Sunday, January 18, 2004

Change Is The Only Constant

The trustees of Northfield Mount Hermon, a large coed prep school celebrating its 125th birthday this year, called the community in for a major announcement yesterday after months of uncertainty in the face of financial stress and a sense that mediocrity had become the status quo. The announcement, in barebones:

The Board of Trustees strongly believes that to best serve coming generations of students, to carry forward the enduring aspects of Dwight L. Moody’s legacy, and
to continue to strengthen our unique educational program, Northfield Mount Hermon School:
  • will be located on its Mount Hermon campus in Gill, Massachusetts,
  • will be a coeducational boarding and day school of approximately 600–750 students,
  • will operate on one campus at Mount Hermon in September 2005.

The emergency nature of the meeting -- the out-of-the-blue call came out via the phone chain, just after two, for a 3:30 meeting in the school chapel -- speaks to the urgency the trustees feel is needed to get things moving quickly and decisively, rather than get bogged down in what-ifs. The deed is done, as it were.

Though a semi-surprise birthday party in my honor left me unable to attend the last-minute meeting, and a full-court grading press today and tomorrow will keep my mind too busy to stress about it, the ramifications are enormous. Deserting one campus, and electing to shrink the student body down to just over half its current population, inevitably means half of us will lose our jobs (and our homes, as boarding school requires residency). Deserting the Northfield campus specifically means a sudden and urgent need to build those facilities that the Mount hermon campus lacks: Art facilities, library facilities, enough classroom space, an admissions building. And the timetable means a year of high-stakes turmoil. Alums and current students are already up in arms (also here, with surely more to follow).

At least we'll have something to talk about.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:38 PM |

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