Can the Barnes be improved?♦
Re: “Could the Barnes Foundation be improved?”—
Victoria Skelly thinks the Barnes Foundation has a "greater life to it" in its present home than it could possibly have elsewhere, and calls it "a marvelously fashioned whole." She remembers her time as a Barnes student as immensely rewarding. She tries to imagine the Barnes downtown and then asks, "Oh, why do we have to do this?"
The answer is that we don’t. Ms. Skelly thinks that Derek Gillman, the Pew’s hired hand, is right when he says that the Barnes "needs to grow." Wrong: Cancer needs to grow. A marvelously fashioned organic whole does not.
There is no need to imagine an alternative Barnes when a perfectly realized one already exists. All that is necessary is the will to thwart those who would destroy it.
One more thing: In 25 years, the "rememberers" will not be gone. With God’s will or good genes, we will all still be around to celebrate a flourishing Barnes in Merion, and watch a new generation inherit it.
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
September 29, 2007
The rememberers and complainers are long gone, but visitors still clamor to the Colosseum, the Parthenon and the Frick, to name a few original treasures, instead of to mock-up versions of same.
September 26, 2007
Dartmouth’s trustee fight
Re “Dartmouth’s trustee fight,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
As you noted, Dartmouth has had alumni trustee elections since its beginning and, I will note, Dartmouth is one superb and extraordinary college.
Could the alumni, who have been elected as trustees since the founding of the college, have helped make it so special? I think the answer has to be "Yes."
You seem to imply that "educators," (good grief, where did that silly word come from? What happened to the word "teacher?"), can run a school better than alumni?
This is where I begin to think you are pulling my leg and I am falling for it, but why do you have so little confidence in the ability of a university’s own graduates, especially some of those who have gone forth and become very successful, from returning with a useful and beneficial point of view for the dear old alma mater? And why, with the countless loony, isolated and unworldly professors at each university, do you attribute more ability to professors, if these are the "educators" to whom you refer, to administer and to make policy at a university than the graduates whom those professors might even have taught?
Dartmouth has had a very mature, wise and unique balance of these two groups for years. Why not laud the different method at Dartmouth instead of ridiculing it?
The power and influence of these recent alumni trustees, who are upsetting the apple cart, does not seem to be reason enough to dilute the strength of the unique governance that has made Dartmouth so special since its beginning.
Everyone can not be as great as we know Penn to be, Dan, but Dartmouth can be brilliantly different and superbly special in its way, as it has been right up until this recent subterfuge.
Gardner A. Cadwalader
October 1, 2007
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