The Alumni Council, as elected representatives of the Alumni Association, has voted unanimously to endorse Dr. Sharon Meagher for the position of President of Goddard College. Sharon was the only finalist who expressed both concrete fundraising plans to sustain the college and a deep understanding of, and commitment to, the pedagogy, philosophy, and mission of Goddard. It was clear at our meeting with her that she had listened actively to the community stakeholders at all of her interviews, referencing her conversations with faculty and staff and making connections between their interests and ours.
What impressed us most about Dr. Meagher was her commitment to radical, experimental, progressive projects that would increase accessibility to the College for the most vulnerable in our society. For example, she suggested in our meeting that one initiative she has considered for Goddard is to offer “wage replacement” for students when they attend residency. This kind of initiative would increase equity, inclusion, and access for those at the margins of society who cannot afford to take time off to travel to residency twice a year. She has a clear understanding of what barriers exist that may currently be preventing new students from coming to Goddard. She offered multiple different pathways to bring new students into the community, each of which were founded in a strong commitment to increasing equity and inclusion.
In discussing these initiatives, Dr. Meagher made it clear that she has specific funders and funding sources already in mind, many of which come from her existing partnerships and relationships, and which she is excited to bring to Goddard. She has developed programs using individual funders to pilot projects on a small scale, and then leveraged their success to obtain larger grants. Dr. Meagher also brings to Goddard a strong ability to critically assess the impact of a project on the people and systems of Goddard, an essential and much-needed addition to our culture of inquiry and experimentation. Of the finalists, she demonstrated the most specific, concrete, and viable plans to immediately usher in a robust and resilient financial environment, one that aligns directly with the mission and values of Goddard and builds upon our foundation of experimentation and progressive pedagogy.
Her thoughtful, radical vision for the school aligns seamlessly with the values of Goddard. She is a proven fundraiser with donors already lined up to partner with the College. She is excited to partner with the Alumni Council on the work that we are currently doing for the College, and she wants to actively collaborate with all community stakeholders in a symbiotic relationship to create a robust, dedicated Goddard community. She is fully committed to the mission of the College and its focus on social justice. For these reasons, we strongly endorse Dr. Meagher for the position of Goddard’s President.
We denounce the candidacy of Dr. Dan Hocoy. We cannot in good conscience support his consideration in this process; his candidacy violates the integrity of the mission and values of Goddard College, to which we, as a Council, are dedicated. We do not support his candidacy moving forward in any capacity, and we have deep concerns that his involvement with the College would lead to its demise. We call for his immediate removal from consideration for the position.
Dr. Hocoy presented a vision for Goddard that was antithetical to its mission, values, and pedagogy. His corporate and capitalistic approach to fundraising represents a lack of understanding of how progressive change happens in our society. Given Goddard’s dedication to radical experimentation and inclusion, this kind of status-quo thinking would not advance the school in a way that maintains and perpetuates our unique identity and pedagogy. When asked multiple times by the alumni during his interview, he could not even describe or articulate the pedagogy or stated values of Goddard in any way. His PowerPoint presentation displayed multiple instances of racialized and nationalized tokenization that were deeply problematic, and we are concerned about the direct harm that this kind of ideology would cause to Goddard students, staff, and faculty.
He also seems to lack all understanding of what Goddard’s market actually is, either currently or potentially. He could not apply any strategy he presented to Goddard as it currently is. He did not understand the basic structure of how we approach education, from the advising process to self-directed learning. He could not name what kind of students attend Goddard, let alone what kind of students would be attracted to a school like Goddard. The way that he continually spoke about potential students as “customers” indicates that he views our transformative, radical pedagogy as a “customized product,” rather than a philosophy of life and learning. A Goddard education is not a product; it is a transformational experience that shifts paradigms and deepens human connection. He clearly wants to commodify the Goddard experience, rather than enrich and expand its transformational capacity, and this is unacceptable to the alumni community.
We could continue with a litany of other serious concerns about this candidate, including his use of Facebook as an LMS; the fact that he wants to make the school “attractive” for potential mergers or acquisitions; the fact that he shows little desire to live in rural Vermont long-term; his short tenure at his current position at Metropolitan Community College-Kansas; his pride in selling the original campus of Antioch Seattle; his ego-focused attitude; and more. Our faith in the Board of Trustees is shaken as we witness his inclusion in this pool of finalists. Should the Board pursue his candidacy further, the Alumni Council will have to seriously reconsider the nature of our relationship with the College.