8.8.13 | Alumni Town Hall

Below is the audio and transcript from the Alumni Association Town Hall held online August 8, 2013.

Montreat College Alumni Association Online Town Hall • August 8, 2013 • Transcript*

[The opening statement by Annie Carlson and her prayer to open were not recorded. Annie repeats her opening statement later in the town hall] 

William Haynes ’85 (Board of Trustees Executive Committee member):

I just wanted to say hi to everyone also.

Some of you may know me for when I was at school at Montreat (84/85).  I am an alumni as well.

In the late 1990s, I was reflecting upon my life to date and the things that I’ve done my life.  And Montreat really came to mind as I was praying through things.  And I contacted Montreat about setting up a scholarship which I did in my parents’ honor.  And I was asked to be on the Board of Visitors.  Since that time I have served on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Foundation Board and the Executive Committee of the Board.  So, I have been actively involved in the board over the last decade.

Hopefully I can give a little bit of perspective in terms of what I am excited about regarding the Point “opportunity.  I do think it’s a tremendous opportunity for Montreat in hopes of fulfilling a lot of the vision that the board has had.  And I’m looking forward to talking with you guys about that this evening

 Willie Mangum ’88  (President of the Alumni Association):

Thanks William for that!

With that I think I’m going to jump into these questions and will get started!

The 1st question is “Kelly” from class of 2012.

Will any of the current majors/minors change with the merge?  Will any faculty or staff be replaced or fired?

Joe Kirkland:

This is Joe Kirkland, interim president and I want to thank everyone for this opportunity to reach out to our alumni and I will try to answer the question best I can.  And as Annie has indicated she will try to capture the questions.  Tonight we will try to answer the questions in part.  Some questions might be more fully answered as the 2 boards begin to work together and develop the structure of the future entity.  And in the meantime, to answer the 1st part of Kelly’s question, one of the important aspects of the union will be trying to identify what the key a academic programs will be for the future.  So, we’ve not had that conversation yet.  And will look carefully at both current institutions programs and determine which programs will meet the needs of Christian higher education into the future.  This coming year, all of our current students who have declared a major….(3:50) technical lapse of feed until (4:15)… will have to do with staffing of the faculty I believe.  At this time , the 2 organizations haven’t started looking at what a good organizational structure might be in order to facilitate this possible merged entity.  So it’s difficult to answer that (2nd) question with any certainty today.

Willie

Thanks Joe!

The next question is from Anne (class of 1954)

How can this decision be made, when do not have the president?

William

This is William.  I  think I can answer that!  We DO have a president!  Our current president is Joe Kirkland.  And he has done a tremendous job in stepping into this role at this time.  One of the challenges in recruiting a president is recruiting into the vision for the institution.  As we are working on the potential of merge, that would be a difficult place in which to recruit into.  So it’s far better to have Joe, who has vast experience with the Montreat staff, and an understanding of the issues at hand, to be able to administrate well during this period.

Willie

Thanks William!

The next question is from Matt (class of 1993).

Can you describe the actual amount of time spent by the Executive Committee of the Board to explore all other alternative options for Montreat compared to the amount of time spent on the merger option?

William

Here is what I think is part of what has been missing in the conversation.  The interest in the merge is not a new idea.  I have been on the board this past decade.  About 6 or 7 years ago, there was a real decision of the joint board, and taking a look at where higher education was going, looking at the cost structure, taking a look at our increasing need to raise extraordinary funds to balance the books.  There really needed to be some type of larger institution.  We had some 3 or 4 years prior to that had been working to increase our numbers by the adult education evening program.  And while they gave us additional numbers, it still didn’t get us to the point where it was reasonable to run the college was that.  So, the board started actively taking a look and talking with other institutions who would join with Montreat in the concept of a Christian university, where there would be multiple campuses.  Each campus would  have to an extent have a character of it’s own with its own programs but we would be “linked”  together in a shared vision of  Christian University as well as shared infrastructure costs of complying with federal financial aid requirements as well as pooling healthcare, backend services like marketing, etc etc. being able to share those costs.  At this time though, and over those years when we explored the possibility, Montreat was in a weak enough financial position that it was difficult to recruit into. So, the board has in general been considering the possibility of creating a Christian University type model for years.  We really haven’t had that “opportunity” until our conversations with POINT.  Even other conversations that revolved around merger did not facilitate the vision the board had of a “wider Christian University”.  So, point was the 1st where we felt like that vision could really be accomplished.

Willie

Thanks William!

For alumni board and trustees, Annie and Joe, as we speak, if once you finish speaking if you could put your microphones on MUTE that would be great!  Nothing has happened yet, but we have had a little bit of feedback.

So, Resa asks:

Is the basis for the merger financial?  (Willie: and William touched a little on that).  If so, when did Montreat realize it was in trouble?  And what’s since that time has been done to sustain Montreat beyond raising money and raising tuition?

William

I am happy to answer that!  And I may be the best person to answer that because I have seen it over a 10 year span!

Let me answer the 1st question first, which is “Is this driven by money?

It really in my belief is not driven by money.  The financial situation of Montreat has made us explore.  We were not able to go “status quo”, because there was no “status quo”, that was self-sustaining.  So for years, we have been looking at how in the world how we survive in the current marketplace with our high focused on accomplishing mission.  In the time that I was on the board, one of the 1st things we did that was highly focused on addressing the financial situation was creating the SPAS program  (School of Professional and Adult Studies).  Without the income from that program over the last decade, we wouldn’t be here today I don’t believe!  That program has sustained us.  And it particularly sustained us during the period in which student aid was easier to come by… that finances in general were easy to get, home mortgages were easier to get.  There was a lot of growth in industry back in the early 2000’s etc. So that was that was 1st area that we really looked at and executed on.  Another area where we spent time and effort was in creating a lot more filled out Black Mountain campus where there were apartments and giving the ability to recruit more students on campus.  One of the issues and one of the beauties of the Montreat campus is that it is landlocked and that you have a limited number of dorm rooms in that area.  So that limits the number of on-campus students that you can have.  When we got down to the brass tax regarding the numbers that were needed to build out the Black Mountain campus in that way, it was generally agreed on that that was not “feasible”.  Then there was a renewed focus on growing the adult studies program.  Then the biggest of the past 5 years I would say have been Herculean and heroic efforts in fundraising.  If you take a look at Montreat’s fund raising amount for number of students, number of alumni, the size of the school, etc. I will expect that you will find that we are way off the charts with respect to the amount of fund raising that we have accomplished these last few years.  The challenge with that over time is that it gets exhausting and in that the donor pool that’s dedicated to the school, as time goes on, those large gifts get more and more difficult to get.  So, there’s been a lot of that over the past few years.  There has been an evaluation by the board as to the various programs that could be added.  There has been a valuation of other schools that have made changes that have helped their enrollment and in many cases have changed the nature of the school.  So there’s been a lot done. But, the focus on creating a Christian University that is larger than Montreat in and of itself, was the focus way before today.  It’s been a focus for years.

Willie

Are you finished, William?

William

Yes, I think that answers the question!

Willie

Thank you

Tom McMurtry, who is on the alumni board has just joined us!  Tom, if you could “unmute” yourself! If you have a comment or question, you can ask that!  And Kevin Auman as well!

William

This is William.  If I can ask one thing, I want to make sure that I don’t hog the conversation.  So if you would, when you say a question, or maybe when people ask questions, if you could say who you would like to particularly leave the response!

Willie

Alright, Fair enough!

James says “What does this mean for existing diplomas, transcripts, awards etc. Will the branding on our records be different?  Is this decision based on financial requirements and not necessarily strategy?

Willie

I think the financial part has been answered by William. Perhaps Joe if you don’t mind jumping in here!

 Joe

Would you mind asking each one, one at a time would be helpful!

Willie

Absolutely!

The first says…. What does this mean for existing diplomas, transcripts, awards etc.

Joe

I’m not really sure what the outcome of a merger means for transcripts and degrees.  I suspect we could inquire from other colleges and universities and perhaps this is the research we need to do to find out how it’s impacted them and develop a better answer!  Will work on that.  What’s the next question?

Willie

Will the branding on our records be different?  

Joe

I’m not sure what that question means.  Is that referring to the logo on someone’s diploma or transcript?

Willie

Probably so, relative to the name of the institution

Joe

I think perhaps his 2 ways to answer that.  If someone has a diploma in their hand and has already graduated from Montreat College, that’s where they graduated.  In the future, the due diligence process that will involve the boards initially and then the staff in developing the structure and all the aspects of what it takes to for 2 entities to marry, will determine what that outcome is!  In those discussions haven’t started yet!

Willie

The final question from James:
Is this decision based on financial requirements and not necessarily strategy?

Joe

Our perspective on the decision the board has made (the Executive Committee has made ?)  About considering a merger with Point University is that the strategy for the future of Christian higher education, particularly for a Montreat College, Point University combination.

Willie

Ok, then I think a follow-up to the name / branding question….

Why is Montreat not included in the new entity name for the college?  

Joe

Willie [I] haven’t finished answering another question yet

Willie
Oh, I am sorry Joe!

Joe

The strategy for a combination between Point University and Montreat included many opportunities.  One of them is economic.  One of them is the natural efficiency the 2 institutions can gain when they come together and yet “gain” can be reinvested into the strategic initiatives that will help carry the institutions farther down the road and impact Kingdom work and provide majors and job skills that will meet the market place and allow for the resiliency that currently Montreat College does not have.

I’m ready for the next question, Willie!

Willie

Thanks Joe!

Back to that former question…

Why is Montreat not included in the new entity name for the college?  

Joe

That has not been fully determined.  In fact, what we released in our press release, indicates that Montreat “will” be included!  And it’s not been fully defined to what that looks like. I have heard a couple of possibilities from folks and there are probably others.  So that’s to be determined.

Willie

Ok, a follow-up question from earlier to Matt’s question earlier, Kathy wants to know:

How much time has been spent on “options” to a merger vs. the time spent on this merger plan with Point?

 Joe

Did William not answer that question effectively?

William

Let me take one stab at that!

For years, we have spent years on my time on the board, in exploring other options to merger.  But that does not mean that merger is a consolation prize.  It means that during the last decade, when we spent and an unbelievable amount of time developing options and possibilities for addressing the colleges’ financial.

It became very, very clear that this board had a vision and concept of a Christian University that was larger than Montreat.  And that that University would be a joint process of a number of institutions.  And that’s where I believe God has brought us today.  The only difference is instead of our making that happen ourselves, we are joining an institution with a similar vision and is already clearly active and doing some great things.

Willie

Alright….and then….”Kathy” wants to know “What is not feasible with the Black Mountain campus?  Was it purchased to expand on-campus housing and then found not to be feasible?

William

Who was that addressed to?

Willie

I think whoever can answer that!

Joe

I will try to answer that.  William was here serving as a trustee during that time when the Black Mountain campus was purchased.  So that predates my time!  But my understanding was that the board recognized that the space available in Montreat proper, was limited in such a way that any prospects of growth in the future really just weren’t possible.  And so when the property became available in Black Mountain, it met some early needs with the ball fields, and certainly the manor house and or events and it certainly, as time has continued along, became the playground for the outdoor education department, team and leadership center, the development of ropes courses and that whole set up.  It was at some juncture, some preliminary plans about establishing our other athletic programs out at the Black Mountain campus.  And then more recently, it was felt like to renovate our dorms at Montreat, we need somewhere to house our students on a rotating basis.  So there was a conversation, we considered building a facility out there that was all scrubbed really at the time because the economic downturn was such that made fund raising difficult.  Currently, the property is serving our needs for the things that I mentioned.  As Montreat grows, and there is the possibility of continued development of that land.

Joe

Annie would like to share something before the next question is asked.

Annie Carlson (Executive Director of Advancement):

Hi, everyone. At the beginning of the meeting at 7, I had read a statement to kind of frame the discussion tonight, and I know a lot of people have come on in the last 30 minutes or so.  So I just wanted to take a minute to re-read this, so that you know how we opened up the meeting.

“On behalf of the college, we want to thank each one of you for your passion for Montreat College and your interest in learning more about the college’s announcement regarding its potential merge with Point University that is currently under study.  Montreat College remains committed to communicating with its alumni.  As you know, Montreat College and Point University are in the process of discussing what a combination might look like. In an effort to be transparent and let our constituent groups know that these discussions are under way, we made an announcement about these ongoing discussions, which I’m sure all of you heard of last week sometime. Given the preliminary nature of the discussions, both institutions have signed non disclosure agreements that limit the information that either may disclose. Therefore, I anticipate that there may be many questions tonight that we are not able to answer at this point, though so far we’ve been able to answer a number of them. Interim President Kirkland has met with five groups of constituents thus far since the announcement was made and we’ve included our group tonight.  In the next few weeks he plans to meet with three of four more groups. Our intent tonight is to gather questions which we have done on campus as well to incorporate into our pool of questions provided from all our constituent groups for consideration and we will respond at the appropriate time. If we can answer a question tonight we will attempt to do so, but please recognize that that there is much we can not say at this point due to the nondisclosure agreement and the preliminary nature of the discussions.  I know we will not get to all of the questions tonight.  We are only available until 8:00 pm this evening, but please send your questions to alumni@montreat.edu if they are not addressed tonight and I know that Bob and Willie also gathered a lot of questions, so if we are not able to get to all of them tonight, we will use PointMontreat.com as our way to communicate with people. So please check that out. We are in the process of trying to… (inaudible)

Willie

Stan says: What is Point bringing to the table for us financially?  My understanding is that their endowment is smaller than ours, although someone mentioned that Point has had an upward, positive trend in enrollment. But, it is my understanding that we were having the same upward trends too.

Joe  Kirkland

Among the many things Point brings financially first of all is a rocket trend in both the adult and traditional side of the house relative to recruiting and new student growth and development.  They bring programs that MC has identified as recently as Jan. that will allow MC to introduce those programs, for example Criminal Justice, Exercise Science (another word for that is Athletic Training) which were two in high demand by prospective students who first take a look at MC. They often indicate which programs they are interested in. So, that provides great financial opportunities because they already have the curriculum developed, they have the faculty and so those are two particular ways that they’ll be able to help MC continue to grow and perhaps accelerate at an even greater rate.

Willie

Ok, thanks Joe.  Jill asks: Many people, staff, faculty and alumni have presented plans to move the college forward. Why haven’t any of these plans been consulted and tried.

William

Is that a statement or a question?

Joe

I believe this is on the merger announcement and so we should probably stay focused on that.

Willie

Ok, looking through all these questions.  This is from Andy.  “What is unique with Point that makes the Board of Trustees want to merge with them?  Are there other colleges and universities that are being considered?  Are there other colleges and universities interested in merging with MC?  How wide was the search done? How much effort was put into searching?

William

I’ll take that as part of the Board. Here is the thing that concerns me that I want to just address here a little bit in this question.  There seems to be second guessing, I guess some of that is human nature, but it’s…I can tell you as an alumni and as someone who has poured a lot of my life and savings into this institution, it’s sad.  But if you’ll repeat that question one more time, I’ll try to answer it well.

Willie (repeats question)

 William

That’s great, ok. Here is what is unique about Point and I hate it, it is sad but it is the truth.  We are the only CCCU school in NC.  A school that has got its primary focus on serving Christ and fulfilling God’s mission for the institution is a rare thing these days.  That is something that has been very clear in our conversation with Point, is that is their primary purpose. Now, while there are differences in our heritage, differences in the denominations that we originated out of, differences in our location, you know there’s plenty of differences. The core similarity that we gave primary importance, was a focus on a Christ-centered mission and clearly that is their primary focus.  We have talked to institutions who are were very interesting in merging with Montreat but we did not get that sense of Christ-centered education being their primary focus, so that kind of took those institutions off of our radar. We talked to institutions where there was just too much of a gap between where they are and where we are, between what we see as a primary importance.  We are very excited about the potential of merging with a school whose primary focus on serving Christ and on relationship with Christ is so similar.  If you take a look at their website and really read through their site and our site, you will see a lot of similarities. And, it is difficult to find schools that are as close a match as we found with Point.

And I think that pretty much touches on the…you know, I can’t give you a specific number, but I can tell you that there has been over a dozen I would  expect over the past six years that we have talked to in one fashion or another.  A number of the institutions that we had talked to back in the Christian University day where we were pursuing that angle, we returned to over this past year and had at least some preliminary conversations with them.

Willie

Tom McMurtry I believe had some comments or questions.

Tom McMurtry (member of the Alumni Board)

Thanks, Willie. The question I had was…Since athletics is such a huge part of the MC campus, in fact it is more than 1/2 of the students on the traditional program… What will the impact be? Will there be a consolidation of programs going to Point University? Has that been discussed at all? That is kind of my question, dealing with athletics, and Joe or William can answer that.

Joe

Like Montreat, the PU student body makeup is more than 50% athletes.  They actually have a football team and lacrosse to name a couple of athletic teams that they have that we don’t have. That’s again one of those important questions that hasn’t been answered yet and we haven’t gotten into the nitty- gritty detail of determining what that looks like. That will be forthcoming. Early understanding within the NAIA is that there would be no ability for 2 main campus athletic programs to remain in the same athletic conference within the NAIA. So, that is something that we will need to respond to. It is our full desire to continue athletics in both locations, but we really haven’t delved into the particulars of what that might look like in the future.

Tom

Thanks Joe, I have a real quick follow-up. Sorry, I don’t want to take more time, but going back to a question earlier and it also relates to the athletic programs and it deals with the deferred maintenance and things.  If Point is not brining money to the table to deal with the deferred maintenance issues at MC how is there any assurance that they will not down the road just say, “We just can not continue to dump money into this?” I am concerned that there is not a full understanding of how much deferred maintenance there is at Montreat, because unless it has been fixed in the last couple of years, there is quite a bit there. So, what assurance is there that they won’t just say that they don’t want to dump money into that?

Joe

That is a great question. It has come up before, Tom. The deferred maintenance is an important issue at Montreat and they are aware and have been on campus and continue to come on campus and see and understand that more clearly. One of the best ways to get at our deferred maintenance in a  merger arrangement… two entities coming together operating more efficiently, less dependent on unrestricted funding, can allow the fundraising element to shift from unrestricted to capital improvements so that we can begin to get at that deferred maintenance and we are working on that right now.

Willie

Kim asks Joe and William: If point is Christ-centered, why are they not a member of the CCCU? This seems incongruent with our efforts to seek a like-minded partner.

Joe

I think if you go to the CCCU website and you look at the different categories of membership, and I can’t do that right now because I’ve got my screen locked into this Townhall, but you would discover that PU (and I may not get this category correct) but it’s either affiliate membership or it may be (some of you are probably googling it that right now) exploratory? I don’t know what the category is, but  in essence, they are actively seeking membership with CCCU and so by a merge, the two entities coming together would become a CCCU which is really great and strengthens Christ-centered education in the Southeast.

Willie

Pricilla asks, going back to an earlier question…”What are the options that have been studied in an effort to avoid merger? Or, what all has been tried and found wanting to show that merger is the best and only option?

Joe

Pre-dating me (and I’m in my 7th year here) and in my early years, I understand that the college has added additional academic programs and some of those have produced additional students and therefore, revenue, and some didn’t succeed. So, over time our academic offerings have changed a bit, and I think that is the evolution of operating in an academic environment…the climate of higher education… attempting to be relevant with what we offer and what the marketplace demands. And we haven’t been able to add the programs at a quick enough rate in order to capture the interest and attention of enough students in the last half a dozen plus years and so adding academic program is one way to grow or to shift the mix of offerings to  hold our place. Other options that the Board considered were multiple for example, they’ve looked at some specialization, I think the term was developing a “niche market”. Just offering smaller offerings of programs and being able to focus on those and sort of being the best of class and that was something they considered. They also considered doing the adult program alone. That one didn’t get that far. Other options they considered were maybe partnering with investors or commerce to invest in the college to think about it a little bit differently, out-of-the-box.  That one didn’t get a lot of play but we talked about it within the last 8-9 months and I think those are some of the things. Maybe William you have some perspective prior to me that the college has looked at to try to grow.

Willie

This one is from Amy: “What specifically changed between when Dan Struble’s June 2012 statement that merger had been rejected and the beginning of the discussion with PU?”

William

The thing that changed is the potential merger partners and the shared vision of that partner.

Does that answer the question?

Willie

Well, I mean, the question was…

William

The question was what changed between when Dan Struble left and …

Willie

No, the question was when Dan Struble stated that they had considered merger and rejected it in June or July of last year… between that time and the discussion with PU.

William

What changed is the discussion… the potential partner. So, we’ve had opportunities for different things and things that could have been pursued years ago but there is a big difference between finding an institution that you could dissolve yourself into or finding an institution which has a very similar and congruent goal and vision that you have been pursuing for years.  When Dan made…you know a year ago….PU was not a possibility it wasn’t an institution that we have had those conversations with, and so I would say that is what changed. The opportunity here is not only that Point brings us some things, one thing that they bring us is momentum, one thing that Joe mentioned before is programs, one thing is a shared vision of a “Christian University across the Southeast”.  But, Montreat brings some things to the table as well such as the Masters level programs and expertise in running the adult programs, etc. So, combined, we are far stronger than either are independently. I don’t expect that Montreat to be a drag on Point, I expect Montreat to be a huge plus to Point and I expect the same vice versa. The opportunity just didn’t exist at that time that you are talking about.

Willie

Next question…. Kathy asked…and this is a series of questions and Bob told me, Joe, that you asked that I ask them one at a time so I’ll do that.

Kathy asks: What month and year did the initial Point contact occur?

Joe

My understanding is that Dan Struble had contact with a significant number of college presidents over the last several years and PU was one of those, but more recently, the initial contact was January of this year the conversation started.

Willie

The next one is: Who made the first contact, Point or Montreat? And which Trustee or Executive Members were involved?

Joe

The initial contact was made by a Board Member who lives in Atlanta. And our Board Member and the President of Point were at a Christian conference for college students, I think it was called the Passion Conference, and they were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, and that would be the initial contact.  From there, as they began to talk, thereafter Exec. Committee members of both colleges again talked and that is it.

Willie

Ok, and the next question then is: How did exploring potential partners become merger between April and June without communication or a full Board of Trustee meeting?

William

There’s…the questions at this point that are being given are more statements than questions and they go more toward undermining or questioning integrity and things like that.  I think the last question and the one before it both border on the personal attacks that Annie gave in the ground rules that we would avoid.

Willie

Ok, I don’t, I’m not sure where the personal attack you see there, William.  It is a question.

William

The question is something changed…and then the insinuation by my read of that question was that there was some sort of undermining issue or something that needs to….   Let me just talk for just a sec to the Executive Committee of the Board and where that comes from and what its role is at this time.

The Board of Trustees is a group of…Annie probably knows the number better than I do… Say 25 to 30 individuals that are highly dedicated Montreat and continually have shown that dedication in several ways.  They have make connections for Montreat that needed to be connected as such as in this case.  They have given sacrificially to Montreat to keep the doors open.  They have underlying history with the school, community.  They represented Christian mission, that type of thing.  The board meets a couple times a year, two or three, depending upon whether or not there’s a strategy planning conference in between those.  The challenge though is that there are times when there needs to be a lot of back-and-forth, legal work, decisions made, that kind of thing, and within that context, the board can choose an Executive Committee of the board to deal with those kinds of issues and endow them with that kind of responsibility.  The executive committee of the board was formed to spend the time needed, which is been many hundreds of hours, to look at different possibilities, to discuss things with lawyers, to seek out various options, etc. what is not really feasible for group of 25 to get together weekly, or several times a week or every couple weeks kind of basis.   So last year, that was set up.  I had a real underlying concern in that I am an alumnus of the school and my general take is that I don’t want to see things change.  I want it to be Montreat College.  In fact, I preferred Montreat-Anderson to tell ya the truth, And, so, I was struggling against ….an Executive Committee in which I really wasn’t involved, and they asked me if I’d like to be involved.  And I said, very much,  I would!  So when I have felt like there’s a need to challenge something…..when I felt anything, I felt like I had that opportunity.  I’m not great with dates, but at the last meeting Beau Moffatt represented the alumni very passionately on behalf of the alumni group, there was a vote again as to whether to continue the executive committee and charge executive committee with evaluating various options.  There have been several votes.  There was a vote in April again reaffirming that the executive committee should essentially pursue the possibility of a letter of intent to move forward with Point University.  That was a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees.  So nothing changed.  Except that the executive committee of the board, continued its charge, as charged by a unanimous him vote of the Board of Trustees.  And that brings us to where we are today! One of the reasons things shifted for me, in terms of Point University…..err, in terms of the whole merge thing… If merging was going to mean dissolving Montreat or somehow lessening what Montreat was,  I was not interested.  And I remain that way.  But when “merge” means joining together with an institution that is already heading in the direction we want to head, where together we can be stronger than where we are separate.  Where Montreat gets to lead the way in terms of helping form a Christian University across the Southeast , Point University in terms of their vision would be, I don’t believe it had any interests in anything damaging Montreat, because the reality is, and my expectation is, we won’t be the only institution join together  here.  So I see huge opportunity.  I see opportunity for people to be part of something greater.  To have more opportunities to pursue more degrees.  And that’s how the Executive Committee was formed, that’s how were are the point we are today, and in terms on the amount of time, its been hundreds and hundreds of hours. Its been trips, its been travel, its been time away from family. But it’s well worth it to pursue mission.

Annie

Alright everybody, this is Annie Colson typing in here.  Thank you William.  We’ re going to have to wrap up here on our end (on the Montreat College end).  So we have to step out and close the Town Hall meeting.  But I just want to reiterate with everyone I know that there are a lot of other questions out there.  I know that Bob and Willie have gathered those, but there may be other ones in addition to those.  You can send questions to alumni@montreat.edu  and then we will work it as we can to address those on pointmontreat.com.  So please keep that in mind as we head into the next 2 months of the due diligence process.  I want to say thank you to Willie and Bob for facilitating this and making it work.  And thank you to everyone who has participated and engaged in this discussion and cared so much about Montreat.  Thanks so much to everybody!  Good Night!

Willie

Thanks Annie and Joe and William

Were there other trustees on the call or Executive Committee?

Bob Graham (member of the Alumni Board)

I don’t see any!

Ok, well then, lets open it up!   Tom, did you want to make any comments?

I’m gonna unmute folks on the Alumni Board!   Debbie Elmore….you are unmted!

Willie

Bob, while you are doing that…… William are you still there?

Bob

Kevin, you are un-muted!   Anybody else that on the Alumni Board or the Foundation Board?

Matt Lieber, I am going to unmute you.

William

I AM still here!  And as alumni, (1:26) (xxxx)  I would rather not continue cuz I have talked plenty!  But I would like to hear the conversation

Willie

I was just going to ask the question about….William, You made a statement about Montreat is looking forward to leading the way for this Christian University…..and my question concerning that is… Will this merger constitute a 50/50 leadership?  Will Montreat really have an opportunity to lead or is it going to be led by Point University?   Therefore, Montreat can only provide “information” in how to do things, rather than actually lead the way?   That’s just a question, because I have heard there is going to be more percentage for control going over to Point University rather than to Montreat College Board of Trustees.

William

Yeah, that’s a great question!   What I would ask is just in deference to the general format of the thing at this point questions directed to me or to the college I’d ask that you collect them and let us respond to those after a period of…… It makes no sense for me to be speaking on any of this without the administration on the line at this point. But I am happy for you guys to discuss the conversation this evening.  I do appreciate very much and I appreciate my time at Montreat and I appreciate you guys. I know that we may have some disagreements on strategies moving forward. And its clear that some of you disagree with my perspective at this point or the board’s perspective generally.  But I just want you guys to know that I’m a part of this group. I do care deeply about Montreat.  I believe this is the correct path forward and I wish all of you the very, very best.  I appreciate all the support we have gotten in the last few days too from people who are beginning to evaluate the whole picture instead of a determined position.  I think I will go ahead and drop off now and give you guys a chance to talk.

Willie

William, thanks for coming!

Justin Ramb, a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Executive Committee has been on the call as well.  He’s still on the call.  He’s been on the phone so he hasn’t been able to contribute.

But I know there are quite a few of you who have some comments or questions…or whatever you have .  I wanted to say this William and while Joe was here…that these are not personal attacks.  So keep sending us your questions. We’re going to get them to the Board and the cabinet and other folks.  For a lot of you as alumni this is the first time you have heard all of this stuff.  These questions come from a place of ‘what in the world is going on?’

So at this point, Bob has said, if you have a question or comment regarding the presentation, keep it brief, raise your hand, there’s a little icon on your screen where you can raise your hand, and Bob will knowledge you and un-mute you so you can give us your comment or question.

Waldo, you have a question?

Waldo (member of Alumni Board)

One of the things I think I was kinda concerned with was they took a little offense and asking when this began, but I think this is a legitimate question.  And the other thing that I sent him previously to this town hall but didn’t get answered was… “What was the status of the presidential search now that the merger is at the forefront? 

Willie

In April, the board voted to put the presidential search on hold.

Waldo

So they are doing nothing for that?

Willie

That’s correct!

Waldo

So with the merger, as it progresses, what kind of kind of a role can an acting president play in leadership the merger?

Willie

Ok, if you will, send that question to Bob. What is the email address, Bob?

Bob

Send it to: comments@alumnifoundationofmontreat.org

Willie

Pete McDanel wants to be recognized!

Bob

Go ahead, Pete, you are on!

(silence)

Willie

Pete, can you you hear us?

Bob

Alright, we’re going to move past Pete.  Apparently, he’s got his hand up!!   Anybody else, if you will raise your hand. Online there is a button that lets you raise your hand.  Or send me a message.  I am sure there are people out there that want to talk!

Go ahead Andy!  (Andy Peck)

Andy

Good evening gentlemen.  I am curious now about all the hoopla that is going on about the merger.  There seems to be a lot of alumni interest in the subject.  And I am wondering if interest is actually translating into more active involvement of the alumni?

Willie

That’s a good question and that will remain to be seen I believe.  In our spring alumni board meeting we had a town hall meeting just like this and we had about 28 people who attended.   Tonight we have around 70 who were on at one point.  That’s a significant increase the participation a least for this town hall.  It’s my hope that it will increase participation by the alumni particularly with ways that we can come together as a group, has an association, and come alongside the faculty and staff and help them continue to build the traditional program.  In our April meeting, there are still 52 of you on the call,  and if you weren’t at the April town hall meeting, what I told the alumni Association is that we can’t decide whether we will or won’t merge as an entity, as an alumni association.  What we can do is come alongside and support our college in ways that allow the faculty and staff to continue to grow the kinds of programs that William talked about that we weren’t able to pursue.  And certainly, that is still an option, but still an opportunity.

Stan Plowden has his hand up!

(technical problems ensure)

We’re going to go to the next person, Tom McMurtry, go ahead Tom!

Tom McMurtry

Has there been any indication from the school, Willie?  Or Justin Ramb if he is still on?  Or anyone with the administration that may still be on……has there been information yet on the impact of this on enrollment?  Have they lost students?  Have they gained students since this announcement was made?  

Because it seems to me that these numbers are extremely important in order for this thing to move forward!

Willie

Justin, if you could text or email Bob if you know anything different.  But, we did receive an update (the Board of Trustees), that as of right now, we have 401 students registered and we needed 391 to meet our budget requirement. We also were told that we needed to wait until the end of September to see and make sure all those come! Beyond that Tom, I haven’t heard anything about whether students have decided not to.  I have seen questions from parents.  And those questions are going to be sent to the Administration saying they have some grave concerns about all this.

Tom

A Follow-up then Willie….Is the 401… “full-time” or just 401 students?

Willie

You know that’s a good question!  I don’t remember if it was what is called “FTE”.

Tom

Because in the past, the numbers that have been presented to the board have always been an FTE number. The number of part time divided by three plus the full-time students.  And so, the question I have about the budget is the 391…”full-time”?  Or is the 391 with FTE?  Those are questions that I think need to be answered!  So if you could follow-up on that I would appreciate it!

Willie

Absolutely!  Shoot that as an email to me!

Jill Sarver, go ahead!

Jill, are you there?

We’ll come back to Jill!

Cathy Richardson, are you there?

Cathy Richardson

Yes, I just a have comment and a question out of listening to the comments earlier

Since Montreat is historical.  Why doesn’t Point want to (xxxx) Montreat and take Montreat’s  history as a selling point? 

Willie

That’s an excellent observation and question.

 Cathy Richardson

I can give a partial answer after having talked with my father day before yesterday.  He knows more of the history which has been asked a lot by alumni about Point coming out of a (xxx) background.

The church background is actually a group of Christians in the early 19th Century who wanted to be known only as “Christians”.  And therefore, Point may not want to take Montreat’s name because it would then label them with a “creed” (Calvinist) versus just “Christian”.  Now that is just me making a guess from the reading I have done into their website.  But I can say that their doctrinal statement/statement of faith is solid and sound. I’m done there.

Willie

Ok, That’s all good and all relevant. Send that to me so I can pass that along.

Kevin Auman said that for an “update” that the “401” is “FTE”. (full time enrolled)

Cathy, did you have some more?

Cathy

Yes, I was going to say one more thing!

As a parent of a senior, in May, my son is a baseball player considering looking at Montreat. Now when he found out  there was a merger, he doesn’t know what that means for baseball!  He does NOT want to consider Montreat.  Now that’s just one student who has four family members between a mother and a father that graduated from Montreat.  He’s not interested right now!  End of that one!

Willie

OK, thanks Cathy

Bob

Stan Plowden, go ahead

(technical problems ensue)

Put your hands down if you don’t want to talk!

Ok, Lisa Fredrickson has her hand up!

Can you hear us?

Lisa

I can!

(xxx)  I have read a lot on Facebook about the passion with which people have shared. I certainly have mixed emotions myself because Montreat like most of us changed my life!  I made dear friends there.

To tell the truth I work for the Federal government.  I don’t work on the side that gets all the money. I work on the side that we have to struggle to (xxxx) to keep our districts?  So I have had two struggling hospitals that were near to failing and didn’t give great care.  And I can tell you just from the experience I have seen when I worked for central office…there are hospitals that have leaders that are “innovative” and are “visionaries”.  And have taken their hospitals from being the worst in their district to being nearly the best. So, although I know the decisions have been made, I think there is no opportunity lost to….I’m not really talking down at the leaders that Montreat has had, because everyone works to their full potential. But Montreat is in a place now where, well maybe a bit beyond that place, but the “xxxx” of losing Montreat. We have to think out of the box.  We have to be creative to save Montreat!  I still believe there is the potential if we think bigger than the obvious and the obvious is to merge!  But I just wanted to put it out there. I still thin there is potential, if you get somebody who can look beyond the walls and the halls of Montreat and to look on how we become again the best Christian school.  And it may be too late, but its not too late if the right person is leading!  And the right person at the time ….. (xxxx)

Willie

Thanks Lisa.  Those are good comments. And certainly as early as the summer of last year the alumni finished in giving in record numbers and all that good stuff so that we would maintain our accreditation. Several alumni came together and we met with faculty, staff, students and we had what we called “Vision 2016” where we put forward some of those potential innovative ideas and things like that. And we’ll keep trying to do that!  That’s why we are here!

Most of us on this call, believe what you said at the beginning.  This place changed our lives!  And we want that to keep going for another 100 years as Montreat etc.  And when I say that, I am not saying  that the rest of the board of trustees and that I am the only one saying that.  Justin and Wiliam have even said that tonight and others, so I am not the only one.

Bob

Nancy (Cathy), I am going to try to unmute you!

Nancy

One of my biggest questions was how in the world did we get this way without any of us knowing about it?

Willie

Did you send that question in to us?

Nancy

Yes I did!

Bob

To answer the question, we probably had at least 150 questions asked so there was no way we could get to every single one.  But we are tabulating them and DO plan to post them on the website!  Once we get them tabulated, well get them to the right person and hopefully get the answers and post them on the website at some point or they can be directed back to that person.

* NOTE: We are working on getting the rest of the town hall transcribed. Thank you for your patience.