Sur-prise! Sur-prise! Sur-prise!

(Editor’s note: The official Erskine report can be read HERE. A detailed report on the meeting of the board is not the norm for the Erskine administration and board. Usually, an oral report is given by President Norman at a “Town Hall Meeting” in Due West.)

With a “G-O-L-L-Y!”, a “Shazam!”, and a “Sur-prise! Sur-prise! Sur-prise!”, we have traveled back in time to the Andy Griffith Show, the mythical town of “Mayberry”, and Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. Gomer Pyle may not have been the oddest of Andy Griffith’s characters, but he is the one whose words best describe my response to the February meeting of the Erskine board: “Sur-prise! Sur-prise! Sur-prise!” Without a doubt, the Editor of ARPTalk was SUR-PRISED! A spark of hope still burns for the reformation of Erskine!

What was remarkable enough to give the Editor of ARPTalk renewed hope for the reformation of Erskine College and Seminary? It is the work of the SCONE (the Sub-Committee on Nominations for Erskine). They chose seven nominees who are loyal to the evangelical Christian mission of Erskine. It is the overwhelming adoption of the seven nominees presented by the SCONE by the Erskine board. It is the board’s recommendation of these seven to the Committee on Nominations. Remarkably, Charles W. Wilson affirms this list!! Remarkably, with the expected approval by and recommendation of this list of seven by Synod’s Committee on Nominations and their affirmation by Synod in June, there is an evangelical majority on the Erskine board for the first time in over 40 years. That is, for the first time in over 40 years, a majority of the Erskine board will be trustees who both understand and affirm the stated mission of the institution and our definition of “Evangelical Christian.” Only time will reveal whether these folks are able and reformist enough to work together in efforts to transform Erskine into an educational institution known openly and proudly as evangelically Christian – an educational institution combining both academic excellence and Christian fidelity. Indeed, let us hope!

With these new leaders, perhaps Erskine can begin catching up to North Greenville University (NGU). Derisively referred to as the “hillbilly Bible College” by some Erskine professors and secular alums, on February 20, “CBS News released the latest ‘Best Professors’ list, which is compiled by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity,” and the professors at NGU were ranked number TWO in the nation. “Shazam!”

Dr. Richard Taylor and others on the Erskine board are asking, “What can we do to silence Chuck Wilson?” Yes, indeed, what can be done to shut down ARPTalk and the truth-telling by Charles W. Wilson? Here is the answer: missional fidelity, ecclesiastical fidelity, and Biblical fidelity at Erskine! With the seating of these seven trustees on July 1, missional, ecclesiastical, and Biblical fidelity are finally in reach at Erskine. In spite of obfuscations and clever scheming, THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS SILENCING CHARLES W. WILSON HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE ERSKINE BOARD. And the heart of Charles W. Wilson is gladdened by this step!   :-)

In my last e-mail and posting, “The Sound of Silence”, I predicted the following regarding the February meeting of the Erskine board:

  1. There will be much hand wringing over the SACS audit; however, the board will be assured all is well and under control by President Norman and Chairman Conner.
  2. The word on the street in Due West is a consultant (who is an expert on matters regarding SACS accreditation) has been (or will be) retained to guide the Erskine administrators in their REMEDIATION process with SACS. Why is this necessary? Are these folks unable to follow directions, meet SACS’ nitpicking requirements and schedules, and write a long report? According to the December 10, 2012 SACS report in which Erskine was put on “warning,” the administrators at so-called “Fundy schools” (Anderson University, North Greenville University, and Shorter University) succeed where Erskine administrators failed.
  3. As noted above, the SACS audit also involves Erskine Seminary. Whereas ATS granted the Erskine Seminary Columbia Campus degree-giving status, is this now the case with SACS? From SACS’ public documents, this does not appear to be the case.
  4. The board will be informed the discussions between the board’s Ad Hoc Committee and Synod’s Moderator’s Committee are ONGOING. After both the request by General Synod for the Erskine board to write General Synod back into Erskine’s bylaws (2011 Synod) and the assurances of Erskine administrators and trustees this could be done at the meeting of Synod, the discussions are ONGOING almost three years later! Is this because of Chairman Conner’s obstruction? Why do we in the ARP Church countenance such obstinate rebellion?
  5. Chairman Conner will attempt to differentiate between “agency” and “institution.” He will inform trustees Erskine is an “institution” like the ARP Church. Apart from historical ties and the money the ARP contributes as the institution’s largest contributor, Erskine is separate from, equal to, and not an “agency” of the ARP Church. The only tie is the appointment of trustees. Well, would someone be so kind as to explain what it means for Erskine to be the “arm” of the ARP Church in college and seminary education?
  6. Whether publicly or privately, look for discussions regarding July 1, 2013, when seven new trustees are slated to be seated, and, if the new trustees are obviously loyal to the ARP Church, this will be unacceptable to the present majority and plans will be drawn up for NOT seating the new trustees. Chairman Conner will take this as a grand quest!!
  7. With Dr. Tim Watson’s resignation from the board, President Norman has appointed Rev. Andy Putnam as the new chairman of the Seminary Committee. Mr. Putnam was one of the authors deleting the ARP Church from the Erskine bylaws. His appointment may not bode well for the seminary of the ARP Church. Dr. Watson instituted an “open door” policy for the representative of the seminary. Will this policy continue? Rumor has it there is little enthusiasm for this appointment.
  8. In addition, a litany of woes will be read regarding recruitment, retention, budget, a rising discount rate, and development. But do not despair there is good news: Erskine is the safest college/university in South Carolina.

Well, let us see how the Editor of ARPTalk did as a prognosticator.

Regarding #1. As expected, the board was assured the SACS audit issues are under control. Really?? That was the story before Erskine was placed on “warning” by SACS. The words of former President Reagan ring true here: “Trust but Verify!”

Regarding #2. There were electronic conversations with numerous consultants. However, all the consultants in all the world are of no help if there is continuing dissonance between what Erskine presently is and missional fidelity (what Erskine should be!!).

Regarding #3. The situation at the seminary is grave. As one board member puts it: “With the numbers we saw, I don’t see how the seminary is going to make it!” Well, I think I have seen the same numbers he saw. I agree with the assessment.

Regarding #4. As expected, the discussions between the board’s Ad Hoc Committee and Synod’s Moderator’s Committee are ongoing. As long as Mr. Conner is the board chairman, do not look for a resolution agreeable to the Synod on the bylaws.

Regarding #5. Surprise!! Chairman Conner changed the discussion on language from “agency” and “institution” to “covenant” (see discussion below at the ‘*’).

Regarding #6. As Gomer Pyle would say: “G-O-L-L-Y!”, “Shazam!”, and “Sur-prise! Sur-prise! Sur-prise!” With the Erskine board having voted overwhelmingly to sustain the recommendation of the seven nominees of the SCONE to Synod’s Committee on Nominations, if they are recommend by the Committee on Nomination and approved by General Synod as expected, Chairman Conner is then left without a reasonable argument for not seating the seven new trustees in July. Did he get blindsided by his board? Did he miscalculate? Did he overstep? As I read the guidelines of SACS, attempting such an action now would bring Erskine into further “noncompliance” with SACS. Amazingly, in spite of emotional outbursts by Ms. Lisa Senn and Ms. Nan Campbell, and theirs and Dr. Richard Taylor’s negative votes, the board affirmed the nominees. The Rev. Kyle Sims, spokesman for the SCONE, is worthy of a hearty thank you. He ably presented the choice of the seven nominees in the face of a storm of emotional criticism. At the meeting of Synod last year, Mr. Sims said he was a voice for reformation at Erskine. He has flown his colors proudly and kept his word! Thank you, Mr. Sims!

Regarding #7. According to reports, all indicators at both campuses of the seminary are down. Morale among the seminary faculty members is low. Dr. Norman’s continuing restructuring of the seminary is not inspiring confidence in his leadership among most of the faculty members. Dr. Jim Meek, the new seminary VP, seems qualified. The questions: (1) Will Dr. Norman and the board allow him to lead? and (2) Can he regain the confidence of the ARP Church?

Regarding #8: :-)

Like the US Congress’ handling of the budget, the hard issues of budget shortfall, rising student discounts, recruitment, student retention, development, and missional fidelity were kicked down the road to a future meeting of the board. But there was a bright word from Due West: the Erskine basketball team had its first winning season since 1993. “G-O-L-L-Y!” :-)

*Though an elder in the ARP Church (Greenville ARP Church), Mr. Conner’s term as Chairman is marked by strife with the General Synod. Flying in the face of the historical connection between the General Synod and its Erskine educational agency, at the February meeting of the Erskine board he proposed a redefinition of the relationship between Erskine and the ARP Church as a “covenant”: “OUTLINE OF COVENANT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AND ERSKINE COLLEGE AND THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY” (see URL: http://www.arptalk.org/covenant/ for the full text).  Apart from Chairman Conner’s (1) liberties with the word “covenant,” (2) his misunderstanding of the historical record, (3) his glossing over the theological differences between Erskine and the ARP Church, and (4) his attempt to refashion and redefine Erskine from perpetrator of the of the conflict with General Synod to victim, he seems to have borrowed his ideas from a document presented to Second Presbytery last June 7, 2012 that redefined the relationship between Second Presbytery and Covenant Way Retirement Center (formerly the Due West Retirement Center). See “Covenant Between Covenant Way Retirement Center and Second Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church,” pp. 11-13. Key players involved at Covenant Way Retirement Center (CWRC) and at Erskine have deep connections to the Session of the Greenville ARP Church. After reading Chairman Conner’s proposed “covenant” for the Erskine and the ARP Church and CWRC’s “covenant” with Second Presbytery, one cannot help but wonder if Chairman Conner authored or co-authored both documents!? They are strikingly similar.

In 1986 the General Synod gave oversight of CWRC to Second Presbytery. From the outset, the relationship was marked by ambiguities regarding the extent of Second Presbytery’s oversight and tensions regarding (1) the approval and appointment of trustees and (2) financial disclosure. With regard to questions about financial disclosure, the retort was one of “Trust us! Don’t you think we know what we’re doing!?” In the last two years, sharp conflict erupted between Second Presbytery and CWRC over CWRC’s insistence on having a certain individual as a board trustee and, once again, nondisclosure of financial documents. In response to Second Presbytery, the board of CWRC declared independence from Second Presbytery. However, the board seemed uneasy with their new-found freedom and the relationship between CWRC and Second Presbytery was recast as a “covenant.” Last June at the pre-Synod meeting of Second Presbytery, Second Presbytery acquiesced to the wishes of CWRC. Since then, the ongoing financial difficulties of CWRC have become painfully clear. According to the letter sent from the CWRC board, CWRC will be closed no later than May 15, 2013, when the bank seizes the property and assets. Regretfully, CWRC closes with many questions being asked about the board’s handling of monies – especially the “Life Lease” escrow account. Residents apparently stand to lose large sums of money that they or their estates were supposed to get back. Is this why the CWRC people were not forthcoming with financial statements?

At this point, we in Second Presbytery owe Dr. Rob Roy McGregor an apology. For years, he voiced warnings about CWRC. We shut our ears to his warnings regarding financial issues at CWRC. Second Presbytery also owes a letter of apology to General Synod. We have failed in the stewardship of oversight entrusted to us by General Synod in 1986. We have allowed a culture of secrecy, non-transparency, and non-accountability to thrive. Now we see the stark realities of a shattered dream, broken promises to vulnerable residents, and the reputations of trusted leaders questioned.

What direction does Chairman Conner desire for Erskine? Is he advocating the CWRC path? His arguments are baffling. His arguments about liturgy, worship, theology, and piety as directional rubrics ordering the relationship between Erskine and the ARP Church are nonsense. They are simply fatuous. Does Chairman Conner realize the absurdity of his arguments?! If implemented, his “covenant” map is a road to ruin for Erskine – as it was for CWRC! BY THE WAY, did I fail to say Chairman Conner’s “covenant” failed to pass muster with the board? The board was not prepared to join him in an act of covenanting! The “official” report from Erskine does not even mention Chairman Conner’s “covenant”.

In the words of Bob Dylan: “Times they are a changin’!” Are the days of the strife-makers on the Erskine board numbered?

Yes, there is a glimmer of hope for Erskine. With the recommendation of the seven nominees by Synod’s Committee on Nominations and Synod’s approval of the slate of nominees of the Committee on Nominations, on July 1, 2013, there is an evangelical Christian majority on the Erskine board! With five more faithful trustees in 2014 who understand and affirm the evangelical faith of the ARP Church and the mission of the college and seminary, there will be an overwhelming evangelical Christian majority on the board. At that point, reconstruction of Erskine in the manner our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters have achieved at so many of their colleges and seminaries is possible at Erskine – a true reformation. This is my prayer for those who have stood and labored so faithfully, who have hoped and prayed so long, and who have been marginalized and scorned so often in Due West.

Now I find myself in the land of quandary. I did not expect this. Should I rethink my thoughts about separation? “Sur-prise! Sur-prise! Sur-prise!”

However, before I close this article, let me give this warning: DO NOT BE SURPRISED BY ANOTHER LAWSUIT. Are ARPs prepared to fight for what is theirs? The EC Foundation has a war chest for this purpose. The folks who make up the ineptocracy of “olde Erskine” are infuriated by the board’s approval of the new board nominees.

(Editor’s Note: In case the reader is interested, the Editor of ARPTalk made numerous phone calls to both Chairman Conner and President Norman attempting to contact them for this article. Neither has responded.)

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

 

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  1. Tony Locke says:

    The closure of Covenant Way was a surprise and very sad. There might be a lawsuit there if families prepaid estate money for a lifetime of residency.

    • Dear Mr. Tony Locke,

      Thank you for the comment.

      What takes place next with regard to the board trustees of Covenant Way will be fascinating. Does anyone want to bet whether attorneys are being consulted at this time? My prediction: CWRC will not go peacefully into the night.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

  2. Daniel Stephens says:

    I’ve read this post twice now and I must be missing something. I don’t understand the excitement over this group of nominees. It’s certainly fascinating that a conservative group would be recommended, but I thought the board sent a list of recommendations to the Synod’s committee on nominations and that committee then took those recommendations into account. I don’t mean to be a spoil sport here, but isn’t this celebration a bit premature? Granted I have no idea what the nominations committee will or won’t do. And the structure very well could have changed in the past few years and I just missed it.

    Here is my question:
    Doesn’t the Synod’s committee on nominations have full control over who they recommend to the Synod? If so, are we to presume that they are in favor of this group (thus the excitement)? If not, where am I mistaken?

    • Mr. Daniel Stephens,

      Thank you for your comments.

      First, I think there is a difference between “surprise” and “excitement.” As you remember, I said I was “surprised” by the nominees selected by the SCONE and by the board’s overwhelming adoption of the SCONE’s slate of nominees. For Chairman David Conner and trustees Nan Campbell, Lisa Senn, and Richard Taylor, the board’s adoption of these seven nominees must have been the equivalent of swallowing large rocks.

      Second, the process for choosing Erskine trustees is complicated. It is much more than the Erskine board making suggestions. The present process has about as many moving parts as a Swiss watch.

      Third, this is a good list! Like all lists, it can be improved; nevertheless, it remains a good list. At the end of the day, these nominees will honor the ARP Church and the evangelical Christian mission of Erskine.

      Fourth, I know the makeup of the Committee on Nominations (CON) (and the makeup of the list isn’t a secret and is found in the back of the Minutes of Synod). Indeed, the CON is the last word for nominees for all of Synod’s boards, committees, and agencies. Yes, the members of the CON can veto the slate of nominees coming from the SCONE and Erskine. However, don’t look for such a thing to happen. As I said, this is a good list. If there is a move to modify the list, it will be an attempt by the conservative majority of the CON to “improve” or “strengthen” it. Once again, I think this will be the list the CON recommends to Synod. If it isn’t, I will be “surprised,” again.

      Fifth, your question: “Doesn’t the Synod’s committee on nominations have full control over who they recommend to the Synod?” The answer: YES!

      Sixth, with the adoption of this slate of nominees by Synod in June and the seating of these seven on the Erskine board in July, then I may consider using the word “excitement.”

      Seven, look for David Conner, the secular alums, and the EC Foundation to attempt something. They will not go peacefully into the night!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

  3. Robert Shaver says:

    Hello Sir
    First I wanted to thank you for your blog and for your constant effort to seek and portray truth – despite the taste it leaves in the mouth. My dad told me about your blog and it has been very helpful and insightful as of late.

    I am a sophomore at Erskine, majoring in Business and minoring in Music. I am also a member of the Euphemians. So from an insider’s view point, I can assure you that Erakine does a very good job at keeping its students in the dark; I knew pretty much nothing about anything you’ve written, though I am in my second year here.
    I can also tell you that though the students do not know much, there is a general feeling of worry and anxiety here, for reasons that do not immediately catch the eye.

    I believe Dr. Norman to be a good president and capable leader. But sometimes I wonder if his views are wrong… I fault him for pretty much hiding everything from the students, and to that end he is not very well liked (at all) around campus. The students don’t know the facts, so naturally they would favor a president who spent time with them e.g. Dr Reubel.

    My question is two fold: can you help to explain some of Dr. Norman’s plan and vision to me, and what can I do here on campus as an insider?

    Solo deo Gloria,
    Robert Shaver

    • Dear Mr. Robert Shaver.

      Thank you for your comments.

      Well, it is good to see there is someone at Erskine who is willing to converse with the Editor of ARPTalk. I hear some have been warned not to engage me. I know the secular alums are terrified of me and now refuse to chat with me. Pity!

      You are correct when you say the Erskine administration “does a very good job at keeping its students in the dark.” Did you know there once was a student-run newspaper at Erskine? It was called the “Mirror.” The editors of the “Mirror” didn’t adhere to the administration’s line. Actually, the editors of the “Mirror” and the SAFE students were the impetus for the March “Snow Synod” in 2010. BTW, did you know the “Mirror” used to be published in paper copy three and four time a year? Have you even heard of the “Mirror”?

      With regard to President Randy Ruble. Yes, he was liked and admired by the students. He used his grandfatherly looks and demeanor well. Unfortunately, his tenure as President was a disaster for Erskine. Many I know in the ARP Church say he was the worst Erskine President EVER! Both the 12 noncompliance violations and the status of “warning” by SACS are attributable to President Ruble. His decisions (or the lack thereof) resulted in the following: (1) a clash with General Synod; (2) litigation with the ARP Church; (3) the collapse of the seminary; and (4) financial distress. I believe the reason there is a “general feeling of worry and anxiety” at Erskine is because of a financial crisis and a failure to attract students.

      When President Ruble became President he decided to change the direction of Erskine. According to him, Erskine’s emphasis on Liberal Arts was too elitist. He wanted to emphasize professional degrees and athletics. This has not worked in the manner envisioned. Particularly, Ruble’s itch for athletics caused the “discount rate” to balloon. Who would have believed it 20 years ago that academically focused Erskine would be a “jock college” where about 55% of the students are on some sort of athletic scholarship!? Indeed, the legacy of President Ruble is he gave Erskine a bad case of “jock itch” with no way to scratch it.

      With regard to President David Norman. Yes, I have been told students don’t like him. In fact, in back issues of ARPTalk, you will find some bitter criticisms of him – one critic, like you, is a Euphemian. As far as his “plan and vision” are concerned, I don’t think I can explain it to you. Neither can he! His “plan and vision” do not exist. His plan exists as a “turbo encabulator” (see the URL for an explanation: (-: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLDgQg6bq7o). You know, I believe that gets it!!

      Finally, you ask: “What can I do here on campus as an insider?” Good question. First, I don’t think it is a good idea for me to respond to you on an open forum. Second, I would be happy to talk with you. I have an open invitation to any Erskine student who wants to have lunch with me as MY GUSET. Since my sight does not allow me to drive, you will have to drive to Seneca. We can talk all you want. Call me at 864-882-6337, and we can make a date. I will even buy gas for your car.

      BTW, when you reply, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your church background?

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson

      • Robert Shaver says:

        Greetings to you Sir.

        I wish to clarify a statement I made concerning Dr. Norman: From what I have seen, he seems to be a good choice for Erskine. The only thing that I would fault is his disconnect with the student body. I did not know President Reuble, but from what I’ve heard he was very involved on campus and with the student body. A lot of underclassmen knew him and liked him well, and I think one of the biggest dislikes of Dr. Norman is that he is not as socially active as our former president.

        As to the Mirror, it was still active as early as last semester, in the only form I’ve ever known – online. I even wrote an article for it, but I don’t think it was published. But I have not seen head’s or tails of it yet in 2013. I actually know the “editor” fairly well, so I’ll have to ask her about that…

        I was born and raised in Vero Beach, Florida, where my family still attends MorningStar ARP Church I. heard about Erskine from my father and I have thus far enjoyed my “Erskine Experience,” though I never thought I would wind up in miniature Due West. I am in several student organizations, including the Euphies, FCA (though I am not an athlete…) and Fleetones. I also manage the recording studio of the music department and sing in Choraleers in addition to my classes.

        As to lunch, I would be honored. However, I do not have a car, so getting to Seneca would prove problematic. But, I may be able to borrow a friend’s car, so I may try to do that. Thank you for your invitation.

        *Disclaimer*
        I am most likely among the youngest to read this blog, and as such I will try to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself whenever I can, given the superior knowledge of my elders.

        Soli Deo Gloria,
        Robert Shaver

        • Dear Mr. Robert Shaver,

          Thanks for your comments.

          To begin with, your “disclaimer” is unnecessary. I have great respect for Erskine students such as you. Using the Mirror as their voice, it was the work of Erskine students in 2008 – 10 that the “culture of intimidation” of President Ruble’s administration was exposed, first, to Second Presbytery and, then, to General Synod. I still remember the hoard of Erskine students who made the time and put forth the effort to speak and expose the abuses at Erskine before Synod in 2009. Without the efforts of Erskine students, the “Snow Synod” of March, 2010, would never have taken place.

          I see you are a Florida Boy – born and raised. Do you still have sand in your shoes? I too am a Florida Boy – born and raised. Winter Haven is my home. Yes, I still have sand in my shoes. And it’s good to see you are an ARP. The last time I looked at the makeup of the student body, ARPs were on the “endangered list” at Erskine.

          In this discussion, I think you need to understand the success of a college president is not whether students like or dislike him. The success of a college president hinges of whether he is able to (1) implement the mission, (2) increase the enrollment, (3) improve the faculty, and (4) enhance the giving base. At this time, with Erskine College having been placed on academic “warning” by SACS, the aforementioned criteria are not happening.

          Send me an e-mail at wilson6114@bellsouth.net and we can make arrangements for lunch or supper or something. I am looking forward to meeting you.

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

  4. Reiggin Hilderbrand says:

    The Mirror doesn’t exist any longer? That’s a shame. As a former Editor-in-Chief, I saw the potential in the paper but sadly, I was too young and naive to recognize it. I once wrote a couple editorials that took a few shots at the administration. But after being called into Dean Weatherman’s office and the Director of Admissions’, I was told that criticizing the school was bad for recruitment and that I should focus on only the positives. Again, I was too naive and I took my admonishment, did not speak of it, and stopped writing editorials all together. I regret that and I was glad to see that a few years later, others stepped up and used the paper for real change and published meaningful investigative stories. Again, I’m sad to hear that The Mirror is no longer published.

    • Dear Mr. Reiggin Hilderbrand,

      Thank you for your comments.

      With regard to the Mirror, the Mirror no longer exists in the form you knew it: a student-controlled and student-published PAPER-newspaper. Since 2010/11, the Mirror has lost the autonomy it had when you were Editor-in-Chief. It is now online (at this site: http://mirror.erskine.edu/). It no longer has the editorial investigative-verve or the questioning-sharpness of the past. It is an exsanguinated reflection of itself – the administration’s rag.

      Reiggin, were you really “told that criticizing the school was bad for recruitment and that [you] should focus on only the positives”? You can’t mean this! College is where we learn about “freed of speech,” “freedom of the press,” “academic freedom,” “freedom of inquiry,” and “critical thinking”. Do you mean to tell me a student was threatened in those areas? You can’t mean it! We’re talking about Erskine! We’re talking about a Christian school that gave Dr. Bill Crenshaw impunity for 30 years to attack the Christian faith (and Christian students) in his classroom. The reasons the administration and board gave to the ARP Church for not dealing with Crenshaw were “freed of speech,” “freedom of the press,” “academic freedom,” “freedom of inquiry,” and “critical thinking”. Are you saying as a student these were not extended to you? Are you saying as a student you witnessed administrative hypocrisy? I am shocked! Indeed, if such is the case, no wonder the student enrollment is now under 500.

      Well, as I see it, the Mirror is now everything the administration wants and less.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      Editor

      • James Curtis says:

        Chuck,

        Great questions. I am interested, though: how do you know there are under 500 students here at EC? I didn’t think they’d make that sort of information public. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, especially with all the talk of people wanting to transfer making this years freshman class even smaller.

        Thanks,
        James Curtis

        • Eric Goodwin says:

          Jim,

          I recently corresponded with Student Services for a project I am working on and – at least for housing (including on-campus, commuters, and off-campus) – they have 512 registered.

          Eric

          • Dear Messrs. Jim Curtis and Eric Goodwin,

            Thanks for your comments.

            Jim, the answer is 497. This number comes from Dr. Gid Alston.

            As you know, Dr. Alston, formerly the Acting Academic Dean and VP of the college during Dr. Ruble’s presidency, is currently the head of the HHP Department. In an e-mail regarding restructuring of the HHP Department, he wrote: “Erskine’s current student population is 497 (barring additional dropouts).”

            Since Dr. Alston is retiring at the end of the semester and no longer has a stake in this matter, I believe his count is righteous.

            Eric, the number you were given is probably the aggregate of all students taking classes. There is a big difference between FTE and the total number of all students. The FTE is the number by which an educational institution lives or dies.

            It is a serious matter if the Erskine FTE has fallen under 500. It’s a magic mark. Unless there have been changes since I was on the board, budgeting was done on the presumption of 600 students. If Alston’s number is solid, the budget deficit is going to be very large.

            Regards,

            Chuck Wilson
            ARPTalk

  5. Reiggin Hilderbrand says:

    I was told that they give copies to all prospective students and that even such innocuous topics as the dining hall being overrun by local middle schoolers was too provocative and mean-spirited of an editorial. That was 1999/2000. Seems that things only went downhill since then. Sorry to see that it’s turned into nothing more than a boring and positively uncontroversial cooperative blog.

    • Dear Mr. Reiggin Hilderbrand,

      Thanks for the comments.

      The irony of what you write screams for a response.

      You say you were told the admissions people give copies of the Mirror to prospective students. Wait! Could this be why the student enrollment is now counted under 500?

      There we go! We now have an answer for Erskine’s falling enrollment. Presently, Student Services oversees the Mirror. Now they hire an Editor. Weren’t you a volunteer when you were Editor of the Mirror?

      Well, I digress. Let me return to my point. Perhaps someone can send a copy of these exchanges to President Norman and the admissions people. They have been in a dither as to why they haven’t been able to attract students.

      Reiggin, they need to hire you as an admissions consultant. You have just solved the problem. You have cut the Gordian Knot in half. Eureka! Stop distributing the Mirror to prospective students!!! President Norman and the board need to send you money for this!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

      • Daniel Stephens says:

        The story about the Mirror is a complicated one. In the interests of fairness, I don’t think that the only reason the Mirror is no longer a newspaper has to do with administrative action/pressure. Newspapers in general have been suffering decreased readership for years. The internet has only heightened this downturn. Even the New York Times has felt the pressure. More local papers like the Greenville News and the AJC have undergone numerous changes in the past decade. The Mirror was no different. Even when there was a large pool of writers and a full paper, it didn’t have a big readership.

        Of course the structure of the Mirror isn’t like most newspapers in that the bills aren’t paid through advertisement and subscriptions. The Mirror’s bills are paid through the student activity fee (or whatever the proper term for that fee is). So, it can continue even with an anemic reader base. It is when there is no staff that the Mirror has trouble.

        Also for clarification, during my time at Erskine the Editor in Chief was paid a small stipend. The Editor in Chief selected the his/her successor. (with approval of the editorial board starting in 07-08). I don’t know if this is the same as it is now. There was at least a precedent for compensation when the Mirror was still a newspaper.

  6. Sej Harman says:

    I appreciate the irony of your editorial use of the YouTube clip featuring actor and singer Jim Nabors, particularly since he is an openly gay man.

    Maybe you’re more compassionate–and perhaps more open-minded–than you generally appear in print. I hope so.

    I’ll look forward to any replies to my comment from other readers.

  7. Dear Sej Harman,

    Thanks for the comment.

    You may appreciate the “irony” all you want. However, I used “Gomer” and not Jim Nabors. Of course, I am aware of Nabors’ sexual orientation.

    BTW, Nabors did a great job of playing “Gomer.” He played the stereotype of a southern half-wit well.

    If you find anything in my use of “Gomer” other than humor, you can turn lead into gold.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

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