5/9/96, Times Argus


By Jane O'Meara Sanders et al.

The Goddard College Board Of Trustees presents this statement of shared values and beliefs held by the board -- and held, indeed, by many members of the Goddard community -- to provide some focus as we all reflect on the events of the recent past and plan for the future.

We believe that Goddard has made significant progress over the last few years by working together. We worked collaboratively on what could be called a "re-visioning" of the college, carefully honing a Mission Statement and a Priorities Plan, and painstakingly drafting a Governance Document. We carried out a year-long process to ensure that we, as a community, were ready and willing to attract, support and retain a new president.

Our presidential search committee, comprised of students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, alumnae and trustees, recommended that the Board of Trustees hired Dr. Richard E. Greene to fill this leadership position. The board concurred with that recommendation for two reasons. First, we wholeheartedly supported the widely-held view, both inside and outside the college, that fundamental educational and financial change would be necessary to move Goddard back to the cutting edge of progressive education and vigorous financial health. The second, of course, was Richard Greene himself. We agreed with the committee that Dr. Greene's qualifications and experience in financial management and development, innovative educational programs and collaborative processes would be a good match for the path we as a community wanted to pursue.

Shortly after hiring President Greene, our efforts culminated in Goddard receiving, after a five-year show-cause (as to why they should not put us on probation) order, an unblemished accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. With this important step behind us, we set out to reclaim our mantle of leadership in the field of progressive education.

We understood then, as now, that Goddard could not make these fundamental changes without making significant choices in programs and personnel. We knew that these choices would be difficult, especially for those who are directly affected. Yet all along the way, collaborative decisions, from the choice of the president to the more recent decision not to raise tuition next year, have led us to this point.

There are issues which the Board of Trustees has expressed concern about for several years -- issues that affect our financial stability and educational integrity. Rather than imposing our view, we have repeatedly asked the faculty and the administration (including former administrations) to address those concerns and report back to us. The president has been working diligently to address these concerns. The board strongly supports him in these efforts and does not support the call for his resignation.

The focus of the current conflict has been on Richard Greene, as it has been on virtually every president since Tim Pitkin. But the overriding issues are twofold.

The first is one of governance. While we understand that we must continue, as a community, to clarify roles and responsibilities, it is our intent to make one thing extremely clear. Goddard is, has always been, and will continue to be a college with a policy-making Board of Trustees, a president, and an administrative structure to implement that policy. That is non-negotiable.

The second one is ethics. We all -- trustees, the president, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and alumnae -- have an obligation to provide an exemplary learning and working environment. To create such an environment, you must insist on open and honest communication and we must ensure that every individual is treated with respect and behaves respectfully. We must be willing to make difficult decisions with only the common good as our guide. This board is committed to these goals and we need everyone's help in achieving them.

Community collaboration is, and will always be, an integral part of Goddard structure. We continue to urge all members of the Goddard community to consider and articulate the changes they prefer in such crucial areas as faculty workload, group study size, personnel evaluations and potential budget cuts.

Successful dialogue most certainly includes the right to disagree and to express that disagreement through peaceful means. Indeed, the Board of Trustees firmly believes that honest, civil discourse must be heeded and that anything less must not hold sway. We must all put our collaborative principles into practice and ensure that our communication is constructive rather than destructive and our efforts are aimed at resolving differences rather than igniting them. Despite areas of disagreement, we expect the faculty, staff and administration to maintain the orderly operation of the college for the benefit of the students and in full compliance with their contractual responsibilities.

These are difficult times. And there are difficult decisions ahead. But there is a great deal more common ground than is currently obvious. If we focus on the long-range good of the college and an adherence to the principles that bind us, together we will build a strong future for Goddard.

Jane O'Meara Sanders is chairperson of the Goddard College Board of Trustees, which issued the above statement on Monday.