SACS: Erskine Placed On Warning for TWELVE Violations

SACS Report

Erskine Cited for TWELVE Violations

Erskine Placed on WARNING

Below is the evaluation of Erskine College and Seminary by SACS (December 10, 2012):

The Commission denied reaffirmation, continued accreditation, and placed . . . on Warning: Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina [f]or twelve months for failure to comply with Core Requirement 2.5 (Institutional effectiveness), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.10 (Administrative staff evaluations), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.13 (Institution‐related entities), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1 (Institutional effectiveness: educational programs), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.2 (Institutional effectiveness: administrative support services), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.3 (Institutional effectiveness: academic and student support services), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.5 (Institutional effectiveness: community/public service), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2 (Quality enhancement plan), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1 (General education competencies), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4 (Terminal degrees of faculty), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.2 (Faculty evaluation), and Comprehensive Standard 3.12.1 (Substantive change) of the Principles of Accreditation.

In other words, Erskine was audited and “failed.” SACS commissioners “denied reaffirmation, continued accreditation, and placed [Erskine] on Warning.” The full text of the report may be read in PDF format HERE. See pages 5 and 6 for the part relevant to Erskine. Explanations of citations are found on the SACS website.

According to e-mails and other communications from President David Norman, the items cited by SACS are rather insignificant and easily corrected by the September 2013 deadline.

There are 12 violations cited by SACS. According to individuals I have spoken with in higher education, this is a staggering indictment of Erskine’s leadership and indicative of systemic administrative failure, and the September deadline cannot be met. However, according to those I spoke with, if progress is apparent, leniency will be shown and more time granted by SACS for remediation.

The following is what will happen if Erskine fails to comply with SACS’ instructions:

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN DECEMBER 2013? The SACSCOC Board of Trustees will consider the accreditation status of Erskine College following review of a First Monitoring Report submitted by the institution addressing the standards cited above for noncompliance and the report of the Special Committee that will visit the institution in fall 2013. The Board will have the following options: (1) reaffirm accreditation and remove the institution from Warning, without an additional report or with a Fifth-Year Follow Up Report; (2) deny reaffirmation of accreditation, continue accreditation, continue Warning and request an additional report; (3) deny reaffirmation of accreditation, continue accreditation, continue Warning or place the institution on Probation, authorize a Special Committee, and request an additional report; and (4) remove the institution from membership with the Commission on Colleges. Commission staff will not speculate on what decision might be made by the Commission’s Board in December 2013. [from a publicly available document provided by SACSCOC]

As to be expected, FACEBOOK sites lit up. On the Alumni for Erskine site, Ms. AS Bowen posted the following insightful and informative comments:

Having been on almost a dozen SACS committes [sic] for 10yr and mid cycle evaluations of schools, I know for a fact that when something came up short (like the details/progress mentioned in the letter), the committee gave the school the opportunity at the time of their week long visit to produce said items. To still be in the final report as a “does not meet” indicates these things do not exist like they should.

I also know that there are volumes of instructions provided literally years in advance of this 10yr visit to aid the school in doing what needs to be done and documenting it appropriately. . . .

That is a REALLY long list. I don’t know that I have ever been on a visiting committee where we indicated more -maybe 5- failure to comply statements. . . .

And while some of these standards may be a bit esoteric, there are some that are so straightforward and easy to achieve that heads should role [sic] for letting them go unmet.

Outspoken Erskine student Mr. Eric Goodwin nearly had a meltdown:

This is no more than the official recognition of what has been reality on Erskine’s campus for several years now. From the administration to the students, talk is abundant and action is rare. It is the Erskine disease: bullshit to cover laziness. Some of you know it best as THRIVE, but it is everywhere: even the Euphies. At some point I guess it catches up to you – SACS finally got us.

In spite of Erskine’s longstanding and continuing conflict with the ARP Church, Erskine WAS NOT cited by SACS for a GOVERNANCE noncompliance. The 12 citations primarily involve the administration of Erskine as an educational institution. In spite of the scare tactics by the secular alums the past two years, decrying the ARP Church’s attempts to regain control over Erskine, the SACS commissioners did not note undue influence by the ARP Church as a citation.

For those of us who were present at the 2010 “Snow” Synod, who read the Moderator’s Commission’s Report, and who have been following Erskine’s rebellious decline over the past two years, we are not surprise by SACS’s “warning.” We have been predicting it. We have been expecting it.

At the 2010 “Snow” Synod, Mr. Ken Wingate, a member of and spokesman for the Moderator’s Commission and the Chairman of the SC Commission on Higher Education, warned a thorough audit by SACS would have dire consequences for Erskine. He said, “You have a problem of systemic failure as an institution due to board and administrative failure.” The response of the secular alums, the secular trustees, and the incompetent administration of then President Rand Ruble was a spin campaign of attack. They said Mr. Wingate and the other members of the Moderator’s Commission were “wrong”; they charged the Moderator’s Commissioners had “made it all up” and were “mean and “power hungry.” Are these things now being said of SACS?

I wonder what former board chairman, Mr. Scott Mitchell, who filed legal action against the General Synod is saying now? I wonder what former President Randy Ruble, a former SACS auditor, the man who appointed as Academic Dean a coach known far and wide for his work as an “Advisor for The Jump Rope Institute,” and who bears considerable responsibility for this accreditation debacle, is saying now? I wonder what former trustees David Chesnut and Parker Young and current trustee Richard Taylor who joined in filing legal action against the ARP Church are saying now? I wonder what anti-ARP Church trustees Nan Campbell, Lisa Senn, Crosland Stuart, and others are saying now? I wonder what Chairman (and ARP Elder) David Conner and trustee (and ARP Minister and former General Synod Moderator) Andy Putnam who have worked assiduously to write the ARP Church out of the bylaws are saying? I WONDER IF THEY ARE SAYING SACS IS NOW EXERCISING UNDUE INFLUENCE!?

Even more importantly, I wonder what prospective students and donors are saying right now. Erskine’s accreditation is now under a dark and ominous cloud, and will be for a number of years at least! Both student recruitment and efforts to raise needed funds for an institution already on the financial brink will undoubtedly be severely hurt.

Well, I know what I am saying: THE 2010 MODERATOR’S COMMISSION WAS RIGHT! All the warnings of the Moderator’s Commission are now checked off!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

 

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  1. Ken McMullen says:

    This truly represents a systemic failure of the administration at Erskine, and the sad thing is that it was all *easily avoidable.* SACS standards were known to them far in advance. Proving that you meet the standards is simply a matter of careful, detailed, boring hard work over several years. Accreditation is no longer something an institution does for 18 months every ten years – it is an ongoing process, and they obviously failed to take it seriously enough.

    If this had occurred in a for-profit company, people would have already been fired, starting at the top. I mean no animosity; it’s simply the way it is. That’s where the buck stops.

    Time for tinkering around the edges at Erskine is past. What is needed is a ‘hard reboot’ – an overhaul of the administration, curriculum, cost to students, but above all a serious Christian philosophy of higher education that returns to higher academic standards that would return the school to a truly top-tier institution again. I want to be proud of my alma mater again, but right now it’s simply embarrassing.

    • James Curtis says:

      Rev. McMullen,

      As a current student, I can wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said (especially the ‘cost to students’ part!). I can also agree that Erskine is a school with massive amounts of potential. The seminary could be a huge asset to the Denomination–it has been in the past.

      The problem is they don’t want to listen. We’ve already tried a reboot back at Snow Synod, and that didn’t work, did it?

      I can empathize with your feelings about Erskine. I want it to remain an institution of the ARP, but it needs to be faithful. Quite simply: it isn’t, and hasn’t been for a while. I don’t know if cutting it off is the best option, or if there’s another option we haven’t thought of (I leave those decisions to the elders of the church).

  2. Dear Mr. Ken McMullen,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I have been pondering a response to you. Obviously, what you write is spot on! But does it matter? The secular alums who have nearly destroyed Erskine College and Seminary in their drive to distance the institution from the evangelical Christian roots of the ARP Church are not about a healthy and successful Erskine; rather, they are about a secular Erskine that reflects there Christianless lives.

    As I said, what you write is spot on! But does it matter in the ARP Church? At this point, the attitude has been:
    “We don’t care!” We in the ARP Church give Erskine money in order to avoid taking responsibility for the mess we have allow to develop.

    As I said, what you write is spot on! At this point, let’s be done with Erskine. Let’s give it to Nan Campbell and her BOIs in the Alumni Association. They say they can deal with it. They don’t need the support of the ARP Church. Good! Let them drown with the anchor!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

  3. […] who is well known as a critic of both Erskine College and Seminary.  He blogs at ARP Talk where this article first appeared; it is used (with edits) by […]

  4. Eric Goodwin says:

    Chuck,

    I posted a similar comment on my private Facebook and a fellow Erskine student rightly pointed out that there are many at Erskine who strive honestly and successfully for the good of the students and the institution. I can think of several professors and classmates with whom my original characterization is widely incongruent.

    Still, I stand by my statement for what seems like the majority of the campus, from administration to students. Here, there is a damning lack of clarity, passion, determination, and action. This is unpopular to say, but in my experience it has been the case.

    Erskine needs to embrace substantive action in order for this College to thrive again. Most importantly, it needs a leader to chart his or her course for Erskine and, with clarity and action, drive us there. Is Dr. Norman that leader? It is up to him.

    Eric

    • Dear Mr. Eric Goodwin,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Eric, it is easy to place blame on Dr. Norman for the Erskine debacle. Indeed, since this has taken place under his watch, he will be remembered for it. However, a debacle of this magnitude has a history. As I recall, the last audit by SACS took place during Dr. John Carson’s presidency, but he had Dr. Don Weatherman as his Academic Dean to lead Erskine through the maze of SACS’ regulations.

      With Carson’s resignation and Weather leaving Erskine to become President of Lyon College, a leadership vacuum occurred. Chairman John Moore led the board’s search committee to present a Methodist as President of Erskine – a Presbyterian college and seminary. The effort failed. Then there was a head-to-head vote between Drs. Randy Ruble and Luder Whitlock. As I remember, Dr. Ruble became president by one vote.

      Folks seemed to think Dr. Ruble was a good choice: he was an ARP, a Due Westite, the retired Vice President and Dean of Erskine Theological Seminary, and one who had made an avocation of doing audits for SACS and ATS. Unfortunately, Dr. Ruble turned out to be a terrible president. The only novel thought he had was the restoration of a long-extinct football program. Where Drs. Carson and Weatherman’s goals in recruitment were Christian commitment and academic excellence, Dr. Ruble multiplied athletic programs and seemed to ignore Christian commitment and academic excellence in recruitment, even losing the prestigious E. B. Kennedy Scholarship program. In the background, Dr. Ruble’s leadership was not respected. No one on the faculty wanted the job of Academic Dean left vacant with Dr. Weatherman departure. The appointment of a “jump rope” coach as Academic Dean was a disaster. At the seminary, Dr. Ruble supported Dr. Neely Gaston as Executive Vice President of Erskine Theological Seminary, knowing Dr. Gaston’s dismissive attitudes toward accrediting agencies.

      Now add to this a running conflict with the ARP Church, conflicts regarding Drs. Bill Crenshaw and Jay West, student unrest, a Moderator’s Commission’s investigation, a “called” meeting of General Synod, and the failed leadership of Dr. Ruble’s two chairman of the board (John Moore and Scott Mitchell) and the legacy passed off to Dr. Norman was corroded silver beyond the help of silver cleaner.

      With an audit looming in two years, Dr. Ruble did not leave Dr. Norman with much to work. Preparation for a SACS audit is an on-going process. Much was left undone – and some of the undone could not be redone. In other words, Dr. Norman was brought into a baseball game in the bottom of the ninth inning. The bases were loaded. The count was 3 and 2, and the batter left the game. A rookie fresh from the minors was given the bat and the opportunity to face Mariano Rivera’s fastball. The outcome was predictable.

      When Dr. Norman was chosen as president, there were only two choices: Dr. Norman and Dr. Lig Duncan. Dr. Duncan teaches at RTS-Jackson and is the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church (PCA), Jackson, MS. He is a nationally known scholars-theologian-pastor. The board in its infinite incompetence chose a rookie, Dr. Norman, simply because he was not Dr. Duncan. Dr. Duncan’s theological bent was too much like that of the General Synod for the board majority.

      Well, here we are. It is Christmas 2012 and the board’s choices of Drs. Ruble and Norman as “gifts” for Erskine are unpleasant. The failure rests with the board. If these people were not such a pack of cheeky self-servers, they would acknowledge their disgrace and resign. They will not do that, however. The arrogance of little people is too great.

      Indeed, substantive changes need to be embrace. The ARP Church needs to hit the “reset” button or be done with Erskine.

      BTW, did you read the whole SACS report? At the “Snow” Synod in 2010, substantive changes were outlined. The cry from the Erskine elite and the secular alums was SACS would not allow it. Well, did you read the SACS report? Shorter University did embrace the kind of substantive changes outline by the “Snow” Synod. In the SACS report you will find that Shorter University’s accreditation by SACS has been REAFFIRMED.

      Once again, thanks for you blunt words.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

      • Eric Goodwin says:

        Chuck,

        I don’t know the details of much of what you relate, so I won’t comment on it one way or another. I just want to clarify my earlier point – I’m not calling for the substantial changes you and other ARPs favor. Not at all. I believe the actions of Snow Synod coupled with the lack of leadership under Dr. Norman has ripened (if not created) the culture of apathy at Erskine.

        Shorter University *is* a model for this discussion, though, a symbol of what Erskine could become. One one hand, what has happened there scares me and confirms my opposition to ARP efforts.

        But on the other, it effectively illustrates the change possible under a determined, clear, action-driven leadership. It has become clear that if Erskine is to thrive it requires this form of leadership, regardless of ideological affiliation. We can debate whether Erskine should be this or whether it should be that – but it is certain that Erskine requires leadership that is more than a title.

        Eric

        • Dear Mr. Eric Goodwin,

          Once again, thanks for your comments.

          Eric, as you began with a point of clarification, let me begin with a point of clarification: the substantive changes outline and promoted by the “Snow” Synod and the substantive changes I have advance are authentic Christian commitment and academic excellence, and these once were the hallmarks of Erskine. The ARP Church is not calling Erskine to do something new; the ARP Church is calling Erskine to do something old. This has been lost somehow in the conflict and spin. Indeed, the reports of the “Snow” Synod documented the lack of faithful leadership on both the board and at Erskine on the administrative level and he faculty level. What the “Snow” Synod spotlighted and warned of is now abundantly clear. The SACS report can’t be argued with!

          Perhaps the Shorter University experience is something to be molded at Erskine. Shorter is successful; Erskine is not!

          I affirm your points regarding leadership.

          FYI, below is a full copy of SACS’ disclosure report to Erskine. It ain’t pretty!

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

          SACS’s Disclosure Report

          The following publicly available information is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) concerning the accreditation of Erskine College. Information presented below is in accord with the Commission’s disclosure policy; staff of the Commission cannot comment further on questions specifically related to Erskine College. The institution has reviewed this statement prior to public posting.

          Action by the Board of Trustees of SACS Commission on Colleges took place on December 10, 2012, and the institution’s next review is December 2013.

          WHAT IS THE ACCREDITATION STATUS OF ERSKINE COLLEGE? Erskine College is accredited by SACS Commission on Colleges; however, the institution was denied reaffirmation of accreditation and placed on Warning for 12 months following its comprehensive decennial review. Prior to the institution’s next review by the Commission in December 2013, a Special Committee will conduct an on-site evaluation of its compliance with the Principles of Accreditation—the accreditation standards of the Commission. The Commission’s accreditation includes all components of the institution—all programs, branch campuses, off-campus sites, and distance learning programs as reported to the Commission; thus, the Warning status applies to the entire institution.

          WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE DENIED REAFFIRMATION AND PLACED ON WARNING? Warning imposed by the Commission’s Board of Trustees at the time of an institution’s comprehensive decennial review follows a determination of significant non-compliance with the Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, or the Federal Requirements of the Principles of Accreditation of the Commission; failure to make timely and significant progress toward correcting the deficiencies that led to the finding of noncompliance; or failure to comply with Commission policies and procedures. The maximum total time during one monitoring period that an institution may be on Warning is two years. In December 2013, Erskine College will have been on Warning for 12 months. For additional information about sanctions, see the Commission’s policy entitled “Sanctions, Denial of Reaffirmation, and Removal from Membership” that can be accessed at http://www.sacscoc.org/policies.asp.

          WHY WAS ERSKINE COLLEGE DENIED REAFFIRMATION OF ACCREDITATION AND PLACED ON WARNING? Erskine College was denied reaffirmation of accreditation and placed on Warning because the SACSCOC Board of Trustees determined that, at the time of the institution’s decennial review, it had failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 2.5 (Institutional effectiveness), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.10 (Administrative staff evaluations), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.13 (Institution-related entities), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1 (Institutional effectiveness: educational programs), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.2 (Institutional effectiveness: administrative support services), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.3 (Institutional effectiveness: academic and student support services), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.5 (Institutional effectiveness: community/public service), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2 (Quality enhancement plan), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1 (General education competencies), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4 (Terminal degrees of faculty), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.2 (Faculty evaluation), and Comprehensive Standard 3.12.1 (Substantive change) of the Principles of Accreditation. The cited standards expect an accredited institution to provide evidence that it (1) engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research based planning and evaluation processes, (2) identifies outcomes, assesses their achievement, and uses results for improvement, (3) has sufficient terminally qualified faculty, (4) evaluates faculty and administrators, (5) identifies general education competencies and their attainment, and (6) reports substantive changes requiring approval. (To read the full statements for the standards cited above, access the Principles of Accreditation at http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp.)

          WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN DECEMBER 2013? The SACSCOC Board of Trustees will consider the accreditation status of Erskine College following review of a First Monitoring Report submitted by the institution addressing the standards cited above for noncompliance and the report of the Special Committee that will visit the institution in fall 2013. The Board will have the following options: (1) reaffirm accreditation and remove the institution from Warning, without an additional report or with a Fifth-Year Follow Up Report; (2) deny reaffirmation of accreditation, continue accreditation, continue Warning and request an additional report; (3) deny reaffirmation of accreditation, continue accreditation, continue Warning or place the institution on Probation, authorize a Special Committee, and request an additional report; and (4) remove the institution from membership with the Commission on Colleges. Commission staff will not speculate on what decision might be made by the Commission’s Board in December 2013.

          For additional information regarding the Commission’s accreditation process, access the Principles of Accreditation (http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp).

  5. Daniel Stephens says:

    As someone who was both at the meeting of Synod in March 2010 and at Erskine College before and during the spring of 2010, I think some clarifications need to be made. There is a difference between what some students were writing about in the years prior; what was reported, discussed, and decided at Synod; and what was told to the people at Erskine after the meeting.

    The section of students who were critical of the institution in the years prior to the snow synod spoke mainly to what they perceived as a failure to follow the stated mission of the college (Christian Commitment and Academic Excellence). As such, most of the time they spent discussing it focused on either the Christian commitment of the college, its academic excellence or both.

    While it is uncontested that the activity of some students played a part in forming the commission of Synod, the focus of the commission in their reports was different. At the snow synod the commission was concerned primarily with what they perceived as a failure of the board to govern the institution effectively. There was much blame on the administration, but the buck stopped at the board of trustees. In both of the commission’s reports and in the discussion of the synod as a whole, the bulk of the time was spent on the perceived failure of the board (and administration) to exercise oversight and give direction to the institution. After that, there were a number of issues of concern that took much of the Synod’s time and the commission’s second report. These include, but aren’t limited to: misappropriation of a substantial amount of money, college funds being used in inappropriate (and illegal!) ways, and the looming visit by SACS of which the institution was not prepared. There was discussion about the implementation of the mission of the college. It features in the first report of the commission and in parts of the Synod’s discussion. It is telling that when the commission expressed concern that Erskine would not be able to survive on its current trajectory, it was primarily due to financial problems and irreconcilable division among those in charge. This is different from the students who wrote before the Snow Synod (probably in due to the fact that the students did not have access to this information).

    What was relayed to those at Erskine after the meeting was quite different as well. Those at Erskine were told that the Synod had taken direct control of the college, that faculty jobs were in jeopardy, and that the college would go the route of Bob Jones. The focus soon became the perceived fundamentalism of the ARP and the perceived deceit of the commission. Nothing was mentioned about governance issues and the concerns about accreditation (though a different concern about accreditation was referenced—the church’s involvement being an undue influence). The mission was talked about as if it were something new to be imposed upon the school. In short, there was very little discussion about the mission or the governance issues. Rather, the focus was on the impropriety of the Synod, commission, and the students who wrote prior to the Snow Synod.

    What is my point in rehearsing this history? I’ve seen for years now that when people talk of the desire of the ARP church, they rarely mean what the ARP actually discussed and decided. They frequently mean the caricature of the church that was put forth at Erskine immediately after the Snow Synod. Sometimes they refer to the writings of the students who wrote before the Snow Synod, but those no more express the thoughts or desires of the Synod than a citizen’s letter to congress represents the thoughts or desires of the United States government. There is another wrinkle to the equation and that is, within months of the Snow Synod, the ARP church reversed its decision.

    I’ve attached below a segment of the commission’s first report. To my knowledge, the second report of the commission does not exist in electronic form. I believe this is because of the sensitive nature of the material and the commission’s desire not to divulge it beyond what they deemed appropriate. I do not have the amended motions that Synod passed in March 2010, I trust someone will be able to provide those.

    Section of the 2010 Moderator’s Commission’s First Report:
    Preliminary Conclusions
    The Commission unanimously finds that:

    1. The General Synod has been negligent in its oversight of Erskine College and Seminary. We have not taken seriously our responsibility for appointing independent, engaged, and competent trustees who both understand and support the unique missions of the institutions. We have not made tangible efforts to train the trustees on matters essential to the fulfillment of their responsibilities to Erskine and to the ARP Church. We have not taken responsible measures to ensure that these missions are understood and implemented properly by the Board and Administration. The ARP Church has invested millions of the Lord’s dollars and countless man-hours in its educational ministry at the college and seminary. We would be poor stewards of these funds, as well as of the legacy of our fathers and mothers in the faith, if we were to refuse to help Erskine fulfill the missions envisioned in the documents we have produced and adopted as a Synod and in the institution’s own mission statements. Before considering the failures of others, we must begin with contrition ourselves.
    2. There are irreconcilable and competing visions about the direction of the college and seminary among the members of the Erskine Board of Trustees. There is widespread disagreement in relation to the meaning of Erskine’s responsibility to integrate faith and learning and what impact, if any, this should have in the college and seminary classrooms. One need not take sides to recognize that the Board’s lack of agreement on these matters puts the institution in an untenable situation.
    3. There are irreconcilable and competing visions about Erskine’s mission as a liberal arts college on the Erskine Board and within the Administration and faculty. While the Commission met no one whose vision for Erskine was a fundamentalist Bible college, divisions came clearly to the surface regarding Erskine’s academic standards and the growing number of professional, rather than liberal arts, degrees. Despite vocal differences among the faculty and Administration, it was not evident that the trustees have given any clear direction in these matters.
    4. It became evident to us as we listened to all the parties concerned that Erskine College and Seminary stand at a crossroads as the search is conducted for a new president. The General Synod must speak clearly at this critical juncture so that the message of our interest in Erskine’s success is unambiguous. The next president must have the full support of the ARP Church and its Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Seminary. In our candid conversations with trustees, faculty, and members of the search committee, we came to the conclusion that no presidential candidate could garner the whole-hearted support of every Erskine Board member. It would be grievously unfair to the next president and potentially disastrous for these institutions if he does not have this unqualified support.
    5. Almost without exception, present and past members of the Board of Trustees believe that the size of the Board is a significant obstacle to effective governance. In addition, when the Board meets, its 34 members are joined by a number of advisory members and more than a dozen administrators from the institutions. Even during executive session, the 34-member Board is joined by other parties. The result of this practice is that the Administration, and not the Board, effectively sets policy for the institution. The Board, as a whole, does not evaluate the Administration outside of its presence, making meaningful evaluations nearly impossible.
    6. In an effort to govern the institutions effectively with such a large number of trustees, the Board is subdivided into several committees. While committees can be an effective means of utilizing the special experience and skills of trustees, the committee structure presently employed by the Erskine Board is a hindrance to proper governance and oversight because, in the nature of the case, the Board relies heavily on its Executive Committee. The result, despite the best of intentions among those serving on the Executive Committee, is that most trustees are left without knowledge about large parts of the institution entrusted to their care. The structures critiqued in points (5) and (6) of this report have the effect of hindering any kind of meaningful discussion and debate by the full Board during their meetings.
    7. The structure and composition of the Board of Trustees are problematic for the faithful oversight of the seminary. The group of trustees who make up the seminary committee are charged with the responsibility for overseeing the seminary on behalf of the Board and, thus, the ARP Church. Most trustees have no involvement in any oversight of the seminary. Though the seminary prepares and trains future ministers, including men who will serve in the ARP Church, the seminary committee includes members who do not meet the criteria for ordination as ministers or elders in our denomination.
    8. The ideological divisions on the Board have created significant challenges for the Erskine faculty. The College faculty are rightly troubled that the Board of Trustees and Administration have given them little guidance for the implementation of Erskine’s mission. The lack of clear directives has led to widespread faculty confusion about their responsibilities to the ARP Church in the classroom setting. A significant majority of the professors interviewed had no understanding of how the Christian faith could be meaningfully integrated into their discipline. The Church-appointed trustees have not instructed the Administration to explain to professors what is expected of them. To date, there has been no effective training on the integration of faith and learning. Though several professors have asked repeatedly for further clarification on the implementation of the mission, no such clarity has been offered. Though the Board has, in response to the appointment of this Commission, instructed the Administration to develop a plan for such integration, we do not believe that either the Administration or the Board is capable of achieving such a goal.
    9. The Board has been negligent in its responsibility to hold the Administration accountable for the faculty it employs. The Board has not instructed the Administration to evaluate the faculty either on the quality of their teaching or on their ability to integrate faith and learning in the classroom. Accordingly, the Administration conducts no such evaluations. Contract renewals are offered by the Administration, and tenure is granted by the Board on the basis of student and faculty member self-evaluation. Thirteen faculty members have been employed since the General Synod added inerrancy to its definition of what constitutes an evangelical profession. It is not evident that many of these new faculty members are committed to inerrancy, and there is little evidence that the Board has made certain that Synod’s directives were followed. Seminary faculty, though largely pleased with the Christian commitment and academic credentials of their colleagues, did express concerns that some seminary professors cannot affirm inerrancy as defined by the General Synod, despite assurances of the Administration to the contrary.
    10. The so-called “culture of intimidation,” found by Second Presbytery’s Committee on the Minister and His Work several years ago, is still present on the campus. There is an atmosphere in some quarters of Erskine College and Seminary that is inimical to faithful implementation of the mission.
  6. Dear Mr. Eric Goodwin,

    In your last post, you stated you were unclear as the “details” of which I wrote. You also wrote: “I’m not calling for the substantial changes you and other ARPs favor.”

    As I read the report of the Moderator’s Commission to the “Snow” Synod and the SACS “warning,” I don’t see substantive differences between the two reports. The only differences I see are two: (1) the Moderator’s Commission warns of an impending disaster; and (2) the SACS “warning” is the disaster.

    Please be so kind as to read the Moderator’s Commission’s Report. Where do you disagree? How do the Moderator’s Commission’s Report to the “Snow” Synod and the SACS “warning” disagree?

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

  7. John Wilde says:

    Mr. Wilson,
    Interesting presentation, but what do you suggest should be done with Erskine?

    • Dear Mr. John Wilde,

      Thank you for your question.

      Assuming you are the John Wilde who was a librarian at Erskine about 12 years ago, what do you think? I have stated my opinion clearly and often in ARPTalk. However, I would like to see what you think. I’m looking forward to reading you comments.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

  8. John Wilde says:

    Don’t ask me. I left Erskine in 1995 and haven’t set foot on campus since.

    • Dear John Wilde,

      Thanks for your reply.

      I remember you well. I was working on a DMin at the time, and we talked about books once or twice.

      Where did you go? What are you doing now?

      You write: “I left Erskine in 1995 and haven’t set foot on campus since.” Do I hear frustration and disappointment in those words? Well, if I do, that is how I feel. Depending on the day, I want to work to change Erskine or burn it down and give the land to Mennonite farmers so they can plant corn and make the land productive again.

      In the end, it doesn’t matter what I think. If this SACS “warning” is not taken seriously and addressed carefully, SACS will answer the question – and that within the year. Sadly, many of the clowns in the administration and on the board who have brought this “warning” to pass are still driving the bus. They have a penchant for ignoring warning. I glad I don’t ride on that bus!

      John, what do you think of my assessment? Good to hear from you again after so many years.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

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