular interest was how the board would handle the scathing indictments of the administration and board made by Ms. Jane Green in her resignation letter. She wrote: “. . . ETS no longer functions as a seminary. . . . I have been appalled over and over at decisions made and a Board that has looked the other way while the ship became weakened by egos and unnamed agendas” . Would the new transparency of which President Norman speaks glowingly be transparently apparent, or would the “Same Ol’ MO” of ignore and spin be the order of the day once again?

In the meeting of the Seminary Committee, Ms. Green’s letter would have been ignored if concerned trustees had not brought it up. When asked about the status of the seminary and the comments by Ms. Green that the seminary was being dismantled, Dr. Norman said it was not true. It seems Dr. Norman has tested the direction of the wind and turned around. Dr. Norman stated in response to “the blogs” (i.e., ARPTalk), Erskine Seminary is still a seminary.

Perhaps, ARPTalk got it wrong in “Erskine Theological Seminary – R.I.P.”; however, the information the Editor reported on was taken from an e-mail sent out by Dr. Norman and from reports of those who were present to hear his “town hall” meeting talk in Due West. Besides, how did Ms. Green get it so wrong? She must not speak Normanese! The Editor is reminded of the words of Faulkner as he described one of his characters as self-convinced of his own veracity. Often, Dr. Norman seems to be unsaying, re-explaining, and translating to us what he said, and then he is upset with those who misunderstand or are puzzled by his confused-speak. In the recent posting for an “Administrative Dean” for Erskine Seminary by the administration, the position is also referred to as “Academic Dean”. Which is it? Technically, these are different. Is it both?

Whatever the new configuration of Erskine Seminary, the board has that for which it asked. As one trustee said, “We gave Dr. Norman permission to do whatever was necessary to stop the bleeding. We gave him no boundaries.” Well, the question to be asked now is this: “How’s that working for you?”

Currently, it is reported the FTE for the seminary for Fall 2012 is about 75 plus students. Looking over some old reports, we are informed the unduplicated head count for Fall 2011 was 208 and the FTE was 106; the Fall 2010 unduplicated head count was 256 and the FTE was 129; and the unduplicated head count for Fall 2009 was 300 and the FTE was 158.

The sticky issues regarding the theology of neo-Barthian Dr. Richard Burnett were not brought up. As one trustee described the situation: “Those doing the job are secure; others are lawyering up!” Since the seminary does not have an Administrative Dean, it was reported Dr. Brad Christie was doing the evaluations of seminary professors. Interestingly, nothing was said about the resignation of Acting Executive Vice President of Erskine Theological Seminary Dr. Steve Lowe. One would have thought an exit interview would have been conducted.

4. The most anticipated meeting was the Committee on Trustees. The eleven signers of the “Minority Report to General Synod” were called in to give answer for their public disagreement with the board’s misleading Ad Hoc Committee’s report. Fascinatingly, it was disclosed Mr. David Conner, Chairman of the Board, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, and author of the Ad Hoc Committee’s Report, was slack in gathering information. A reliable source stated the now infamous survey of Christian colleges which is reported to have driven the conclusions reached in the Ad Hoc Committee’s report was not sent out until February 2, and that would have not allowed enough time for gathering data for the report to be prepared and presented to the February board meeting. Therefore, the Ad Hoc Committee report was written in haste and without the necessary information for the conclusions drawn. Was someone attempting to manipulate a report to be presented to General Synod?

A questionnaire had been sent out to the eleven (11) signers of the “Minority Report to General Synod” prior to the board meeting, and the most significant question was: “What would you have done differently?” The consensus of the signers was they would have done nothing differently under the circumstances. Ms. Judy Boyd, the Chairman of the Committee on Trustees was praised as fair and even-handed. As expected, trustee Ms. Nan Campbell the President of the Alumni Association and Alumni Association representative was, according to one trustee, “out for blood and wanted the eleven (11) signers censured” – probably whipped, chained, and burned at a stake! Trustees sat stunned as she stated a minority report could not be presented to General Synod without Synod’s specific request. A signer of the “Minority Report to General Synod” stated the board leadership had created an atmosphere intolerant to disagreement. In other words, all the board leadership wants from the board is a cheerleading squad. At the end of the day, in the words of Shakespeare, the meeting of the committee was “much ado about nothing.”

5. A budget shortfall was announced; however, a budget revision was delayed until the Fall meeting of the board. Financial data not yet available are needed.

6. It was announced the EC Foundation has contributed funds for the repair of athletic fields. Well, it is about time the directors of EC Foundation gave some of the monies they have siphoned from Erskine since 2010. The knotty problems of the EC Foundation’s name, relationship to Erskine, and SACS’ concern about the EC Foundation being deleterious to the welfare of Erskine were not discussed.

7. Dr. Bill Crenshaw’s suit against Erskine was announced; however, for obvious reasons, the case was not discussed.

8. Unless dealt with in the executive session, Dr. Norman was not held responsible for the Miller and Cook recruiting debacle. Has 140 thousand dollars been spent for little or nothing? The number of new students at the college this Fall remains at about 160 (Freshmen and transferees) – with about 100 of those being recruited by the coaches. Also, nothing was asked of Dr. Norman regarding his raising of funds for Erskine. Once again, the Annual Fund was rescued by a bequest. Dr. Norman must be saying, “Thank God for death!” What plan is in place for recruiting students and fund raising for 2012-13? The Editor suggests the task of recruiting be given to the coaches. They can create more athletic programs and teams and more students can be recruited to play ball. As far as fund raising is concerned, prayer meetings asking God for the timely death of more rich old alums could be instituted.

9. Why did Dr. Norman NOT bring up the “Adam and Eve” motion adopted by General Synod in June? Is not his science and biology faculty (particularly, Dr. Mary Lang Edwards) in strong disagreement with the position and teaching of the ARP Church? Would not an atmosphere of transparency and good will toward the ARP Church have addressed this?

10. Without prior knowledge of and at the request of Ms. Nan Campbell and the Alumni Association, the Executive Committee unexpectedly DROPPED a motion on the board that the board request a summit of representatives of the General Synod, appointed by the Moderator Dr. Steve Suits, the Alumni Association, the EC Foundation, the faculties, and the administration for the purpose of discussing and reconciling differences. This was pasted in the face of a request for more time to think over the motion. Once again, haste was the order of the day. Well, now we know why President Norman wanted Dr. Steve Lowe to put together a course on peacemaking. However, has President Norman jumped the gun on Dr. Lowe’s class, which is yet to be scheduled or taught? Besides, why should this summit be called? To begin with, Moderator Suits takes his marching orders from General Synod, and, without a Synod directive, Dr. Suits would be ill-advised to act unilaterally. Also, is this not something like a substitute, unofficial board – a repetition of something that is broken? Have Dr. Norman, Chairman David Conner, and Ms. Nam Campbell forgotten the board has representatives from Synod, the Alumni Association, the alums in general, the EC Foundation, and the administration and faculty? Is the board not a good place to begin with peacemaking? This bright idea is the equivalent of hauling coal to Newcastle! Or is this an admission the board is hopelessly divided and irreparably broken like Humpty Dumpty who sat on a wall and had a great fall? If so, the trustees should resign. Or is the board leadership simply pandering to the alums and using this as a lever against the ARP Church? Well, is it? Dr. Norman, this is not an exercise in peacemaking; it is another exercise in division and futility.

11. In the words of a trustee, the Strategic Plan is less than stellar and the presentation was tedious. At the direction of SACS, the Strategic Plan was drawn up hastily to meet an August 15th deadline. Instead of responding to SACS with a question asking whether SACS wanted a quick plan or a thoughtful and thorough plan, a plan was drawn up quickly. As one trustee commented: “It’s like an exercise in busy work. Do I now say to my young people, ‘Go to Erskine! We have a Strategic Plan!’?” According to another source, “It’s not a Strategic Plan. It’s a description of what they’re supposed to be doing!” Well, read and judge for yourself. A copy of the draft is attached to the bottom of this issue of ARPTalk.

12. Multiple sources reported the highlight of the August board meeting to be the devotional given by a seminary faculty member. He drew an analogy between two statues on the Erskine campus: first, the statute of former President William Moffatt Grier, who was known for his learning and Christian faithfulness and piety and, second, the abstract sculpture or objets d’art on the quad called “The Queen of Hearts,” which is kindly described by a former Erskine student as “a rusting hulk of metal which is a good place for birds to perch as they critically think.” According to the devotional speaker, the Erskine/Due West community is a story of two competing cultures: a secular culture of niceness and a committed evangelical, Christian culture. He also drew attention to the two facing quotes at the entrance to McCain Library. One is by Jesus and the other is by Tennyson as though they were equals – again, a metaphor for the Erskine conflict. The cultures clash violently. The nature of the two cultures allows for no compromise. The question is whether it is to be Christ or non-Christ? In the words of the Editor, is it Christ or Baal? As hard as we may wiggle, the question cannot be avoided. In the Erskine/Due West community (and, yes, the ARP community), people are conflicted on this question.

In conclusion, from this board meeting, two things ring clear: first, the words of Ms. Jane Green’s letter that the board is THE LOOK AWAY BOARD; and, second, the confirmation that the Wagnerian tragedy in Due West is the making of Erskine administrations and board trustees who “fiddle while Rome burns.” No, Chuck Wilson and ARPTalk are not killing Erskine; the folks leading Erskine do not need help – just a chronicler so they can be remembered!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

Erskine College & Seminary

Strategic Goals, Objectives, and Strategies 2012 – 2017

Goal 1: Erskine prioritizes its mission to glorify God far above its desire to please any human stakeholder.

Objective 1.1: To increase awareness among Erskine faculty and staff of Erskine’s primary mission of glorifying God.

Strategy 1.1.1: Beginning in the Fall of 2012, all college and seminary faculty meetings will begin with a recitation of the institution’s mission statement. (Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs – Fall 2012)

Strategy 1.1.2: Beginning in the Fall of 2012, all presidential town hall meetings will begin with a recitation of the institution’s mission statement. (President – Fall 2012)

Objective 1.2: In all deliberations regarding key decisions, especially but not limited to Cabinet discussions and discussions among the Erskine board of trustees, arguments from authority assuming any mere human or group of mere humans as its authority will be identified, challenged and noted for its conflict with this objective.

Strategy 1.2.1: Beginning in the Fall of 2012, all cabinet meetings will begin with a recitation of the institution’s mission statement. Following this recitation, objective 1.1 will be read aloud as a reminder to all present. (Assistant to the President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 1.2.2: In August 2012, it will be recommended that the board of trustees adopt a policy of beginning all board meetings with the recitation of the institution’s mission statement and that following this recitation, objective 1.1 be read aloud as a reminder to all present. (Assistant to the President – Fall 2012)

Goal 2: Erskine is Nationally Known as a Faithful Liberal Arts Community

Objective 2.1: Create and implement coherent and compelling core curriculums for the College and Seminary by fall 2014

Strategy 2.1.1: Appoint an ad hoc committee, the majority of whose members are tenured college professors, with the charge to develop a coherent and compelling core curriculum for the College. This committee will work independently, but will receive input from the Thrive Initiative and Seminary core curriculum committee. The college core curriculum review committee will also, with the assistance of the assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees, stay abreast of and compliant with all relevant current and emerging Board policy. Although the committee’s focus will be on curriculum, it will be expected that the committee’s recommendations will include not only course requirements but also emphases and suggestions for extracurricular features of Erskine life such as chapels, convocations, and residential life. (Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs – Fall 2012)

Strategy 2.1.2: Appoint an ad hoc committee, the majority of whose members are tenured seminary professors, with the charge to develop a coherent and compelling core curriculum for the Seminary. This committee will work independently, but will receive input from the Thrive Initiative and College core curriculum committee. The seminary core curriculum review committee will also, with the assistance of the assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees, stay abreast of and compliant with all relevant current and emerging Board policy. Although the committee’s focus will be on curriculum, it will be expected that the committee’s recommendations will include not only course requirements but also emphases and suggestions for extracurricular features of Erskine life such as chapels, convocations, and residential life. (Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs – Fall 2012)

Strategy 2.1.3: Present College core curriculum plan to College faculty for approval (College Core Curriculum Committee – Fall 2013)

Strategy 2.1.4: Present Seminary core curriculum plan to Seminary faculty for approval (College Core Curriculum Committee – Fall 2013)

Strategy 2.1.5: Present College and Seminary core curriculum plans to Board of Trustees for inclusion in the 2013 – 2014 catalogs (President – Winter 2014)

Objective 2.2 : Determine the academic offerings at the college and seminary that best embody the institutional mission

Strategy 2.2.1: Review the ongoing process for reviewing and approving current and potential course and degree offerings for the college and seminary (Faculties– Fall 2014)

Strategy 2.2.2: Present academic offerings review process to the Board of Trustees for inclusion in the 2015 – 2016 catalogs. (President – Winter 2015)

Objective 2.3: Recruit and retain academically excellent mission-fit faculty members

Strategy 2.3.1: The Faculty Personnel Committee will continue its work (Faculty Personnel Committee – Ongoing)

Strategy 2.3.2: Expand administrative and academic networks to identify potential hires (Administration and Faculties – Ongoing)

Strategy 2.3.3: Create a compensation model for faculty and staff which will ensure Erskine salaries and benefits remain internally consistent and in line with appropriate peer benchmarks (Sr. Vice President for Academics & Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations– Summer 2013)

Strategy 2.3.4: Establish percentage goals for scheduled increases in faculty compensation at each rank (Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs – Summer 2013)

Objective 2.4: Develop faculty members into educational leaders committed to furthering the institutional mission

Strategy 2.4.1: The Faculty Development Committee will continue its work (Faculty Development, Ongoing)

Strategy 2.4.2: Increase the number of faculty members who attend and/or present at regional and national professional meetings (Faculty Development, Ongoing)

Strategy 2.4.3: Increase the number of faculty members who publish peer-reviewed works (Faculty Development, Ongoing)

Strategy 2.4.4: In consultation with the President and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, devise and implement a schedule for faculty forums devoted to sharing best practices in research, teaching and the development of the liberal arts tradition.

Goal 3: Student Enrollment is at Optimum Capacity with Students who fit Erskine’s Target Student Profiles

Objective 3.1: To internally articulate and better implement our institutional enrollment management model

Strategy 3.1.1: Conduct an enrollment management SWOT analysis as an internal self‐assessment and environmental scan (President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 3.1.2: Create and adopt an institutional enrollment management model (TBD, Cabinet – Spring 2013)

Strategy 3.1.3: Implement an institutional enrollment management model (President – Fall 2013)

Strategy 3.1.4: Review effectiveness of institutional enrollment management model and make needed changes (President– Spring 2014)

Objective 3.2: Recruit capacity classes with students who fit Erskine’s target student profiles

Strategy 3.2.1: Conduct a institutional resource audit to determine the capacity classes for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (Seminary Administrative Dean, College Administrative Dean – Fall 2013)

Strategy 3.2.2: Create a target student profile for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (Seminary Administrative Dean, College Administrative Dean Enrollment – Fall 2013)

Strategy 3.2.3: As part of the institutional enrollment management model, create a multi- year recruitment strategy that increasingly focuses on the target students for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (TBD – Fall 2014)

Strategy 3.2.4: Establish enrollment goals based upon the institutional enrollment management plan and the capacity for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (TBD – Fall 2014)

Strategy 3.3.5: Attain enrollment goals for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (TBD, 2017)

Objective 3.3: Increase retention and persistence for all undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes

Strategy 3.3.1: Conduct a retention and persistence study to establish retention and persistence goals for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classe (Retention Committee – Fall 2013)

Strategy 3.3.2: Create a plan to increase retention and persistence rates for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (Retention Committee – Spring 2014)

Strategy 3.3.3: Implement plan to increase retention and persistence rates for undergraduate, masters, and Doctor of Ministry level classes (Retention Committee – Fall 2014)

Strategy 3.3.4: Attain retention and persistence goals for undergraduate, masters, and

Doctor of Ministry level classes (Retention Committee Enrollment – Fall 2017)

Goal 4: The Erskine Brand is Clearly Defined and Publicly Understood

Objective 4.1: Create an Erskine Brand Guide that outlines Erskine’s core identity, values, educational experience promise, and brand guidelines by June 30, 2013.

Strategy 4.1.1: Appoint a task force to clearly define Erskine’s core identity, values, and educational experience promise. (President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 4.1.2: Task Force will present its recommendations to Cabinet. (Task Force Chair – March 2013)

Strategy 4.1.3: Create the brand guidelines, which include things such as color palette and usage, typography, logo, unapproved formats, and brand review process. (VP of Communications – Spring 2013)

Objective 4.2: Define and implement a strategy that connects Erskine’s key constituencies to this brand in a powerful and personal way by August 1, 2013.

Strategy 4.2.1: Identify the most important constituencies that must be engaged (VP of Communications – Spring 2012)

Strategy 4.2.2: Decide the most important messages to be communicated to each constituency. (VP of Communications – Spring 2013)

Strategy 4.2.3: Identify and train brand ambassadors in each key constituency that will take Erskine’s brand and messages to their circles of influence. (VP of Communications – Summer 2013)

Strategy 4.2.4: Create a rollout plan for brand/marketing strategy that coincides with

Erskine’s 175 Anniversary in 2014. (VP of Communications – August 2013)

Objective 4.3: Evaluate the effectiveness of the brand strategy and identify gaps on an annual basis.

Strategy 4.3.1: Assemble an advisory board with representatives from each key constituency. (VP of Communications – Fall 2013)

Strategy 4.3.2: Schedule a meeting with this advisory board on an annual basis to review effectiveness of brand strategy beginning in spring 2014. (VP of Communications – Ongoing)

Strategy 4.3.3: Change this advisory board on an annual basis. (VP of Communications – Ongoing)

Goal 5: Erskine College has a sound financial base and demonstrated financial stability to support its mission, programs, and services.

Objective 5.1: Consistently achieve a balanced operating budget.

Strategy 5.1.1: Create an annual operating Budget, which is balanced and includes a $200,000 contingency, in January/February for the following fiscal year, (Cabinet – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.1.2: Monitor the progress toward achieving a balanced operating budget through monthly budget-to-actual reports and financial critical indicators (Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations – Ongoing)

Objective 5.2: Recruit, retain, develop, and competitively compensate a well-qualified faculty and staff.

Strategy 5.2.1: Conduct focused employment searches that reach a broad range of potential candidates who possess strong qualifications and share Erskine’s evangelical mission (Various – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.2.2: Conduct annual reviews for all faculty and staff for the purposes of evaluating performance toward the Erskine mission statement and one’s job responsibilities and providing constructive feedback (Various– Ongoing)

Strategy 5.2.3: Offer at least one professional development and/or continuing education opportunity to each member of the faculty and to director-level staff, every-other year (Various – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.2.4 (as per Strategy 2.3.3): Create a compensation model for faculty and staff which will ensure Erskine salaries and benefits remain internally consistent and in line with appropriate peer benchmarks (Sr. Vice President for Academics & Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations– Summer 2013)

Objective 5.3: Implement a comprehensive development strategy that supports annual operations and lays the groundwork for upcoming capital campaigns.

Strategy 5.3.1: Create a comprehensive development plan to enhance the advancement/alumni program (Vice President for Advancement – Fall 2012)

Strategy 5.3.2: Achieve the unrestricted annual fund goal each year (Vice President for Advancement – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.3.3: Increase alumni giving by 50% (dollar amount) and participation to at least 25% over the next five years (Vice President for Advancement – Fall 2017)

Strategy 5.3.4: Identify 2-4 new major donors (giving in excess of $25,000) to Erskine each year (Board of Trustees, President, Vice President for Advancement – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.3.5: Identify the needs, major projects, and types of donors to be included in the institution’s next capital campaign (Board of Trustees and Cabinet – Spring 2014)

Strategy 5.3.6: Grow the fair market value of the endowment through earnings and new gifts by 25% by the end of five years (Vice President for Advancement, President,

Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations – Ongoing)

Strategy 5.3.7: Increase awareness of planned giving opportunities and secure at least two new donations each year (Board of Trustees, President, and Vice President for Advancement – Ongoing)

Goal 6: Erskine is an authentically Christian liberal arts community committed to the flourishing of all of its members

Objective 6.1: Develop and implement a program that builds on the THRIVE initiative.

Strategy 6.1.1: Implement first year of Thrive programmatic cycle, taking significant steps to integrate current convocation and chapel model. (Thrive Committee – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.1.2: Conduct formative evaluations throughout each year of cycle to improve delivery, content, and quality of Thrive (Thrive Committee – Ongoing)

Strategy 6.1.3: Conduct summative evaluation of program after the four-year cycle to measure outcomes and determine if overall changes are needed (Thrive Committee – Spring 2016)

Objective 6.2: Articulate an educational philosophy that provides a framework for how Erskine plans for, prioritizes, and evaluates all areas of its community such as the arts, archives, counseling and health services, experiential learning, athletics, etc. (values statements)

Strategy 6.2.1: Create an overarching philosophy that will provide context and central tenets (President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.2.2: Create co curricular philosophy statements that reflect the tenets in the overarching educational philosophy (Various Campus Departments – Spring 2013)

Strategy 6.2.3: Publish the overarching philosophy and the co curricular departmental statements in a single document to be shared on campus and on Erskine’s website (Marketing and Public Relations – Fall 2013)

Strategy 6.2.4: Review the educational philosophy and the departmental statements on an annual basis by the cabinet (Cabinet – Ongoing)

Objective 6.3: Create cultures of effectiveness and improvement goals in all curricular and co curricular departments

Strategy 6.3.1: Develop a list of desired outcomes and/or goals that reflect Erskine’s mission, strategic plan, and educational philosophy (Department Heads – Spring 2013)

Strategy 6.3.2: Develop a list of key performance indicators and/or assessments that measure the effectiveness of its programs and services in reaching the stated outcomes and/or goals in consultation with the Dean of Students and Institutional Effectiveness (Department Heads – Summer 2013)

Strategy 6.3.3: Review and revise goals and objectives based on assessment data on an annual basis (Department Heads – Ongoing)

Objective 6.4: Determine the support Erskine will provide to its community to ensure its spiritual vibrancy

Strategy 6.4.1: The President will appoint and charge a task force consisting of faculty from the college and seminary, board members, and representatives from the denomination (President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.4.2: Task force will conduct a review of the literature related to spiritual life at Christian, liberal arts colleges and examine organizational structures and practice on campuses similar to Erskine (Task Force – Fall 2012 and Spring 2013)

Strategy 6.4.3: Task force will conduct a needs assessment of Erskine students, faculty and staff (Task Force – Spring 2013)

Strategy 6.4.4: Task force will provide recommendations to the President (Task Force – Spring 2013)

Objective 6.5: Contribute to faculty and staff “whole person flourishing” by providing for their spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, and vocational health in a trustful, caring environment

Strategy 6.5.1: Identify a current institutional committee or establish a new committee to monitor and program for “whole person flourishing” among faculty and staff (President – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.5.2: Conduct a needs and satisfaction assessment related to faculty and staff’s opportunities to flourish as whole persons specifically related to their spiritual, emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and vocational health in a trustful, caring environment (Committee – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.5.3: Establish a goal for an increase in faculty staff satisfaction by the fall of 2017 (Committee – Fall 2012)

Strategy 6.5.4: Present programs, workshops, and social opportunities throughout the year to meet the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and vocational needs of faculty and staff (Committee – ongoing)

Strategy 6.5.5: Conduct a satisfaction assessment related to faculty and staff’s opportunities to flourish as whole persons specifically related to their spiritual, emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and vocational health in a trustful, caring environment each spring and use results to shape the next year’s programs (Committee – ongoing)

Goal 7: Erskine stewards its physical resources and the technologies needed to support its mission

Objective 7.1: Operate and maintain physical facilities that appropriately serve the needs of the institution’s educational programs, support services, and mission-related activities

Strategy 7.1.1: Appoint a joint faculty committee for Campus Facilities and Technologies (Sr. Vice President for Academics – Fall 2012)

Strategy 7.1.2: Conduct an annual review of the Master Plan to assess progress and make needed changes until the planned full review and revision scheduled for 2018 (Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies– Annually)

Strategy 7.1.3: Conduct an annual review of the Facilities Condition Assessment Report to identify deferred maintenance projects and priorities to be included in the annual budget process (Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Annually)

Strategy 7.1.4: Review and take action on Aramark surveys measuring customer satisfaction regarding work orders, the condition of facilities, and overall response-time (Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Semi-Annually)

Objective 7.2: Determine what plans should be made to improve the physical infrastructure of the Library

Strategy 7.2.1: Conduct a review of the relevant literature related to libraries at Christian, liberal arts colleges and examine organizational structures and practices on campuses similar to Erskine (Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Fall 2013 and Spring 2014)

Strategy 7.2.2: Conduct a needs assessment of Erskine students, faculty and staff (Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Spring 2014)

Strategy 7.2.3: Provide recommendations to the Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs (Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Spring 2014)

Objective 7.3: Maximize use of campus facilities each summer

Strategy 7.3.1: Conduct an audit of campus resources available for summer programs (Summer Programs Coordinator – Summer 2013)

Strategy 7.3.2: Conduct a needs assessment of current groups and potential future groups (Summer Programs Coordinator – Summer 2013)

Strategy 7.3.3: Develop a marketing plan for summer programs at Erskine (Summer Programs Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations – Fall 2013)

Strategy 7.3.4: Increase summer gross revenue by 100% (Summer Programs Coordinator – Summer 2017)

Objective 7.4: Erskine’s environmental stewardship program is known and utilized by the campus community.

Strategy 7.4.1: Present at least two educational programs related to environmental stewardship per year (Chair of Sustainability Committee –Ongoing)

Strategy 7.4.2: Participate in Recyclemania and provide campus with passive, educational programs (Chair of Sustainability Committee –Ongoing)

Strategy 7.4.3: Grow campus recycling from 28% to 35% (Chair of Sustainability Committee – Fall 2017)

Strategy 7.4.4: Reduce energy consumption by at least 10% over the next five years

(Chair of Sustainability Committee – Fall 2017)

Strategy 7.4.5: Reduce water consumption by at least 10% over the next five years (Chair of Sustainability Committee – Fall 2017)

Strategy 7.4.6: Assess the extent to which solar energy is a feasible energy alternative for

Erskine (Sr. Vice President for Finance and Operations – Fall 2014)

Objective 7.5: Operate and maintain technologies that appropriately serve the needs of the institution’s educational programs, support services, and mission-appropriate activities

Strategy 7.5.1: Create a five year technology plan for the campus in consultation with the President and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations (Director of Information Technology & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Spring 2013)

Strategy 7.5.2: Conduct an annual technology needs and satisfaction assessment with students, faculty, and staff (Director of Information Technology & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Annually)

Strategy 7.5.3: Conduct a staffing assessment to determine optimum IT organizational chart to meet campus needs. (Director of Information Technology & Faculty Committee for Campus Resources and Technologies – Spring 2013)

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  1. Harold Probes says:

    Dear Chuck,

    Several years ago I bought a novelty tie for lawyers.  It bears the motto “Non Illegitimi Carborundum” which translates, “Don’t let the SOB’s grind you down!”  You gotta get you one of these ties and wear it proudly.  It is made by Allyn neckware.

    Warmest regards,

    Hal

     
    • Dear Mr. Harold Probes,

      Old friend, how are you. I haven’t heard from you in so long I thought I was dead.

      I hope you and your dear lady are doing well.

      Thanks for the comment. It made me laugh.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
    • Jay West says:

      Hal,

      You forgot the instructions on the label, “please tie as tight as humanly possible!”

       
  2. Mark Wright says:

    Chuck, you saved the best line for last –
    “the folks leading Erskine do not need help – just a chronicler so they can be remembered!”

     
  3. Jay West says:

    Chuck,

    I must say that the final coupe is in full swing. I am perplexed by your initial welcoming of Norman to your ranks, then only to spit in his face because he desires to depart at any point from your “Third Reich” mentality.

    Alas, you are not responsible for the downward spiral of Erskine. It began under the leadership of Billy Patrick when he was warned about hiring John Carson for president, but force fed the alumni, regardless. However, it is amazing that the ARP gave Carson a reprieve during his tenure only to ramp up the vitriol during the Ruble presidency.

    In conclusion, the downward spiral can only be attributed to the absence of truth. Though you and your militia are mostly responsible, there has been a concerted effort to endorse the philosophy that the “end justifies the means,” which is completely contradictory to the Gospel of Christ.

    You have systematically built cases for the character assassination of many based on your lies and deceit. However, I also believe that you have been lied to in the process.

    Truth will always be revealed in God’s time, I only pray that human depravity will not thwart the future of a great institution any further.

    May I be so humble as to propose a solution for all to consider?

    The ARPC take full control of ETS and managed the institution wherever and however they please.

    The alumni take full control of EC and manage the institution however they please.

     
    • Dear Mr. Jay West,

      Thank your for you comments.

      Two things: (1) Your Nazi comment disrespects our fathers and grandfathers who to saved us from that evil; (2) a better solution is that we in the ARP Church give both the college and seminary to you and the alums.

      Who agrees with my solution?

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  4. Dear Readers of ARPTalk,

    This is a follow-up to my article and adds the latest news.

    1. Below is a copy of an e-mail Mr. Cliff Smith, Dr. David Norman’s Czar of PR, sent off affirming ETS is still a SEMINARY and not a GRADUATE SCHOOL OF RELIGION.

    **********

    Among the important issues considered by the Erskine College Board of Trustees in its meeting Aug. 17, 2012, was the recent administrative restructuring at Erskine Theological Seminary. In view of some confusion regarding the intent of these changes, the board adopted a statement, “Affirming Erskine Theological Seminary.” Here, Erskine President Dr. David Norman offers a response to the board’s encouraging action. The statement itself is also presented in full:

    God has seen fit to bless Erskine Theological Seminary with a rich history, a sound endowment, excellent campus facilities, and most recently, reaffirmed accreditation. Over the past five to seven years, the Father has also allowed Erskine to face significant struggles. We are grateful for the strong relationships we continue to maintain with historic churches, both within and outside the ARP – even during a time when the internal culture of our sponsoring denomination has been in transition.

    Much has changed in the 175 years since our founding. Our core mission to educate persons for service in the Christian church has not changed. Around the change of the millennium, Erskine, along with several other evangelical and reformed seminaries, experienced a period of rapid growth and expansion. In more recent years, however, economic pressures and cultural shifts have brought different challenges. Remaining true to our mission has required that we make strategic organizational changes. While we desire and work for Erskine to educate as many men and women as God sees fit, we place a greater priority on serving our students and the Body of Christ than on growth.

    This summer we enacted administrative changes designed to increase internal efficiency and communication and to ensure we operate within a balanced budget. Although we do not expect these changes to have a negative impact on the quality education we offer our students, we acknowledge that change is often difficult for all involved, but especially for our valued employees. For this reason we are grateful for the board’s recent statement of support. I hope it will be a comfort to our employees and returning students.

    **********

    Well, that should comfort the folks in Due West!! It’s about as comforting as a one-way bus ticket to Uncertainty.

    2. Below is a copy of a news release from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center in Greenville informing of a million dollar bequest.

    **********

    Greenville SC – Aug. 30, 2012 – Steve Nichols, director of Gift Planning for the ARP Foundation, announces a $1 million bequest from the estate of the late Robert Bowers, Jr of Lancaster, SC.

    Including support of his church, First ARP Lancaster, the late Robert Bowers, Jr. directed an astonishing cash distribution from his estate in August of 2012 totaling $1 million. The bequest further directs distributions to the ARP Foundation, World Witness, Christian Education, Outreach North America, Erskine Seminary and the Bonclarken Endowment.

    These gift bequests are expected to have a profound impact on furthering virtually every aspect of the mission and message of the ARP Church – strategically strengthening the local church; new church plants and revitalization; and evangelism and discipleship at home and overseas.

    “We are grateful for Mr. Bowers’ leadership and generosity that so concretely reflect the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life, family and work. As a steward, his legacy will be eternal and measured by impact on the Kingdom of God by the changed lives of people,” Nichols said.

    **********

    If I have counted correctly, one-sixth of this bequest of one million dollars is going to Erskine College and Seminary.

    With no disrespect to the deceased, I reference what I said in my article: Dr. Norman must be thanking God for death. Gifts from live people are not too impressive.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  5. Mark Wright says:

    Chuck,
    I hear through the grapevine that the Rev. Matthew Miller and the session of the Greenville ARP Church have brought charges against you and ARPTalk. Is that true?

     
    • Dear Mr. Mark Wright,

      “I hear through the grapevine” reminds me of an old Marvin Gaye song.

      Indeed, you heard correctly. The Reverend Matthew Miller and the members of the Session of the Greenville ARP Church did attempt to bring charges against me and ARPTalk. There were three charges: 1) conduct unbecoming a minister; 2) damaging the reputation of Second Presbytery; and 3) unwillingness to meet a second time with Mr. Joe Patrick in a dispute between him and me.

      These charges are a not too subtle attempt at the censoring of speech by the Reverend Matthew Miller and the members of the Greenville Session. That is, an attempt at censoring or silencing the voice of a critic.

      Since the Executive Committee sets the agenda for the stated meetings of the Presbytery, the charges were read and dealt with by the Executive Committee of Second Presbytery as to whether the charges were in order. The motions made and passed for the disposition of the charges: 1) charges one and three were remanded back for numerous reasons; and 2) charge two was dismissed as untenable.

      The specific wording of the motions made in the Executive Committee meeting will be distributed to Presbytery in the committee’s report for the Fall meeting of Presbytery.

      I hope this gives some clarity to the matter.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
      • Mark Wright says:

        Chuck,
        Thank you for the explanation. Yes, sounds like a case of censorship to me. This is typically a move that liberals make to silence arguments they cannot refute. Not a very “nice” thing to do. Thanks for always “telling it like it is.”

         
        • Dear Mr. Mark Wright,

          Thanks for your comments.

          “Nice”? No! However, I must not say what I think, the Reverend Matthew Miller and the his “Nice Police” may be watching!

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

           
          • Scott Robar says:

            I pray that Matt Miller and his session will withdraw the charges, and replace them with a plan to take care of the problems at Erskine, which you have helpfully and tirelessly exposed. Obviously they do not like the way that you operate. I recall Matt’s devotional/exhortation regarding the tipping Ark of the Covenant, which was given a couple of years ago at the Reformation Annex. As then, so now – Chuck and company are trying to steady the Ark by employing the wrong methods. Well, what is the right way? What are the things which your detractors have done to make things right?

             
            • Mark Wright says:

              Tipping the ark is the wrong analogy. Chuck is not trying to steady the ark. He is a watchman/prophet. Ezekiel 33:6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

              Chuck has blown the trumpet and warned the ARP Church about the enemy within the camp. In order to make things right, one must first expose what is wrong. Those who are exposed must admit their sin in order for things to move forward. The Erskine administration and board have not admitted their sins and are now trying to blame the watchman for their woes. Those who sued the church have not been willing to admit their sin. Those who supported these men have not repented of their sins. How can we move forward if we don’t admit and don’t repent? Oh, but if we could silence that mean watchman, then our problems could be solved. Don’t fight the watchman. He is not the problem. Have the courage to join him in warning the wicked to turn from his way.

              Scott, you are right, Chuck’s detractors need to make things right. They need to confess their guilt and repent of their sins of suing the church of Jesus Christ, of leading young men and women astray at Erskine, of not complying with the will of Synod, etc., etc.

               
              • Scott Robar says:

                Mark, I agree with you. I should have put the following sentence in quotes – “Chuck and company are trying to steady the Ark by employing the wrong methods.” So.. as then, so now also, this is their stance. That is exactly what was meant by Matt Miller’s talk in June of 2011 in a pre-Syond meeting, regarding the Ark of the Covenant. I agree that it was a wrong analogy. Who among us preaches and is not aware of Paul calling down the curse of damnation on those who preach another Gospel, or of naming names when men were enemies of the Gospel, or of Paul’s words to this effect – “Let them emasculate themselves!” To those who are charging Chuck; charge me also. I agree with him!!

                 
                • Mark Wright says:

                  Scott, we are in agreement. Thanks for making clear what I already understood you to be saying!

                   
                  • Dear Messrs. Scott Robar and Mark Wright,

                    Thanks for the comments. Your assessment regarding the Reverend Matthew Miller is spot on.

                    However, don’t expect a response from the Reverend Matthew Miller. One, he is too nice to engage in such a lowly activity. Two, like all ecclesiastical liberals, he is too busy protecting the status quo at Erskine. That is, in my opinion, he is busy fetching water for the Greenville Erskinites on his Session. Indeed, one must protect one’s position, mustn’t one?

                    Regards,

                    Chuck Wilson
                    ARPTalk

                     
  6. Dear Mr. Jay West,

    I have been thinking about your proposal. You proffer a compromise: the alums get Erskine College and the ARP Church gets Erskine Seminary. I dismissed your solution at first; however, your
    Solution intrigues me. I can’t get it out of my head. Your idea is sound. It ends the conflict.

    How do we do it? Does your idea incorporate the following: (1) the zeroing out of the seminary, re-chartering with a separate board of the General Synod’s choosing, and the stipulation the seminary is “owned and operated” by the ARP Church; (3) giving the seminary buildings in Due West to Erskine College; (4) moving the seminary to Columbia or another location; (5) an allowance for the seminary’s endowment to be transferred to the new seminary as startup money; and (6) the transfer of the seminary’s books in the library to the new seminary?

    If the above stipulations are incorporated in your plan, I think I am for it. The only thing you alums could do with a seminary is close it. As the college is a white elephant to the ARP Church, the seminary is the same to you guys.

    So, what can you deliver? I bet this idea can be sold!!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  7. Jay West says:

    Rather than paraphrase your comments, I have excised them and pasted them below in order to clarify any ambiguity as to my position for the readers.
    “How do we do it? Does your idea incorporate the following: (1) the zeroing out of the seminary, re-chartering with a separate board of the General Synod’s choosing, and the stipulation the seminary is “owned and operated” by the ARP Church; (3) giving the seminary buildings in Due West to Erskine College; (4) moving the seminary to Columbia or another location; (5) an allowance for the seminary’s endowment to be transferred to the new seminary as startup money; and (6) the transfer of the seminary’s books in the library to the new seminary?”
    I absolutely agree with all of your statements above. However, I would allow the seminary to continue to use all of her buildings until she relocates. If the ARPC wants to keep the seminary in Due West, I would have the college subdivide the area and parking for the buildings and grant them to the ARPC.
    In the end, this will be the decision that saves both institutions. Let us hope that wiser heads prevail.

     
  8. Dear Mr. Jay West,

    Well, who would have thought it?! Jay West and Chuck Wilson are agreed on something involving Erskine.

    Thank you, Mr. West.

    Well, Readers of ARPTalk, where do we go from here? What do you think?

    Are you willing to converse with Mr. West and me? I bet Mr. West is reading ARPTalk and willing to answer questions.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  9. Mark Wright says:

    The idea of the ARP giving up the college and starting over with the seminary has some merit. Something has to change. We’ve all had enough of the status quo with regard to Erskine. A new seminary must have biblical and theological integrity at the forefront of its establishment. Board members must be men committed to said integrity. Training Ministers in the historic reformed faith should be the priority.

     
  10. Bobby Davis says:

    Here is an article about an unteachable person in the church. I think Erskine has become an unteachable institution. Not sure if the solutions in the article are right for Erskine or not. It seems that Erskine and its protectors have become the most dangerous people in the ARP.
    http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/155206-the-most-dangerous-person-in-your-church.html?print.

     
  11. Dear Mr. Bobby Davis,

    Thanks for both the comment and the article.

    You write: “It seems that Erskine and its protectors have become the most dangerous people in the ARP.”

    And people say I write with a sharp pen! Be careful, the “nice police” in Greenville and elsewhere are watching!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Bobby Davis says:

      Sometimes hard things have to be said, and as someone who is going to an ARP Church now. Hopefully going to seek ordination in the ARP. I feel the future of my college and more importantly my denomination is at stake.

      I hope they will comment because things need to change here at Erskine and within in the ARP. The only way that will happen is to continue the controversy. In his defense of why he broke away from Princeton and the PCUS Gresham Machen claimed controversy must happens within the church at times to build the body. For the betterment of the ARP and hopefully Erskine we need to continue the fight even if it makes people upset.

       
      • Dear Mr. Bobby Davis,

        Thanks for the comments.

        I had forgotten you are an Erskine student. You are indeed a brave young man to post on ARPTalk with a critical voice about Erskine. I admire courage. Call me at 864-882-6337. I would like to meet you and buy you a steak – and a friend or two.

        Regards,

        Chuck Wilson
        ARPTalk

         
  12. Jay West says:

    Chuck,

    I hope your words are not merely written to excite more response to your blog. There is a real opportunity before us, but you cannot play the games of the past. How is anyone ever to know you are serious and not just baiting another cycle of rhetoric?

     
    • Dear Mr. Jay West,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Two things: (1) I don’t believe I’m usually the one who sets off the rounds of comments; and (2) I really do like the idea. I have been baffled there have been no responses to the idea; however, in private conversation there is some warming to the idea.

      What have been the responses from the alums? On the AFE site the traffic is dead, and, from what I have been told, the traffic is also dead on the ARP FB sites. What is the discussion like on the closed AFIE site?

      Why the silence? Is a deal being put together in a backroom? That will probably doom the idea. It is better to speak openly of a division and get people on board with it. Unfortunately, backroom-dealing is the norm for Erskine/ARPC affairs. It’s one of the reasons we’re in this mess.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
      • Scott Robar says:

        I’ve talked with a few ministers about the split, and they all think it’s for the best. Jesus is coming; let’s be more about His business as a Church.

         
        • Dear Mr. Scot Robar,

          Thanks for the comment.

          Well, Scot Robar, Jay West, and Chuck Wilson agree!

          Scot, I greatly appreciate your emphasis: Jesus is coming, let’s be about His business. However, as I talk with ARPs what I hear about Erskine (and everyting else) is fatigue and disinterest. There is a grim determination to do NOTHING; and, if there is determination to do something, it’s job security. It’s a wishful attitude of If-Only-Jesus-Would-Come-And-Get-Us-Out-Of-This-Mess. There is no desire to address sins or repent or fix anything. Using your analogy, Scot, if Jesus were to return today, Jesus would find the ARPC a “sleeping virgin” instead of a “watching virgin.”

          This is what I see. I honestly hope I am wrong.

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

           
  13. Jay West says:

    It is my understanding that a meeting was offered by the Alumni Association to the ARPC, but it is stagnant . I would encourage all people in the places of power to move toward a negotiating table and settle the issue with integrative negotiations so that each side my have their interests met. I believe it is possible. I believe it is necessary for both to survive. However, it is doubtful that inaction will accomplish anything.

    Second, I believe it is important for the ARPC to have the seminary in order to train ministers, whether I agree or disagree with the current theology. I believe the ARPC should have full control and rights pertaining to the seminary.

    Finally, I believe the alumni of the college, who have given so much, have a dramatic influence on the future of the institution.

    Split the institutions. Split the endowment along the lines of the purpose of each gift given for an intended purpose. Pray for each other and move forward.

     
    • Dear Mr. Jay West,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I agree with your idea: ETS to the ARPC and EC free from the ARPC.

      There is, however, a major impediment to giving EC to the Alumni Association. The Alumnia Association has no existence apart from Erskine. The Alumni Association is a non-organization.

      A meeting between the ARPC and he Alumni Association cannot take place. There is nothing for the ARPC to meet with – other than Erskine. The Alumni Association is not a 501.C.3.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       

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