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09/21/22 08:47 AM #217    

 

Ralph Shapira

Just a quick clarification on legal terminology so that our contributions about Gibson's, if shown to the administration or trustees, appear better informed.  The money Oberlin ultimately paid was not a "settlement," it was a "judgment."  A settlement in a civil (i.e., not criminal) lawsuit like Gibson's v Oberlin is when the two litigating parties agree to resolve a case before its final conclusion in some manner, usually a payment of money.  If Oberlin and Gibson's had agreed to settle their case before trial by Oberlin's payment of $5 million, as a mediator suggested, then the end result -- the payment of the $5 million in exchange for dismissal of Gibson's lawsuit -- would properly have been called a "settlement."

There was no settlement in the case, because Oberlin and Gibson's never agreed on how to resolve Gibson's lawsuit.  Because the case didn't settle, it proceeded through trial and appeals until the court's final judgment was entered.  The amount Oberlin paid was the "judgment," not the "settlement."

As the New York Times reported in its September 8 article, "The college acknowledged that the size of the judgment, which includes damages and interest, was significant." (emphasis added)

 


09/21/22 10:33 AM #218    

 

Robert Baker

Just to reply briefly to John Henretta, The college did respond appropriately to the problem of the change in policy; the big problem was outsourcing in the first place (to get lower paid workers, or fewer of them), and the mistake of choosing one affiliated with a church against providing full women's health services. The issue should have been predictable. As far as divestment is concerned, the same arguments were made in opposition to divestment from companies doing business in South Africa in the 1980's. Oberlin should not be making money from fossil fuels. That's why I divested my personal shares in Exxon and Chevron. Those earnings can be made elsewhere. 


09/21/22 10:55 AM #219    

 

Robert Baker

Well said, Peter and Ralph. 


09/21/22 10:58 AM #220    

 

Robert Baker

I should also add that there is a long list of colleges and universities that have adopted a divestment policy (about 90 or so, including many that compete with Oberlin for students -- with some other glaring omissions). 


09/21/22 01:29 PM #221    

 

Ralph Shapira

Divestment is a difficult issue for me personally.  Our homes, businesses and transportation mostly run on oil and gas, and we need someone to supply it.  The oil companies are entitled to earn a profit for doing so, and I wouldn't divest them for supplying a product we're demanding.  

As profit making companies, they may or may not be good investments.  I personally think they're lousy investments since we will be using less and less of their products in the future, and the supply glut which that portends means lower prices and less profitability.  So I don't and wouldn't own their stocks and would counsel Oberlin to avoid doing so.  But that's because they're lousy investments, not because their business is supplying our oil and gas.

Some of the oil companies have run campaigns to deny climate change science, just as the tobacco companies sowed doubt about cancer.  I wouldn't own their stocks as a matter of principle.  From recollection, I think Exxon was an active climate denier, while others weren't.  If I were considering investing in O&G companies, I'd investigate which were guilty of that unpardonable sin and which weren't.  


09/22/22 09:16 AM #222    

Peter Griswold

Thanks for the clarification between the terms settlement and judgment.  I've been guildty of confusing the two.    


09/23/22 01:29 PM #223    

 

Christine Bates

Here's another question.  What was the role of Oberlin's insurer in all of this? As an involved party, probably paying legal fees as well as a portion of the settlement,  didn't the insurance company have a recommendation about settling rather than pursuing an unpredictable trial? What was the net amount including legal fees that Oberlin paid after insurance paid part of the settlement. Wondering if current insurance premiums have gone up or if Oberlin has changed insurers. 


09/23/22 01:30 PM #224    

 

Frances Hagberg (Graham)

As I’ve commented in the past, I appreciate the practical information and the heartfelt comments from everyone. I’ve reread again various thoughtful ideas through this long discussion and made suggestions about truth and reconciliation to forge a path forward. (#190) Good practical questions today from Chris Bates; I'd like to know the response.

Meanwhile our brains are full of ideas. Perhaps it would be wise to quiet our minds with their lush desire for explanations. How do we listen and encourage others to listen? Have we given pause to wonder what might be in the minds and hearts now of various persons who participated in the drama of Gibsons? Not to judge them but to expand our capacity for awareness and compassion.

Many of us in our lives have stumbled here and there among our achievements. Most of us have faced difficult family situations. Somehow we have moved forward, and in many cases forgiven ourselves and others, if not forgotten, and gone on. What do our life experiences teach us about limitation, success, and improbable change? Is not one of the great lessons to strive to let go of the resentment, the hardship, the slights others can bring? How might our personal experiences inform what we think about Oberlin and Gibsons?

Do we have any idea what past or present member of the board of directors perceives about the situation? The police? Various business owners? Other participants and observers?

What  do the surviving members of the Gibson’s family seek going forward? (See Lorna Gibson’s article in “commonsense.news”** (see note about website below) - https://www.commonsense.news/p/will-i-ever-see-the-36-million-oberlin.

(The judgment had not been paid as of 9/1 –perhaps it has by now). I read today that Lorna Gibson wants to replace antiquated compressors and rehire staff they had to let go. She reports only having 1 or 2 customers a morning and says she would like to rebuild the relationship with the college if possible after 5 generations. I learned that Allyn Gibson Senior died some months back.

I recall viewing the video of David Gibson (the father who died in 2019 of cancer not the grandfather) that night of the arrests saying something like “this cannot come to a good end.” It was as though he had an emotional reckoning of what would lay ahead. It is a haunting image. He somehow knew that win or lose the case there was no such thing as ultimately winning. (Lorna Gibson says that her husband David was offered a job as professor in chemistry at Ohio Wesleyan after his graduation but came back to join the family business at Gibsons).

Litigation is never a panacea; it is a useful though brutal mechanism in times of desperation. Several of you have ably clarified legal technicalities that help others understand the legal structure of the case. Litigation can be a necessary but harsh effort at remedy never to lightly engage.

What now can be the nonlegal approaches? It is one thing to use the past to heal. I can’t help but wonder if sometimes we are beating around the bush to pick apart past actions. How does Oberlin College move on after the bruising?

Does it help move forward to speculate further the motivations of people we never met or talked to UNLESS it is done with compassion? What can we accomplish for the future? Focusing on the rear view mirror can result in disaster in front of us. Revisiting actions from the past can be used with the specific intent to heal; otherwise it can become punitive, a fixation, an excuse, a dallying.  I do not intend to minimize the horrors of American history, the brutality of today’s world on many. The past must be attended, observed, and dealt with.

Not that I can imagine it but what would happen if students and alumni quietly visited store keepers and others in the community and pledged concern for them? Is there truth to the rumor that current students have opinions and are filled with certainty where none exists?

What if any of us ever travelled to Oberlin and sought out people to listen? If we described what we heard them say could that help them, the school and ourselves? Ted, tell the board members to go out and listen beyond the walls.

FHG

**The website “commonsense.news” is one I never heard of until today that published the Lorna Gibson article. It is (if I understand correctly) run by a woman named Barri Weiss – who from 2017 to 2020 Weiss was an opinion writer and editor at The New York Times. Bari Weiss is a journalist and the author of “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” which won a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. Barri Weiss is 2020 winner of the Per Ahlmark award “in recognition of her moral courage and eloquence in defending the principles of democracy.” She also the winner of the Reason Foundation’s 2018 Bastiat Prize, which honors writing that “best demonstrates the importance of freedom with originality, wit, and eloquence.”


09/23/22 02:08 PM #225    

Jean Poppei (Eisenberg)

I'd like to express my appreciation and gratitude for Frankie's comments. Haven't yet caught up on other related messages. We just had to cancel our October trip to Oberlin as I broke hip and should about 12 days ago. No need to comment on that. Reading the chat takes focus off the pain.

09/23/22 04:47 PM #226    

 

Patricia Duran (Bell)

Can someone please refresh for me the details of what happened to the boy(s) who committed or abetted the act at Gibson's. I read tthat there was a guily plea, but what were the consequences?  Fine? Jail time? Expelled?  Disappeared quietly? Thanks,

Pat


09/23/22 07:40 PM #227    

 

Robert Baker

I agree with Frankie as well, and to respond to Christina Bates' question, it is unlikely that Oberlin's insurance covered defamation. I expect the entire judgment (and certainly the punitive damages) will come out of Oberlin's endowment.  The insurance company may have had a duty to defend the case (especially as to the interference with contract claims growing out of the cancellation of Gibson's contact witt the college to provide baked goods; but I doubt that the insurance covered intentional torts such as defamation. Oberlin may have hired the lawyers itself; an I, too, would like to know what advice was given, and the response of the Board. 


09/24/22 01:22 PM #228    

Peter Griswold

I've been one to beat around the bush a bit, probably out of fascination with the size of the judgment and the tragedy of the case, how a stolen bottle of wine could lead to such enormous consequences, but agree with Frankie's suggestions about moving beyond that and trying to bring some healing between the College and the community.    


09/24/22 03:09 PM #229    

 

Dick Hobby

 

A note about litigation.  It is not a bad thing.  Au contraire.  Litigation is great!  It allows each party to present to a jury its side of the story.  And it allows the little guy with no money to bring a suit against powerful entities as the trial attorney gets paid from the amount awarded.

Trial lawyers should be viewed as heroes.

Dick

 

 

 

 

 


09/25/22 12:39 PM #230    

 

Ralph Shapira

Disagree with Bob Baker on one small but financially significant point:  comprehensive general liability insurance policies generally do provide coverage for defamation.  They won't pay punitive damages, but will pay defense costs and awards of compensatory damages.  President Ambar's recent statement makes clear that Oberlin's insurers are contributing toward payment of the final judgment.


09/25/22 10:38 PM #231    

 

Robert Baker

Thanks for the correction, Ralph. Do we have any idea how much they will contribute?  Sadly, the punitive damages were the lion's share of the judgment, if I'm not mistaken. 


09/25/22 11:55 PM #232    

 

Edward McKelvey

Pat,

I can only answer part of your question.  The person who actually did the shoplifting eventually admitted his guilt, I believe in a court proceeding.  I'm pretty sure he did not spend any material time in jail; he definitely did not disappear or suffer expulsion as I had him in class after the event.  I do not know what consequences the other two (I believe at least one of them was female, but not sure) suffered, if any.  My understanding is that they joined the fray outside the store.

Hope that helps.  Perhaps others know more.

Ed


09/26/22 11:51 AM #233    

 

Ralph Shapira

Answering questions about Gibson's:  the three African-American students who attacked Allyn Gibson, a male (the shoplifter) and two female friends were all charged with assault; the male was also charged with robbery.  All three pled guilty to the charges.  Each agreed to a statement at sentencing attesting that the Gibsons' conduct was reasonable and not racist.  None of them was sentenced to jail time.

Yes, most of the award consisted of punitive damages.  The jury awarded Gibson's $11 million in compensatory damages, which the judge reduced to $5 million, and $33 million in punitive damages, which the judge reduced to $20 million.  There is no insurance coverage for the $20 million of the judgment attributable to punitives; the college will have to pay that, presumably out of its endowment.  There likely is insurance available to pay at least part of the $5 million in compensatories, the $6.5 million the court awarded in attorneys fees, and the $5 million due in interest.  Whether insurers will pay all of those amounts, or only part, depends on what the college's polic[ies] provide.  For example, there may be significant deductibles.  We don't have that information.


09/27/22 02:42 PM #234    

Lloyd Etheredge

Dear OC '68 classmates. It's good to hear so many familiar voices and thoughtful discussion. To develop useful lessons for the Board, here's a summary of Marvin Krislov's testimony in the Gibson case. [He was OC's President in Nov. 2016 when the shoplifting happened and resigned in June 2017 for another position.] He's a Yale Law School graduate (& editor of the Yale Law Journal). From his testimony, he probably trusted his own judgment and crafted Oberlin's legal analysis and its early strategy - i.e., that unexpectedly led to escalation and an outcome that caused too much (and unnecessary) damage to everyone.

     A Zoom discussion with interested OC ' 68 lawyers might help to clarify the issues that Ralph and others have raised - i.e., what are the good lessons? . . . Right now, I'm not sure that Oberlin's Trustees will take a different legal position in any future incident. 

     As I understand Krislov's legal analysis he framed this as a student free speech case. Oberlin as an institution did not cause the conflict or significantly influence students - and did not have the power to change student behavior without (more likely) being counter-productive. Oberlin's strategy was to achieve three objectives (although none of these was to compensate Gibsons for the damages caused by a misinformed student boycott).

     - My instinct is that here is at least one false note in the testimony. I'm not a lawyer but I think that the two Oberlin decisions to cancel contracts with Gibson's were unethical and probably illegal. Krislov was a smart enough lawyer to know that he was probably not telling the whole truth about Oberlin's escalation decision to harm Gibsons.

     - Krislov's claim that the student body was planning to escalate and refuse to eat Gibson-associated baked goods probably was based primarily on hearsay...Krislov should have refused to cancel the contract and to escalate economic costs to Gibson's unless students could produce convincing evidence (persuasive enough to the Board) of Gibson's student-alleged history of racism and unacceptable injuries to Oberlin's Black students. I

     I.e., if Krislov and the Board wanted to keep a community reputation of good will, they should have been firm with students about not causing damage without evidence, kept the contract, and, if necessary, donate any uneaten baked goods to charity. Lloyd Etheredge '68

===============

Former Oberlin College president said he tried to solve Gibson's Bakery issue

 

Scott Mahoney
[from The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, May 30, 2019]

 

ELYRIA — Former Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov “begged” David Gibson to work with the college to repair the relationship between students and Gibson’s Bakery, Krislov testified Wednesday.

Krislov was asked why Oberlin College wouldn’t issue a retraction or a statement stating that the Gibson family and the family’s bakery business were not racist or had a history of racial profiling, as Gibson requested. Those allegations were made in a flyer urging people to boycott the bakery, which was passed out by protesters in 2016, and a resolution passed by the college’s student senate after the first day of protests.

“Those were not authorized by me. Those were not authorized by the college. They did not represent our viewpoint,” Krislov said. “What we did do, and said very clearly, was that we wanted to work with him in repairing the relationship. That’s why we were working on a joint statement. That’s why I asked and begged — I begged him — to sit down with me and others.”

Krislov testified on the 12th day of the civil trial between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College. Gibson’s sued the college and the college’s Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo for libel, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass in 2017. The bakery also is suing the college for negligent hiring, retention and supervision.

Krislov said that he and other administrators at Oberlin College reached out to David Gibson in an effort to repair the relationship with the students and resume business between the college and the bakery. Krislov said he understood the damage that had been done by the protests and allegations made by students against the bakery.

In June 2017, Krislov resigned from his position as president of the college. He is now the president of Pace University in New York City.

The rift between the bakery and the college began in 2016 when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from Allyn D. Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson. Allyn D. Gibson followed the student out of the store, and the two got into a physical altercation.

Two other students got involved, and police have said when they arrived the three students were hitting Allyn D. Gibson while he was on the ground.

Allyn D. Gibson is white and the students are black, and the incident escalated. All three students pleaded guilty in August 2017 to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn D. Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.

In the two days following the shoplifting incident, Oberlin College students protested in front of the bakery and passed out the flyers urging people to boycott the bakery because of the bakery’s history of racial profiling. Oberlin College stopped ordering from the bakery after the protests before resuming in January 2017.

The college once again ceased ordering from Gibson’s after the lawsuit was filed in November 2017.

Krislov said he was part of the decision to temporarily suspend the standing order that college’s dining services had with the bakery for baked goods until issues with the student body at the college could be resolved.

“… Discussions with students had determined that the students wouldn’t eat the food (from Gibson’s Bakery),” he said. “The question for us was why would you pay for food that people won’t eat?”

College administrators also didn’t take sides in the protests, Krislov said. Testimony from witnesses from the plaintiffs tried to say college administrators and faculty supported the students in the protests.

“Our goals were three. We wanted to de-escalate what was a dangerous and frightening situation in our small town. We wanted to make sure that the legal process could proceed cooperatively and fairly. We wanted to try to work with the students to try to repair the relationship with the Gibsons,” Krislov said. “We were not taking sides. Our goal was to try to work with these student leaders to help them have more understanding of what the Gibsons’ side was, in the hopes that our small town could repair this relationship.”

Last week, David Gibson testified that administrators from the college had asked him to meet with students, but he didn’t know how he could do that until the college had issued a statement stating the Gibson family and their business were not racist.

Krislov gave a different version of the request, though.

The college had asked Gibson to meet with two student leaders and to explain his side of the story, Krislov said. The hope was that the student leaders would go back to the student body and explain the Gibsons’ side to them and the process of mending the relationship between the two sides could begin.

Krislov said that as a parent he understood that his telling the students what to do wouldn’t work, but instead the students would listen to their peers and then change could take place.

Another allegation in the lawsuit is that due to a hostile environment created or sustained by the college, vehicles of Gibson’s Bakery employees were keyed and tires were slashed, damage was done to David Gibson’s home and Allyn W. Gibson was injured after anonymous people knocked on the windows of his apartment late at night and he fell after opening the door.

Krislov was asked to address those allegations.

“I’m really sorry that happened. I had no knowledge and nothing to do with it,” he said. “No one at the college, that I know, had any responsibility for it that I’m aware of. I certainly would have told people that was absolutely wrong. I’m sorry that that happened.”


09/28/22 09:23 AM #235    

Jean Poppei (Eisenberg)

Classmates: trying to understand events of 2016 is like peeling an onion, made even more challenging a as we view with different lenses. I'm thinking of the Black students involved having to say no racism was involved when likely all their lived experiences tell them otherwise about white people in general. I have white privilege but I don't necessarily have gender privilege. Thus I may see instances of sexism that my male peers would not. Hard to type with just left hand so I'll stop. But let's keep those Black students and their families in our heart.

09/28/22 03:17 PM #236    

 

Robert Baker

Yes, Jean. The issues are not whether there was racism, or even how the student body responded. The only real issue is how the College dealt with it all. 


09/29/22 09:00 AM #237    

Peter Griswold

Thanks, Lloyd, for posting the article.  It's evident from his testimony that Presdient Kislov saw his role as a mediator rather than as the leader of the college, and continued to maintain that the college had no substantial role in the protest.  He seems to be presenting himself as reacting to students, being powerless to effect a reconciliation, and relying on the student leaders to defuse the situation.  


09/29/22 05:39 PM #238    

 

Mary Lowry (Coleman)

I have enjoyed very much reading all these comments which come into my inbox almost daily!.   The events must have touched a very sensitive nerve in all of us.   To Peter Griswold's assessment of President Kisloff's actions, I believe that we needed a leader not a mediator at that particular time.  


09/29/22 07:55 PM #239    

 

Thomas Ilgen

I have been following discussion of the Gibson case by our classmates and while I have been enlightened by different aspects of the case, I reminded of the parable of the blind men and the elephant.  As most of you probably recall, this is a story of a group of blind men who, for the first time, encounter an elephant.  Each of the men touch different parts of the elephant—leathery side, tusk, trunk, tail—and then each proceeds to describe the animal based on personal but very limited experience.  In some versions of the story, each man holds tightly to his own knowledge and comes to distrust and feel threatened by the knowledge of others.  Acting alone, they have little chance of accurately describing or characterizing the elephant.  And while I have seen little of this fear or distrust among my fellow classmates, I do have the feeling that we are trying to explain and account for a troubling outcome with very limited first-hand knowledge and even less understanding about how our various contributions might fit together. 

 

            Having now diminished the value of my own limited contribution, I would suggest that it might be useful to look at this case through the lens of the values and practices of a small liberal arts college, and particularly a college like Oberlin.  We often forget that small liberal arts colleges are a relative rarity in the landscape of American higher education and almost unknown among colleges and universities around the world.  The primary distinction and appeal of these colleges is the close relationships that they nurture among a relatively small cohort of students and the college’s faculty, staff, and community members.  Lifelong friendships and associations are regular products of this time together.  In the best of these colleges—places like Oberlin--employees participate actively in the extraordinary maturation of college undergraduates over four years, watching over their intellectual development but also providing support and guidance as they craft strategies to change and improve the world around them.  Much of this work is about building confidence in young people—applauding their successes, supporting them when they fail, and speaking frankly to their lapses in judgment or their misbehavior.    I spent about thirty-five years as a teacher (a professor of Political Studies) and a few years as an administrator (Dean of Faculty) at Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges in Claremont California.  For those unfamiliar with the Claremont Colleges, they are a group of five highly selective small liberal arts colleges (Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer) that are literally adjacent to one another but are separate entities with their own administrators, boards of trustees, faculties, student bodies, alumni organizations, etc.  They share some programs and facilities—athletics, theater, music, languages—but have separate cultures and identities.  Pitzer was founded in the 1960s and in many ways took on the spirit of the decade.  Before it was fashionable, Pitzer emphasized intercultural understanding, social justice, interdisciplinary learning, and environmental sustainability.  When I arrived in the mid-1980s, it felt like Oberlin in the 1960s.  Students were engaged inside and outside of the classroom.  Faculty were encouraged to imagine innovative curricular options.  Fully half of the students studied abroad in non-traditional sites—Nepal, Botswana, Ecuador, Turkey, Wales, China—and completed immersive programs of language and culture.  When surveyed, graduating students routinely spoke of close and nurturing relationships with faculty and staff as the most meaningful part of their college experience.  Faculty and staff were socialized into a culture that aimed to foster intellectual growth but also to encourage their students to apply what they were learning in the classroom.   Some student responses were creative and constructive; others were unsettling and downright dangerous.  Some showed maturity beyond their years; others reflected mistaken assumptions and poor judgment.  While not condoning some of the more troubling actions, faculty and administrators understood that young people needed to act on newfound convictions. 

 

            Two examples might help to make this point.   While I served as Dean of Faculty, students occupied a brand-new administration building on the Pomona College campus.  They chained the doors shut and prevented the College’s president from getting to his office.  I was soon informed that many of the students were from Pitzer (not a surprise), and they were protesting Pomona’s failure to commit to hiring faculty of color.  The president was beside himself and Pomona alums were calling for the police to drag the students from the building and to hold them to account.  We established a mechanism to bring students and administrators to the table and we negotiated through the night to bring the crisis to a peaceful resolution.  Both sides made concessions, and all learned from the experience. 

 

            After the disturbances following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles in 1992, our students marched through the town and down a heavily travelled thoroughfare, singing and chanting about the injustice of the verdict.  We had Pitzer students from south central Los Angeles whose neighborhoods were in flames and whose families were in harm’s way.  As the students approached a lineup of police with batons at the ready, the College’s president and I pleaded with the officers not to make a bad situation worse.  The students agreed to move to the sidewalk and the police stood down.  I recount these examples because it is important to remember that one of the great strengths of good small liberal arts colleges, like Oberlin and Pitzer, is that they seek to foster in their students a sense of civic responsibility and a commitment to social justice.  They recognize that students will act imprudently and irresponsibly at times, but they will learn from their mistakes and hopefully become better citizens as they grow older.  The situations I encountered as an administrator were not unlike those confronted by administrators at Oberlin in our time.  Responsible and sensitive college personnel often must balance competing concerns—supporting and building confidence in their students, protecting the college they serve, and being ever mindful of the well-being of the larger community in which the college is embedded.  It takes committed and able administrators and faculty to get the balance right.  In small towns like Oberlin and Claremont, this is no small task. 

 

Do these comments shed any light on the Gibson case? I am not sure they do.  I don’t know enough to make that judgement.  What I do believe is that the College does have an obligation to support its students while at the same time being mindful of the importance of maintaining good relations with the Oberlin community.  Administrators that neglect either of these obligations do a serious disservice to the College and to those who love and support it.  My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the administrators in this case, and it starts with the President at the time, got the balance between these two obligations very wrong and the consequences for the College and the larger Oberlin community were very high indeed. 

 

 

I would offer one final point that may speak to Lloyd and Peter’s perceptive observations about the Oberlin president.  Small colleges are complex interpersonal communities.  Faculty are not isolated in large departments but frequently serve with those from other departments as well as with administrative staff on college-wide committees.  They live together in a small town and encounter one another in the grocery or at their children’s soccer games.  Good and successful senior administrators see their jobs as serving faculty and students, a hierarchy not found in most organizations.  To do their job well and to be effective leaders, they need to know who they are serving, their perspectives, and their aspirations.  In many of these colleges, students too serve on college committees voicing their concerns, developing relationships with college employees, and together making college processes run smoothly.   Managing this mélange of relationships effectively is no small task.  And it starts with the president.  In my experience, the best presidents of small colleges are those who have had small college experiences—as students, or better yet as faculty, or senior administrators.  But all to often, small colleges choose lawyers, business executives, or administrators from large public or private universities.  Their resumes may look impressive but the skills and experiences they bring are often unsuitable. Unless they are willing and able to learn about and embrace the small college culture, they never really “get it” and their tenures are brief and unremarkable.  Living in a town with five small colleges, I have been witness to many unremarkable presidencies. 


09/29/22 09:30 PM #240    

Edna Chun

Thank you, Lloyd, for posting the article and the very salient points, as well as Peter and Mary's comments on leadership.I appreciate also Thomas Ilgen's comments on unremarkable presidential leadership.  Perhaps the most telling statement in the article is Marvin Krislov's statement  “The question for us was why would you pay for food that people won’t eat?” This certainly captures the misreading of the situation. There were a number of examples in this situation that indicate a serious mishandling of the situation by college administration.


09/30/22 12:47 PM #241    

 

Paul Safyan

Thanks everyone, for sharing your broad and deep perspectives on this situaton.  When we are ready, I hope we can move on to look closely at the healthcare issue currenlty arising with the management of student health issues.  But as long as people want ot reflect on the Gibson's saga, it's good.  That saga and its apparent inflexion point recently has struck many of us as an example of how Oberlin has changed or how it has fialed to change since our time there.


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