Pledge to Withhold Donations from Bridgewater College
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On October 6th, 2020, the administration of Bridgewater College released its Strategic Resource Allocation recommendations (SRA) to the student body. The recommendations call for the discontinuation of five minors; 32 tracks, concentrations, and emphases; and six academic majors at the college—Applied Chemistry, French, Mathematics, Nutritional Science, Philosophy and Religion, and Physics.
At least ten faculty and staff have been told their position will be eliminated in June 2021. Many other faculty will be told that their positions have been eliminated in the coming weeks. Several of these faculty who are being fired or asked to retire have tenured positions. All have contributed to Bridgewater College and invested deeply in student lives. By eliminating tenured faculty, including many women, LGBTQ+, and minority professors, the administration of Bridgewater College has not only reneged on its commitments to individual faculty but also undermined sorely needed efforts at diversification. In the process, the current administration has ensured that future talent will be hesitant to become a part of the Bridgewater campus, and left the remaining faculty with no confidence in current institutional practices.
All of these cuts and firings will result in only 9.5% of total academic savings, and the negative effects of implementing the SRA recommendations will extend far beyond the immediate firings. Institutions that do not honor tenure, and that do not listen and support their faculty, will lose talent. By eliminating entire departments and by firing tenured professors with less than a full academic year's notice, Bridgewater College has threatened the academic integrity of its programs and, more importantly, has undermined its core Liberal Arts mission and destroyed the trust between faculty and the institution. Bridgewater College is a Liberal Arts college that seeks to educate the whole person and uphold a robust learning community. If it cannot attract and retain high-quality academic talent, the business model and expressed goal of the institution will not be achieved.
Bridgewater College was founded on the principles of Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Harmony. Currently, the administration seeks to undermine the very values that allow us to take pride in our alma mater.
There is no goodness in the callousness shown by the administration in conducting these unnecessary firings in the middle of a global pandemic.
There has been no truth in the information that has been withheld from faculty and staff about these decisions.
There is no beauty in the shell of a holistic Liberal Arts education that will replace the well-rounded academic programs Bridgewater College once prided itself in.
There has been no harmony between the administration and faculty as the administration pitted faculty against one other in a manufactured struggle to preserve their departments.
The administration has jeopardized not only the quality of education for future students but also the culture and values that unite all former and current students of Bridgewater.
As alumni and students, we stand by our faculty and the belief in the unwavering value of a Liberal Arts education. Bridgewater College has failed to live up to its values and has abandoned its historic regard for equity and peacefulness, rooted in the Brethren tradition.
The Board of Trustees must reject the SRA recommendations and address faculty concerns.
These concerns include but are not limited to: Restoring eliminated programs, restoring jobs to eliminated tenured faculty, disclosing financial data withheld during the SRA process, and fully committing to a diverse and inclusive faculty.
We now, as Alumni and current students, pledge to not donate to Bridgewater College in any capacity until Faculty requests for reform are met. We ask that President Bushman and current trustees evaluate the consequences of the full implementation of the SRA recommendations, and stand instead with faculty, alumni, and the values of Bridgewater College.
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