Guilford trustees rescind program and faculty cuts

Guilford College. © Parkram412/commons.wikimedia.org.

On January 5, board chair Ed Winslow announced, “the Board of Trustees of Guilford College opted to set aside the Program Prioritization program and associated faculty terminations as proposed this past Fall by the College Administration.”

Program Prioritization was a plan proposed in November 2020 by Guilford’s interim president Carol Moore to eliminate nearly half of Guilford’s majors and 30 percent of its faculty. The plan had drawn fierce opposition. Faculty overwhelmingly voted no confidence in Moore and the trustees. Current students organized teach-ins and protests in front of the college. Save Guilford College, a group launched by alumni, organized “over 800 alumni and friends [who] have pledged financial support in excess of $3.3 million if Guilford takes a more sustainable path that is true to its mission,” according to a January 11 statement by the group.

“We were hearing from so many people with such an overwhelming level of concern that the board has responded with this [January 5] letter,” Winslow told the Greensboro News & Record. “What we’re saying is the board hears the constituents.”

Winslow’s letter also outlined “working teams” that would include representatives from trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The four working teams established so far include: Enrollment Stabilization and Recruitment; Donor Challenge/Fundraising; Faculty and Staff Collaborative; and Constituent Engagement.

The letter also laid out the college’s fundraising goals: “Should we reach the high bar of raising $4 million by May 31, 2021, and another $2 million by January 31, 2022, we will have the important time and space to do the necessary work together to establish a sustainable future.”

Jean Parvin Bordewich, a 1972 alum active in San Francisco (Calif.) Meeting, recently joined the fundraising working team. Bordewich believes the fundraising targets are reachable with increased support from alumni and the larger Friends community.

Bordewich commented on the evolving situation, noting challenges ahead: “The November ‘prioritization plan’ outraged and catalyzed the Guilford community because it would have destroyed the soul of the college, rooted in Quaker values, practices, and history which guide its approach to education. The plan even proposed eliminating majors like Peace and Conflict Studies, and foreshadowed a diminished role for Friends Center. Earlier cuts reduced staff for the Quaker Archives. The Board of Trustees listened and set aside the wrong-headed plan, but the school still faces a steep financial challenge.”

FJ News Editor

Erik Hanson and Windy Cooler are the news editors for Friends Journal. They contributed to the reporting of this story. Do you know about any Quaker news stories we should be covering? Send us tips at [email protected].

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