The most important news, of course, has been about my beloved school, Sweet Briar College. As I mentioned in my last entry, the interim president decided along with the board to close the school, even though there was no real need to do so. (That is, we were in decent financial shape, we still had a very large endowment, etc. ) Nobody could understand how the interim president and the board had come to this decision, especially since they decided not to share any of their documentation with us. So the Alumnae Association has been waging a very fierce battle to overturn the decision. This has been a very bitter battle indeed and there are certain alums who quite frankly I no longer welcome on campus. The interim president has a very checkered past in academia, since he was actually fired from his last job as a college president, from Trinity College in Connecticut. And the fact is he only got the job as interim president of Sweet Briar because his wife was an alum--we think in fact that he was actually brought in solely to close the school, even though of course none of that was disclosed to us last fall. One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole mess is that they were calling us to donate to the annual fund right up until the day before the announcement to close. This notwithstanding they had decided at least a month ago to close. Which means that all of the money that they had been soliciting for the month of February would be going to close the school, not to continue Sweet Briar. Of course they didn't bother to tell us that. This ended up being a key point in one of the many lawsuits that were pursued to halt the closure.
Anyway, so the interim president was married to an alum who was actually kind of disturbingly supportive of her husband throughout this whole mess. At some point in March she addressed the Atlanta alumnae association and went on this rant about how Sweet Briar was "different" than it used to be in her day, how the students weren't the same and it was better that Sweet Briar should close, and, well, she graduated in 1969 and I personally heard a lot of coded racial language in her rant. I had a difficult few weeks, because anytime someone senses something like this, as soon as you bring it up somebody shushes you, saying oh no, no, don't bring up race, you know that they didn't mean it like that. I ran my thoughts past Ryan and Tracy and after maybe six weeks or so other people were starting to say it as well.
ANYWAY. My main point is that the interim president and his wife are both absolute wretches, worthless worthless people. (At one point we were comparing Team Kill Sweet Briar people to Harry Potter characters--I said that Alum Wife was Wormtail. I still cannot get past how eager she was to close. To close SWEET BRIAR. What the fuck is WRONG with you?!) But in the end it didn't matter because after three effing lawsuits they finally agreed to mediation (after a lot of delaying) and settlement. And we, the alumni, or getting the keys to the college. We are basically getting everything we want, except of course we have to pay for the interim president's golden parachute, as well as the cowardly board who voted with him. Not happy about that but frankly it's a small price to get rid of these despicable people.
So now we are, according to the terms of the settlement, have to convert the pledges that we made to support our efforts, to cash. Which honestly isn't that difficult--Sweet Briar alums love our college so much that we are willing to give it all the money that it needs. But we are also looking ahead to the future – – we will be open this fall, and we want to retain our faculty, we want to retain our students, we went to try to keep everything as it was as much as possible. So tonight we had a fundraiser and it was pretty cool. I met some awesome people, including the husband of an alum who has been a big big part of this effort. He too is crazy about Shakespeare, and I was talking to him about how I wanted to do a reading of a Midsummer Night's Dream as a fundraiser. I said that it is been a long term dream of mine to do an actual production of Midsummer on the campus of Sweet Briar, which would honestly be an amazing amazing realization of that text. It is an absolutely stunning campus--the idea of performing Oberon's I know a bank where the wild thyme blows or Puck's And we fairies that do run/by the triple Hecate's team/from the presence of the sun/following darkness like a dream... (at twilight no less) is breathtaking.
Anyway, so alum husband was very, very impressed by our conversation and suggested starting a Shakespeare Festival on campus during the summers. And really seems to want to pursue this and gave me his business card and his wife is one of the most important people re: Sweet Briar right now so who knows, maybe this could actually happen. I think this is a fantastic idea and would love, love, love to make this happen.
There's a lot more to talk about but this is it for right now.