Thursday, July 16, 2015

Women: Emotional and Nostalgic

An open letter in response to a blog post by Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, Director of the Edvance Foundation and a contributor to HuffPost.

Perhaps apathy is a wave of emotions too afraid to 
burst out of the darkness into the bright light of day 
~Terri Guillemets

Dr. Mitchell,

Over the past four months, "experts" in higher education have come out of the woodwork to lament the closing of Sweet Briar College.  "Oh no!" they cry.  "Single-sex, liberal arts colleges 20 minutes away from Starbucks are doomed!"

In nearly every news article, blog post, op-ed, and radio show, the media accepts the former interim president's talking points without question: too few women want to attend women's colleges; those who enroll require large discounts; and the wealthy families of yore who financed the college for decades are few and far between.

Like you, most of these journalists like to point out that the alumnae are emotional over the loss of the college, and that nostalgia is no match for good business sense.

You state that we must answer the "why" of saving Sweet Briar: "If the answer is a largely emotional one driven by the love and passion that alumnae feel for their institution, it is likely that their solution will be inconclusive at first and ineffective in the end."

With all due respect, sir, would you say the same thing to 10,000 men?

Beginning the evening of March 3rd, thousands of alumnae and friends took to the virtual streets when presented with...well, a lack of data to support the closure.

"It's time to get to work."

What, exactly, do you believe the #SaveSweetBriar movement was doing?  From legal proceedings to social media activism; from admissions and marketing plans to building renovation; from food services to environmental research; from $0 pledged and donated to $27.5 million in under four months; from showing students and staff that alumnae were there for them, even when the college's administration wasn't, to participating in Virginia politics.  Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.  (RIP Yul Brener)

"Sweet Briar must survive for good reasons."

One of my favorite Washington Post trolls recently suggested that someone perform a study to find out if women's colleges were still relevant.  He made this suggestion after dozens of women shared their stories about the education they received at Sweet Briar.  Dozens of reasons, and he discounted them all.  Thousands of "good reasons" to educate young women, yet you ignore them all?

"The history of Sweet Briar demonstrates that the older strategy of incremental management simply did not work. It's time to strike out and try something new, imaginative, and rooted in the history and tradition of the College."

Since you are writing about Sweet Briar, I expect that you have done your research on the school, the people, and the #SaveSweetBriar events.  If so, you would know that we've been saying the exact same thing all along. 

*****

Let's move on to your strategic steps, shall we?

1. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
coughsayingthesamethingforfourmonthscough  NO more consultants.  They've done enough damage to Sweet Briar already.  Thanks for ignoring the "good minds" of the thousands of individuals involved to date.  If only we weren't so emotional and nostalgic, amIright?

2. Start with an environmental scan. The metrics that demonstrate the problem and indicate its severity are readily available.
WE'VE ALREADY DONE THIS

3. Respect the traditions, including its liberal arts heritage as a college for women, whatever the final decisions.
Man, I wish one of those wistful women would have thought of that.

4. If there is a future for the College, it will be in part because committed alumnae step forward to make it so. Once the management decisions are made, it will be equally important for the alumnae to step back.
No.  No no no no no no no no no.  The last time alumnae stepped back, the Board tried to kill Sweet Briar.  Alumnae will stay involved, thankyouverymuch.

5. Sweet Briar is a tuition dependent institution
What was that?  Sorry, I couldn't see through the haze of tears.  Woe is me.

6. Transparency in communication is critical
Tell that to Mark Herring.

*****

"A pivotal case study whose outcome will have important implications for American colleges and universities."

You're good for my ego.</blush>  Oh!  You meant the college.

"In 'saving' Sweet Briar"

Whoa!  What's with the quotes?  We DID save Sweet Briar.

"Let's hope for a negotiated, innovative and progressive outcome that does not further undermine some of the bedrock principles and rich traditions upon which American higher education is built."

Right.  Blame the women's college for the fall of higher education.  Move over, Helen of Troy, it's our turn to destroy civilization.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You Missed This! Additional Information for the Campbell Law Observer

The news of Sweet Briar College's closure resurrection has reached audiences worldwide.  Unfortunately, the untruths spouted by the previous President and Board of Directors have stuck in the public's collective brain (so many jokes, so little time); #SweetBriar supporters continue to correct misinformation.

Paige Miles Feldman, Managing Editor of the Campbell Law School Observer, wrote about the current state of Sweet Briar, but left out a lot of information.  Four months ago, I would have glanced at the article, noticed the legal mumbo jumbo legalese, and turned tail.  My family has one lawyer; I'm not it.  How my world has changed since the afternoon of March 3, 2015!  As it turns out, I like the law and all of its gobbledegook concepts (you're going down in our next argument, baby brother).

Ms. Feldman, allow me to clarify some of the misconceptions in your article.
  1. Sweet Briar Women’s College in Virginia

  2. SBC "will live to see another year" and "the money will only keep the school open for so long"
    We will, in fact, be open for the next 114 years.  And beyond.

  3. Bowyer "claimed that Sweet Briar was a trust, and therefore would require court action to close.  Sweet Briar disagreed, stating that because it did not have stockholders, it did not need the permission of the court to close."
    We lovingly call the Amherst suit Lawsuit #1.  The lawyers for the former president and Board argued that Sweet Briar was a non-stock non-profit corporation--not a trust--and therefore were subject only to the Business Judgement Rule, not the Virginia Uniform Trust Code.  Trusts do not have stockholders.

  4. "Initially, the injunction was denied in circuit court on the grounds that the court lacked the ability to stop the school from closing."
    The requested injunction (based on Virginia Code § 57-59) had nothing to do with whether or not the court was able to stop the closure.  Circuit Court Judge James Updike ruled that Sweet Briar was a non-stock corporation, not a trust, which is why the injunction was denied under this statute.

  5. "The Virginia Supreme Court did not agree with the decision, and ordered the court to reconsider it."
    The way this is written, I understood you to mean that the Supreme Court of Virginia did not agree that "the court lacked the ability to stop the school from closing."  That's misleading.  

  6. "As a part of this order, the higher court said that being a trust and a non-stock corporation were not mutually exclusive in this case, and Sweet Briar could exist as both."
    The ruling does not apply just to Sweet Briar; "in this case" should be removed.

    In addition, the court did not rule that Sweet Briar could exist as both a corporation and a trust, merely that a corporation could also be a trust.  The ruling said nothing about Sweet Briar herself, which is why the case was remanded back to Circuit Court. (yes! more chances to make swoony eyes at Judge Updike.)

  7. "While Bowyer sought the injunction, she also contacted Sweet Briar’s vice-president for finance and administration and asked him to ensure that employees maintain any documents regarding Sweet Briar."
    Commonwealth's Attorney Ellen Bowyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Scott Shank because his office held midnight shredding parties to destroy school records.  

  8. "Additionally, she requested an injunction to forbid the school from using any donated money to shut down the school.  The court allowed this action."
    This is what's known as burying the lede.  This sentence should be moved up one paragraph to follow #4 above.

    "This action" was the first of many legal battles won, providing a 60-day injunction against the College from using previously-solicited funds for closure based on Virginia Code § 57-57.  It did not enjoin the College from soliciting donations for the purpose of winding-down operations (if I never see "winding-down" again, it will be too soon).

  9. "After the Amherst County Attorney filed suit, the faculty of Sweet Briar chose to also file an injunction in mid-April."
    Technically, this is Lawsuit #3.  Lawsuit #2 is the student/parent/alumnae suit, which I discuss in point #13 below.  

  10. "They claimed that the shutdown would be a breach of contract, but the school replied with a clause from the faculty manual:  that faculty can only be fired 'under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.'  Naturally, the faculty disagreed with this reasoning, arguing that the school was in fact not in danger of financial crisis."
    The faculty presented the manual, not the College.  As noted in the Faculty and Staff Complaint on page 12:


  11. "Ultimately, the decision by the Virginia Supreme Court ruled, and Sweet Briar could stay open."
    The court's ruling worked in #SaveSweetBriar's favor, but it was not an automatic victory.  All parties spent five weeks in mediation under the guise guidance of the office of Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney General Mark Herring. (Herring only called for mediation after we stalked harassed spoke with him at multiple political fundraisers)

  12. "The $24 million is nothing more than a temporary solution"
    It's $28 million.

  13. "Students were rightfully upset, but did not sue to attempt to stop the closure, and might not have standing to do so if this happens again."
    Lawsuit #2, filed by Elliott Schuchardt on behalf of students, parents, and alumnae, netted a bigger gain than the initial injunction from Lawsuit #1: a six-month stay on selling or disposing of any of the College's assets.

    Honestly, 95% of us believed that the case would flounder (sorry, Elliott!); imagine our surprise when we won!  Elliott has major cojones. (don't worry, Catherine! it's just an expression!)

  14. "If Sweet Briar students had attempted to bring suit on a contract claim, they would likely have also failed.  Furthermore, the only way Sweet Briar students could possibly win on a contract claim in the future is if Sweet Briar closed in the middle of a semester, thus requiring the school to refund any tuition to the students."
    Delete delete delete.

  15. "[T]he faculty could again sue over the financial exigencies clause, or any other contract breach that could be in question."
    Truuuuuue.  But 10,000 people spent four months saving Sweet Briar.  Do you really think that we're going to let the College fail?

    If we find that there are financial exigencies, we'll be able to prove them and reverse course.  If we fail and the College closes, at least we will have done everything in our power to save her.  Unlike the previous administration, we won't hide the financials at every turn.

  16. "Here, everything was dismissed by the court before final judgments were reached."
    An important point: the lawsuits were dismissed as part of the Settlement Agreement.

I love a good rebuttal, but I do expect better research from a third-year law student.


Friday, July 3, 2015

An Insider's View: You Say You Want A Revolution

I've been in the unique position to see first-hand how--via two organizations in two days--drastic changes in leadership can positively and negatively affect employees, faculty & students, members, volunteers, local businesses, and other stakeholders.

From this vantage point, I have witnessed four leadership precursors to success:

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Supplement to Sweet Briar's Alumnae FAQs

A special insert to the Sweet Briar News.

On June 9, 2015, Sweet Briar College updated its Alumnae Transition Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage in response to questions overheard by staff and board members during reunion weekend. Some of these FAQs warrant further consideration.



Paul G. Rice: Parallels Between Work and Play(ing with Sweet Briar's Future)

Abrupt announcements.  Misleading stakeholders.  Endowment squandered.  Millions of dollars due to creditors.  Breach of fiduciary duty.

These are not the (Sweet Briar) stories you're looking for.

In fact, this isn't a Sweet Briar story at all.

(okay, it totally has to do with the events at SBC)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paul G. Rice: Brilliant Businessman or Trusty Tagalong?

Much has been made of Sweet Briar Board of Directors Chairman Paul G. Rice: some of it nice; most of it...not.

Short.
Balding.
Rich.
Disneyphile.
President of Avaya Government Solutions.

A Google search (how did we survive before the interwebz?) proffers scant information about Rice's history, which is surprising for an individual touted as a leader in the Telecommunications industry.

Rice is a member of UVA's Engineering School’s Capital Campaign Cabinet.  He's on the Board of his daughters' private school.  A lover of theatre, he founds The American Children of Score, the Highland Center for the Arts, and The Rice Theatre.  He donates significant sums of money to Best Friends Foundation, which focuses on girls rejecting drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex (okay, that's creepy).

Maybe I'm just used to business leaders and CEOs who promote themselves and their companies and Rice is an introvert who prefers to keep to himself.

But that doesn't explain the dearth of information. And honestly, I can't figure this guy out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mark Herring Just Lost the Governorship

When voters head to the polls on November 7, 2017, chances are that Mark Herring's name will be on the gubernatorial ballot.

But Mark Herring will never be Governor.

In spite of his progressive nature, the reversal of the ban on same-sex marriage, and his good ol' boy network, Herring has a problem: a small, private women's college in central Virginia.

Pffbt.  Who cares about Sweet Briar College?

Never mind that there are 3,000 Sweet Briar College alumnae living, working, and voting in Virginia.  Never mind that those 3,000 women have significant others, parents, children, siblings, and friends who live in Virginia.

Never mind the economic collapse of Amherst, VA (population: 2,200) when hundreds of consumers disappear.  Never mind the 300 faculty and staff who stand to lose their jobs if Sweet Briar closes.

Mark Herring will never be Governor for two reasons: 1) a lack of action; and 2) a lack of foresight.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sweet Briar CFO Threatens Students: Do not Donate to Save Sweet Briar



When Virginia Supreme Court Justice D. Arthur Kelsey asked Sweet Briar College attorney Woody Fowler "why [he is] contesting this so strongly," he voiced the question asked daily by several thousand #SaveSweetBriar supporters.

In what can only be described as the most bizarre moment in an already confounding case, Scott Shank has ordered a group of students -- spending their summer learning the ins and outs of business development under the tutelage of a much-loved and revered professor -- to cease & desist all activities regarding fundraising for the 501(c)3 charity of their choice: Saving Sweet Briar, Inc.

As part of the Business Seminar class, students design, create, and market one or more products to sell on a website.  As in years past, students plan to use the proceeds to: 1) reinvest in the program; 2) party like it's 1999; and 3 2) donate a portion to charity.

Never before has the college placed restrictions on which charities students may support.

Perhaps Mr. Shank forgot that Saving Sweet Briar, Inc. is not a party to the litigation placed before the college.  Saving Sweet Briar's sole mission is to

... wait for it ...

Save Sweet Briar.

As has been noted, alumnae have no standing in a court of law (humph) and have instead spent the past three months raising $16.5 million for the continued operation of Sweet Briar College and supporting the students that the college has failed (and failed...and failed...).

Channeling the Honorable D.A.K. (yeah, I know: it doesn't work as well as Notorious R.G.B.; so sue me), I can't help but wonder: Are you farking kidding me!?

Why in the ever-loving fudge pie (soooooo good) are the interim president, the Board of Directors, and many of the college's senior staff fighting so hard to close the school?

Mr. Shank speaks of principals principles (fixed it for you!), yet he continues to advocate for the closure of a financially stable institution.

Welcome to your most important business lesson yet, my Vixen sisters: dealing with those who would rather be right than do right.


Mr. Breneman, Let's Be Clear: The Board of Directors Failed

This post is an open letter, a rebuttal to a Washington Post op-ed by David W. Breneman, member of the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors.  Dr. Breneman has extensive experience in higher education, notably in the financial realm.

Dr. Breneman:

Allow me to rebut your June 10, 2015 statements point-by-point.  I do hope you are sitting in a comfortable spot; this will take a while.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five Lessons Learned at the Virginia Supreme Court (TM)

(Not all of these lessons pertain to Sweet Briar; there were three cases on the docket prior to ours)

  1. Don't interrupt Justices when they are speaking.  They don't like that.
  2. Don't tell Justices what they can and cannot do in regards to hearing a case or making a ruling. They *really* don't like that.
  3. The Attorney General's office is not above making deals behind the Supreme Court's back. Guess what the Justices think!
  4. If you're going to argue your position, stick to your guns.  When you say "maybe," "I think," "perhaps," or "I guess," you lose credibility.
  5. There is such a thing, legally, as an "average" sex offender.*

* Seriously?


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Independent Women of Sweet Briar


The New York Times: The Independent Women of Sweet Briar

I'm sure that my friends are wondering why I keep posting about #‎savesweetbriar‬ all over my Facebook and Twitter timelines. This New York Times article explains why.

Sweet Briar College was the only school I wanted to attend. I never imagined myself at a women's college (no boys???), yet the moment my mother and I drove up the long, winding driveway to campus, I felt like I had come home. (Sorry for ever doubting you, mom!)

Sweet Briar is where I learned that it was safe to raise my hand and state my opinion. Sweet Briar is where I ate lunch with my professors and attended informal gatherings at their homes. Sweet Briar is where I partook in extracurricular activities that had nothing to do with my major; all activities were open to all students.

At Sweet Briar, I was not an anonymous student lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces.

Saving Sweet Briar is the least I can do for an institution that gave me the foundation to become a smarter, more adventurous, more independent woman.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thank You for the Form Letter, Mark Herring

An open letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Brittany Anderson, Director of Legislative and Constituent Affairs:

I have been affected by the actions of the Board of Directors (“Board”) of Sweet Briar College (“SBC” or “College”), a nonprofit institution subject to oversight by the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am concerned that your deference to the Board in the decision to close the College without a proper investigation is incorrect and should not stand. I respectfully request that you conduct a full and thorough investigation into the actions of the Board and administration of the College before working with those parties any further. 


In addition, I would like to take this time to address some of the points in your response via my own form letter, though you will find that mine has been personalized.


*****

Thursday, April 23, 2015

An Open Letter to the Sweet Briar College Class of 1969

This message was originally posted by Molly Phemister in the comments section of the SBC Class of 1969 blog.  I am reposting it here with Molly's permission.

The original post pointed readers to an article written in the Chronicle of Higher EducationHow Sweet Briar’s Board Decided to Close the College.

*****

Dear 1969 alumnae,

Unfortunately, the Chronicle piece is not well done. It is purple journalism at its best, and reveals a number of unsavory details about our Board’s leadership (who I believe have steered our sisters on the Board into a blind alley and now won’t let them back up). Why hold the meeting in DC, which cost more and separated the Board members from making this decision on the campus that they love? Why would the consultant not let them keep the research results? Usually, those results are points of pride. If one slide is so deeply convincing, why not show it to everybody else so that we understand their decision? Why, if the decision was likely in November and getting very very clear in January, did they continue to both seek out and accept donations from alumnae? If this is only done under duress, and the resulting vigor from the alumnae was unexpected, why is is also unwelcome? We have $1 million dollars in hand, $5 million pledged for this year, $10 million pledged over the next 5 years… How could this be unwelcome news?

1969, the most recent 30 years of Sweet Briar alum are desperate. We love Sweet Briar. Yes, many of us are willing to put a great deal of money on the line. Many many more of us are willing to come paint the buildings, mulch the flower beds, chop onions in the dining hall, teach classes, repair electrical wiring, clean windows, recruit students, re-roof Addie’s house… Why is our love so spurned? Why is it not enough to turn this boat around? I know you adore this campus. I walked the Dairy Loop and almost couldn't breathe for the beauty of looking north past Paul Mountain and that grand old sycamore. I didn't understand before, but alumnae are like in-laws: we love the same alma mater. We love her. You love her, I love her, we don’t have to love each other exactly, but we do have to recognize this common love. We would all do anything for her.

I believe the reliance on the Sax research (showing a sharp skew due to sample bias of Black women from poor families entering women’s colleges at high rates) underpinned a number of decisions made over the past few years. It’s okay. We know better now. That data flaw was not seen by Sax (who is reputed to be a good researcher) but it was found by Dan Gottlieb, which says a lot about the tremendous faculty we continue to attract. We can remake these decisions, re-choose our destiny. You have a number of classmates on the Board and are in a unique position: according to Article 2, section 4 of the bylaws “Special meetings of the Board of Directors may be held at any time upon five days written notice at the call of … any three Directors. No special form of notice shall be necessary to hold a special meeting, but the notice shall state the purpose of the meeting.

You can do this. You can save us. You have the women on the Board who are able to say “let’s look again.” Nobody else has this capacity like you do. Please, look again, in love, with love, for love. Sweet Briar can rise again.

Molly
Class of '94

PS - yes, I know that $10 million is not enough to retire all bonds, but it is enough to retire the 2011 bond, which has the more pressing triggers attached, and it’s only been 6 weeks, and it’s happened without the full power of the college behind us. As SBC 2.0, instead of as Saving SBC, we could have $30 million by the end of the summer. I think Sarah Clements called it “cow money”, which I find quite humorous, but yes, we all have some variant on “cow money” that would shake loose if the college said “wait, we’re going to try again.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Business of Mismanagement: a Hypothetical Examination

Let's play pretend.

*****

You attended a prestigious university where you received a Bachelor of Science in engineering.

You used your knowledge and business acumen to climb the corporate ladder.

You proved to be a smart businessman, eventually becoming a Vice President, then Senior Vice President.

After 20 years, you earned the top job.  Congratulations on your Presidency!

*****

You sell your company for hundreds of millions of dollars.  Woo hoo!

Having successfully navigated the intricate dealings of an acquisition, you remain on board with the new company, a feat that many do not accomplish.

You continue to lead the company, again becoming President.

Your company is worth $1 billion dollars.  You are a leader in your industry.  Hot damn!

*****

You are a philanthropist.  You believe in giving back.  You join the Board of Directors of a small non-profit organization.

You notice that the money spent is greater than the money received; it continues year over year. Heck, that's not sustainable.

You are a shrewd businessman who doubled the value of his company, yet you do nothing to reverse this trajectory.

You're the leader of the pack board.  It's your time to shine: you know how to build businesses and reap a profit!  Alas, you refuse.

You alienate your fellow board members.  30% of them resign.

*****

Bad decisions, year over year over year.  You, a leader in business, sit idly by.

Or worse.

*****

You do not discuss financial constraints.  You do not listen to others' viewpoints.  You do not follow industry best practices.  You do not hold accountable the individual(s) responsible for the paucity of resources.  You do not ensure that each Line of Business is headed by the right person with the right qualifications.

You spend money on consultants who do not report their findings.  You encourage poor decisions by your Finance Team: decisions that cost the organization a significant percentage of its dwindling revenue.  You ignore market research.  You do not improve marketing campaigns.  You do not change your product.

*****

You announce the dissolution of the non-profit organization.

You say that it's the fault of the customer base.

Nothing to be done.  You've tried everything.  It's over.  Too bad.

*****

You are a brilliant businessman who grew a for-profit company into an industry leader.

And then proceeded to destroy a leading non-profit organization.

Were you careless?  Incompetent?  Indifferent?  Ill-disposed?

You were not--you are not--a man of vision, intellect, or sensibility.

You are the villain in this farce you call leadership.

You are the antihero.

An enfant terrible.

A libertine.

A wretch.

You are Paul G. Rice.


Monday, April 20, 2015

A War on Women's Education


I've spent many hours looking for the reason behind the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors’ decision to close the school. We all know that there is an undisclosed, underhanded reason for the closure--that this had little to do with admissions, annual fund donations, or being "30 minutes from Starbucks." What's the endgame? Is there a conspiracy? Who's going to profit from it?

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter.

What matters is this: the key players--SBC interim president James "Jimmy" Jones, board chair Paul G. Rice, VP of Finance Scott Shank, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring--are powerful men who believe that their wants and desires trump those of thousands of women.

Thousands of faculty, staff, students, parents, alumnae, and others have asked for clarity and more information. Yet Jones refuses to make public the data, reports, and meeting minutes that drove the Board to this decision. Why? "Because we do not have to" and "we have no duty to disclose this information."

Let me repeat:

The not-even-voted-in-by-the-Board male interim president of Sweet Briar College--a women's college--declared to over 14,000 students and alumnae that he does not need to provide any details.

"Because we do not have to" and "we have no duty to disclose this information."

Indiana Fletcher Williams, whose estate became Sweet Briar College, was a visionary: in a time when higher education was still mostly reserved for men, she saw to it that her legacy--in her late daughter's memory--would forever educate young women: women who would become leaders in the college, in the community, and in their chosen careers; women who would support their sisters; women who would "work for the good and work for the right."

A handful of men in closed meetings making decisions about women's lives, with no input of those whose lives are affected.

Sound familiar?

These men held secret meetings with the Attorney General, who himself is actively working against the Save Sweet Briar movement. Instead of determining how to strengthen an institution that educates and empowers his female constituents, Mr. Herring filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of those fighting to close the college. (Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike, who heard the first round of the court case, did not agree with the Attorney General.)

Jimmy Jones, Paul Rice, Scott Shank, and Attorney General Mark Herring are engaging in a war on women's education. They have forgotten, however, that Sweet Briar develops and promotes female leaders. They have forgotten that women are through with letting others dictate their lives. They have forgotten that the value of women’s education lies in the hearts of men and women worldwide.

We do not forget. We do not give up. We are just beginning to fight.



Join us in our fight to end the war on women’s education: go to savingsweetbriar.com to read our legal complaint & supporting documents and pledge your support.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mark Herring and Equal Pay Day



Yes! Let me fix the last line for you, though: We can and must do better, and we can start by strengthening women's education and not closing Sweet Briar College.

“The Attorney General is concerned that the disruption and conflict engendered by challenges raised against the decision of the Sweet Briar Board of Directors to close Sweet Briar are counterproductive to protecting the interests of the public, the students, alumnae, faculty, administrators and staff of Sweet Briar, and other interested parties.”

Who are these "other interested parties," Mr. Attorney General?

I can guarantee that you are NOT protecting the interests of the public (did you read the Amherst County Mayor's letter?), the students (have you seen the banners?), alumnae (lawsuit), faculty (lawsuit), and staff (lawsuit). I do believe that leaves administrators and others.

On the one hand, you have 14,000+ women--and the parents, faculty, staff, and community who have worked to grow and nurture said women--working to #savesweetbriar.

On the other hand, you have 23 board members--with two men at the helm--and an unknown number of unknown stakeholders who are fighting their hardest to close the school for unknown reasons.

And you're working to protect the interests of whom, exactly?

Friday, April 10, 2015

An Open Letter to Mark Herring


Mr. Herring,

I am a constituent and a voter; a Democrat who helped to fund your campaign for AG; an alumna of Sweet Briar College.

I am extremely disappointed that you filed an amicus brief in support of the closure of Sweet Briar College. Please help me understand why you made this decision.

There are thousands of stakeholders--a large percentage of whom are your constituents--working non-stop to ‪#‎savesweetbriar‬. There are less than two dozen people fighting to close the college. Why? Mr. Jones and Mr. Rice have shown no transparency--which you claim to be one of your tenets--in this process.

"Attorney General Herring believes that transparency and accountability are keys to good governance. The people of Virginia have the right to know how their money is being spent and how this office is working on their behalf." The same holds true for the not-actually-voted-in president and Board of Directors of Sweet Briar.

It is the responsibility of the Board to protect the College, not destroy it. If they have given up on her, let them resign.

Make the right choice, Mr. Attorney General: enforce transparency; read the findings of the forensic accountant and the analysis of the Sax study; and redeem yourself in the eyes of those who funded and campaigned for you.

Respectfully,
A Vixen Says Moo