Goddard faculty union to oppose new president and chair with own admissions campaign

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Goddard faculty union to oppose new president and chair with own admissions campaign

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 3:03am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Non-traditional educational institutions designed to support creative students of all learning styles and abilities have been under threat, according to the Goddard College faculty union. Students who need degree credentials but who find standard grading systems, enormously high price tag, and bureaucratic requirements that hem in creativity extremely prohibitive have had fewer choices for college that fit their needs in recent years.

Still, one school that had been threatened with closure fought back from these same policies and remains committed to experimental education that was its founding premise 75 years ago. After threats of closure, Goddard College has returned to its roots as a haven for experimental thinkers, artists and activists with renewed programming in Socially Engaged Art and writing, sexuality studies, among other innovative areas of study. Faculty and staff have sacrificed much and come together to keep the college true to its mission.

The union of faculty at the experimental, radical college dedicated to supporting undergraduate and graduate students in the arts, education, psychology and counseling, liberal arts, sustainability, decoloniality, sexuality studies, social and ecological justice, and health arts and sciences are calling for all activists, community organizers, and radical thinkers seeking degrees to become students at the College so they can collaborate to save the historic College from the current president, Dan Hocoy, and chair of its board of trustees, Gloria Willingham-Toure.

Co-chair of the union, H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, says, “The Hocoy-Willingham-Toure team are the latest pair of micromanaging, top-down authoritarians with more of a commitment to turning Goddard into a school for Jeff Bezos than to the workers who successfully organized to protect their working conditions against him.”

The Representative Council of the Goddard College Faculty Union has recently voted no confidence in Goddard College’s current provost search process due to the Dan Hocoy Administration’s refusal to put into place measures to ensure that the search process won’t result in the same issues that have plagued previous administrations with filling the position of chief academic officer as well as other senior leadership roles. 

According to Williams, the current board is made up of people who were perceived to have the capacity to bring much needed resources to the College, like Bernard Luskin, Mike Cairns, and Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, but instead of being rainmakers they have only reinforced conservative ideas and respectability politics to institution, which has a 75-year old history of radical, disruptive, and transformative ideas that have contributed to education. Goddard College invented the low residency model in higher education decades ago–even before the internet and online education existed. In 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most colleges and universities had to quickly adopt the ideas Goddard created 50 years ago to respond to the needs of students and faculty to work effectively at a distance.

The union believes that with the matriculation of 100 new students for the fall 2022 semester the faculty, students, and alumni/ae can garner enough collective strength to confront what Williams and other faculty colleagues describe as the fascist and tyrannical tactics of the president and board and restore the College to a collaborative, compassionate, and socially relevant place to learn, create, and work. The provost search is a key factor. Provosts at colleges and universities usually serve as the chief operating officer with oversight on the academic life of students and faculty. Goddard’s faculty members fear that the current search process is designed in a way that will yield a final candidate more in line with the management style of the Hocoy-Willingham-Toure pair rather than someone in the spirit and tradition of the College’s values and who can help the it find its place in the tumultuous social climate in the United States and in higher education.

As a result, the Union’s Representative Council voted on a proposed set of measures designed to yield the latter result. Williams presented the ideas to the Hocoy Administration, which rejected the proposals outright. The deeply committed members of the faculty union have made significant sacrifices over the last decade to save the College from the financial ruin they say were caused by previous administrations. These sacrifices led to the New England Commission of Higher Education, Goddard’s accreditor, removing the College from probation and restoring the institution's accreditation. “The faculty are unwilling to concede the direction of Goddard to carpetbaggers, corporatists without capital, and white glovers with little to no relationship to progressive politics, radical education, or solidarity economics,” says Williams.

The Union invites anyone interested in applying to the College and helping save one of the last places for progressive education to visit Goddard’s website at https://www.goddard.edu/admissions/ and to contact the Union at info@uaw2322.org to let them know that you’ve started the admission process.