11/20/19 Town Meeting Minutes

Selectboard Clerk Felix, November 20, 2019

20 November 2019

Town Meeting Minutes

 

Minutes are taken by Selectboard Clerk Felix and reflect to the best of my ability what goes on during a Town Meeting. With questions or concerns please comment here or email selectboard@marlboro.edu.

 

(Live minutes are contingent on a useable Internet connection in the dining hall. I will keep an offline document in the event that I cannot connect to the Internet.)

 

Outline:

  1. Head Selectperson Address
  2. Remarks from Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College
  3. Washer/Dryer Funds Request Read-In
    1. request from Alex O’Pray: I am requesting that $1,000 of the W&D fund be set aside to help cover the application costs for students transferring to other schools between now and the beginning of next fall. Selectboard will have control over this fund and funds requests should be made to them. Priority should be given to students who are transferring because they cannot afford the increased costs at Emerson.
  4. Working Group Resolution
    1. resolution:

Town Meeting Resolution regarding the Board of Trustee Campus Working Group

 

We members of the Marlboro College Town Meeting are submitting this resolution to the trustees and chairs of the Working Group determining the campus’ future. We understand the speed with which this group must make decisions, how they must be efficient, and that the Board of Trustees and Emerson will have final decision making responsibility. We have been and continue to appreciate the Trustees’ willingness to consider the views of Town Meeting, the Town of Marlboro, and the greater college community. With that in mind, we urge the Trustees to accept a larger constituency of community members to this Campus Working Group:

 

Whereas:

  • Community representation is an essential part of our community governance model, and this Campus Working Group seeks to gain community voice and expertise;

  • The proposed structure of the Campus Working Group gives combined staff, students, faculty, and town resident representation a minority body on the Working Group;

 

  • Staff have been disproportionately affected by the proposed merger, and have historically had little, if any, representation to the Board of Trustees;

 

  • Some community members have already been working to secure a positive future for campus and displaced staff, faculty, and others;

  • The efficiency of committees and task forces also relies on skillful leadership, and is not solely affected by size;

  • A larger committee more representative of community constituencies will also receive more community support for the upcoming, difficult decisions the Working Group will consider;

Town Meeting Resolves:
That the Board of Trustees consider our request to increase the membership of the Campus Working Group to include 2 elected students, 2 elected staff, 2 elected faculty, and 2 residents of the Town of Marlboro.

    1.  
  1. Committee Reports
  2. Announcements

 

Liveblog:

 

Emmanuel Miller, Moderator: I’d like to remind you, if you’d like to speak raise your hand, I’ll bring the microphone to you, also please say your name so we get to know one another

 

[HEAD SELECTPERSON ADDRESS]

 

Charlie Hickman, Head Selectperson: today’s a very exciting day, we have guests from Emerson that I’d like to welcome, a very packed agenda. I have some updates, tomorrow there will be a discussion at 7 PM in the Snyder Magneet Classroom for students to discuss concerns, feelings, questions, anything related to the merger process… regarding the working groups I am here soliciting for some statements of intent, right now there is one student position open on Committee on Faculty, Finance, Curriculum Committee, Dean’s Advisory, and Committee on Staff. If you’re interested in serving on any of those committees, please submit statements of intent to Selectboard by Monday so we can deliberate on Tuesday. I hope you’re staying safe outside, bundle up, walk carefully, have a nice day!

 

[REMARKS FROM EMERSON PRESIDENT LEE PELTON]

 

Emmanuel: Kevin has very graciously asked me to introduce Lee, there’s a lot to say. President Lee Pelton has a long history in higher education, he has much history in liberal arts, he’s a champion of liberal arts. He’s worked at Harvard, Colgate, (one I missed), 8 years at Emerson College… we are very grateful for you to take this time

 

Lee Pelton: thank you all, and by the way, there are at least two students here from Emerson and they will attest that on campus I am known as Lee, I insist on that, people will call me President but I am known as Lee, students send me emails all the time, or texts, a lot of students have my cell phone number, and even a few students have posters of me on their wall. I come here today with mixed emotion, and I mean that seriously. It’s a mixture of the promise and the joy of the promise of a future alignment between our two institutions, who in my view and my experience share some important cultural values, and in my view knowing what I know about you, knowing what I know about Marlboro, our students and you share some commonalities. My daughter went to Emerson, and my daughter was not going to ever be the student government president, she was not going to be captain of the football team, those sorts of things, and she existed in some ways on the periphery of the dominant social class, but she was, like so many Emerson students, a creative force, she was a creative force and she still is, and she came to Emerson, we got off at the T stop, we looked around, an hour later she said, “This is it.” I said, “What do you mean, this is it? We’ve got to go look at Hampshire, Bard…” she said, “This is it,” and I said, “How do you know?” She had found people there just like her. She had found her people, and that was where she was going to be. I hear that often from parents who bring their children to Emerson. And I see in this place a place of magic, creativity, a place where there are independent minded people, and where students have an agency. And my sense is that many of those characteristics are common to those of you who have decided to come to Marlboro. So I come here with some joy and confidence in the promise of our future, I come here with some joy and promise of the confidence that the faculty and the students at both of our institutions will be able to work together to produce a wonderful and lasting and enduring place of excellence and of learning. Now that I’m here on campus, I am struck by the beauty of this place. It is remarkable. It is magical. And right now I look outside and I see the snow on this hill, and I am really overwhelmed with how beautiful it is and how your being here is tied not only to the college and the education that takes place here, but how all of you must be tied to this place and this sense of place, and how the way in which you commune with this space is so central to how you engage your learning here. And so, knowing that creates a sense of poignancy for me. And I know for everyone in this room, the future of this campus, the preservation of its magic, is so very very important. It’s not just a cerebral attachment, it’s an attachment that’s deeply personal and emotional, and I want you to know that I understand that, and I want to honor that however we can.

 

As I said to the faculty earlier, I really do come here with a sense of humility, and I mean that. I also come here with a sense of gratitude. I’m humbled by what is ahead of us, but I’m also grateful that we will be able to together move forward on this journey and create out of our two communities something really remarkable and outstanding and singular in higher education. And as I said I have fullest confidence in students, faculty, staff to move forward in this particular way.

 

Sometimes there’s an elephant in the room, I think there are two elephants in the room right now, and I want to address them. One is the question of, “Well, Lee, why did you describe this as a gift?” I really struggled with how to describe this transaction, not only among us, but to broader audiences. And I felt that “acquisition” was not only wrong-headed, it just wouldn’t describe this alliance that we seek to establish. Because an acquisition seems to suggest that some large entity comes in and acquires a smaller entity, it connotes something like a takeover, it connotes a financial transaction, and for me I believe that this transaction is much more than financial, it’s an alliance. Two communities, it’s an intellectual alliance, a cultural alliance, of two communities that share many common values. I thought about using the word “merger,” and Kevin and I talked about that, merger didn’t seem appropriate as well because again it suggested a financial transaction. So what I said was, “This is an alliance, but one way to think about this is as a gift to a college or a university to rename an existing academic program.” And I thought that that was the best approximation of the transaction that I could think of, because it suggested generosity on the part of Marlboro, and a generosity on the part of Emerson, and in exchange was to do three things: preserve the legacy of Marlboro, even if it’s not in this magical wonderful space, if that’s possible; make sure that students who are now here have the opportunity if they choose it to complete their degrees and for future generations to do that under the name Marlboro; and to ensure that faculty, if they elect to come to Emerson, will be able to continue to work and participate in their life’s work and be connected to learning. So that’s why.

 

The other elephant that could appear, I think it’s three or four paragraphs where I’m quoted as saying Marlboro is closing. And I recognize now what I should have said is that the campus is closing, not the college. …I do remember now, the ten or fifteen minute conversation with the reporter, that’s the only thing he used, he didn’t remember me saying to him, this is verbatim, that Marlboro is a magical place, that it is a national treasure, I believe that, and that I felt humbled and grateful for the opportunity to participate in its future. I certainly do, my colleagues do as well. I’m really here to listen, and to learn. I don’t have much time this time around, but there will be many opportunities for me and my colleagues to come back and learn, but this seemed like a good place to begin. I’ll be happy if anybody has comments to make or questions to ask, but I’m particularly interested in your comments.

 

Adam Weinberg, senior: first I want to say thank you for your camaraderie in coming over here, it’s nice to have a good face on things… I’d like to thank you for the reporting your school did on our school, I know there’s controversy on how our school viewed your editorials…

 

(Lee is asking the reporters who are here to stand up and be acknowledged)

 

Adam: thank you, I think you got my email the other week, it’s nice to see a face on that too, before I get to my idea, I want to ask, it’s probably been asked a lot of times before, you’re not the sole decisionmaker, but I guess I’m curious, how close were the conversations regarding doling out the requisite funds to operating this physical space in addition to the myriad of campuses you have, how close was it to move the needle of soliciting from other liberal arts colleges?

 

Lee: I’m not quite sure if I’m understanding

 

Adam: it’s been decided that Marlboro College on Potash Hill is not worth keeping this campus open, I’m assuming that’s what’s happening… I’m just curious, how close is it to move the needle for the requisite amount of capital to keep this space open… I mean that with no snark or anything

 

Lee: it’s a great question, I welcome that question, this is a beautiful place with a great history. What I would say is that the future of the campus, the decision for the future of the campus will not be a unilateral decision. It’s not a decision that I or Kevin will make unilaterally. We understand, Kevin understands this acutely, the value, not just the intellectual value but the emotional value of this campus to students who study here currently, and the alumni who are attached to this place, and to faculty, and I also know that the state of Vermont and the community has some interest in the future of this campus. And all I can say right now is that we are aware of that, and that all of those perspectives and points of view will be taken into consideration as the campus is developed, and its my hope, I don’t want to speak for Kevin but I think this is also true, that there’s a hope to keep the campus open and alive and vibrant in some way, but we’ve been at this for 15 days, for those 15 days I’ve been traveling about 12 of them, in fact I just got back from LA last night and will be on a plane tomorrow back to LA… by the way, what were you saying about LA?


Adam: financially, people were saying it wasn’t working out the way you wanted it to work out

 

Lee: that’s not true, it couldn’t be better, actually. The place is full. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a living learning center, places for 210 students each semester, those spaces are full, it’s working out well, students do internships there, that’s an entry into LA industry, it’s become a home for our alumni in LA, the largest fraction of the people who apply to Emerson these days are from California, so it’s a significant place, I was at a meeting yesterday with the mayor of LA and the mayor of Boston, it was on our campus, and I want to say to you what I said to them, is that if you visit that campus, I guarantee you that those of you who watch TV or any kind of streaming thing, at some point after you visit it, in the next six months, you will see an image flash across your screen as part of a TV ad or a show or something and you’ll say, “That looks really familiar,” and it looks familiar because it’s part of the ELA campus. It’s a wonderful architectural building, brings in about $600,000/year alone for production companies who want to come in and shoot there. It is wildly successful, I’m not sure how the notion that it wasn’t made its way

 

Adam: the rumor mills are rampant, thank you… I apologize for getting down in the weeds, the greater point is, how close are the conversations, where does the conversation need to happen to convince the right people that this is the right place to invest in

 

Lee: we’re at the beginning of the process, not the end of the process. If you have any ideas, let me know.

 

Maia Segura ’91, Alumni Director: I’m a very grateful member of this community… I have a comment and a question. I know you don’t know this yet, but you will realize it really quickly, you are so fortunate to be getting this faculty and these students

 

Lee: I do know that

 

Maia: they’re going to enrich your community in so many ways you can’t even begin to imagine yet, treat them with the preciousness and respect they deserve… you’ve talked about the importance of this place, community, this dining hall is an incredibly important place for all of us to connect, in regards to the ability of this arrangement to not just move the pedagogy forward but the culture and the legacy and the ethos, is there conversation about carving out this space, I understand there’s not a lot available, for students, teachers, potentially alumni

 

Lee: my answer would be yes, that would be highly desired, again, I want to point out, this is not a takeover, this is a mutual coming-together of institutions that share a lot in common, and so I am highly confident that we will be able to get to a place where we can create something that we’re all proud of, and also a place where we are respectful of the past, but also very hopeful for the future. I’m confident that that will happen. Thank you.

 

Kevin Quigley, Marlboro president: I know TM has a full agenda today, we’ve been asked to wrap up this part of the conversation, it’s not the full conversation… before we switch gears I wanted to introduce the rest of the team from Emerson… (provost, didn’t get the name), Amy Ansell, Dean of the Institute that will be renamed the Marlboro Institute, and Ann Shaughnessey (?????) who is vice president (didn’t get all of this either, sorry)

 

Lee: will you invite me back? Please invite me back, I’d like to be in conversation with you again, I love Vermont, I spend a lot of time in Vermont, I’m a hiking, biking, mountain-climbing kind of guy, I understand the importance of all of this, so thank you for having me

 

[WASHER/DRYER FUNDS REQUEST READ-IN]

 

Alex O’Pray is reading in the language: I am requesting that $1,000 of the W&D fund be set aside to help cover the application costs for students transferring to other schools between now and the beginning of next fall. Selectboard will have control over this fund and funds requests should be made to them. Priority should be given to students who are transferring because they cannot afford the increased costs at Emerson.

 

(open to questions)

 

Lydia Nuhfer, senior: can anyone in administrative capacity speak to whether school funds outside of TM are planned to be set aside for this purpose?

 

Fumio Sugihara, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid: I can’t directly speak to the question because it hasn’t been a conversation… my hope is that, over the years a lot of colleges have removed their application fees, so hopefully as students look to transfer, that will not be as prevalent an issue, furthermore, we do hope to work with other colleges to find other opportunities for students who are considering a transfer. We’re still really new to this process… I apologize that I don’t have a direct response to this question. That’s what I would say, from the admissions perspective, many colleges don’t have application fees these days, some might, our hope is to work towards other ways to support these students who don’t want to consider Emerson… I don’t have further detail, as these details come forward we will inform you

 

Rennie Washburn, Chief Advancement Officer: my primary job is fundraising, and so I just wanted to say a word about this. We are starting to fundraise for a transition fund, one of the purposes would be to help students, staff, non-tenure-track faculty, with anything that relates to the transition. We’ve just begun this, just created a drop-down on the website, we will be doing a fundraising push for this

 

Annalise Guidry, junior: my question, how much money is in the W/D fund, what is the purpose exactly?

 

Tanner Jones, Selectboard treasurer: so right now, prior to this funds request, the W/D fund has $14,400 (?) in it… as to what it’s for, in the past we have said primarily capital improvement, we’re not finding any other restrictions… we’re looking to free up the limitations of what it’s used for so it can be used more effectively in coming months

 

Sully Segreto, sophomore: should we be putting the W/D transition/scholarship fund with the transition fund, or should those be two separate things… I guess I’m just wondering if it would make sense to put that money into what’s already going to be set up

 

Alex: I didn’t know there was going to be a transition fund when I wrote this two weeks ago, also we don’t know exactly what that would be used for… the idea is to be able to use these funds now for students who don’t want an interruption in their semester schedule

 

Nick Creel, senior: how much money is in Town Meeting Scholarship Fund?

 

Maggie: since voting down the new-ish budget proposal last week, we are operating under $14,500, and we are on track to spend every penny of that

 

Jenny Ramstetter, faculty: I just wanted to check with Maggie’s question there referring to W/D and TMSF?

 

(clarification that this funds request is coming out of the Washer/Dryer fund)

 

Nikita, student: I’m wondering, is this a TM resolution, bylaws change, what is it?

Emmanuel: it’s a funds request

 

Chris Tripp, senior: seeing as this is not a capital improvement, why is it coming out of W/D instead of reserve fund

 

Alex: I thought this was more appropriate because others have specific numbers and are a lot more limited, I thought we should use it to improve the lives of students on this campus while we can

 

Charlie Mahoney, junior: do we have an estimate of how many students are looking to transfer, do we know what the average cost of a transfer fee is, if there is one?

 

Charlie Hickman: I would say that we don’t have an estimate of those numbers, but this is also a request that this money is set aside, so there may not be any requests, may be requests that don’t add up to $1,000, if that’s what happens the funds could be used for other things

 

Rosario, faculty: this is a point of inquiry for Tanner’s comment about the W/D fund, I want strongly to advocate that when the decision is made students have a voice because it’s student activity fee money

 

Felix: it’s from the washers and dryers, not the student activity fee, different sources

 

Ian McManus, faculty: some of these may be time sensitive, how quickly do we expect to move forward on fundraising… this might be a better idea

 

Skye, freshman: most transfer applications for fall 2020 are due in March 2020, and I wanted to say most transfer applications are between $50-$75 to apply to one school, and I think a good amount of students are considering transferring

 

[WORKING GROUP RESOLUTION]

 

(Nick Katrick, OP director; Allison Turner, teaching staff; and John Willis, faculty are reading in this language)

 

Town Meeting Resolution regarding the Board of Trustee Campus Working Group

 

We members of the Marlboro College Town Meeting are submitting this resolution to the trustees and chairs of the Working Group determining the campus’ future. We understand the speed with which this group must make decisions, how they must be efficient, and that the Board of Trustees and Emerson will have final decision making responsibility. We have been and continue to appreciate the Trustees’ willingness to consider the views of Town Meeting, the Town of Marlboro, and the greater college community. With that in mind, we urge the Trustees to accept a larger constituency of community members to this Campus Working Group:

 

Whereas:

  • Community representation is an essential part of our community governance model, and this Campus Working Group seeks to gain community voice and expertise;

  • The proposed structure of the Campus Working Group gives combined staff, students, faculty, and town resident representation a minority body on the Working Group;

 

  • Staff have been disproportionately affected by the proposed merger, and have historically had little, if any, representation to the Board of Trustees;

 

  • Some community members have already been working to secure a positive future for campus and displaced staff, faculty, and others;

  • The efficiency of committees and task forces also relies on skillful leadership, and is not solely affected by size;

  • A larger committee more representative of community constituencies will also receive more community support for the upcoming, difficult decisions the Working Group will consider;

Town Meeting Resolves:
That the Board of Trustees consider our request to increase the membership of the Campus Working Group to include 2 elected students, 2 elected staff, 2 elected faculty, and 2 residents of the Town of Marlboro.

 

(we are talking about voting this week instead of next week, usually this would be a read-in with a vote next week)

 

Nick: speed is an important factor here, we don’t have time, working group needs to have time to make decisions, we are hoping to deliberate and vote on this today if possible

 

(questions)

 

Krystal Graybeal ’17, admissions counselor: is there any space for the grad school to be added to these groups?

 

Allison: we were interested in expanding participation for many reasons, we want to make sure we can move forward, my recommendation is we do have rep from grad school, alums, other constituencies, we have to start right now, if I’m one of those people I’ll pull people in… I wouldn’t recommend adding it now

 

Seth Harter, Selectboard: those of you who are wondering how this will work with elections, Felix has set this up so we can run this no matter how this shakes out, if the makeup doesn’t change we’ll simply take the top vote-getter in each category, if the trustees see fit to change accordingly we’ll take the top two

 

Felix: we’ve closed acceptances and can re-open them, if you were nominated you can accept it, I’ll re-open acceptances and if you were already nominated you can accept, if you weren’t you can write-in, if a lot of people are angry about this we can have that conversation

 

Sara Coffey, alum, co-chair of the working group: I live here locally, I’ve been a volunteer for the college for 30 years, I want to acknowledge the loss that we’re all feeling, the hope and optimism for what we can do as a community with this group, all the processes are a little fuzzy right now… I spoke with [other co-chair], we are very favorable to the idea of adding positions… I’m really open to that, I do want to say, we are going to be asking people to really work, so people who want to do this we want your full engagement, I’m a new legislator in the VT assembly, Mondays are going to be the days we’re going to be meeting, I want our first meeting to be December 9, I feel like this could be a really great opportunity for us to come together, figure out a beautiful vision for this campus we all know and love… I’d like to invite us to lean in together to figure it out, being in this dining hall I’m reminded, it’s fantastic and we know how to do this, Dean told me I could do this, we do have to be nimble and hard-working, there’s a point where it does become too big, but we’re very open to this resolution

 

(moving on to deliberation)

 

Michelle ’05: I would just go back to the grad school question, I feel like alumni are pretty well represented in the staff and Sara, but I feel like grad school alumni are kind of different people, I think it’s an important question because it’s a different constituency

 

Nick Katrick: point of inquiry/information? I believe grad school staff are considered staff and can also run in this election… there’s a larger electorate possible there

 

Nick Creel, senior: I used to be Head Selectperson, brought multiple board book reports to the trustees about staff representation, had people roll their eyes at me, I think it’s about damn time staff got representation, thank you for bringing this forward

 

(vote, passes unanimously)

 

John Willis: I wanted to acknowledge that we made the wording the way that we did because after the way this working group was presented to us last week we got the impression that if we made it as large as we thought it should be it might never happen, we agree it would be great to have grad school, emeriti, alumni, I would like to ask the group to consider that

 

Jenny Ramstetter: point of information, I would like to have a recount of what the process is for people who have been nominated for this election, what doesdoees that mean?

 

Felix: I can manually see who’s gotten the most votes, manually assign winters, I’ll re-open acceptances and then elections and at the end of that I’ll be able to send out emails

 

[COMMITTEE REPORTS]

 

Sully: winter formal is happening!

 

Adam Franklin Lyons, faculty: the committees that don’t have enough student representation, includes Finance Committee, we are part of those other working group, finance is looking at all of the finances over the next six months, talking a lot about insurance, staff severance

 

[ANNOUNCEMENTS]

 

Sarah Sidney, student: fiber art event! knitting! crochet hooks! yarn! tonight at 7 PM in the Dining Hall!

 

Krystal: it’s Sophie Gorjance’s birthday, clap!

 

Sophie: once announcement per job, first in registrar capacity, last day to pre-register for classes, helps us out if you can do that, non-binding, you can fix it later, really helps us out… bookstore… I’m responsible for getting swag, send me your swag ideas, bookstore@marlboro.edu!

 

Maia Segura: I just wanted to say some of you have been sort of affected or at least a party to some of the craziness on the alumni pages and… I know, I know, let me just say that they’re obviously all over the place like everybody else, we’re all grieving, the vast majority is behind you, behind your decisions, really proud that you guys are taking this all with the grace and honor that you are, and partly in coordination with Felix, some alums started an initiative called Drop Some Love on Marlboro, you’ll start seeing cards and letters from alums who want you to know that they’re here, our first smattering of that love is on the billboard behind Kate and Bronwen, it’ll start there, it’ll grow out

 

Rosario: I’m the chair of the lectures committees, we won’t have TM next Wednesday, because of that, Monday after we return, Casey Ford (philosophy fellow) will be presenting a faculty forum in Appletree at 3 PM, lecture titled “Exclusion,” philosophy of exclusion

 

Lydia: I wanted to announce that this Friday and Saturday are the two performances of John Marinelli’s Plan show of Hamlet, we’ve all been working really hard, cast and crew, we’ve learned some kung fu and tai chi, whether that’s part of the play you’ll have to wait and see, Whittemore, 7 PM Friday, 1 PM on Saturday

 

Nikita: I recognize this is a really difficult time for y’all, I wanted to acknowledge the terrific effort you made last week returning mugs to Dining Hall, please make another such effort

 

(meeting adjourned)


Return to blog homepageEdit post

Detours

(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)