Jun 21, 2016 | Comments 4
After the meeting of General Synod, on June 15 and in response to the actions of General Synod, three members of the Erskine board (two laymen and a minister) sent e-mails to Chairman Ron Vigus asking for a “called” meeting of the board. The particulars for the call are three: (1) to deal with the implications of the three motions passed by General Synod regarding Erskine College & Seminary and, therefore, the ability of President Paul Kooistra to continue as President of Erskine College & Seminary; (2) to discuss the separation of the college and seminary; and (3) to discuss the motion regarding observance of the Lord’s Day/Sabbath by refraining from official academic and athletic activities on Sunday.
The call for the meeting was in accordance with the board’s bylaws, Article 3, Section 2. The call was for a meeting as soon as practical in order for the board as currently constituted to deal with issues flowing out of the May meeting of the board and General Synod.
If Chairman Vigus had responded to the properly made request for a “called” meeting of the board, the meeting could have occurred on a day between June 25 and June 30. As it is, Vigus delayed in responding to three members of the board who petitioned for the “called” meeting of the board.
At first, the only response from Vigus was an e-mail stating he was on vacation and would not return until Monday, June 20, and would then deign to call and discuss the matter.
Well, the matter is not up for discussion. A properly and legally-made petition was written and sent; however, the Chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees refuses to abide by the bylaws he has given his word to uphold and disrespects members of the board he has given his word to serve. He is not the Bishop of the board; he is the Chairman of the board. There is a difference; a bishop rules and a chairman serves. At this point, he leads the Erskine trustees into anarchy and lawlessness.
Subsequently, an e-mail was sent asking Vigus to call the meeting by June 20 or resign. He responded by saying he would not do it. He claims his schedule does not allow him to attend a meeting. He refuses to call a meeting he cannot chair. He ignores the fact there is a Vice Chairman. If the Vice Chairman cannot attend, Vigus also ignores another provision: the election of a new chairman. Is Vigus in violation of the bylaws of the board he chairs? Well, it seems he is.
What Does This Mean?
After the May meeting of the board and, particularly, after the meeting of General Synod, it is well known that both Vigus and President Kooistra were in a dither about resigning over the events of the board and General Synod. One of the responsibilities of the Chairman of the Board of Erskine is presenting the Erskine Report at General Synod. Vigus was not at the meeting of General Synod. Was he upset with the outcome of the May board meeting? Was he unwilling to face General Synod? Was he on the verge of resigning from the board? That was the rumor floating around General Synod. I heard it from a number of board members and other people.
It is well known that Vigus is enthralled with Kooistra. He is even called “Kooistra’s man.”
Unprecedented events took place at the May meeting of the board and at General Synod. Both meetings were public humiliations of and rejections of the leadership of Kooistra and Vigus.
Since the May meeting of the board and the meeting of General Synod, little has taken place at either the college or the seminary. It seems folks went on vacations. Good grief, the Erskine ship is sinking and the leaders are not working day-and-night to right the ship!
Has anything of significance been done?
I have not heard of anything. However, the following items need immediate attention: (1) developing a strategic plan, (2) setting a vision for Erskine apart from an athletic model, (3) developing a new enrollment plan, (4) rebuilding a language program, (5) rebuilding the music program, (6) finding a VP of the Seminary, (7) finding a permanent Dean of the Seminary, (8) finding a VP of Development, (9) finding a VP or Director of Admissions, (10) reorganizing an IT department; (11) re-establishing trust with the board, (12) re-establishing trust with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, (13) raising a lot of money, (14) working though a crisis regarding the financial management of CFO Greg Haselden, (15) resolution of a matter of conflict of interest regarding CFO Greg Haselden; (16) beginning the process of rebuilding a Bible Department if/when the seminary separates from the college, and (17) dealing with a $200,000 shortfall in the college’s revenue since General Synod designated all funds to Erskine Seminary.
I wonder why Vigus refuses to call a meeting of the board before July 1. Is he afraid of the makeup of the present board? Has he counted heads? Does he think the board as it is presently constituted will vote to ask for Kooistra’s resignation? Does he think the board will vote to replace him as Chairman? Does he not realize this petition for a “called” meeting has irreparable consequences for Kooistra as the president of Erskine?
Nevertheless, I do not think the members of the board who asked for a “called” meeting of the board are going to change their minds. A “called” meeting of the board for the purpose of evaluating Kooistra’s leadership is going to come to pass.
I have been a member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church for 44 years. I have never heard of a Chairman of an agency of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church refusing to call a board meeting when it was properly and legally called.
By the way, where is President Kooistra? Is he busy doing his job? No. Kooistra is in Mobile, Alabama, at the General Assembly of the PCA, nominating his friend George Robertson for Moderator of the PCA.
This is so ironic. A minister in the PCA who is President of Erskine College & Seminary is protected from a “no confidence” vote of the Erskine Board by a Chairman who is an Elder in the PCA, and two of the trustees who asked for the “called” meeting are members of PCA congregations.
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson
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