April 14, 2023
Dear Ms. Williams,
We appreciate how busy you must be right now and that you are coordinating all of your communication through multiple PR firms. That said, we are a bit surprised that we haven’t heard from you in the past week in response to the Statement of No Confidence and Poets’ Pledge initiatives that concluded last Friday. You may not think gathering more than 1,000 signatures is a big deal but for a grassroots effort to do so with no infrastructure in just a few days speaks volumes to those of us who are listening to alumni and friends. You don’t need special “listening sessions” to hear what is loud and clear: This president needs to go now. And a gentle reminder that the nearly $540K in pledges expire in two weeks on May 1. (More on the relevance of this date below).
We are aware of the results of the recent Faculty Survey that were presented to the Board on Wednesday and shared with the faculty yesterday. 57 out of 64 faculty have made clear they do not have confidence in this administration. That is the president and her senior leadership team. The survey didn’t ask but we would wager that the faculty have no confidence in the Board of Trustees either.
We understand the students are so exasperated by your inaction that in the final two weeks of the semester, as they are preparing for final exams, they are taking time to organize to send a message to the Board. And, we understand that you are planning to meet with faculty and conduct “listening sessions” as part of your review process of the president leading up to the May 12 meeting of the Board of Trustees. And there is a neighborhood group organizing through Next Door with more than 8,000 interested community members. Honestly, who else do you need to hear from?
Speaking of the end of the semester, it doesn’t seem that the Board of Trustees bothered to take into account the Whittier College Academic Calendar when charting out its activity leading up to May 12. Let us remind you:
April 10 | Registration reopens for all continuing students
April 24 | Last day of Spring Instruction
April 26-29 | Finals
May 2 | Commencement
The May 1 deadline for the expiration of the Poets’ Pledge was set intentionally so that the Board could make clear the future of the college before the students and faculty depart. Not surprisingly, your board meeting on May 12 occurs when no one is left on campus.
So, how are the numbers looking for returning students for fall 2023 enrollment? Registration has been open since Monday. Do you know how many students have requested transcripts to transfer? Did you know that all 37 members of the Men’s lacrosse team are leaving the college, not just the graduating seniors? How positively do you think other students feel as they are finishing this dismal year where the Board of Trustees eliminated four athletic teams on specious claims of CTE? And they have observed their president speak at SXSW EDU disparaging their alma mater? The Class of 2023 has lost out on so many traditions. Yes, in part due to Covid. And as a result of this failed presidency. While they may have been short-changed on their undergraduate experience they will soon learn that the Poet community offers a lifelong relationship with generations of alumni. We look forward to welcoming the 330+ new graduates of Whittier College to our ranks of devoted alumni and friends committed to saving Whittier College.
It is time for this Board to fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities. Fire Oubre and let her pay her own attorney to negotiate a severance agreement. Please be sure to calculate how much the college has spent on PR firms, lawyers, her trips from Palm Desert, renovations to Perry House, and her son’s salary and benefits before you settle on an amount. You might find she OWES the College money at this point! And we know you’ve been worried she’ll trash the college with allegations of harassment, discrimination, racism, and retaliation. See above re: SXSW EDU. Been there, done that. No one believes her gaslighting – except apparently the Board of Trustees.
Representatives of the Alumni and Friends of Whittier College
April 14, 2023
This is to acknowledge receipt of your email of April 8th and today’s message.
I appreciate you taking the time to send these messages and will respond substantively soon.