Friday, July 13, 2007

From the Ashes

When institutions serve us well, they should be cherished and nurtured, guarded from complacency and protected from attack. When they fail us due to indolence or corruption, they should be put right by those in a position to do so. But when those in positions of authority -- in either a fiduciary or oversight capacity -- let us down through misfeasance or misguided good intentions, sometimes we simply have to allow them to disassemble in as orderly and fair a fashion as possible.

This guiding principle applies not only to modern states and religions, but also to institutions of higher learning like my beloved alma mater, New College of California, whose wonderfully unique public-interest programs are now threatened with loss of accreditation as a result of misfeasance by the school's president and Board of Trustees. After numerous second chances for the school to come into compliance with the legally-required standards of integrity and solvency, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has finally reached the end of its tether, and in the following letter issued its ultimate warning in no uncertain terms.

It is clearly a sad day for all the faculty, scholars, alumni and staff who contributed over the past three decades to make New College a place where people could pursue a more just, sacred, and sustainable world; yet it is apparently time for a new beginning--one that unfortunately requires that this now disgraced institution come to an end. Maybe something good will rise to take its place.

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