Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy 3.14.15!
Teh gels celebrated the curious date by having some pie with breakfast.
I, not caring much for pie in the morning, instead went out in the garden in the rain and cut back my butterfly bushes, (known around here as teh Children of Kong) while Mrs. R stood on the porch sounding like Estelle Costanza. (“Georgie! What are you doing?”)
Not really a celebration, of course, more just something that needed to be done. Buddleia is supposed to be cut back in late winter but it’s been so cold and snowy this year that I haven’t had a chance before today. And given that it’s already mid-March, there’s more than a decent possibility that the growing season is going to come on eftsoons and without warning here in the great Commonwealth of Virginny.
Sweet Briar Update: I’ll have more to say on this tomorrow hopefully (see below), but things are starting to get warmer and warmer. This morning’s Roanoke Times is calling for the school’s Board to resign. There’s a lot of interesting new financials, but here’s the money quote:
College President James Jones has said: “To save Sweet Briar we would need $250 million into the permanent endowment tomorrow morning.”
To put that figure in context: Hollins University has an endowment of $180 million and seems to be doing just fine. Ferrum College has an endowment of only $50 million and it’s been increasing enrollment — which also seems to run counter to Jones’ other assertion that small colleges in rural areas are having trouble attracting students. He also said the nearest Starbucks was 30 minutes away and that was a problem in recruiting; it’s really about 20 minutes.
You know who does have an endowment of $250 million? The University of Maryland.
Does it really take a Maryland-sized endowment to save a school of 500 or so students when the rest of the balance sheet doesn’t look completely out of whack?
If the Sweet Briar trustees are so absolutely convinced that closing is the only responsible option, here’s what they could do: Resign.
Sweet Briar’s alumnae are now actively engaged in trying to raise money to save the school. Let them take over. If the existing board is right, then a new board would surely come to the same, sobering conclusion.
At worst, a new board would spend down some more of the endowment, but at the rate things have been going, the college’s overall net value might still increase as it has in the past year.
But if the existing board is wrong, well, there is that risk of being proven wrong.
Read the whole thing. It dovetails nicely with that Powerline article Capt. Ed dropped in the comments here yesterday, especially with respect to the role of interim president Jim Jones:
But of course Jones is your typical mediocre liberal. This fragment from the Slate story gives away the whole game in one compact sentence:
Speaking with IHE, Sweet Briar College President James F. Jones Jr. lamented the closing of the college as a part of a broader change in “the diversity of American higher education.” Jones added, “The landscape is changing and becoming more vanilla.”
“Becoming more vanilla”? This is beyond idiotic even by the low standards of college presidents. When Jones offers the telltale magic incantation “diversity of American higher education,” he means of course exactly the opposite: ritual conformity to the stifling doctrines of campus PC. If he wanted true “diversity” for Sweet Briar, he’d have broken from the crowd, and offered a different flavor than vanilla.
Yep. I learned what “diversity” really meant to a leftist within 15 minutes of first setting foot on the campus of the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT back in August, 1983.
Again, read it all, especially about the intriguing rebranding possibilities.
The narrative that seems to be emerging is of an incompetent board that sputtered along for a few years without really knowing what it was doing and too afraid to let on to anyone about it. Along came Jones, with a record as a hatchet-man, who rather than looking beyond the blinkers of his own worldview, instead bullied the board into liquidation.
Oh, and speaking of which, regular friends of the decanter may recall ol’ Robbo mentioning the impact that closure would have not just on students and faculty, but also on staff and the surrounding community. There is a rumor breaking on FB this morning concerning an elderly lady (around 80) who spent her entire career working in the SBC dining hall. She retired six or seven years ago and lives alone in a small cottage on campus. The arrangement had been that, in gratitude to her devotion to the school, she could remain in the cottage for the rest of her life. Apparently, she was handed an eviction notice this week.
Anyhoo, Mrs. R and the elder gels are headed down to SBC tomorrow for the first major public alumnae demonstration to save Sweet Briar. The undergrads are coming back from Spring Break and the alumnae plan to line the driveway and cheer them on. Mrs. R promises to try and send me some photos, which I will post here along with her report.