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TO ALL HAMILTON ALUMS, PARENTS, FACULTY & STUDENTS

TO ALL HAMILTON ALUMS, PARENTS, FACULTY & STUDENTS
Date: 2/5/05 at 2:25PM
[The following is an email sent by me on 2/1/05 to many Hamilton alums and copied to Ms. Stewart and Stuart Scott.  Also attached were copies of the both WSJ articles and excerpts from the web sites mentioned.]
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Having lost friends, neighbors, and colleagues on 9/11 and having spent that entire day at 90 Broad Street, I confess to having well defined thoughts on the matter of Ward Churchill (see the article below). As a Hamilton alum, also I have grave concerns about the serial failures of governance that have lead Hamilton to so compromise its credibility, ethical fabric, and reputation.

First, I believe the issues of freedom of speech and academic inquiry are much abused in the matter of Churchill (and Rosenberg). No one is suggesting that Mr. Churchill does not have the right to say whatever he wishes. Hamilton, however, is not obligated to, nor should it, legitimize Mr. Churchill by lending the credibility of its good name and forum.  I believe Hamilton is not obligated to, nor should it, financially subsidize or otherwise support seditious, treasonous speech; those who advocate or practice violence not in self defense; or those who celebrate the mortality caused by an unprovoked attack on US civilians.

This is not an overly complex issue: the young boys who live on a nearby street understand it only too well. They lost their father that day.

Who at Hamilton argues that such as Susan Rosenberg and Ward Churchill are the highest & best use of the pedagogical opportunity & economic resources?  Who at Hamilton argues that the reputation of the school is undamaged?  And by what process did we get here?

Let’s look at the governance and stewardship of Hamilton’s good name over the last few years:

·     In 2001 visiting professor, Brigitte Boisselier, was allegedly forced to quit after it was revealed that she was a member of the Raelian cult, which evidently believes, among other things, that the human race is the result of cloning of aliens.

·     In 2002 Eugene Tobin resigned in disgrace after he allegedly admitted to plagiarism.  His severance package didn’t get much publicity but maybe it should have: “This year’s (2002-2003) salary list topper, Eugene M. Tobin from Hamilton College in New York, earned $1.2 million for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, with $315,000 in salary, $827,354 in benefits and $21,059 in expenses, making him the only $1 million-plus president.” I may not have the full facts here but I suspect serial plagiarism by a student would be otherwise rewarded. (<a href=”/?gourl=http://www.ccchronicle.com/back_new/2004_fall/2004-11-22/campus.php?id=313” target=”_blank” title=”http://www.ccchronicle.com/back_new/2004_fall/2004-11-22/campus.php?id=313”>http://www.ccchronic…22/campus.php?id=313</a>) 

·     In 2004 we have the Susan Rosenberg affair (SR indicted as an accessory to murder in 1981 and convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment having been caught unloading a cache of weapons—including 740 pounds of explosives—at a storage facility in Cherry Hill, N.J., in November 1984 - WSJ Dec 3 04).

·     And now Hamilton, via the Kirkland Project, contracted to pay honoraria, evidently recently waived, to Ward Churchill who lauds ‘the “gallant sacrifices” of the “combat teams” that struck the Pentagon and World Trade Center, asserting that the people who worked there (“little Eichmanns…braying … into their cell phones”) and died that day deserved what they got.’ (WSJ below).

The broader issue is serial failure of administration and governance. Fundamental insults to the ethical fabric and reputational foundation of the institution are matters of fiduciary responsibility of the Trustees. They have been, it would seem, ineffective in safeguarding the institution.

I suggest it is time to demand significant changes in governance of the school to include in all likelihood significant changes to the composition of the Trustees and possibly Administration and faculty.  The cumulative insults to the credibility and ethical fabric of the institution will threaten its viability: its time for some changes.

I welcome your thoughts on how to constructively reform Hamilton. We will need some technical, legal, marketing resources as well as disciplined critical thought, and enthusiasm. We must also anticipate significant entrenched interests in opposition. 

Pending strategic reform I suggest the following:

·      withhold all funding of any contributions to the school (as initially proposed by McCormick in Kimball article WSJ 12/3/04)

·      suspend with notice any bequests which may have been made

·      alternatively, consider making the gifts contingent on certain governance standards to your satisfaction or to a revocable escrow or trusted account

·      contact your fellow alums to pass the word,

·     send your children to other, better managed, responsible schools, and

·     inform others of the problems and process of resolution

It is the hope that through this process we make a better institution and reverse some of the decay that has been so unnecessarily destructive.

For starters by cc of this email I request that Ms. Stewart provide me a copy of the By Laws of Hamilton College.


J. Hunter Brown, ‘76
20 Old Lantern Drive
Wilton, CT 06897
(o) 203 762 2065

Also in full support

Peter D. Brown, ‘73
8731 Sultana Dr.
Anchorage, AK  99516-2563

Posted on February 5, 2005 at 08:28PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment
Posted on February 5, 2005 at 01:11PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

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