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.

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?