Oct 28, 2013 | Comments 14
No set of announcers has lighted up ABC’s Monday Night Football like Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and Don Meredith. Each man was a gifted football announcer and color commentator; however, the synergy of the three made them a Monday night spectacle – often more entertaining than the football game itself! Howard Cosell was the inveterate and irreverent intellect, Frank Gifford was the meticulous football strategist, and Don Meredith was the wit and charm of the threesome. Called “Dandy Don,” Meredith was an extraordinary gifted athlete who played quarterback at Southern Methodist University and, from 1960-68, he was the Pro Bowl quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Meredith was a good-natured, happy-go-lucky, country boy from Mount Vernon, Texas, who referred to himself deferentially as “Jeff and Hazel’s baby boy and Billy Jack’s little brother.” When asked why he was called “Dandy,” with a mischievous grin, he replied, “Because I am.”
The thing many of us remember the most about Meredith was his off key singing of Willie Nelson’s hit song, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” At the end of a game, when it was obvious which team was the winner, “Dandy Don” would crank up with his rendition of Willie Nelson’s old classic. No matter how late the game ran, I stayed up to hear “Dandy Don” sing. Now, once again, “Dandy” Don Meredith sings, but not for the end of a football game. I dedicate this performance of “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” by “Dandy Don” to the EC Foundation (click the URL to hear the song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtGxusvUT3k).
On Thursday and Friday (October 17 and 18) the Erskine College & Seminary board met on the Erskine campus in Due West, South Carolina. The most significant item of business was an action making it clear for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) there is NO RELATIONSHIP between Erskine College & Seminary and the EC Foundation. Just after the “Snow” Synod in March of 2010, the EC Foundation was founded in April by the “Olde Erskine” petite booboisie (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/booboisie) of Sarah Wightman Brice, Andy Byrd, Nan Campbell, Robert Cunningham, Robert Galloway III, Jim Gettys, John and Betty Hunt, Bill Lesesne, Joe Lesesne, Lee Logan, Steve Southwell and others to provide tax-deductible financing for David Chesnut, Richard Taylor, and Parker Young’s legal actions against the ARP Church.
At that time, the shrill hue and cry of the “Olde Erskine” booboisie and the secular-leaning anti-ARP Church alums was Erskine College & Seminary was on the verge of losing SACS accreditation because of interference by the ARP Church. Indeed, in the past, this canard was used often by anti-ARP Church Erskine administrators to dissuade ARPs from investigating the faithless goings on at Erskine College & Seminary. We in the ARP Church were told to watch out because we were an outside influence and SACS would withdraw Erskine’s academic accreditation. Since the work of the Moderators’ Investigatory Commission on Erskine in 2009 and 2010, the canards of loss of accreditation and outside influence have lost their power to intimidate in the ARP Church. We found out the old canards were tales told of “things that go bump in the dark” to frighten children and ARP churchmen. We found out we were a LEGITIMATE INFLUENCE.
Since April of 2010, the directors of the EC Foundation have unsuccessfully sought recognition by and legitimization from the Erskine board. On its website, under “Our Values,” the EC Foundation’s mission is presented in these words: “The EC Foundation is dedicated to promoting Erskine College and Seminary. . . .” In truth, the EC Foundation is the effort of the “Olde Erskine” ineptocracy and the secular, anti-ARP Church alums to regain control over what was once their private fiefdom. Indeed, Erskine is like a beautiful old home left in the care of incompetent and faithless stewards who have allowed it to become dilapidated. Truly, the 40 plus years of the Erskine ineptocracy of those who despised the ARP Church and eschewed the evangelical Christian mission of Erskine has left the once beautiful Christian edifice of Erskine in shambles – in a near fatal condition.
Now it is clear for all to see: THE EC FOUNDATION IS AN INTERLOPER ORGANIZATION – something akin to a LEECH. After all, it raised its money by diverting contributions from Erskine. Therefore, since the EC Foundation is not a part of Erskine College & Seminary and has no share in Erskine’s governance, SACS has ruled the EC Foundation is an “outside influence” and a clear and present danger to Erskine’s accreditation by SACS – the most dangerous threat to Erskine’s accreditation in the last 50 years. In fact, the ambiguities of the relationship between the EC Foundation and Erskine College & Seminary are a major reason why SACS’ auditors placed Erskine on academic “warning” last year. In other words, the EC Foundation is a supposititious (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supposititious) illegitimacy which has nearly wrecked Erskine’s academic standing!
At the August meeting of the Erskine board, a motion was made and passed to send a letter to SACS stating the EC Foundation is NOT a part of Erskine College & Seminary. SACS officials responded by asking why the EC Foundation’s directors continue to use Erskine’s trademarks and continue to promote the foundation as an arm of Erskine College & Seminary on the EC Foundation’s website. At the October 17 and 18 meeting of the Erskine board, Chairman David Conner informed the trustees the EC Foundation would remove all Erskine trademarks from the EC Foundation’s website by November 15, 2013, and the directors of the EC Foundation would refrain from presenting the EC Foundation as a part of Erskine College & Seminary. Will the directors of the EC Foundation really do this without a judge’s order? Chairman Conner also informed the Erskine trustees the EC Foundation is going to morph into an organization to promote funding for all church colleges in South Carolina. Yeah, right! I’m sure the “Olde Erskine” petite booboisie will now seek to bless colleges throughout the state! Nevertheless, the Due West fans of the EC Foundation can “turn out the lights, the party’s over”! To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, “Here’s your door!”
With their inestimable skills which have so benighted the light of Erskine, perhaps the directors of the EC Foundation can turn their efforts to the restoration and reopening of historic Cokesbury College near Due West. I am sure the directors of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History will be thrilled to hear that such an esteemed group of erstwhile educators are coming to their aid!
At this point, some of you are saying I am rubbing salt in the wound. Well, let me assure you, all the salt in all the oceans of the world is not sufficient for the rubbing! These are, after all, the people who sought to purloin an historic agency from the ARP Church and whose strategy of using SACS against the Church boomeranged on them! And in the memorable words of Walter Cronkite, “That’s the way it is . . . goodnight.”
There were other items of business at the October meeting of the board. Let me share some of the more significant items with you.
ONE, once again, Chairman David Conner was made to know he is no longer the Erskine Board Bishop of Due West who speaks ex cathedra. Presently, there is a clear majority of trustees on the board who are dedicated both to maintaining and to advancing the Erskine mission as an evangelical Christian college which is an agency of the ARP Church. This must gall Chairman Conner. He has certainly fought hard against Erskine College being recognized as an agency of the ARP Church. I wonder if the word “agency” makes him dyspeptic!
TWO, at the August meeting, the board voted to open the meetings of the Executive Committee to all members of the board. That is, all members of the board were given ear and voice. In the past, one of the ways board chairmen, Presidents, and administrators were able to control board meetings was by keeping the majority of the trustees in the dark as to the agenda and springing controversial items on the trustees at board meetings. At the October meeting, Chairman Conner attempted to put-out-the-lights of transparency by instituting closed executive meetings of the Executive Committee. The board saw through his ruse. His effort was soundly rejected.
THREE, the request by the Erskine Student Government Association that the board allow the Erskine campus to be “wet” was referred to the February meeting of the board. This request is DOA. None of the trustees want to be saddled with the legal problems or the negative publicity such an action entails. In the past, the reality was the Erskine campus was “damp.” The enforcement of the policy was often ignored by administrators.
FOUR, presently, there is a two-tiered level for electing trustees. First, there is the regular level of nominating, vetting, and election to a five year term by General Synod. Second, there is the ex officio level. The Moderator of General Synod, the Representative of the Women’s Ministry, and the President of the Alumni Association are ex officio members with voting rights but with varying terms of service. There are obvious conflicts. This matter would be easily resolved if not for the presence of the President of the Erskine Alumni Association.
The presence of the President of the Alumni Association on the board is problematic. The Alumni Association does not exist apart from Buddy Ferguson’s office as the alumni director. The Alumni Association is “an ancillary organization of the non-profit corporation known as Erskine College” (Erskine Alumni Association Constitution and By-laws). That is, the President of the Alumni Association as he sits on the board is a representative of the Erskine administration. At best, this is a conflict of interest.
There is also division in the ranks of the alums. The so-called Alumni Association claims to represent all Erskine alums. I assure you the Alumni Association does not represent me. I can also assure you the Alumni Association does not represent many other alums who hold Erskine’s evangelical Christian mission precious. We hold the Alumni Association an abomination and disdain it. We see the Alumni Association as a secularist organization opposing Erskine as the educational agency of the ARP Church. The Alumni Association does not support the evangelical Christian mission of Erskine.
The argument for retaining the President of the Alumni Association on the board is MONEY. Well, as it is, the alums beholden to the Alumni Association are not giving now. Besides, if the only way Erskine can be kept open is by the devil’s money, then Erskine needs to be closed!
At this point, Chairman David Conner muddied the waters. He introduced language from Synod’s Manual of Authorities and Duties (MAD) regarding trustees. I am amazed Chairman Conner would even acknowledge the existence of the MAD. The MAD clearly states Erskine College & Seminary is an AGENCY of the ARP Church. Finally, the matter was referred to the February meeting.
FIVE, it was reported on Friday morning, October 18, the Endowment stood at about $39,000,000 (college-$33,000,000 and seminary-$6,000,000). The board voted to allow a one-time withdrawal up to $2,000,000 for operating expenses this school year. Therefore, I suppose the Endowment now stands at about $37,000,000 today.
SIX, the report from the Presidential Search Committee (PSC) is SIMA, the organization engaged to find candidates for the PSC, presently seeks candidates.
SEVEN, acting President Brad Christie spoke glowingly of the exceptionally large number of athletes recruited for the baseball team. Only about 30 can actually make the team. Will the others stick around for next year? He also noted the large number of hopeful baseball players who have South Carolina Life Scholarships. Well, maintaining a high school B-average and getting the scholarship is one thing and maintaining a college B-average and keeping the scholarship is another. In spite of a Freshman class of over 200, the total number students this fall at Erskine is not that much different from last year. The attrition rate from Freshman year to Sophomore year is high. Will the attrition rate be high again this year?
EIGHT, a letter was received from the so-called Erskine Alumni Association expressing the concerns of their directors. One of trustees (an Erskine alum) noted: “I don’t know where they get off with calling these the alums’ concerns. I’m an alum. These are not my concerns.” Nevertheless, the Alumni Association was concerned with such things as diversity at Erskine. Diversity is good. It would be nice if more evangelical Christians were recruited by the higher educational agency of the ARP Church. The board voted to send the Alumni Association a nice letter. That is, for the alums who do not understand, the Alumni Association was patted on the head.
NINE, it was reported the discount rate this year is over 70%. Good heavens!!!
Finally, one wonders what is taking place at Erskine Seminary. From what I am able to ascertain, not much was said. However, it was reported there were loud moanings and groanings heard emanating from Bowie Divinity Hall.
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson
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