4/16/1996, Times Argus


By ROBERT PIASECKI - Times Argus Staff

PLAINFIELD -- The sudden resignation of Peter Burns, Goddard College's Director of Admissions, is apparently what touched off protests by faculty and students at the school last week.

But Burns said the demonstrations aren't about him, but a host of other issues that all have to do with "working conditions created by Goddard President Richard Greene's management style."

In his letter of resignation, Burns claimed Greene has created a "climate of fear" on the campus because of his "autocratic" leadership.

"You constantly use intimidation and fear as a means to stomp out any thought that runs counter to your own," Burns, who has been at Goddard since 1992, said in a letter sent to Greene last Wednesday.

"I have worked for nine college presidents and have never seen such an elitist and paternalistic attitude," he said in a letter.

In addition, Burns claimed in the letter that Greene has "publicly chastise colleagues, misrepresented facts, and has a propensity to bend the truth.

"At present you are taking the college down, what I consider, an extremely dangerous path by choosing to spend more funds than the current budget can balance," he said in the letter.

Greene denied the claims, saying Burns was upset because the Board of Trustees has Goddard's administration to investigate the possibility of hiring outside consulting firm to improve admissions at the school.

But Burns said Greene made the decision to hire the consulting firm on his own.

"I'm not against the consultants -- they would probably serve the college well. What I'm against is a process by which they were brought in. That is what prompted my resignation," Burns said in a telephone interview.

Greene, however, said an open meeting was held at Goddard to discuss the hiring of the consulting firm and the idea was "very well received."

Sources at Goddard said privately that Greene wanted Burns to leave because he did not meet the college's enrollment goals for this year, and has refused to be a team player.

In his letter of resignation, Burns said the decision to hire the consulting firm will have broad implications and change the school's financial aid policy from need based to non-need based.

Burns said the cost of hiring consultants might also create financial problems at Goddard that could lead to personnel cuts.

Greene said financial aid programs at Goddard would not be significantly impacted by the consulting firm.

"Ninety seven percent of the students qualify for financial aid right now," Greene said.

As far as possible layoffs at Goddard, Greene said a committee that includes students, faculty, and the administration is preparing a budget for next year that might include cuts.

However, opposition to Greene appears to be widespread and growing. An effort to unionize Goddard's 50 employees and 50 faculty members is underway.

Catherine Widener, a member of Goddard's faculty, said morale is as poor as she has ever seen it.

"He (Greene) is governing the community from which he has no support," she said. "That does nothing but foster fear,"

"There is a lot of pressure from the top down, and that's very un-Goddardly," she said.

Mark Greenberg, another member of the school's faculty, echoed Burns' and Widener's thoughts, saying Greene has managed to "radically alter the image of Goddard college by creating a 'corporate atmosphere' on a campus where human resources have always mattered more than the bottom line.

"He (Greene) won't provide the carpenter with the hammer, yet he'll fire the carpenter for not being able to hit the nail," Greenberg said.

(Times Argus staff reporter David Delcore contributed to this report.)