Comments from Petitioners

The following comments were posted to support our January petition to Accept Will Wootton’s Challenge or Clearly and Publicly Reject It by Jan 15

Randy Knaggs Wilmington, VT It is a process that can benefit all regardless of which continuum you are partial to. Giving voice to a quorum of concerned and dedicated individuals benefits all parties involved. It also opens dialogue toward needed healing. Let us move forward with both compassion and dignity.

Katherine Hollander – With everything that is happening in the world–the collapse of democracies, the demise of higher education, the horrible ways human beings treat one another, the suffering and injustice and war and fire and disaster–why am I spending so much time and energy trying to salvage Marlboro College? Because I think what the world needs now is not FEWER places like Marlboro but more–and we can’t afford to lose any of the ones we have. This place is unique and precious and it gives back to the world tenfold, a hundredfold.
There are no kids in juvenile detention in the state of VT right now–VT’s juvenile defender is a Marlboro alum. So is the head of VT’s AFL-CIO. Marlboro alumni are fighting forest fires. They’re helping artists in the midst of natural disasters. They’re treating illnesses and doing healing in vulnerable populations. They’re teaching babies, kids, and adults in every kind of educational setting imaginable. Painting, writing plays, writing poems, writing novels, making films, making dances. Preserving precious things in archives. Connecting people to ideas and information by running libraries. Easing suffering as mental health clinicians. Defending the vulnerable as lawyers. Protecting the climate through atmospheric science research.
And right now, a lot of them are also spending a huge amount of time and energy trying to salvage–even if they can’t save–this institution that made us all this best version who we are. That helped us become serious thinkers, clear writers, and self-reliant, independent, interdependent paradoxical lovers of community. That saved us. That taught us how to do the hard work of deliberative, direct democracy. That taught us to be citizens.

The world needs more people who can do the things Marlboro people can do, not less.

This might not be the only way to save what we love, but it’s one route there. So if you have a moment and you’d like to help us get a clear answer about Marlboro’s future, give this a read, and maybe a signature.

Sheila Garrett – As an alum from 1968, I remember the days when we had 96 students total and we operated on a shoestring compared to what Marlboro is now. Faculty taught for practically nothing. I’d hate to see that but I can’t help think there might be ways to do this differently. And I really object to the top-down, all or nothing way in which the decision has been made and put forth. It’s just not the Marlboro way to operate.

Jan Tarlin – I graduated from Marlboro College in 1976. Whatever bit of good I have done in the world since then and whatever personal qualities I have developed that enabled me to do it would not have been possible without the unique, precious education and experience of community that I received from Marlboro College. I want future generations to have the same opportunity to establish a lifelong trajectory of growth and change that the college gave me. The Wootton Challenge seems by far the best vehicle available at the moment to move toward preserving this opportunity for the future.

Alec Koumjian – We have only to gain the confidence of the wider Marlboro College community to have Will Wooten’s offer accepted in the fullest terms.

Julie Lineberger – I completely respect Will Wootton and am inspired by what the Hampshire College community accomplished. We can do this as well.

Pamela Cersosimo I trust Will

Taffy Morgan – My son Ethan Morgan graduated from Marlboro, I am also a staff member of Camp Gone to the Dogs. We held our camp there for more than twenty years and loved the support given to us from the staff at the college. What is happening there is a darn shame.

Erin Human – I am an alum and I don’t accept this UNDemocratic selling-off of our school

JoAnn Sawyer – My daughter is an alumni and I believe she had a unique experience and education at Marlboro College

Linda Foglia – Signing to help the “cause of keeping Higher Education” open and available to Marlboro students. If other graduates, of Marlboro, such as Amy Tudor, have “half her skills and intelligence”, this would be a good deed for civilization!

Martha Toomey – My father taught at Marlboro in the early days. I attended from 1974-76 but had to transfer out due to economic reasons. Marlboro was my family home.

Elaine Craig – Be an example – people of your word, people of good faith! Here is an opportunity to openly allow those who desire an outcome in keeping with Marlboro’s purpose – to come up with a solution for it to continue, or very publicly realize there is none.

Daniel Lyon – Will wrote a book on the challenges facing small colleges. Administration and the Board long ago should have sought out his help in saving his alma mater. It shocks me that he, like many an alumnus, was not asked much earlier to be involved.

Anne Stevens – Marlboro College deserves a renewed chance at continuing to operate at the existing location.

Don Simms – I graduated from Marlboro Graduate School 2010 MBA in Managing for Sustainability…Marlboro College has a sustainable future if the school practiced what it preached, collaboration, humility, focus on the how, not on the how not.

Paul Wilson ’96 – Marlboro College has been a refuge for idealism and progressive thought, for the freedom to study what you believe is important, and as a place of beauty. It is so important to protect and maintain rural places where intellectual activities are important and individuals have an opportunity for a strong voice within a community. Giving up Marlboro College and $40 million to support Emerson College whose values are largely antithetical to everything Marlboro College represents is a travesty and a disaster.

Mark Desmeules – There is ALWAYS an alternative if those in charge are willing to consider it.

Lisa Sturdivant – I feel this college could be a role model for other colleges to follow.

Lori Kirstein – I don’t feel that the current Board and President have looked through all options, and I don’t see what harm it could do to allow Will to take a look and potentially save jobs at school and in the town.

Hal D’Amico – Marlboro College, since its inception by a small group of risk-taking pioneers, has purposefully intended to function as an inclusive & transparent learning community, perhaps even more a priority to many, than as an accredited college. Methinks my experience as a student (1985-87 & ‘98) affirms this every day, viscerally. The community, including its leadership(s), has often discerned, and, when necessary, defied the Conventional gods of Pragmatism. Accepting The Wooten Challenge, and its timeline, will appropriately honor and respect the people of Marlboro Town, So. Vt., and those with ties to Potash Hill. Andover Newton Theological Seminary was under more intense & imminent financial & enrollment pressure, but it intentionally took more than two years to transition as a fully embedded partner at Yale Divinity School. The plan provided students during the transition ample opportunity to graduate from the Newton campus; faculty & staff decent time to job search; ANTS, for at least a little while, continues to exist as a somewhat indie entity at Yale, including maintaining some control over endowment decisions, and while on a timeline, was able to maintain control over the future use and sale of the Newton campus. Emerson is probably not the evil empire, but its people, context, and structure inherently limit, perhaps eliminate, empathy from the equation. If the Wooten Challenge Timeline is a deal-breaker to Emerson, is this the entity to whom Marlboro College wants be turning over, not only its money, but its timeless soul? BTW: I see whatever happens as an opportunity for the people of Marlboro, the region, & those w/ ties to the college, for bold, creative partnerships on Potash Hill.

Elizabeth Peterson – I am an alumni of Marlboro and I think it is important to save this unique Vermont college.

Ana Maria Szolodko – I wish for complete transparency in learning of Marlboro’s fate.

Andrea Burke – Marlboro College is a beacon of light in Southern Vermont. It brings vibrance, youth, and talent to the area. Many of those transplanted here choose to stay and make our community thrive. They need to explore every option fully before closing.

Richard Bromley – The unique value and culture of small college life cannot be maintained in such a massive setting. The two are antithetical to each other.

Daniel Doolittle – Marlboro is a gem of an educational model! The liberal arts are needed more than ever in America. At Marlboro I learned and lived in a participatory democratic experiment. This petition is asking for transparency and honors a collective problem-solving process that has served Marlboro well since its founding and through the decades. I have no trust in any agreement that can’t stand a little study and investigation. The rush we are witnessing to close on this poorly negotiated deal with Emerson, is anathema to the true pedagogy of a Marlboro education. If it can’t stand a little scrutiny and study, how good can it be?

David Poggi – Marlboro college is important to the local community and has been instrumental in retaining young talent within southern Vermont, many of whom have went on to raise families here in the state

Laura Hinerfeld – Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. But seriously, Marlboro must remain available, in Vermont, for future students.

Stacey Ornstein-Perry, Marlboro Class of ‘ 87 – On behalf of all fellow Alumni who graciously gave to Marlboro and it’s endowment so as to continue the Marlboro experience as we knew it for decades to come, we ask that you honor our generosity by allowing Will Wootton and his appointees to examine the documents as requested. If no viable suggestion is found at least no past donor will feel betrayed or used. Thank you.

Gwen Haaland – Marlboro College is very important to me. My experiences there were positive enriching my life in many ways as a scholar. I want others to experience this unique education in this special place. I began my studies st Marlboro College in 1977 and graduated in 1981. My family and I have donated money for FOUR decades for the benefit of the Marlboro College plan of concentration for students continuing on the same rural campus in the future.

Jamme Chantler – I’m signing because I believe that that best chance to continue the legacy of that great college on Potash Hill is to allow Will Wootton the chance to look over all of the data needed to figure out if there is a viable alternative to killing Marlboro College and freely giving the endowment funds and campus to a college that doesn’t hold dear the teaching and learning values that we do.

D. Nathaniel Mulcahy – Frost’s dream must carry on and not slowly scattered in the bureaucratic winds

Florence Barnick – I believe in the power of small colleges. In addition to the fabulous education they provide, they are economic engines for their communities. Boston doesn’t need this but Vermont does.

Rebecca Dearing – In time I spent visiting Marlboro college and meeting students and faculty there, I experienced a remarkable transformation; my passion and hope for academia was reignited by the creative vibrancy and empowering culture of the Marlboro community. I believe all of this is intrinsically intertwined with people and place, on Potash Hill. I also believe it to be in keeping with Marlboro’s culture of academic integrity, that so inspired me on my visits, to accept Will Wootton’s challenge and give another team the opportunity to review the considerations and analysis of the board of trustees. Whether the spirit of Marlboro College is carried forward as the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts at Emerson, or as Marlboro College on Potash Hill, this sort of rigor of process and depth of community involvement would help keep that spirit alive, so that others may be inspired by the values and practices upheld by Marlboro.

Tammy Berman – Alumni have the right to do what they can to save their beloved institutions which have helped define who they have become. They deserve the chance to give back and preserve that which they supported for years as students.

Mac Newman Our small colleges are important options and part of our communities.

Nelson Levings Baldwin, WI Town Meeting is being ignored. The Trustees & faculty appear the only supporters of ‘the Transfer.’ Marlboro College’s other constituencies (students, alumni, staff, parents…) lack a vote. Hence, the reason for this petition. The parents, student & alumni have financed Marlboro College & are entirely legitimate ‘voters.’ Ignoring these constituencies is blatant violation of the trust placed in them. Alloft & unaccountable is unacceptable.

Levi Gershowitz I believe that a better approach can be taken that embraces the philosophy of Marlboro

Kermit Blackwood – We must preserve Marlboro College for Generation Z. It is ideal for a generation only just entering higher education.

Brian Aust – Waitsfield, VT, “If anyone can possibly find a way to preserve the distinctive, priceless and pedagogically unique historical treasure that has been Marlboro College for over 70 years, it is Will Wootton. While a student, I had little idea of the work he was doing, but now as an alumnus 25 years later, I recognize that he and the team of the early/mid 1990s were *the* people who made Marlboro happen, by nature of their determination and inventiveness. Will’s resume and experiential accomplishments speak for themselves: GIVE HIM A CHANCE, if he can’t find a workable solution to the looming catastrophe of Marlboro ceasing to exist, no one can (and make no mistake, it will in fact cease to exist, for who at Emerson in 10 years time will have any idea whatsoever what the “Marlboro Institute” even refers to anymore?).

Marlboro largely shaped who I am as a critically thinking person. Graduate studies turned out to pale in comparison to the rigors of Marlboro classes and especially Plan. Every effort should be undertaken to avoid gutting the southeastern Vermont region of this Lyceum of higher knowledge, insight and inspiration; whose very location on a bucolic hillside in the forest directly contributed to the clear thinking of its students. Give Will a chance. All of us who knew him while we were students knows he is a straight-shooter and won’t lead us down a delusional rabbit hole. Please!!”

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