Thursday, February 25, 2010

Emergency Assembly This Sunday

In response to the atrocious slap in the face that was the Board meeting, the Agenda Committee of the Assembly has called an emergency Assembly meeting for this Sunday, February 28th. Along with announcements on the possibility of motivating a community-revised mission statement, the Assembly's agenda consists of two resolutions, both nominated by the Agenda committee. The first resolution reads:


Whereas the Board of Trustees adopted a statement called a “mission statement,” written by President Thomas Lindsay, on February 19, 2010;

Whereas this statement is without the support of the faculty, the students, the administrative staff, or the vast majority of alumni who have addressed it, and is upheld only by 18 out of 34 Trustees;

Whereas the Assembly by overwhelming majority and the Faculty unanimously have voted to retain the current mission statement at least for the time being;

Whereas the statement approved by the Board does not meet the criterion of the College’s academic accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, that “Understanding of and support of the mission pervade the organization” (Accreditation Criterion 1c);

Whereas the statement, unlike all other mission statement proposals, was never submitted to the Self-Study Group, or brought to the Assembly, but was sent exclusively to Trustees, and only five days before they were to vote on it;

Whereas the statement was approved by the Board under threat by a major donor, delivered one day before the Board plenary, that funding would cease if the statement were not adopted;

Whereas shortly before the Board plenary President Lindsay urged the Trustees on the Executive Committee to resign if they would not vote for his statement, and told another Trustee that he would “have to go” or words to that effect if he did not vote for his statement; and,

Whereas the statement was voted on by the Board without the customary notification of a vote in the meeting agenda, after only 75 minutes of consideration, and without observance of equal time for those opposed;


The Assembly of Shimer College does not recognize the legitimacy or authority of this so-called “mission statement.”

The second resolution reads:


The Assembly declares that it has no confidence in the ability of President Thomas Lindsay to lead Shimer College.

I intend to vote in favor of both resolutions. There's an obvious complication, however, with the second one: Tom can fire the administrative staff whenever he damn well feels like it. Carrying out a vote of no confidence puts the staff -- especially those who work closely with Tom -- in a very awkward position. It seems likely that because of this, most of the staff will abstain from voting, unless the staff votes unanimously. It's a tricky situation, and I don't necessarily know what the correct course of action for the staff should be (and besides, they will likely decide this themselves). Either way, it's an issue that ought to be addressed thoughtfully, and most importantly, very quickly. See you at Assembly.

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