Time to move forward
I am an alumni of Goddard College and I feel compelled respond to Erica Heilman’s letter in The Times Argus on Aug. 27.
While it would be easy to reply point by point to Ms. Heilman’s letter, challenging her positive assertions about Barbara Vacarr’s leadership, the simple fact remains that Vacarr has resigned as president of Goddard College. Many at Goddard were relieved when Vacarr announced she was stepping down, though saddened to hear of illnesses in her family. With her announcement, the hard work now begins.
Goddard College always has and always will belong to those of us who built it: the students and alumni, faculty and staff. Now is the time for us to take back ownership of the college we love, that we have reinvented and fostered many times throughout its colorful history. Now is the time for all of us, East Coast and West Coast campuses alike, to speak up and let the board of trustees a know our vision for our college. Now is the time to step up with our time, in-kind resources, and our money to support the institution and academic programs we believe in, have benefited from, and deeply love.
Goddard has a long tradition of challenging tradition, graduating singular minds such as poet Mark Doty, playwright David Mamet, and educational visionary Evalyn Bates, who founded the low-residency model Goddard now functions on. Goddard is a champion of activism and experimentation. Its status as a bit of an outlier does not mean it cannot intersect with mainstream education, but it requires someone, or a collective leadership body, at the helm that truly understands and appreciates its history, its current academic programs and structures, the needs of staff, faculty and students, and how Goddard might meaningfully intersect with the communities in which its campuses reside. It is a college with a legacy of educating those least likely to seek or receive the education they deserve: single mothers, artists, adult learners, and so on. With a mission such as this, requiring constant dedication, what might appear as insular eccentricity is mere focus on the task at hand. Goddard’s ability to survive and thrive is of the highest priority to those of us who have helped to build it.
Now we look forward, recognizing that Vacarr’s leadership style and track record were not a good match with our college. We must focus on the future and, ultimately, on the students of Goddard who entrust the institution with their dreams of learning, enrichment and advancement, for they should be the priority.
The writer is an assistant professor at Franklin Pierce University.
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