From James Bratt
Theresa Latini stole my thunder yesterday with her wise post, “How to Live Well and Faithfully in the Midst of Institutional Upheaval.” I’m glad she did, for her allusions to constricting markets, falling budgets, the downsizing of staff, the departure of some colleagues and the sweat of fear among those who remain give an apt picture of how things are in the “education industry” today. Her description was immediately pertinent at my own institution, for yesterday a long-awaited report was released in summary form by way of explaining how it is that Calvin College finds itself with $115 million of property debt and another $30 million overhang of, if you will, pre-payment penalties should we wish to get out from underneath some of the burden.
Theresa’s response to all of this is a model of sound pastoral care: abide, breathe, and communicate. My own reaction, as reports on bits and pieces of Calvin’s predicament have been released on campus over the past few months, usually ends up rattling between sorrow and anger bordering on rage. Yesterday’s release brought it all back; you can read it at http://www.calvin.edu/admin/president/finances/. Names are not included per campus policy, but exercise a bit of intelligent inference and you’ll get the picture. Particularly precious tidbits include the facts that—though not the reasons why—the debts in question were hidden, their interest payments not entered into the budget, the fund where they were lodged not audited, the committee in charge of investments not properly supervised by the college’s Trustees, etc. And etc., as the old comedian used to say. But since I’ve vented about this before in this space (see my post of last October 26: http://the12.squarespace.com/james-bratt/2012/10/26/if-sex-dont-getcha-the-money-will.html), I’ll try something else today.