Notes from our Meeting with the Board
In response to the announcement of OCAC’s degree program closure, the Friends of OCAC wrote a letter to the OCAC Board of Trustees requesting a town hall meeting with the goal of clarifying the school’s current situation and facilitating constructive dialogue on how community members can better support the school and its programs. Over 1000 members of the OCAC community chose to sign our letter, and we thank you.
Two Board representatives (Kristin Valente, Chair; Jeanine Jablonski) agreed to meet with a small group of five Friends of OCAC representatives (Georgiana Nehl, Drawing/Painting and Foundations Professor Emerita; Sharon Marcus, Fibers/Liberal Arts Professor Emerita; Dakotah Fitzhugh, Studio School student, community member; Megan Leftwich, Studio School student; Jessica LeDuc, BFA 2017) and two OCAC staff/faculty (in actuality, three attended: Elizabeth Loulan, Director of Partnerships; Michelle Ross, Drawing & Painting Department Head, Faculty Representative to the Board; Katie Wisdom Weinstein, Director of Community Programs) to hold a discussion. On Saturday, February 23rd, the group met for approximately two hours. We appreciated this opportunity to communicate with the Board and thank them again for their time.
The Friends of OCAC originally formed (in December 2018) to connect, support, and grow the widespread OCAC community. It was in this spirit that we carried our community-sourced questions to these members of the Board. While the Friends present at this meeting were hoping for more specific answers, we came away with two conclusions. One: that the decision to end the degree programs at the end of this semester, however deeply sad and troubling to all including the Board, was a fiscal necessity, and as it stands this decision is irrevocable. Two: that the next steps for the fate of the school and the campus are so actively in the proposal and negotiating stages that the Board feels they cannot responsibly be made public knowledge.
The Board emphasized that its highest priority at this point is to ensure that the current student body will be able to complete their education with a comparable rigor and rich experience reflective of the OCAC ethos.
The representatives from Friends of OCAC and the Board of Trustees collectively agreed to keep communication channels open, and we will continue to keep you as informed and connected as possible. We will also continue to post about opportunities and actions to support the OCAC community.
Current students at OCAC feel that they have no voice. They need a chance to process their grief and to feel that the Board hears them, even if they have no power to impact the Board’s decisions. We feel that the Board has a responsibility to recognize these students, and should attend a student gathering to listen to their stories and support them face-to-face.
The Friends of OCAC volunteers to liaise with OCAC and the Board of Trustees to determine specific actions the community can take to support current faculty, staff, and students through the closure process. We encourage the Board and OCAC to provide opportunities for community involvement throughout the process.
The Friends of OCAC is confident that OCAC will not end here. We plan to host a community gathering to collectively look toward the future and envision ways to continue the OCAC spirit in whatever avenues are available. We encourage the members of the Board to attend with us and engage with the community in designing the way forward.