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'An Unorthodox Invitation'

Susan Notes:

Below is the text of the e-mail message from Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, as contained in Chronicle of Higher Education. According to the article accompanying this letter, Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, decided early last year to hold an intimate chat with a group of his fiercest critics. He put together a list of about a dozen faculty members and invited them to a dinner discussion about the future of the university.

Imagine Secretary of Education Arne Duncan holding such a chat. Is there a venue large enough to hold his fiercest critics? And which people of national reputation wouldn't qualify for such a meal because they have remained silent...or fought to get a seat at his 'regular' table of public school destruction?

It's worth thinking about.

Letter from Paul J. LeBlanc, President Southern New Hampshire University

Now this will feel like a bit of an unorthodox invitation, but I was hoping you might be willing to join me for dinner and a discussion about the state of the university. I'd also like to share some thoughts I have around the strategic plan and questions I've been grappling with as we look out ahead over the next five to ten years.

The unorthodox part, as you review the list of invitees, is that I wanted to bring together those who fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. Those who really think I am taking the place down the wrong road or have a very different vision of where we should go;

2. Those who have been critical of one or more initiatives in the past or currently underway;

3. Those who have not been shy about speaking up and who I believe will speak their minds in the discussion I hope to have;

4. Those who just straight out don't like me;
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* A College President Breaks Bread With His Foes

5. Those who by virtue of their elected or appointed position represent faculty in some important capacity.

I've included you because I think you likely fall into one or more of the categories. You can place yourself in whatever categories that feel most accurate or comfortable (perhaps all!). As you scan the list, you are also people who have years of experience here, have been leaders in one way or another, and who think and care deeply about the place (even if we disagree from time to time or all the time).

It's very easy to find a group of people who will tell me they like what we are doing and who will heap praise, but I'd welcome a discussion with those who might strongly disagree with those notions.

I look forward to your response.


— Paul J. LeBlanc
Chronicle of Higher Education


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