Thursday, May 16, 2013

Open Letter to the Administration from Alumni

Yesterday Michael Grunseth '08 (wow cool name) composed an open letter to the administration expressing his frustration over the whole "lack of 150 new students" issue. Kinda wish there was a 'Watergate' type name for this ordeal.

You can read the full letter here, or even co-sign it here.

The current edition of the letter is below, but I wanted to point out something really great I saw during the development of the letter. In the original Facebook chat where Michael contacted a few dozen other students and faculty members, one of them commented,

"Well done! Glad we spent all that time on your writing during SMP"
And it made me remember how close and supportive of a community SMCM can be, that your professor and SMP advisor from years ago will look over your letter to the administration, and still remember you and be just as supportive as they were all those years ago.

And that one tiny interactions makes me worry less about all of this.

To the Offices of the President, Vice President for Advancement, Noted Faculty & Staff,
I write on behalf of myself and the XX co-signed to express our deepest concerns regarding the recent enrollment shortfall and resulting $3.5 million loss in revenue.
We're confused why we heard about such important news through Facebook and the Washington Post, rather than through our alumni communications or outreach.  We request an explanation for why alumni were not notified of these problems before advancing to such a critical mass.
We remain extremely concerned with the staff changes in the Office of Admissions.
When the news spread through alumni circles about the enrollment shortfall and the consequences it could have on our school, the unanimous response was, “What can we do?”
We want to help. St. Mary's is such a special place and we are so proud to call ourselves alumni. We want to ensure that the St. Mary’s experience lasts for generations to come.
As alumni in various stages of establishing our careers, we're not all able to give much in yearly donations. But there is great value in what each of us do have; our knowledge, experience, and position in the “real world.”
We’re teachers, web designers, tech entrepreneurs, grad students, librarians, non-profit pioneers, copywriters, editors, government employees, photographers, scientists in newly developing fields, and everything in between.
Most importantly we’re products of an amazing liberal arts education. Which means we have legs, mouths, brains and the ability to use them at the same time.
All you have to do is ask.  We’re here for you.
We’re open to anything that we can to do to help, but we’re not open to standing by and watching our school lose its greatest asset: its character (in every sense of the word). We’re not open to witnessing stellar faculty and staff members find new jobs away from St. Mary’s, whether they’re from the Arts, Sciences, or any number of supporting areas.  Finally, we’re not open to being left out of such an important conversation.

Many of us are returning to campus for Alumni Weekend in June, and plan to attend the 9am Alumni Council meeting to again voice our concerns and offer assistance. We look forward to the discussions to come.

Thank you for your time,

Michael Grunseth ‘08
English, Art History & Theater, Film, and Media Studies
Resident Assistant 2005-2008


  1. Is it possible the shortfall is calculated? After the school greatly reduced its admissions standards, the acceptance rate threatened accreditation standards.
    By maintaining a slightly higher level of selectivity the the freshmen class remains 150 students short.

    In terms of the budget, students represent revenue. As a state school, the institution is able to offer a phenomenal education because state funding offsets a portion of expenditures. As an institution, St. Mary's has remained embarrassingly underfunded by the State of Maryland, while other schools consistently record budget shortfalls and somehow consistently received increased funding levels.

    I am not dismissing the concerned response of faculty, staff, and fellow alumni. I just caution directing criticism toward the administration. Dr. Urgo has continued to raise the institutions profile in one of our history's tightest budget crises. If I remember correctly, Dr. Urgo's efforts in Annapolis this session were lauded as a success by many. Could the shortfall then, be a political calculation to gain additional financial commitment from Annapolis?

    However, stay angry. St. Mary's is an academic institution that is a state asset, it's about time we were funded like one.

    1. If you were here watching Urgo flounder, you'd realize he doesn't have the wherewithall to pull off a Machiavellian scheme like that. This was just idiocy, pure and simple.

  2. Thanks for the shoutout, SMCMLollzz (as I call you in my head). I've actually been contacted by a number of faculty and staff members to express their support, which was great.

    I think current students would be pleasantly surprised by how awesome faculty members continue to be after graduation. :)

    Sorry I'm behind on this, didn't see the post til today.