Say No To Hobby Lobby Transfer of Northfield Campus to Liberty University
  • Petitioned Northfield Mount Hermon School

This petition was delivered to:

Northfield Mount Hermon School

Say No To Hobby Lobby Transfer of Northfield Campus to Liberty University

    1. Melissa  Totten
    2. Petition by

      Melissa Totten

      East Walpole, MA

Liberty University may purchase Northfield campus from current owners Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby's prospective sale/gift to Liberty will be decided at a meeting on March 7*. NMH has promised to protect the grounds of Northfield from any sale that would dishonor the legacy of D.L. Moody. Read article attached for details. Update below. 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/02/28/christian-owner-sought-for-school/b3Cok63ziguOjCeckyAgiP/story.html

 

* UPDATE (March 14, 2012) New York Times, Huffington Post.

* UPDATE (March 12, 2012) Today the Boston Globe ran another story about these issues.  It can be read here: 

http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-12/metro/31145663_1_liberty-university-campus-hobby-lobby

* UPDATE (March 8, 2012) As of now, it it is being reported that Hobby Lobby/the Green family is considering proposals between now and April. We will keep this petition open in the meantime.

* UPDATE (March 9, 2012) Today the Board has made a statement which can be found on the NMH website here: 

http://www.nmhschool.org/northfield-campus-faq

* UPDATE (March 11, 2012) Yesterday the Greenfield Recorder ran a story about these issues.  It can be read here: 

http://www.recorder.com/news

By DAVID RAINVILLE 

Recorder Staff 

NORTHFIELD — Many residents, Northfield Mount Hermon School alumni, and others are concerned to hear the ultra-conservative Liberty University is eyeing the former Northfield campus.

The campus was bought by Hobby Lobby stores in 2009 for $100,000, with the intent of fixing it up and giving it to the CS Lewis Foundation, which would start a college there. Thefoundation fell short of the $5 million required, and Hobby Lobby began searching for other recipients.

Some are worried Liberty has already been chosen for the campus, but Jerry Pattengale, a college administrator hired by campus owner Hobby Lobby Stores, said that’s simply not the case. He said Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, plan to review proposals and make a decision next month. A review of first-round pro­See CONCERNS Page A2 

■ Concerns: ‘Liberty’s (policies) fly in the face of the ... values of NMH’

From Page A1 

posals had been scheduled for March 7, but the Greens decided to put it off until all proposals are in.

Still, Liberty’s staunch conservative values have upset some.

Liberty University was established in Lynchburg, Va. in 1971 with “a vision to train champions for Christ” by the late Jerry Falwell Sr., according to current Liberty president, Jerry Falwell Jr. The school shuns the theory of evolution, teaching that “Human beings were directly created, not evolved, in the very image of God,” according to the school’s doctrinal statement.

Liberty has no plans to bring a full-on satellite campus to Northfield, Ronald Godwin, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs said Friday. He said the college would not want to use the entire campus, but would look to form a consortium, where several organizations would use the campus. Godwin said that Liberty would hold “intensive courses” for online students at the campus, which are condensed full-credit classes lasting up to one week. He said the campus is too far from a major urban center and requires too much upkeep for Liberty to take the entire campus over or run a full-fledged satellite campus there.

Several Northfielders have signed an online letter decrying the school’s views and controversial statements made by its founder, and asking the town to come together to keep Liberty out of Northfield.

“Northfield may find itself dominated by an ultra-conservative political faction that soon could transform the town,” read the letter, penned by residents Nancy and G. John Champoux and their daughter Tess, an NMH alumna, and signed by six other residents.

Jerry Falwell Sr., founder of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, made his conservative views no secret during his life. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, he blamed homosexuals, pagans, abortionists, feminists and groups like the ACLU and People for the American Way for trying to secularize America, paving the way for the terrorist attacks. This was cited in the letter, and confirmed through several news sources.

“I just don’t wish to have that kind of institution in town,” said resident Joan Deely, who signed the letter that was posted on a community website for Northfield residents.

An online petition to NMH started by Melissa Totten (NMH class of 1976) on March 5 asks the prep school’s board of directors to draft a letter to Hobby Lobby, asking the company not to give the campus to Liberty. The petition has already been signed more than 1,000 times, including the signatures of several NMH alumni.

A letter attached to the petition calls Liberty “an extremist, homophobic, and intellectually narrow institution,” and states that petition supporters “consider the institutional presence of Liberty University on the Northfield campus fundamentally incompatible with the spiritual breadth, academic depth, and community diversity we know and cherish at Northfield Mount Hermon.”

“Falwell’s legacy is the policy agenda that has been handed down to the Christian far right today, to ‘cure’ gays and lesbians, to prohibit all abortions and access to contraceptives, to deny rights to women and people of non-Christian faiths, and to limit the educational parameters of public education, including the banning of books deemed unacceptable,” reads the letter. “These ideas are antithetical to the lessons we learned at Northfield Mount Hermon.”

Deely agrees.

“Our daughter is an alum. We chose NMH because we liked that it had its own orientation and own values system, but was very open to other ways of thinking,” she said. “(Liberty’s policies) fly in the face of the traditions and values of NMH.”

Deely also doesn’t think Liberty will work well with the town to make sure its needs are met and concerns addressed.

“I feel like we need someone that’s open to a dialogue,” she said. “I don’t think there’s much opportunity for discussion with Liberty.”

Alex Stewart, a former minister and chairman of the committee formed between the CS Lewis College, NMH, and the town, hopes that whoever takes over the campus will work closely with Northfield. Stewart has remained peripherally involved in the campus’ future, and has been on several tours giving groups a bit of history on the town as well as NMH and its founder, 19th century evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

“As this moves forward, I am certain the community will seek every way to work constructively with any college or colleges that come to serve on this campus,” said Stewart.

While some protest the prospect of a Liberty campus in Northfield, Liberty’s Facebook wall is abuzz with enthusiasts as well as current and hopeful students who would love to see the school in some form come to the region. Comments range from excited New Englanders saying they’d attend a nearby campus, to more evangelical remarks that God and a conservative voice are needed badly in the state and the Northeast.

Comments like the latter have Deely concerned.

“When people say Liberty should come to the area because I (and the rest of New England) need help, I find it troubling. That’s not a presence we’re looking forward to having.”

NMH has no say about who that recipient may be. 

David Rainville can be reached at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 279

 

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. The Two Finalists for Northfield Campus

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      News today about the fate of the Northfield campus. Relief that neither Liberty nor Pat Robertson is in the running anymore. Research underway on the two finalists.

    2. Christian Broadcast News & Regent University

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      Subsequent to this article, it has been published in the Greenfield Recorder that Pat Robertson's Regent University (he also runs CBN & the 700 Club) has visited the Northfield campus, and has 2 weeks to prepare the application.

      I am dismayed, to say the least. Some of us are researching "dominionism" which has been a tenet of Robertson and his University.

    3. Chronicle of Philanthropy Article, March 2012

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      Don't know when this article came out, but it was early in this discussion. I find the comments under the article to be very interesting. Just wanted to post this for your information.

    4. Daily Hampshire Gazette - March 19, 2012

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      This editorial is too long to post here, but you'll find it on our various Facebook group pages. I'll include the link, in case any of you has a subscription. Otherwise, you'll have to pay to see it online.

    5. New England Public Radio Piece

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      WFCR in Amherst put this piece together yesterday. We pitched this story and they did a fast turnaround on it. YAY.

    6. Please Join Facebook Group for Conversation and Updates

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      There is a new Facebook page for us: NMH Concerned About Liberty University. Hope you'll come there for more dialogue.

    7. New York Times Article - March 14, 2012

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      Today, the New York Times did a piece on the Northfield situation. From what I have learned here and elsewhere, the town of Northfield is more mobilized than we are, and have been in protest mode for weeks and weeks before this petition letter. Also, Northfield residents and NMH alum have been interviewed today by a reporter from WFCR (NPR) radio, based in Amherst, MA. We have been told that it should air Friday or Tuesday morning. Will post another update with news of that story, or a link to the site. Thank you for all that you are doing. Please make every effort to reach alums with this petition. And let's hope for the best outcome.

    8. Boston Globe Article Today - March 12, 2012

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      The town of Northfield is the focus of this article. Of particular note: the Globe writer G. Jeffrey MacDonald contacted the spokeswoman for Liberty University, who made no comment. Please read the article below, and continue to pass on this petition. Momentum is key.

    9. Greenfield Recorder Article

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      The article is too long to post here - and you have to buy the article to read it, but here is the link to the article anyway. In an aside in the article, the writer David Rainville points out that we can't know how many signatures belong to NMH alumni. Which brings me to mention: please do include your class year of graduation going forward. I do not want our numbers dismissed so blithely. Thanks, all.

    10. Reply From NMH Board of Trustees - March 9, 2012

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      Statement from the NMH Board of Trustees
      March 9, 2012

      Preserving Northfield Mount Hermon’s mission and educational program is at the heart of everything the school’s board of trustees does. The board takes this responsibility seriously and acts carefully. Making the decision in 2009 to sell the Northfield campus properties to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. was no exception to these principles.

      Recently, the future of the Northfield campus has been the subject of discussion in the media and within the Northfield Mount Hermon community. We on the NMH board understand that many individual members of the school community feel strongly about the Northfield campus, and we respect their rights to hold and express their personal opinions.

      As the owner of the Northfield campus, Hobby Lobby naturally has the right to determine the new user or owner of the Northfield campus. The NMH Board does not have the ability to control the way in which Hobby Lobby transfers its property.

    11. Reached 1,000 signatures
    12. No News From NMH, No News At All

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      As the work day ends, I have heard nothing today about the Hobby Lobby meeting, nothing from NMH, and haven't seen anything in the news. No idea what this means, but until I hear from someone, we will keep this petition going. It has become a place for so many expressions of love for the School. I will be in touch as soon as something happens next.
      Melissa Totten '76

    13. Reached 750 signatures
    14. Petition Covered in Huffington Post Article Last Night.

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      For link to Huffington Post article, see below:

    15. Reached 500 signatures
    16. 500 Signatures

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      In my favorite comment, "WWDLMD?"
      Keep the petition going, keep the faith.

    17. Reached 250 signatures
    18. Falwellian Northfield?

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      There are now more than 90 signatures on the petition. If you know of anyone who would be concerned by the prospect of a Falwellian Northfield, please try to communicate with them. Thank you for all you have done thus far.

    19. Petition Letter Posted, and Letter Sent to Board of Trustees.

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      See Petition Letter attached here.

    20. Reached 50 signatures
    21. Monday, sending letter to the NMH Board. Will be be posted here tomorrow.

      Melissa  Totten
      Petition Organiser

      We'd like you to read this petition letter starting Monday, and pass it around to all who may be interested in signing.

    22. Reached 25 signatures

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