Response to Save Chatham “Board Book”

The following is a letter sent to the administrators of the Save Chatham website in response to the “Board Book” developed by the website administrators and sent to the Chatham Board of Trustees.

Dear Ms. Dawkins, Hagan, Lunsford, McCabe, McKown and Stulga:

I have received the material which you sent to me and the other members of Chatham University’s Board of Trustees, seeking a delay of the Board’s consideration of a proposal to implement undergraduate coeducation at Chatham University.  Since much of the contents of your communication were addressed to me as “Dear Esther” letters, I think it is appropriate for me to answer you personally.

Before I turn to the contents of your letter, however, it is important to address something in your cover letter, lest it sow confusion among those who read it.  You assert there that your material has been presented “on behalf of all 6,000 alumnae and particularly the nearly 2,000 supporters of Save Chatham who have joined our online community.”  That is simply not so, and I suspect Board members are unlikely to take such an overstatement on face value.  To any Chatham Board member who might be inclined to give this particular assertion more credence than it warrants, however, I would say that the material you sent the Board represents the views of a small but passionate group of Chatham College for Women (CCW) alumnae who have been among the most vocal in opposition to the Board’s Resolution calling for a proposal on undergraduate coeducation.

Turning now to the contents of your letter, I would like to address the first page with its five questions that, according to you, Board members must answer affirmatively or else vote “no” to the proposal on undergraduate coeducation.  While I disagree that any or all of the five questions you pose should be dispositive (especially no. 2, for reasons you will see), I will answer each seriatim:

1.     Have you effectively engaged alumnae in efforts to recruit and retain female students?

YES.  Alumnae (along with many others in the Chatham community) have always been involved in recruiting efforts in various capacities; with some of the most current efforts taking place as recently as this spring. Examples of alumnae involvement through the years include volunteering at on-campus and community events with students and families, the Rachel Carson Book Award, attendance at fairs, communication from alumnae to prospective students and much more.

Alumnae do love their alma mater and their experience, but even their best organizational efforts cannot translate into a “fix” for the declining popularity of women’s colleges. Across the sector, young women are voting with their feet and tuition dollars and not attending women’s colleges like they once did. Other institutions that have faced this issue also illustrate the challenges of this approach. For example, when Mills College first contemplated coeducation, it experienced a burst of volunteer effort that sadly never translated into the goals that the Board mandated for the alumnae in their version of the delay that you have requested at Chatham.

2.     Have you used available financial resources prudently and without bias?

NO.  In a bias toward CCW and to the detriment of the rest of Chatham University, we have been directing unsustainable levels of financial resources toward CCW in areas including marketing, financial aid, recruitment, fundraising, student support (discount rate and scholarships), facilities and more. This year, for example, the rest of the University has subsidized CCW to the tune of $5.2M, a number expected to rise to $7.7M if current levels of enrollment continue.  This is neither prudent nor without bias, and is one of the reasons the Board is considering undergraduate coeducation.

In this section, as in others, you buttress your argument with facts that belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the documents you cite.  For instance, the Cayman Island investments that you mention are an offshore investment vehicle, consisting of primarily equity investments in the endowment, the revenue from which has been vital to growing Chatham’s endowment that supports the entire University.  These particular investment vehicles, as with all the others with which Chatham has been involved, have passed muster with Chatham’s outside professional accountants and auditors.

3.     Have you consistently maintained personnel vital to the function of, and recruitment for, the College for Women?

YES. We consistently maintain appropriate levels of personnel to recruit students to CCW.  In fact, although there are more than twice as many graduate students as undergraduates at Chatham University, there are more front line recruiting staff (counselors, ambassadors) dedicated to CCW recruiting. We currently have five recruiters for CCW compared to three full-time recruiters for the College of Graduate Studies, one for the Falk School graduate programs and one for the College of Continuing & Professional Studies. At the same time, we have between 18-20 Undergraduate Student Ambassadors who assist in recruiting efforts for CCW compared to 3-4 Graduate Student Ambassadors.  While we have had turnover in the Vice President position, this has been attributable in no small part to the difficulty of recruiting and retaining admissions leaders who understand full well the difficulties of recruiting for a women’s college.

4.     Have you maintained a properly impaneled Board of Trustees at all times?

YES. Chatham University is fortunate to have one of the most dedicated, hard-working Board of Trustees one could find in higher education.

Your critiques here are based on some fundamental misunderstandings of the By-Laws which you conflate into alleged “violations.”  For instance, one of your alleged “violations” is that “there are currently 15 of 29 trustees that are alumnae, including Gail Emery, Class of 1984, who currently serves as the President of the Alumni Association.”  The By-Laws, however, do not limit the number of CCW alumnae who may serve on the Board.  The By-Laws include a separate category of Trustee, the Alumni Trustee (created around the time Chatham instituted coed graduate programs as a way of ensuring that there would always be at least some alumnae representation on the Board), of which there are no more than five at any given time and who serve for short periods.  There are four Alumni Trustees on the Board now, including Gail Emery.  In addition, there are fifteen alumnae of CCW on the Board now, including the current Board Chair.  You should feel good about that!  We do.  We have worked hard to ensure that CCW alumnae are well represented on the Board.  What you have done is try to turn a virtue into a vice.

5.     Have you been fully open and honest with Trustees, Alumni Association Board members, alumnae, current students, and the public about the motivation behind the co-education proposal?

YES, and I take offense at your suggestion that we have been anything but open and honest.  While I respect your right to disagree with me and the other members of the Board, I will not have my or the Board’s integrity impugned.  What other motivation could we possibly have other than that which we have shared in town halls; public forums; one-on-one meetings, communications, and phone calls; the blog; and through all the other outreach we have done the past two months?

The truth is the Board wants the same thing as you: to save Chatham.  I have worked with the Board, including many current members of the Board, toward that goal for 22 years.  No one can possibly say that I or the Board have not been dedicated to preserving the women’s college.  But times and circumstances change, and although the Board and I appreciate the special place that Chatham College for Women holds in your hearts (as noted above, 19 Trustees are CCW alumnae) and your desire to see it remain as it was when you attended, we have come to the realization that in the face of serious megatrends (e.g., “Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops” (Bloomberg, April 14, 2014, cites a Harvard Business School report predicting that as many as half of the 4,000 small colleges and universities in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years) we must take steps now to maximize enrollment growth lest Chatham University end up having nothing left to carry on the remarkable legacy of CCW and its many alumnae.  If undergraduate enrollment continues to fall, we will be in the same position we were in twenty years ago: forced to cut programs, faculty and staff.  That would not be good either for our current undergraduate students or the students we would like to attract in the future.  What choice would you make?

This is not the time for delay.  This is the time for action and change to ensure our continued survival and success.

This brings me to a final point.  Regrettably, it has become apparent that what is happening at Chatham University is no different than what happened at other women’s colleges that have considered coeducation.  At those schools, small but very vocal groups of alumnae greeted the initial consideration of coeducation with a mixture of disbelief and aspersions cast on those who bear the news of what must happen – whether the message bearers be administrators, board members or outside consultants – whose credibility and professionalism they assail in the lead up to the vote on coeducation.

I will conclude where I started: by appealing personally to the six women to whom I addressed this letter, and to those who may have collaborated on the production of your document.  Rather than be stuck in the past, a past that is not working and will only prevent Chatham University from realizing its rich potential, please work with us to imagine and realize Chatham’s bright future.  I hope that you will not follow through on your threats to direct your efforts and financial support to any college other than the one that nurtured you and helped make you the strong, intelligent women you are today.  To do so would seem to be like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

It is my fervent hope, and I am sure that of the Board’s as well, that you will remain engaged with Chatham and help take it to even higher levels of success in the years to come.

Sincerely yours,

Esther L. Barazzone, Ph.D.


  1. Maureen M Sampson, Class of 2009 says:

    I oppose coeducation. If our $650,000 annual donations are negligible compared to the operating budget and don’t matter then you won’t miss my check. I love you, Chatham College for Women.

  2. kathleen mcclelland says:

    Dr. Barazzone, I concur with your evaluation of this situation, you have been straight forward.
    I know that Chatham means as much to you are the Alumni. I don’t know where these ladies are getting their information. They are making much ado about nothing. We already have men attending classes, what is the difference if we go co-ed.

    Thanks for being so attuned to what society needs in education

    You have made great advances in the College/University, lets keep going ahead

    Kathy McClelland Class of 91

  3. Rebecca says:

    I also oppose any vote towards co-education at Chatham. I will take my (apparently insignificant) donations to another women’s college and would be happy to increase my giving each year to an institution committed to fostering single sex education for years to come! I love Chatham College for Women and will mourn her death.

  4. Dina says:

    You asked the alumnae protesters where the shortfall was going to come from. All we are asking is to delay going co-ed and ACTUALLY assemble working groups and task forces to put the many viable options alumnae have put forward in place. I am sure this highly educated, passionate and willing group of women can make CCW successful without going co-ed. Dina Wilson Youtz, CCW 2001!!!

  5. Ashley Walch, Class of 2013 says:

    I oppose coeducation and I politely disagree that alumnae are being utilized.

    I’ve only been an alum for a little less than a year but I have only been asked to participate in one event for prospective students, and it was a direct request from the faculty from the department of my major. I presented on the Tutorial for prospective students and shared my experience on how it helped me to obtain and prepared me for the job I have post-graduation. Aside from that one event, I have not been asked to participate in any other events on campus for prospective students or to assist in any recruitment efforts. I think that is a huge problem, because if I am not being utilized, other alumnae are not being utilized either. And that is a huge problem.

    I think that I have an interesting perspective to share with potential students that might not consider an all-women’s institution, or even those that have considered an all-women’s college but are unsure of following through on that consideration. I attended a coed community college before attending Chatham. The thought of attending an all-women’s college did not cross my mind before I received an unsolicited pamphlet from Chatham in the mail at my mom’s house. I researched the benefits of attending an all-women’s college versus attending a coed education and that helped in making my decision.

    I experienced, first hand, some of the obstacles that women in coed institutions face in the classroom. I was told constantly that I was smart for a woman, I was silenced by males, I was called a “feminazi” when I made an oppositional statement to a sexist or racist remark that another classmate made or otherwise called them out on their statement, I was told that I was being “out of line” when I vocalized my distaste for a male professor wasting classroom time to discuss football with the male students. None of that happened during the two years I matriculated at Chatham.

    In addition to the research I did on the benefits of a single-sex education, it was the faculty and current students at Chatham that really cemented my decision. The only thing I wish I had been offered when I was getting ready to apply was a chance to meet an alum.

    I was also a highly engaged and active student during my time at Chatham, in both academics and extracurriculars. I was involved with clubs on campus, I was a mentor for incoming Gateway students in my second Fall semester, I was a member of honor societies, and I participated in the choir and the Vagina Monologues. And if there was an event on campus I always tried my hardest to attend so I could get a taste of the full Chatham experience as a commuter student.

    Now, it might sound like I’m waving my own banner, but, I think that given the fact that I was highly engaged, that I experienced the types of discrimination women face at coed instituations first-hand, that I was one of those students that wasn’t considering an all-women’s college, and that Chatham helped prepare me for the job that I currently have today makes me a fairly ideal alum to help with recruitment and retainment efforts. And yet, I have not received any such requests from Chatham. But, all alumnae should be utilized regardless of how engaged they were on campus, or whether or not they experienced any of the things that I experienced.

    So, here I am, saying again that I am available for what Chatham needs their alumnae for, to help bring in and retain students. Although I shouldn’t have to keep reaching out and offering my assistance.

  6. Nicole Hagan says:

    Let me start by saying that the Save Chatham Board Book was not a bunch of fluff written by women who were sitting around in their pajamas, crying over the loss of traditions while eating ice cream. The information presented in the Board Book, which is free and open to the public on, is the culmination of countless hours, days, and weeks of research by World Ready Women. The alumnae who contributed to the Board Book are intelligent women who used data and facts to support every single word that written. We were trained to do research, use supportive evidence, and pose logical arguments. And, Esther – that is exactly what the World Ready Women your institution trained have done, whether you like it or not.

    Secondly, let me reinforce my own personal opinion as an alumna. I will never volunteer time or financial support to Chatham again should CCW become a coeducational institution. Chatham will have nothing left without its women’s college to distinguish it from the countless other coed institutions in Pittsburgh, and Pennsylvania for that matter. The School of Sustainability is no longer unique – the University of Pittsburgh has dedicated $37.5 million towards their own program in sustainability. Neither is the women’s leadership institute – Carlow University has pledged resources to creating one itself. Without unique character, which Chatham currently has a women’s college, Chatham’s undergraduate program will suffer, and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if it failed anyway.

    You will not receive any additional support from me – financial or otherwise – if Chatham goes coed.

    Nicole Hagan
    Class of 2007

  7. Kate. says:

    Nicole’s right- the numbers and facts are sound. Respectfully Ms. Barazzone, you have been firm in your stance to go co-ed from day one. You’ve proven yourself to be a remarkably ineffective leader, have created a deep divide in the Chatham community, and cultivated an atmosphere on campus I which neither the staff or students are free to express ANY dissent.

  8. Jane says:

    Stuck in the past or aware of what it is to be a young woman in the present? I guarantee young men do not treat the 8th most paid college president the same way they treat an 18 year old first year student

  9. Alyse Trujillo, class of 2008 says:

    I’m tired of being told how I feel. Or how I should feel. Or how I will feel. I used to be something of a quiet evangelist for Chatham. I was proud to say I attended, and others noticed a difference between me and my peers that could be attributed to my maturation in its environment.

    I oppose coeducation at CCW, and I will invest no more time, money, or energy into seeing it grow. Every fundraising letter I receive from Chatham University will be returned with proof of my donation to a more worthy college or scholarship that demonstrates its commitment to educating future women. I received so much unnoticed value from my single-sex education, and only now in the “real world” has it shone through. I will not support a school that has decided for itself that it is failing despite all the hands now being outstretched.

  10. Janet Fraser '08 says:

    I am a 2008 alum. I support a delay in the vote to have more time to openly evaluate the options.

    I’m not convinced that going co-ed would solve the problems at Chatham. I’m not convinced going co-ed has solved the problems formerly women’s colleges have stated they’ve had. But, given the time to do some honest research, I could be convinced. I have a lot of questions and there doesn’t seem to be any time to get answers. For example, have other women’s colleges that have gone co-ed seen a rise in enrollment? How have their fundraising efforts been impacted?

    I am also frustrated because I’ve offered on countless occasions to help with recruiting efforts and have never had my offers even acknowledged, let alone taken up on. I live not even 90 minutes away from Pittsburgh, yet Chatham has no recruitment presence here. I find it hard to believe my offer to volunteer my time is as worthless as it has been treated by Chatham.

    And I support the Save Chatham Movement. They’re simply asking for a delay in the vote to do more research and to try a few more things. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

    I even visited campus a few weeks back and respectfully interacted with some current students and couldn’t find one who disagreed with my point of view and many felt even more strongly about remaining a women’s college at the undergraduate level.

  11. Kate M. says:

    When you stated that alumnae donations are “ONLY $650k” yesterday, you cemented my lack of financial support of a co-ed Chatham. (Or any version of CU under your leadership.) It’s not about the amount, it’s that you actually had the gall to insult what support Chatham does get financially from its alumnae. You want to know why there’s a problem with donations? Take a look in the mirror.

  12. Kim Perez says:

    I am one of those alum that oppose the change to co-education. Chatham College for Women is a special place that is very much worth fighting for. A move to change our 145-year history to admit men will not save Chatham. A new leader, committed to saving our legacy and educating future generations of women is what is needed. Esther was hired some 20 years ago to save Chatham College for Women. She has failed miserably and instead built some add-on University that means nothing to us. Esther, take your University and go. Leave Chatham College for Women alone!!!

  13. Kate M. says:

    I encourage you to actually read the board book, which is freely available on

  14. Sharon Semones says:

    As an out of state alumni I will say that I tried to actively become in recruiting students from my current state and contacted Chatham to find out how. I received zero response in the almost 20 years since I graduated. This led me to believe that perhaps they had my state covered and didn’t need me. Not once did anyone from Chatham contact me during these desperate times to help with recruiting. Perhaps I’m an outlier, but a missed opportunity is just that. Clearly, financially, Chatham does not need the historical support from former alumni who support women’s colleges. Women who support single sex colleges can take their donations and give them to those institutions who have managed to survive.

  15. Kate M. says:


    Would you like a signed list of the individuals that support the creation of and information contained within the Board Book that the alumnae put together for you? I would be more than happy to gather those names so that you no longer have to operate under the false impression that the group of alumnae who oppose Chatham going co-ed is ANYTHING but “small.”

  16. Crystal L. Fleming, Class of 1996 says:

    First, I oppose any vote regarding the future of Chatham taking place on May 1, 2014. The extremely brief amount of time that was allowed for Alumnae input was disappointing and felt entirely disingenuous. Surely you cannot seriously assert that a few Town Hall meetings and a few short weeks thereafter are sufficient to review, vet and implement any strategies and ideas presented to you by individual Chatham Alumnae, the Save Chatham organizers and the Chatham Alumnae in Philadelphia. This lack of engagement has left many of us, not just a “small but passionate group”, dismayed. Dr. Barazzone, you admitted that Chatham is not currently in a position where, if the undergraduate program failed to immediately become coeducational, the College would close. That being the case, the very least you and the Board of Trustees could do is delay this or any similar vote for one year.

    Second, I oppose any vote to make Chatham’s undergraduate program coeducational. I do not believe that you, Dr. Barazzone, nor the Board of Trustee members you brought with you to the Town Hall meetings have done the full, necessary research to back up your assertions that admitting men will bring new life and funds to Chatham. If you have done such research, you have failed to provide any definitive proof (or any proof at all) that this is the case. We heard you speak ad nauseum about “mega-trends” and what is happening to other women’s institutions around the country. With all due respect, I must repeat the question asked of you by Tillie Eze (2009) at the NYC Town Hall – ‘Why do you keep talking about other schools? WE ARE CHATHAM! WE CAN BE DIFFERENT!’ Trends certainly have their place in studies to determine a course of future action, but simply citing and then bowing to trends is a major failure on your part. If 98% of the women who ultimately chose a women’s institution simply gave in to the trends, there would never have been a Chatham for me and many of my Alumnae sisters to attend.

    Further to the point of your failure to support your position is that, since the close of the Town Hall meetings, you have refused to release any further information. You have refused despite numerous requests to do so. Dr. Barazzone, you have condescended to many of us and stated that you have supplied all the information you intended to and that you just ‘can’t help it if we are misunderstanding or choosing to distort’ the scant information you provided. Uploading your PowerPoint presentation (which lacks any real support for your assertions) to the website for Alumnae to read is a woeful excuse for a provision of information. Dr. Barazzone you know what Chatham women were taught to do, right? We accept nothing at face value. We question, we research, we demand cogent and full answers. Please do not be shocked and appalled when we use our skills to question you. It is not meant as disrespect. It is what we were trained to do. Step back for a minute and you will see that our actions are something to be proud of.

    Finally, I want to point out to you that your statements to some Alumnae that their donations, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really mean much to Chatham’s existence is highly offensive. Please know that when the money goes, so too does the good will toward Chatham and the willingness to speak highly of Chatham to any students considering colleges. This isn’t a threat and it isn’t to say that Chatham will die without us, but please remember that a school without the support of its alums is a sad place indeed. When I left Chatham in 1996 with my degree, I was asked to continue to be the strong woman Chatham helped to create. I did. I was asked to go out into the world and represent Chatham and all that it has to offer. I did. I was asked that I never forget where I came from and to fight for what will always be my home away from home. That is what I am doing now. And Dr. Barazzone, it’s not just me. It’s not just a smattering of us. We are many. Do not ignore us. Do not downplay our numbers, our strength and our love for Chatham. Most importantly, don’t just get in line, bow to the trends and allow Chatham College for Women to become a ‘used to be.’

  17. Kate DiStefano says:

    In response to the suggestion that opposition to going co-ed is only the viewpoint of “a small but passionate group of Chatham College for Women (CCW) alumnae” I will only state the following:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  18. Rachel Lunsford says:

    Dear Ms. McClelland,

    Those of us who did the research (the number is actually in the 100s of women who did research) and those of us who put our names as administrators offered many sources to conduct a rigorous review. Instead, Dr. Barazzone, and now you too, have clung to the same talking points without considering an ounce of dialog.

    As Kate M. suggested, you should read the research and give careful consideration to the issues raised.

    I’m proud of my fellow sisters who did not willingly accept something they did no believe in and continue to stand tall, using their strong and mighty voices to ask questions and provoke a dialog that never seems to come from Chatham Administrators.

    Rachel A. Lunsford
    Class of 2007

  19. Bryan says:

    I’m not a Chatham alumnus, but I know several women who are proud, committed, and strong advocates for the single-gender experience that they had at your university. At each turn throughout this process of evaluating whether a change to a co-educational institutional mission is necessary and prudent, I’ve felt that the administration at Chatham has not truly been open to hearing from those who want to work towards preserving the traditions at Chatham.

    Even if the decision is made that Chatham will go co-ed (and that seems likely), what alumni and supporters will remember is how they were treated and whether they were heard. A defensive letter from the University president that accuses members of the alumni of “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” does not sound like it was written by someone who is committed to maintaining relationships and building the partnerships that will be necessary for the next chapter at Chatham to be successful, whether that chapter is co-ed or not. Rather, it feels reactionary and rash; two adjectives that are indicative of how this whole conversation has felt. From an outside perspective, there is little harm in delaying a vote to ensure that this sort of revolutionary change isn’t taken up without all possibilities being explored.

  20. Sarah says:

    Hilariously, Esther has had the stones to cite lack of alumnae donations as a reason for this decision! In her powerpoint she even had a slide dedicated to the lack of funding over the past decade! So which is it? Our lack of donations are killing Chatham or our donations are so meaningless Chatham will thrived regardless. There has been so much doublespeak, often within the same sentence that even Esther can’t keep her story straight.

  21. Mary Sullivan Van Dusen, Class of 1984 says:

    I oppose Chatham going co-ed. I feel that your administration has not been open or straightforward with alums; if things were so dire why was nothing said prior to February? Dr. Barazzone, your letter is nothing but a repetition of a few items you have flogged to death without any providing any convincing evidence that supports the switch to co-ed, nor have you satisfactorily answered or refuted the evidence presented by SaveChatham; oh, and by the way, your patronizing tone is beyond off-putting. WHY are you so opposed to giving us a year to turn the situation around?

  22. Sheila Confer '94 says:

    I oppose the move to go co-ed. I support the smart women who worked hard to gather solid research and ideas to present to you and the Board. I resent your implication that their efforts have produced anything less than solid, smart ideas and questions that deserve answers. These six women and the scores of others who assisted in this research works do a far better job of running CCW than you have. If/when the co-ed decision is made, I will direct my efforts, financial and otherwise toward institutions who are maintaining their mission to provide a women’s only education.

  23. Deborah Morrison says:

    Dear President Barazzone.

    I am not one of the administrators of the Save Chatham website. But I do support their efforts.

    Although I have posted on this blog before, and written a letter to you expressing my opposition to the plan to eliminate Chatham College for Women and change to an undergraduate college, I am not one of the most vocal alumnae on the issue.

    I am also not “stuck in the past”, unable to accept change, overly emotional, irrational, or stupid.

    After reading all of the materials provided by the administration, as well as Chatham’s marketing materials for the past few years, I honestly do not believe that the problem recruiting undergraduate students is because Chatham is a women’s college. And I do not believe that admitting male students to the undergraduate program will solve the problem.

    Deborah Morrison, Class of 1977

  24. Sarah says:

    Esther can try to convince herself that we’re a small and vocal minority. Small cracks can turn into much larger ones that could end up consuming Chatham. Yesterday Esther told us that she hopes we’ll act with our conscience once the vote happens. If Chatham goes coed she is convinced we’ll eventually get over it and come back to Chatham. I won’t. Neither will a lot of my sisters. I’m sure some will but many won’t. I didn’t support Chatham because it was my alma mater. I supported Chatham because it was my women’s college. The second that women’s college goes I’m done with Chatham…Forever. I hope that my sister will go with their conscience and see that there are other small liberal arts women’s colleges that WILL value our $650K in alumnae donations.
    Esther has been nothing but openly hostile throughout this entire process. Any time she speaks to alums she quickly becomes combative and begins to belittle us. She asks us to trust her. She says the numbers are verified (by who? Stevens Strategy AKA the women’s college killers?) but we can’t see them. We just don’t understand the complexity. Esther may be right. We may not understand the complexity. However, we’re all intelligent women and could put it together if we were actually given information. Esther wants us to trust her but right now she’s just someone standing there with a knife to my women’s college’s throat.

    There is so much doublespeak happening I’m not even sure Esther can remember the truth at this point.

  25. Heather says:

    It’s interesting that she is citing lack of donations since she said numerous times during the town hall meetings that the decision has nothing to do with money.

  26. Heather says:

    Sharon-I have had the same experience. I too assumed that they must have my area covered. And sadly, I believe that there are many more who have offered to help but have been ignored.

  27. Penelope Parsons says:

    I am fully opposed to CCW becoming a coeducational school for many reasons. I suspect I am not one of a small number of women who would not have chosen Chatham at all had it not been an all women’s college. It was a primary consideration because I desperately needed a place where I could function without the competitive and complex nature of co-ed environments. I considered many other schools, but Chatham was my selection because of the environment it offered. As more and more women’s colleges fold under the pressures (real or manufactured), there is even more reason to remain focused on providing what is still a real need. I simply do not believe that the required focus and effort has been exerted in order to achieve this goal. I also do not believe that there is no longer a societal need for all women’s colleges.

  28. Ris Jenkins says:

    As a CCW alumna, I ardently oppose a May 1st vote on coeducation. The time period allowed between the official notification by the administration that such a vote will take place and the vote itself is hardly enough to facilitate cooperative discussions about what attempts have been made, what plans have been studied, and what action should be taken. Delaying the vote in order to open these discussions cannot harm the institution. Rather than hearing the same arguments be made in favor of coeducation, I want to hear why the administration opposes a delayed vote. At the moment, I must assume that the administration does not wish to have open discussions that respect dissenting opinions. I would like my voice to be heard, noted, and respected by those in power. I do not appreciate being dismissed as part of a trouble making minority, especially when a full survey of the alumnae, current students, and faculty has not been conducted. I would like a source for Esther’s repeated claim, and no, I will not “just trust” her because she is in a position of power.

    If CCW does go coed, I will never donate to Chatham University while it is under Esther’s leadership. There has been no transparency beyond legal obligations and absolutely no cooperation attempts made by the administration to include alternative plans and opinions. I do not agree that the administration wants the same thing as those who have joined the Save Chatham movement. Those of us opposed to coeducation do not want to sacrifice the Chatham College for Women in order to protect the university as a whole. We want to protect one of the last women only institutions of higher education. The atmosphere that was created by the CCW cannot be wholly replicated if men are allowed to register. That is not wanting the same thing! (And I’m ashamed to see the administration appropriate the #savechatham slogan and to redefine its meaning to suit their own purposes.)

    Save Chatham!
    Ris Jenkins ’13

  29. Jane says:

    I had the same experience, Heather. Contacting Chatham because I had a future student went unanswered. After that experience I never again touched base with Chatham since it was obvious they were not interested in any help I might lend to recruiting.

  30. Carie says:

    I oppose Chatham going co-ed and share many of the views and opinions already expressed by my fellow alumna on this blog.

    I will say that Esther’s tone and condescension toward those opposing her has done more damage to the future of Chatham than anything else.

  31. coug for life says:

    I think what is most telling, and somewhat troubling, is the sheer number of young alum (meaning graduated in the last 10-12 years) that are raising their voices only to be ignored. You cannot say this is a case of antiquated views that are being voiced. We aren’t hearing from alumnae of the ’40s and ’50s alone “hanging onto tradition.” There are serious current social reasons that young women are leaving Chatham and loving the experience they had in women-only classrooms. We would know if single-sex education were irrelevant if young alum did not care about this upcoming vote. Clearly there is still a need for this type of education. Oh and the small, vocal group? Pray tell, why are there over 2000 fans of the anti coed movement on Facebook alone?

    Elissa Biondi DiNello class of 2006, (old-fashioned, out of vogue, 30 years old)

  32. Sally Davoren says:

    I oppose the move to coeducation and seek a delay of at least one year in the trustees’ vote. I initially became involved in this discussion because I was concerned that the trustees would actually consider such a fundamental change with so little opportunity for feedback or cooperative work on constructive solutions to problems with recruitment, retention, and fundraising. I couldn’t understand why a college like Chatham can’t fill 100 or 200 seats out of the 500,000+ women interested in attending a women’s college (the infamous 2%). The more involved I become, though, the more I see that the reason for the short period for consideration is that true dialogue was never desired. Chatham regards the decision as having been made already – all of this “feedback” is just marketing in support of coeducation.

    Yesterday, Dr. Barrazone asked one of the protesters on the sidewalk if she could come up with the alleged $7.5 million shortfall. Imagine! I haven’t seen a plan from the Chatham administration, other than “well, let’s admit some men,” and this young alumna was supposed to produce one on the spot!

    I admit that my financial support for Chatham has been minimal. When I was a young alumna, I decided that I could afford $5 a month, which I dutifully gave, until I met someone from the development office who told me that it was too much trouble to bring my gifts to the bank. I asked Dr. Barrazone at an alumnae function just prior to her first capital campaign if she would consider naming the classroom in which the beloved Frank Lackner taught psychology for so many years after him, and she asked me if I had $250,000 to name the room. See a pattern here? These are not the types of interactions that produce faithful donors, and they certainly don’t produce bequests. Now I am no longer young and poor, and I would support CCW if it maintains its 145 year old tradition as a women’s college – and I would use my experience in non-profit fundraising, the field in which I have worked for the past 18 years, to help with fundraising for the college. (By the way, I have never been asked to do that, even though the alumnae office knows full well what I do.) .

    I haven’t been totally uninvolved with Chatham. I chaired reunion in 1985 and 1986, and currently serve on a committee to plan events for Pittsburgh-area alumnae. If Chatham decides to go coed, my gifts, monetary and other, will go elsewhere

    In response to Esther’s letter above, of course 2,000+ people don’t participate in creation of a document! Even the Declaration of Independence was signed by only 56! If you choose to believe that the 2,116 supporters on the Save Chatham Facebook page are in favor of coeducation, that’s your privilege, but it makes no sense. The rest of the letter seems to be a cut and paste of all of the arguments from the town hall meetings onward.

    I am not a rabble-rouser, but this cause is quickly turning me into one. I am an attorney who practiced law for 16 years. I have worked in development for a large Pittsburgh non-profit for the past 18 years. I served on the finance committee of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic parish in Shadyside for 5 years.

    One of the alumnae who flew in from out of town to attend the on-campus protest yesterday (yes I was there), told me that she always felt safe and respected at Chatham, until now that is. I, too, feel no warmth or respect from the organization that Chatham has become. When you have the campus police evict nine alumnae standing in front of a campus building, that’s pathetic! I went to work after an hour or so at Chatham, but I understand that the comment sections of this site and other Chatham social media were shut down for part of the day. If your arguments are so convincing, then what are you afraid of?

    I’ve held off on posting anything more than a brief reply on Chatham Feedback, thinking that I would wait and post a comprehensive analysis, but I cannot sit by and witness the dismissal of the hard work put into the board book, and its cogent, well-reasoned and well-documented points. I encourage anyone with the slightest interest in this issue to download and read the board book at, take a look at the Save Chatham Facebook page at!/savechathamcollegeforwomen?fref=nf, and form your own conclusions.

    Sally Davoren
    Chatham College for Women (CCW), Class of 1972

  33. Sally Davoren says:

    I forgot: #savechatham

  34. coug for life says:

    You raise some excellent points! Also, if in two months the alumnae were able to get so much research accomplished, why is there any doubt we can help/work to find a solution? It took the administration more than two months to come up with the hackneyed idea to go coed (perhaps years in the making), when alumnae who, are unpaid, are able to do so much so quickly. They didn’t have to get the Stevens Strategy involved–wonder how much that cost?

  35. Lucia Melito says:

    Esther, the first time I ever saw you in action was at the town hall meeting on campus. From the first moment when you cut off an alumna trying to have her say I knew you were not, never were and never would be a Chatham woman. A Chatham woman would never do that to a sister no matter how different our views might be. We listen, learn, respect, work together.

    Esther, if you could have been a Chatham woman with my class of1973 you would have seen how protest and dialogue worked. The faculty, students, alums and administration were not afraid of expressing their differing views and meeting and resolving issues. Yes, sometimes it got loud, but by the time the whole campus went on strike over Kent State we were strong, united and solid. Nothing could break Chatham then no matter how threatening the world was. We were one.

    Now you say, the external world is threatening to break Chatham. You say students and faculty and many, many alums agree with you. I have no idea what is true and real. Chatham currently feels to me like North Korea isolated and spouting propaganda. The letters you put out are vague and insubstantial. Students say they are afraid to speak out worrying that their diplomas will be withheld. Yep, that’s what some of your daughters think

    Before you kill Chatham, why don’t you try being a Chatham woman? Delay the vote, let’s talk, let’s work together, be open, listen, present facts, withstand questioning. If that can happen we may even bestow upon you a Chatham degree.

    Lighten up, loosen up Sister. Enjoy the process. It’s only women working together to problem solve. Delay the vote, take this awful shackle off all of us. Let’s be civilized and handle the matter with dignity.

    Your time crunch has only served to make everyone uptight and angry. Relax. Delay the vote so we can all begin to think together.

    PS. Got your request for money in my email yesterday. Did you get my response? It said, “No Way”.

  36. Julie '07 says:

    I wholeheartedly oppose Chatham’s decision to go co-educational. I share the views with the women who worked so hard to contribute to and build the ‘Board Book’, as well as the 2000+ other women on the SaveChatham facebook page.

    I will take my donations of money and time and give them to ‘the other team’.
    I will openly discourage people from considering or attending Chatham for undergraduate OR graduate programs.

    There are 2000+ people opposed to going co-educational on Facebook alone.
    That is twice as many people on Chatham’s Alumni Association page, and over half of Chatham University’s page.

    That’s a lot of public blogs, petitions, and a huge facebook page with negative reviews and opinions on this decision, you, the board, and your institution. I repeat, public. That a huge amount of negative marketing that prospective students, both undergraduate and graduate, can and will see as they search for a school.

    The way you’ve gone about this entire process, the level of disdain and disrespect you’ve had for your alumni, current students, and faculty has done more damage to the future of the college as a whole.

  37. Jessica McMeyer Class of 2000 says:

    Save Chatham DOES accurately represent my views. I am opposed to Chatham becoming co-ed!

  38. Evelyn Mann says:

    I am appalled by the way Dr. Barazzone and other administrators have treated my fellow Chatham sisters. If you will not accept our suggestions for alternatives to going coed; our offers to donate our time and resources to do whatever it takes to keep CCW “for Women”; or even our implorations to delay the vote until information has been fully and accurately disseminated to all stakeholders, then what is it you want from us? Ironically, CCW made us who we are. She formed us to stand up for injustice and to fight for that which cannot fight for itself. Our daughters and granddaughters ought to be able to choose a women’s college; we fight for the future, not the past.

  39. Ris Jenkins says:

    I absolutely agree with you! Esther has no regard for those who do not agree with her out who she has no power to control their voices. When she laughed in our faces at the townhall meeting after an alum brought up alumnae donation, I couldn’t believe that the Board members remained silent. She was disrespectful the entire time. She was immediately defensive, and the first person to speak was escorted away from the microphone (I looked for her in the audience but couldn’t find her, but I could have missed her). I am interested to see what stunt she pulls at the May 1 protest.

  40. Asia Mitchell 2008 says:

    To Dr. Barrazone and Trustees:

    I am in support of the Save Chatham initiative, and I too ask for a 12 month delay in voting. I am not in support of a co-educational undergraduate Chatham College.

    The alumnae are open and willing to provide their time and efforts to assist you in any way, so as to maintain Chatham College for women. Instead of applying energy and time to push your greatest resource further away, why not use these efforts to bring us together?

    Additionally (as I have said in a previous comment), the association of decreased enrollment and Chatham Women’s college status is a correlation. Correlation does not imply causation. There are many other variables which can also be associated with the decline in enrollment: location, quality of student life, recruitment and retention efforts, marketing and branding, availability of certain majors or areas of study, average number of years to graduation, post-graduation employment rates, tuition costs, curriculum, notability and recognition of the university, red tape and communication with the administration, effective leadership, ect…

    You must consider all of these variables at length, and 2.5 months could not have possibly provided sufficient time to do so. Please, delay the vote and let us help you to help Chatham!

    Asia Mitchell, Class of 2008

  41. Asia Mitchell 2008 says:

    I apologize, I meant Dr. Barazzone.

  42. Jessica says:

    I love in Pittsburgh and was ignored when I offered to help. I was invited to (and attended) one accepted students event and then never heard anything else. So you are not alone.

  43. Kate M. says:

    That was a very serious offer and I eagerly await your reply.

  44. Jess '04 says:

    Dr. B,

    I am now and will forever be opposed to Chatham becoming co-ed. I whole heartedly believe that CCW has been abandoned so resources can instead go to Eden Hall and the graduate school.

    You say that enrollment is too low to be sustainable and that admitting men is the only way to fix that. Have you instead looked at the crumbling infrastructure of the main campus? Have you considered things like an updated cafeteria and lounge areas that would create a more comfortable environment for students?

    You say the school has reached out to and accepted recruitment help from alums. I just do not believe that to be true. I have tried to volunteer and been ignored. I can only assume it is because I do not have to means to endow a position.

    You say we should just trust you. When has a Chatham women ever accepted the idea that she should blindly trust without thinking for herself?

    The dismissiveness and contempt I have seen from the school toward the alums who are working to save the school we all love is both insulting and disappointing. Why teach women that is ok to think for themselves and to stand up for a belief just to belittle and ignore them if that belief differs from your agenda?

    All we are asking for is a delay on the vote so we can receive more information and study this more thoroughly.

    If you will just listen to those who don’t fall in lock step with you I think you will find that #savechatham is more than a small vocal and passionate minority.

  45. Whitney Blake says:

    I am requesting a delay in the vote to go coed. From the tone of your response Esther it appears that you and the board of trustees have already made a decision. Years of tradition and the mantra of uplifting and creating World Ready Women will have been for naught.

    Attending an all womens college created in me a fire that I never knew that I had. I was never one to speak up for myself or even give my opinion however when I entered those halls and met other wonder women I found myself.

    I admit that my involvement with Chatham has been minimal as I feel that I have more to offer than a monetary donation. However , if I did have the means I would not donate a penny nor my time if you vote to go coed.

    It’s clear to me and a large number of my Chatham sisters that you no longer care about what happens to Chatham and this move only places a bandage on a gaping wound.

    I sincerely hope that you and the board are proud of yourselves. You have stifled the voice of the young women who have graced those halls and have silenced many women like me who may never find their voice.

    -Whitney Blake
    Class of 2009

  46. Christina Griffin, '07 says:

    Dear Dr. Barazzone,

    I oppose coeducation in the undergraduate program at Chatham. But you already knew that. I am not part of a “small” group of alums clinging to an antiquated ideal. But you already knew that. I am not going to remain engaged with a coed Chatham or a Chatham that chooses to disparage its alumnae in response to their dissent. But you already knew that.

    It seems to me that you know all of these things, but do not care. Chatham College for Women has been neglected and its seed corn planted at Eden Hall campus. But you already knew that.

    Christina Griffin
    Class of 2007

  47. ERR says:

    I’m a Wilson woman and fully support my sisters who are requesting the delay in coed voting. Based on what happened at Wilson and what is happening here I would say that Drs. Barazzone and Mistick has better reconsider or there are some very lucky women’s colleges out there who are about to get some foster alumnae!

  48. Julie says:

    This “small but passionate” group, over 2,000 members strong has provided more time, energy, references, and information on this topic than any Chatham publication has to date. I make my decisions off of unbiased resources. The Save Chatham community, in my understanding, has been asking for a DELAY in the vote not a change in the decision being made. They have allowed open communication for those in favor, those undecided, and those opposed to this move. I wish Chatham’s published materials did the same.

    As a graduate alumna, I also have a few words to say… Pitting your University’s programs against each other is unacceptable. If marketed right, students stay for both programs. The creation of graduate programs bolstered Chatham, which I do believe was a great plan at the time. The graduate programs haven’t always been in perfect economic condition and my class graduated 15 students (a big difference from the classes years prior to and then after 2003). Graduate programs have also been able to expand based on changes in entry level practice degrees, which is a debate in our clinical fields.

    You can’t simply toss out the history undergraduate program for women simultaneously blaming the economy and your alumni. . . After all, apparently this isn’t about money (per Town hall #1).

    I oppose the move towards coeducation.

    Proud graduate alumna 2003
    Even prouder undergraduate alumna 2001

  49. Rachel Lenzi says:

    Sharon, I too have had the same problem! I have tried to engage with the college as an alumna – volunteering at college fairs, speaking to women at local high schools, working to coordinate regional events – and my offers have been ignored!

  50. Rachel Lenzi says:

    Chatham College did not prepare for when this day would come – when Chatham, standing at a crossroads, had to decide what it would do. When the old-money donors died, when the young alumnae used their voices, when Dr. Barazzone cared more about her own legacy than the mission and the legacy of the school that made her into a star.

    We know what Dr. Barazzone’s legacy will be.

    As alumnae, we know what ours will now be: Our fight for what Chatham was built upon – educating and empowering women – is in this flourishing group of strong, dedicated and fiercely loyal alumnae and women.

    THAT is what Chatham College is about.

  51. John McIlnay says:

    Save Chatham represents my views. I am opposed to Chatham going co-ed

  52. Laura Strauss says:

    It took entirely too long for me to realize that alumnae voice isn’t valued by this institution. At Wednesday’s protest, I learned that alumnae giving isn’t valued, either. With that knowledge, I will be taking my contribution elsewhere.

    The ladies to whom this letter is addressed have worked tirelessly to locate the necessary information for alumnae to be informed in their methods of responding to this situation. This information wasn’t gathered to be used in opposition to the Chatham administration, but to be used in conjunction with the administration to find a solution for the saving of the Chatham College for Women. It is discouraging to realize that any communicated desire on the part of the administration for help from the alumnae was simply an attempt to placate said alum’s.

  53. Sarah says:

    Rachel, too true that all Esther really cares about is her legacy. What she forgets is that Chatham is our legacy as well.

  54. Sarah says:

    Jess, over the past few months it has become increasingly obvious to me that being asked to volunteer for Chatham is a pay to play game. Unless you can donate a significant amount of money Chatham ignores you. Esther, we are worth more than our seed corn!

  55. Christina Petrauskis Mars c/o 2000 says:

    I disagree with the vote to make Chatham co-ed.

    My biggest issue is the BLATANT LIE that has been circulated that the College has been reaching out to its Alumnae. This is not the case.

    I was a class secretary and then boom, without warning, the title/job was taken away (out of not being needed). How is that a not needed position when you’re an alum?

    Or, how about when Woodland went co-ed as a res. hall, and we as alums, had no say? That decision was already made and then it was told to all of us.

    Alums and current students are the heartbeat of campus. Clearly you don’t care that the greatest resource you have is being pushed away.

    Shame on you.

  56. Lori King, class of 1999 says:

    I am adding my voice to the “small but passionate” group of Save Chatham. The Save Chatham page represents approximately 2000 alumnae, which is one-third of total Chatham College for Women alumnae. We have organized outside of work, grad school, family, and other commitments. I only wish that those considering the decision on May 1 would put as much time and energy into Chatham as alumnae have in the past 2 months.
    I have already submitted letters, postcards, and the first blog post, but I needed to add my voice to this blog post as well. From the very beginning, alumnae have offered to help the administration and Board of Trustees save Chatham College for Women. We wanted to work with everyone involved, not against them. All of these offers have fallen on deaf ears. Research and alternatives to being co-education have been dismissed repeatedly and rudely by the administration, most notably at the town hall meetings.
    One thing I have not heard from anyone in favor of co-education is a plan. Chatham is the only higher-education institution in western Pennsylvania that has a women’s undergraduate college. Once that is gone, it will be no different from every other small, private, expensive school for hundreds of miles around. Now that University of Pittsburgh is expanding its sustainability program, Chatham will be even less distinguishable. And, unlike Chatham, Pitt will keep its program in Oakland, where students actually are. Furthermore, Carlow is in the process of creating a women’s leadership institute, again, removing any way for Chatham to be different and “innovative.”
    From the administration, I have received no information about how Chatham will attract students who can attend these much more well-known and less expensive schools with similar programs. There has been no mention whatsoever about how the school even plans to attract male undergraduate students. At this time, most of the population of Allegheny County does not even know Chatham exists. I know, because I live in Pittsburgh and have to actually explain where I went to college. Opening the undergraduate school to males will not change that. What will change over time are the leadership opportunities for undergraduate women. They will be silenced inside the classroom and be relegated to secondary positions in extracurricular activities. That is not my Chatham, nor the Chatham I want for future generations of women.
    I know that the decision to go co-ed was made well in advance of February’s announcement, and that my voice is being discounted my most of the people on the Board of Trustees; however, until the vote is announced, I will continue to raise my voice against this rash decision.
    Lori King, class of 1999

  57. Michele 02 says:

    I again echo the statements (except for the one who is for the co-ed movement) stated above and i again echo the statements made by my fellow sisters that the college HAS NOT utilized the power of its alums in recruiting. The examples given by you are factors that have not been used since 2005-2006. I also served as a class secretary and then was told my services were not needed. I also volunteered for the big sister program that has not been utilized in two or so years. I did in fact get numerous attempts to have me serve as a class agent–but again this echos the statement made above about if you don’t have money then you don’t get to help. There are several all female high schools here in the Cleveland area– not one of them know of Chatham.

    This isn’t about a small but passionate group of ladies trying to preserve or hold onto the Chatham that we remember or being stuck in the past– its not about no boys in our classrooms or no boys in our dorms.

    Its about a large passionate group about preserving the best part of our college– its about remaining different then all the other colleges and offering that to the masses of women who are looking (or weren’t looking in my case) for a special place to grow and learn and become more than what we (as women) are ever expected to be. If at any time i thought that the college had exhausted ALL possibilities (and could provide accurate proof of this) to remain single sex, then i would support a movement like this. BUT i know that this isn’t the case. I have not been given the proof that i need of this and there for remain against the choice for co-ed. If you make us co-ed, what do we have to offer? a Chatham college lite think tank– i think not. you offer an over priced same as everyone else liberal arts college that will put you so in debt that gives you no advantage over every other tom dick harry or sally out there and it will KILL the college period.

    You talk about the money that “we” need to come up with the combat the cost, etc. Can we talk about the money that was used from the undergraduate college to support the other programs as they were built and established. Why can one college (as it is now) be borrowed against for periods of time and not be repaid back, but the other colleges (as they are now) support the undergraduate college while it gets back on its feet? blows my mind that people who have been in vested in this college cant do everything to help maintain the 145 year old tradition that has kept us new and different and created this LARGE passionate group of women– but oh wait, you’ve silenced them as well.

    I ask BOT that you delay this vote and this movement. Put the undergraduate college on a three year plan– take the time and the money to reinvent the women’s college and see if what was once great can be restored again. Help us to be the women’s college with the university opportunities!

  58. Michele 02 says:

    and shame on them for bullying those who speak against them to remain quiet– another thing that happens in a co-education setting.

  59. Elaine Cappiello '96 says:

    I oppose the vote for co-education. My Chatham sisters have spoken well before me on this issue, and I stand with them in solidarity.

    As an alumni relations and development professional in the greater New York area, I have found this whole “process” appalling. The current administration has been nothing short of rude and dismissive within the guise of transparency. There has been nothing of the sort, and everything of obfuscation and misdirection. Greater university & college presidents have fallen for less than this.

    One of my first responses to the administration’s handling of this issue was an old joke about a poor excuse for foreplay, “Brace yourself, Maggie!”, and then it felt like the more insidious “Roll over and be a good girl….”

    Either way, you’re screwed.

  60. Becky Alperin, Ph.D., Class of 1997 says:

    I, too, fully support the Save Chatham movement… Save Chatham is NOT a “small but passionate” group of alums… there may be specific people who are more vocal about it, but those of us who are quieter also support their efforts. If you would read the blogs and Facebook page, you would see that there are many more alumnae who oppose a move toward co-education.

    I donate annually, attend my major class reunions, and have volunteered as class secretary since I graduated. It is offensive to me that our voices, passion, and eagerness to help save CCW is being dismissed. If it is not about money, the why not delay the vote and gather a team of alumnae to help identify alternatives to Chatham going co-ed?

    I strongly urge you to delay the BoT vote and engage alumnae to help SAVE CHATHAM.

  61. Autumn Dawn Secrest says:

    I graduated from Chatham College in 2005. Dr. Barrazzone – I asked you two very important questions during the protest when you arrived. Please feel free to correct any misrepresentation of your responses.

    1. Now that Carlow has announced that it will also have an institute for women’s leadership, how will Chatham differentiate itself from other colleges and universities in Pittsburgh?

    You answered: I’m not worried about that. We have raised more funds for the women’s institute than they have, and we will not call it a “leadership institute”. (You indicated that you have plans to make Chatham’s institute more robust than Carlow will.) I said, “So basically, ours will be better?” You nodded in agreement.

    2. You noted in your presentation that Chatham’s retention rate is low. (You interjected to clarify that it is at 72%, and nodded.) What is being done, or what can be done to increase retention?

    You thought about this for a moment, and you said that you generally felt that there was nothing or very little that could be done about this.

    In the moment, I did not express my feelings about your answers, out of respect for your limited time, and the limited time my fellow alumnae had to also speak directly with you. I am now bringing my reply to a more appropriate forum, where I hope you and others will take the time to read it.

    I am glad that you have such confidence that our institute will be so far superior to Carlow’s that people will immediately recognize it as such. However, if women aren’t interested in attending women’s colleges, as you have reiterated on many occasions, I doubt that even a “superior” women’s institute is going to be a big differentiator. Differentiating Chatham in an already-saturated market for higher education is a very important consideration. Perhaps it is true that the women’s college hasn’t been the draw that we all hope it would be (although I must agree with my fellow alumnae that Chatham College for Women has suffered from a very palpable lack of proper marketing, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent). However, there must be something else that differentiates Chatham if it is to go co-ed – something truly unique. Chatham’s sustainability program is not it. Sustainability programs are growing exponentially in the world of higher education, and as another alumna has pointed out, the University of Pittsburgh has already made a huge investment to expand into this area. I am dissatisfied with your answers thus far about what will differentiate Chatham in this market.

    2. Not only is Chatham’s undergraduate retention rate appallingly low, but so is its six-year graduation rate. Only 50% of the women who enroll at Chatham will graduate within six years. You cited our ratings with organizations like U.S. News and World Report, noting that despite the increase in our rankings, we still see declined enrollment. I don’t think any prospective students or their parents care about an increase in rankings with statistics like this.

    You responded that you don’t think there is much to be done to increase the retention rate. I concede that it will be difficult. I have done some research of my own. Disturbingly, of those who took the ACT in 2013, only 26% met the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in all four subjects (English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science). “College Readiness” by ACT standards means that those students have a 75% chance of obtaining a C or better in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. The SAT doesn’t give us much more hope. Only 43% of 2013 test takers met the “College and Career Readiness Benchmark”. Those that met this benchmark have a 65% or greater chance of achieving a first-year GPA of B- or higher.

    What does this all mean? Of the small percentage of women interested in attending a women’s college, only one in four are even 75% likely to obtain a C or better in all four subject areas. Since Chatham is a liberal arts institution, this has important implications for its future. (By the way, I would like to see a better source for the 2% statistic – the source you cite on this website is a tertiary source. As an institution, you can request the statistics directly from the College Board… and I suspect someone at Chatham’s admissions office has already done so.)

    That creates a very bleak picture. However, I do not believe that it is impossible for Chatham to increase its retention rate. In fact, I believe it is imperative for it to do so. I identified 47 women’s colleges in the United States. I included colleges like the Women’s College of the University of Denver, and Douglass Residential College of Rutgers University. Of them, Chatham ranks #30 in its first-year retention rate. Only 17 of the 47 women’s colleges in the U.S. have a lower retention rate than ours. In six-year graduation rate, Chatham ranks #35. Only 12 of 47 U.S. women’s colleges have a graduation rate lower than ours.

    There are 26 women’s colleges within 500 miles of Chatham. Of them, Chatham ranks #18 in retention rate (only 8 are lower) and #20 in graduation rate (only 6 are lower).

    Here’s the thing: if Chatham goes co-ed, the competition only gets more fierce. Carnegie Mellon has a 94.2% first-year retention rate, and 88% graduate within 6 years. University of Pittsburgh’s first year retention rate is 92%. Their 6 year graduation rate is 78%. Obviously, these institutions have found a way to keep retention and graduation rates relatively high – much higher than Chatham – in spite of the low percentage of college bound high school students who are prepared to succeed.

    There is hope to increase our graduation and retention rates.

    So, I have more questions for you:
    1. Let us assume that Chatham remains a women’s college. If Chatham increased its retention rate to just 80% (still lower than both Pitt and CMU), how would this impact CCW financially? How many more students would there be to fill the increasingly empty classes? How much closer would this bring us to “critical mass”?
    2. If Chatham College for Women increases its six-year graduation rate to 70% (also still lower than Pitt and CMU), what is the financial impact on the college, and how many more students are likely to enroll because our academic reputation is enhanced?
    3. What interventions would be necessary to increase these two measures of success at Chatham?
    4. Given that so many college-aged high school students are under-prepared for college, are there innovative programs that Chatham College for Women can offer to enhance the preparedness of local young women, thus increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation at Chatham College for Women?
    5. What is the projected enrollment increase if Chatham goes co-ed? How many men? How many women? Will retention and graduation rates increase, decrease or stay the same? Why?

    I request a delay of the vote until alumnae and all members of the Board of Trustees have the unbiased answers to these questions.

  62. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    Thank you for your passionate, well-reasoned posting with its reference to our days on campus.

    While I would like to reiterate a few of the reasons I believe the 1 year delay in BoT vote is the only responsible action to be considered by the Board, I urge all who may read this posting to see the Board Package compiled by the #Save Chatham group. It is well researched and considered, cogently presenting “going forward” solutions to the dilemma facing our beloved CCW.

    1. A comprehensive marketing plan for a co-ed undergrad school has not been made public. What assurances have we that destruction of the 145 year legacy of CCW will enable CU to close the $7.5mil funding gap alleged by Esther?

    2. The Greater Phila. Chapter of the Alumnae Ass’n posted the results to a survey, citing the likely decline of alumnae donations in the event co-ed undergrad status is achived. Depending upon the moment, this $650,000 currently donated is either a considerable amount (or not) to the current Administration. Whatever version of truth is being cited, we would like to know the Board has considered the anticipated fall-out and its plan for additional funding sources.

    Decades ago, when alumnae were asked to assist w/Phonothons, we were told to encourage women to contribute WHATEVER they were able – even if it was “only” $5, since the percentage of giving was as important to some institutional donors as the amount received. If this remains an accurate benchmark, what is the Administration’s plan to replace these funds?

    3. The Greater Phila. Chapter survey as well as blogs posted on this site and #Save Chatham have all cited numerous instances where alumnae offers to assist in student recruitment, staffing college fairs, etc. have all gone unheeded and/or unanswered. What is the Administration’s pragmatic plan to respond on a going-forward basis?

    a. If CCW ceases to exist, will additional resources be hired to recruit men and women
    who only want to attend a co-ed school?
    b. If so, from where will those resources come?

    4. Part 10 of #Save Chatham’s “Dear Esther” document was included with the Board Book. It details Fundraising and cites the Cygnus Applied Research statistic that the “inclusive cost of turnover of one senior-level manager is now estimated at $952,300 on average…”.

    While I have been active in the attempt to re-establish the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Alumnae Ass’n, I have also experienced lack of Administration recognition, support, encouragement, or appreciation for the efforts expended on behalf of CCW. Despite having hosted an event for 35 in our home a year ago, we certainly did not receive the “touch point” acknowledgements cited in the Board Book.

    a. What have been the lost opportunity costs due to the apparent inability of the
    Development and Administration staff to appropriately thank its donors and Alumnae and
    make them feel valued?

    5. As I recover from an illness, I have reflected on the importance of CCW in my development and growth, and my anticipated feelings and reactions should the Board vote “yes” on 5/1 and fail to delay the vote the requested one year. I have reached the conclusion that a Chatham University without an undergraduate Chatham College for Women will have no emotional (or intellectual) meaning to me. It will become “just another” non-profit seeking my money.

    As of this writing, in the event of a “yes” vote on 5/1, I anticipate I will sell my class ring, donate the funds to Bryn Mawr College, and notify the BoT and alumnae affairs office of my desire to be removed from all lists. I have reached this sad conclusion believing I will no longer have relevance to the University and its new Mission will no longer resonate with me.

    I continue to urge the BoT to

    1. Consider the 5 questions posted in the #Save Chatham Board Book
    2. Consider if it has asked for or conducted its own, independent due diligence
    3. Delay the co-ed question for at least a year, to enable more detailed fact-finding and problem resolution.

    Sandy Kuritzky, ’73

  63. Michele says:

    All we are asking for is a delay. If more research is done and other things are tried and we come to the conclusion that co-ed is the only option I think EVERYONE will be resolved with the decision. Yes not everyone will be happy but at least we will know that all avenues have been explored. It seems to me that the decision was made a long time ago. All of this has been dealt with very poorly. Your telling me that just in February you realized that co-ed may be the only option? Seriously? I’m absolutely positive that this is something that has been bounced around for YEARS now and you decided to wait until February to finally announce it and give us only a few months to think of ideas. And EVERY single one you have shot down without much research into it or even trying anything. We have been treated as if we are just a bunch of stubborn stupid women. Well we may be stubborn but we are not stupid because we received our education from Chatham. Did you think we’d just roll over and play dead? Really? We are Chatham Women! Your Marketing team should have given you more insight in how to handle this. Maybe if we had a little more empathy that would be different but all we are feeling is being pushed by defensive people. That’s never a good way to go.

    All this talk about Dr. Barazzone getting her retirement plan early and that’s why she is paid so much now is a bunch of crap. What she gets each year is what she is paid. I don’t want to her that. It is ridiculous that she is getting paid so highly. My husband and I have talked about this many times and he is completely shocked as am I and we have both decided that we will not be donating to Chatham while Dr. Barazzone is President! I will hold onto my money and put it away for a fund toward Chatham once Dr. Barazzone retires. It is time for her to move on. We need change and Chatham and I think it is a new President before turning co-ed.


    Michele L. Agosti
    Class of 2001

  64. Tricia Chicka says:


  65. Asia Mitchell '08 says:

    Autumn, these are very black and white statistics, and I thank you for bringing them to our attention! I have an answer your third question – “What interventions would be necessary to increase these two measures of success [retention and 6-year graduation rate], at Chatham?”

    Coaching and mentoring for every incoming first-year provided from alumnae volunteers. Not only would this could this have the potential to become an innovative program and recruiting tool, it would also allow alumnae to volunteer for their alma mater, as many of us would love to do. Coaching can be done through regular email and phone call exchange for non-local alumnae.

    I have shared a 2011 publication by Eric Bettinger of Stanford University detailing his research on coaching as a method for improving retention and graduation rates in 13,500 students (across 8 US colleges and universities).

    Eric Bettinger and Rachel Baker. “The Effects of Student Coaching: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Advising,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 16881

    Here are some notable excerpts from the publication:

    Regarding the coaches level of involvement with students:

    “[C]oaches regularly contact their students to provide help and support as they are starting a semester of study and as they continue through their first year in school. In coaches’ interactions with students, they work to help students prioritize their studies, plan how they can be successful, and identify and overcome barriers to students’ academic success. Specifically, the coaches focus significant time assessing the student’s life outside of school, which InsideTrack has found to be the leading influencer on student persistence and completion. Topics such as personal time commitments (work scheduling), primary care-giving responsibilities, and financial obligations are common during a student-coach interaction.”

    “Coaches generally work with students over two semesters although some students were part-time students enrolled in a single course. Students have the option to participate or not when contacted by the coach. Coaches contact students via phone, email, text messages and social networking sites”

    Regarding retention and graduation rates of students who received coaching compared to those who did not:

    “We find exactly this. While coaching was taking place during the first year, coached students were about 5 percentage points more likely to persist in college. This represents a 9 to 12 percent increase in retention. We also find that the effect of coaching on persistence does not disappear after the treatment. Coached students were 3-4 percentage points more likely to persist after 18 months and 24 months. These represented roughly a 15 percent increase in college retention among our sample. All of these effects were statistically significant. For the three campuses for which we have degree completion data, we find that coached students had graduation rates four percentage points higher than uncoached students after four years.”

  66. Tricia Chicka says:

    Agreed Laura, I wish that the Trustees can see beyond the posturing of the President and see that we are actually trying to work with them, not merely opposed. I am an open mind. If coed is the only way, then I would work to try to make it the best for women as it can possibly be, but as it stand now, I am just not convinced by their flimsy evidence. And their lack of transparency and disregard for our hard work is just telling that they didn’t really want our ideas UNLESS they had to do with a coed Chatham.

  67. Tricia Chicka says:

    Autumn, Asia, I’m so proud that you are my fellow alumnae! :)

    These are very important details to consider when realizing that we need more time to do proper research (unbiased, led by a third party group hopefully, integrating the participation of students, faculty, staff AND alumnae) and to consider ALL alternatives. I really hope the Board of Trustees will see that we are not only passionate, we are FACTUAL, and have valid concerns over the short timeframe of this decision.

    Please delay the vote!

  68. Tricia Chicka says:

    I would like to say that I am also a support of the Save Chatham movement. We are NOT a small fringe group. The only reason it might be smaller than it could be is because most of the communication has been handled online and many of our alumnae might not have access to all the information.

    Even if the proposal to go coed were a solid plan with thoroughly researched stats and figures, the communication about it has been handled quite poorly. I cite this 2013 video interview:, with a Wellsley student and the President of Regis College, which went coed in 2007. Even though I’m sure many disagreed with the decision to eventually go coed, the college supposedly worked with alumnae for 2 YEARS to come to that conclusion. That’s a far cry from the 2-3 months we had, and ours was definitely not a cooperative experience.

    You say that you want what we want: to save Chatham. I have a question: if we had proposed a solution to save the college WITHOUT going coed (which the alumnae in Philadelphia have done), would you listen? Thus far, it does not appear to be the case and every statement you make appears to insinuate that this is a done deal.

    It is not a done deal. Board of Trustee, I urge you to DELAY THE VOTE! The President says that we’ll lose money in the meantime. If we are in a good place, what is one more year really? And if you have our support, we can pull in some extra fundraising/funds to make up the difference. I think it’s far more problematic to rashly rush into this decision, rather than give due time to look into all the possibilities. Burning bridges with alumnae is not a really good practice either. Let’s deal with this real situation together.

  69. Tricia Chicka says:

    Tricia Chicka
    Class of 2005

  70. Tricia Chicka says:

    As I mentioned before, I urge you to thoughtfully consider the proposal of the Philadelphia alumnae and am linking to their Open Letter on the Save Chatham blog:

  71. I echo the comments of other alumnae who are still not persuaded by Esther’s “crisis management” of a situation that she herself admits she has faced during her entire career at Chatham…the failure to attract a size able student body. So rather than work on the problem of developing faculty and areas of study that are necessary for the success of a liberal arts college, she chose to “Save Chatham” by using the college’s assets to subsidize the development of graduate programs. Now she believes that it is unadviseable to allow one part of the organization subsidize the other. And is there any reason other than that Chatham is a woman’s college that Chatham received the Eden Hall property? Yet, a few years later, she wants to abandon the mission that both Chatham and Eden Hall shared…supporting women to the exclusion of men.

    I would not like to be a member of the current Board of Trustees if they vote to abandon Chatham’s status as a woman’s college because they will be remembered as the John Wilkes Booths of Chatham College.

    Susan Garland a George, Class of 1975

  72. Marisa Klages-Bombich class of '98 says:

    I oppose co-education. I ask, with my sisters, for a delay in the impending vote.
    Hear us, respect our voices, and let us work with you.

  73. Koran Gurcak-Bragg, class of 97 says:

    I oppose Chatham going co-ed.

    Read the responses to this blog. READ THEM. These women are the reason Chatham should, and NEEDS to, stay single sex. These intelligent, magnificent women are products of this school and its history.

    Esther, for you this is a job. For the alumnae, it is a part of us. Part of our make-up, our history, our very being.

    Save Chatham. Not just the name or the buildings. Save what it stands for and what it embodies.

  74. Miranda M Gray, Class of 2009 says:

    I fully support the Save Chatham Movement. I am in opposition to a vote toward a coeducational Chatham College for Women.

    I would like to see the May 1st Board vote on coeducation delayed; it is much too premature to sit down and take a vote on such a weighty decision for CCW, especially when it is clear that much more than a small group of alumnae are against coeducation, and have other ideas. We owe it to CCW and all it stands for to consider more options and open discussion longer than a short couple of months.

  75. June Lovelace Davis says:

    I graduated in the class of 1972 and join in the call to delay the vote. I am a strong believer in the importance of an all women’s college. Please keep Chatham all women.

  76. Jodi Leese 1993 says:

    From the persp of 20 years as an alumna, it appears Chatham os in a unique position to widen marketing to atract precisely those women open to the benefits of single-sex undergraduate education. Had I not grown up in PA, would I have learned abput Chatham? I know I long for alumnae gatherings, visits from Esther, inclusion. But, havng lived in NJ, Texas and now NC, I see how Chatham limits her footprint. WHY? Certainly the difficulties, even failures of other small colleges are tragic, but they also leave an opening that Chatham is uniquely positioned to fill for omen looking to be leaders.

  77. Clare, CCW '11 & grad student says:

    I agree with you about underfunding the CCW, Susan. I am a current graduate student at Chatham and a CCW alumna. I started at Chatham the year it added graduate programs and noticed a lot of the departments were being neglected financially–my intended major when I entered college was completely dropped when a professor retired and the Women’s Studies department (my minor) had no permanent or full time staff. My involvement with the choir in undergrad made me realize the music department is completely underfunded, too. I am glad the graduate programs were developed, but I find it absurd that the administration would blame low retention or enrollment rates on a disinterest in women’s colleges in general instead of the underfunding and under-staffing (plus rising tuition) that has been occurring since I started at Chatham. Add my name to the list of “small but passionate” group of alumnae who oppose going co-ed.

  78. Nancy Chubb says:

    Please think about all the dreams, hard work, money, time, energy and LOVE that has gone into Chatham College for Women for 145 years. Save the college we love and we will love her even more. Until February none of us had a clue that Esther thought she, Chatham, should be destroyed to save the graduate schools and the Falk School of Sustainability.

    Women of the future need Chatham College for Women to stay for WOMEN!

    I support the Save Chatham women and movement.

    If Chatham College for Women becomes a co-educational undergraduate college I will consider my alma mater defunct and I will grieve, along with all these sisters here.

    Vote NO on co-education. At least give those who believe in a women’s college time to save her.

    Nancy Chubb, PhD, MBA, Class of 1973

  79. Chatham Alum says:

    I vehemently oppose Chatham offering coed undergraduate studies, and I would like to share a memory about a Chatham College for Women tradition that I am sure is near and dear to us all – Fall Serenade. Not only did I participate my first year, but I spent the following three years teaching new CCW students the alma mater and guiding them to Esther’s house as a proud orientation leader. All four years, after we pledged our faith in Chatham College for Women in song, Esther shared that there had never been a Chatham alum who had lived in the president’s house, and that she hoped that one day, one of us would be there to take on the role of President and guide our alma mater towards a brighter future.

    I’m now left to wonder if that is what it would take – if Chatham’s future would be different were the president to be a strong women who understood firsthand what a unique, nourishing microcosm CCW truly is. Although, with this I must say that Esther maybe should’ve considered becoming more of a presence on campus before presenting us with the threat of going coed. At most other universities, particularly those as small and intimate as Chatham, the president is a public figure. They frequently interact with students (be it in person, via social networking, or even blog or email updates), regularly attend athletic events and student productions, support student organizations, and are generally seen making an effort to get to know the students they are serving. The university president should be someone that students would like to get to know, hope to run into, or at the very least, trust with the future of their alma mater. Sadly, we have found ourselves at odds with Esther – opponents, even. There is no positive talk of CCW’s future or president, yet we, as alumnae, are bonded together, as strong as ever, trying to engage each other in an open, honest discussion. It seems that every effort we make is not quite enough – we don’t donate enough money (which of course has nothing to do with student debt, something that 3% tuition hike will obviously help with), there aren’t enough of us speaking up, we just can’t quite satisfy Esther’s unclear expectations as alumnae.

    What is also unclear is how much money actually plays a part. As has been mentioned in previous comments, there’s been a little bit of back and forth about whether or not this decision is financially driven. In recent years, several red flags for potential financial difficulties have seemed obvious. For example, as the graduate programs increased, there have been times when undergraduate programs such as women’s studies or modern languages have not been strong enough to even be completed as a 4-year degree without cross-registering. That, to me, is preposterous. Though the proposed vertical model might address that, it also shows the potential to overextend faculty, who often do not stick around as long as we’d like them to as is. It also seems fiscally irresponsible to obtain and commit to the development of 2 new campuses within 2 years. Admittedly, I do not have any hard evidence that these were financial red flags, but I HAVE been on the lookout. I have also been trying to figure out how many college fairs and high school visits Chatham recruiters have attended, how much of the advertising for Chatham University has been geared to the College for Women, and what Chatham will change its motto to once “Filiae Nostrae Sicut Antarii Lapides” is irrelevant. I’m searching for this information, and have faith that I can work with my Chatham sisters to find it.

    What is possibly the most outrageous claim, though, is that those of us trying to save Chatham are a minority. I would be thrilled if Esther and the Board of Trustees would be willing to survey all CCW alumni as to how they feel about going co-ed, why they feel that way, and what they would be willing to do about it. A simple email is all. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t be surprising to you that the alumnae of Chatham College for Women are, by and large, proud of their women’s college education and willing to continue to fight for other young women to have the opportunity to experience the empowerment of single-sex education.

  80. Abbie Hill says:

    Keep Chatham College women only! I am opposed to the undergraduate institution going co-ed and it’s something I feel strongly about having attended for two years. There are many of us who share this opinion, not just a small group.

  81. Lisa Mertz ('76) says:

    This is an important time in the perspective of history to maintain a firm hold on women’s education. If you solidly promote Chatham College for Women she will thrive.

  82. Tillie says:

    Esther and BOTs,

    Though you believe we are a small group fighting for Chatham to stay all women’s, bring out your calculators because it’s obviously much larger than you choose to acknowledge. We’re standing our ground and refuse to not fight for what we believe in – preserving 145 years of history.


  83. Liz says:

    I absolutely oppose Chatham going co-ed. I never would have attended Chatham if it were a co-ed institution. I transferred to Chatham from a co-ed institution so I know the difference between the education that institution gave me compared with the excellent education I received at Chatham. I always felt safe at Chatham but I would not have felt safe if it were co-ed.
    I don’t know what makes you think that alumnae have always been engaged with the campus. Since my graduation I have offered to volunteer on numerous occasions but no one follows up with me. I want to volunteer. I want to represent Chatham at college fairs and I want to remain connected with my fellow alumnae. However, I have not been able to do this since my graduation.

    What will make Chatham different if it goes co-ed? Pittsburgh is home to numerous colleges and universities. Many of them offer an eco-friendly focus. Chatham is the only remaining women’s college. Once that aspect of Chatham goes away, what will make the campus different? I fear that Chatham will shut down if it goes co-ed and that saddens me deeply.

    How will you even house men on the campus? Rea and Laughlin cannot be co-ed dorms due to the set-up of the restrooms. Rea and Laughlin are home to the Environmental LLC and the Multicultural LLC, respectively. What if men and women both want to be part of the Environmental LLC or the Multicultural LLC? They can’t live together in those buildings. It just isn’t possible, nor would it be safe for the women involved.

    During one of the townhall meetings an alumna asked about the risk of sexual assault/rape if more men were on campus. Dr. Barazzone stated that she was not worried about sexual assault at Chatham, she is more worried about it happening at Pitt. Do you know why it happens more at Pitt? It’s not just due to size, it is also due to the fact that it is co-ed. How will protect the women on this campus if it goes co-ed?

    Do you really think it is fair to replace a 145 year-old women’s college with a Women’s Leadership Institute or just training the professors to teach women better? It simply won’t be the same.

    It’s not that I don’t want Chatham to thrive in the future. I do. I want my future daughters to have the option to attend Chatham as a women’s institution and to have the same experiences I did. I feel more empowered because I attended a women’s institution. I hope whatever money problems are causing the Trustees/Dr. Barazzone to even consider going co-ed can be resolved without throwing away 145 years of history.

    I love Chatham but it simply cannot exist as a co-ed institution. Please find a way to make money for the undergraduate school that will allow it to remain a single-sex institution. PLEASE!

  84. Tricia Chicka says:

    Nicely said Jodi!

  85. Kelly McKown '02 says:

    I had the same experience. I even drove up to Pittsburgh, on my own time with my own resources, to meet with Tina Tuminella who, at the time, worked in Alumni Affairs. I asked her how I could get involved, living in Kentucky. She said that if I could get people in the tri-state area (OH, WV, and KY) interested, they might be willing to come and do an event down here. Yet, I was given nothing to help contact those students. No names, nothing. I felt the least the college could do for me in that situation was to pull a list of names, and I would do all of the calling.

    Flash forward to last week when, FINALLY, I was asked to help present a Rachel Carson book award down here in Lexington. Only, the award date is after the co-ed vote. I’ve committed to presenting because I was asked before May 1st. And if the vote goes through, I will honor that commitment, but Chatham will lose my support after that. So one iota of interest in me in 12 years, and then it’ll be too late.

  86. Kelly McKown '02 says:

    Amen, sister!

  87. Rachel Lenzi says:

    I’m appalled that Dr. Barazzone is not concerned about sexual assault on her campus if Chatham’s undergraduate school went co-ed. Especially considering that a student was assaulted on campus in the fall of 2010 – and Sports Illustrated wrote about it.

    “Finally on Sept. 22, police responded to a 911 call reporting that a man was choking a woman at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Officers found Donna Turner bent over on a porch, crying and vomiting. She identified her attacker as Jeffrey Knox, a freshman defensive back at Pitt.

    “Knox … open handed slapped Turner in the head with such force that she was thrown to the ground,” the police report states. “Knox then jumped on her, grabbed her by the throat, picked her up by her throat and slammed her head into the wall. He held her against the wall, continuing to choke her.”

    When two female witnesses tried pulling Knox off Turner, he allegedly threw punches at them and knocked them down. He then left the scene before authorities arrived. A day later, Knox was dismissed from the team after being charged with assault and reckless endangerment.”

    Read More:

  88. Jacqueline Schall says:

    I oppose the undergraduate school of Chatham going co-ed. I do not feel that the information that has been presented to the public by the administration has provided any clear or necessary reasoning for incorporating men into the undergraduate school, or any reasoning why this is a best means for solving lack of recruitment in the undergraduate school. The administration has made it clear the the overall financial health of the institution is perfectly fine, but that it is the expense that is being paid into the women’s college in order to keep it funded that is the issue. In this case, it is seemingly reckless to throw away the foundations of the school as one for educating women, and to be obstinate as to not consider other options, proposals, suggestions, or help for supporting the increase in enrollment of women in the undergraduate women’s college without going co-ed.

    Further it seems that this is a decision that was made a long time ago by the administration and one which has only been presented to the public as a means to present that the community was enacted for help- none of which has been appropriately acknowledged or considered. Obviously 5 months is an absurdly short time frame to make a decision of such magnitude and be confident- even simply from a business perspective- of the outcomes.

    What is really wrong with Chatham College for Women right now:
    1. The undergraduate program at Chatham is not competitive enough with the other colleges and universities in the Western PA area- this is regardless of a coed decision- women don’t have a lower standard when it comes to choosing a college- Chatham needs to increase their support of undergraduate programs to attract anyone to the school.
    2. Most of the undergraduate faculty is comprised of adjuncts and lecturers who are not able to provide students with the consistency or long-term support that is necessary for student success- think academic counseling, research partnerships, networking, tutorial support, etc. Who wants to go to a school where they will not be able to work with the same faculty for the term of their attendance? How do you build a culture of pride and community without a base of tenured faculty? What does it say about a university’s commitment to the undergraduate academic programs if they aren’t willing to support tenured faculty? What does it say about their respect for faculty members if they aren’t willing to offer more tenure-track positions? This issue pervades the whole sense of well-being in a college.
    3. Undergraduate faculty seemingly do not receive the kind of financial support that is necessary to be competitive in research and scholarship, thus are not able to support students who may come to the university expecting these types of opportunities.
    4. When you bill yourself as a big time university, you cannot expect to attract the same students who wanted to attend your small liberal arts college AND if you can’t offer students what they expect from a big time university, who do you have left that wants to attend your school?
    5. From the outside looking in, there is lack of direction at Chatham, overall. As an alumna, I wouldn’t know what to tell students about what Chatham is really good for or what the University has planned for itself. Its hard to imagine that prospective students are able to distinguish these details either.
    6. The women’s studies at this all women’s college. Two faculty (albeit one of whom I know well and hold great respect for) are listed as members of the women’s studies program. If I’m a “2%-er”, why would I go here?
    7. There is little emphasis on any reason why Chatham is a good college for women outside of the fact that is a college for women. Where is the promotion of women’s education, pushing women’s advancement, generally holding respect for women? It feels as if this sense of pride in educating women has nearly disappeared from the school.
    8. Not using resources. I graduated from Chatham in 2007. I work and live in Pittsburgh. How many times have I been contacted by the school to help recruit students or do anything at all related to promoting Chatham? ZERO. How many times have my close network of Chatham graduates been contacted in that time? ZERO. Who is Chatham reaching out to? How can a culture of promoting the school be engendered when the alumna feel that the school does not hold any value in them?
    9. I’ve worked with adolescents in varying settings in Western PA for the past 7 years and not one of them has known anything about Chatham University.
    10. I’ve worked with and gone to school with a lot of professionals in Pittsburgh in the past 7 years and very few of them have know anything about Chatham University.
    11. Overall, there has been too much change too quickly, leaving everyone confused about what Chatham is and where they want to go. It makes the institution look very unstable and lacking direction, and ultimately like an unhealthy place to attend, work, or support.

    I suggest that Chatham make some decisions about itself before deciding to make another change. Starting to put serious support and planning into the academic side of the undergraduate program, supporting tenure-track faculty, increasing funding for research and scholarship, which will increase the pool of support that faculty can get from other funding agencies and their ability to support students and student opportunities, increasing the emphasis on being a women’s college that supports women and provides the education that helps women succeed- why is Chatham the BEST option for women to choose?-, using alumna in a serious way, creating a campaign that puts them in schools and communities and promotes the women who have been successful because of Chatham so that young women can see how Chatham can help them do the same.

    What would be lost by a decision to go co-ed would be everything that Chatham was founded upon- giving women the opportunity to succeed at the level of their male counterparts without competition from them, providing the opportunity for women to come into the working world at the same level of opportunity, experience, and education as those men. What would further be lost by a decision to go co-ed would be the opportunities found by the countless other sub-populations of individuals who have come to Chatham and finally had the opportunity to succeed- non-traditional students of all kinds, transgendered individuals, women from religious communities opposed to co-education, individuals who have been subjected to ridicule, bullying, or just told that they aren’t as good as their male peers. For 145 years all of these individuals and others have found Chatham and have been able to find opportunities and succeed beyond what was possible in a co-educational setting. Is this worth throwing away? Or is this precisely what Chatham must stand for and work in anyway possible to sustain? I hope that when considering the vote to go co-educational that the weight of what will be lost for these individuals and for women in general will be considered as well.

    Jacqueline Schall
    Chatham College for Women, Class of 2007

  89. Sally Davoren says:


    Sally Davoren
    Class of 1972

  90. Nikki DeSantis says:

    As a graduate student of the class of ’04, I join my sisters in calling to delay the May 1st vote and let us help CCW. Someday, I want my girls to be able to go to Chatham as CCW and not as a coeducational institution. I want them to find their voices like I found mine. My only regret is that I did not attend Chatham at the undergraduate level. Chatham has left a special mark on my heart and I want it to continue to be able to do that for the next generation of World Ready Women.

  91. Adale Sholock says:

    I oppose the co-ed decision based upon my experience working in higher education as a professor and administrator for the last 15 years. In particular, I question the logic behind recruiting men as a solution to Chatham’s problems given the larger trends about male participation in higher education. Colleges and universities are struggling to recruit and retain male students, and yet Chatham leadership blindly accepts the idea that men will be the cash cows to populate seats in classrooms. I haven’t heard any acknowledgement of the ways in which male students will require specialized recruitment and retention programming (which most colleges and universities are doing since men make lower grades, commit judicial infractions, fail to access campus resources, lag behind in time in graduation, and drop out at higher rates than women). I worry about the future male student at a co-ed Chatham. Women are clearly the better investment in terms of trends in higher education.

  92. Autumn Dawn Secrest says:


    You are awesome! Thank you so much for giving an evidence-based suggestion as to how retention at Chatham can be increased. Even if coaching at Chatham yielded the low-end results, Chatham would meet an 80% retention rate easily. In addition, I suspect that lack of college readiness isn’t the only reason women are leaving Chatham. Though obviously coaching will help, I think Chatham can increase retention and graduation rates by identifying the other reasons why people leave. Other alumnae have already identified factors that may be affecting retention, like turnover among faculty and lack of tenure-track opportunities. My issue is, these are only our best guesses. I’m sure Esther has her own guesses. But, there is a really easy way for us to know for certain. People will tell you why they want to leave Chatham if you just ASK THEM. If asking is too time-consuming, though, we can look at one data point: How many leave Chatham to transfer to another school, and how many drop out of college altogether? We can assume that those who drop out altogether were not “college-ready” and would have benefitted from coaching. Those who transfer to another school obviously are not leaving due to lack of preparedness. Another great piece of information to have: which colleges or universities receive the most Chatham transfers? What are their declared majors in their new schools?

    I guess my point is, I would feel much better about Chatham’s leadership if I actually had some real data to evaluate. I feel that the information we have been provided so far has been slapped together in the service of the single-minded goal to take our college co-ed without considering alternatives. I am not an emotional little girl sadly mourning the loss of her glorified sorority. I am looking at this pragmatically. I am willing to consider alternatives. I am willing to help identify solutions. I am willing to spend – and I have spent! – hours researching higher education markets to better understand our advantages and disadvantages. And if in the end, the numbers just can’t work, I’m willing to accept that Chatham may have to change in ways I’m not happy about. But I have seen nothing so far that convinces me that co-ed is the only option left.

  93. Christy Dennison '99 says:

    As a very proud alumna of Chatham College, I urge Dr. Barazzone and the trustees to please delay the vote considering a proposal to go co-ed.

    I hope you will consider the suggestions and proposals submitted by the many alumnae who, like me, do not want to see Chatham’s 145 years of educating women disappear. No “women’s leadership institute,” center, or program will make up for the benefits a woman receives from attending a women’s college.

    Again, please delay this vote. Work with the countless alumnae who want Chatham College for Women to thrive and remain a women’s college.

  94. suzanne forrester says:

    i oppose the effort for chatham to become a coed institution and add my name to the voices asking for a delay of this vote. as one of the apparently small number of alumnae displeased with this decision, i wonder about what that assessment means. i can’t help but think of the rule of thumb that suggests a handwritten letter to a politician supposedly represents 100 votes and that the response to this situation currently registered actually represents a much larger groundswell of concerned individuals who are truly upset about this proposal but haven’t had the time or capacity to respond in as organized and effective a fasion as they might like. i know for myself and for others i have engaged in conversation about this development there was a strong feeling that the decision had really already been made and that it was not so much of a proposal as a done deal. while i respect that some substantial effort has been made to engage alumnae in funraising and outreach efforts to date, it would be a shame to give up so easily when many of us were not fully aware of the plight of the women’s college until quite recently. i know that i am curious to know what it would be like if all of this energy and strong feeling that has bubbled to the surface were given a real chance to be directed positively. i know that i would love the opportunity to be involved in outreach in the future. however, i have no interest in supporting chatham as a coeducational institution.

    also, out of curiousity, why was may first chosen? i have to say that given the school’s prior history of vibrantly celebrating may day and the broader significance of this day as a moment to mark solidarity with women’s rights and labor struggles, it seems a cruel and insulting choice.

  95. suzanne forrester says:

    a thousand times, yes!

  96. Jaya Lakshminarayanan '00 says:

    As many here know, and others can easily verify, I left Chatham after my first year. After very little time at the school to which I had transferred–a large public university with several nationally recognized programs–I realized I had made a mistake, re-applied and returned to Chatham, and never once wavered from my conviction that I had made the right choice. Chatham’s all-women environment had nothing to do with my departure, and everything to do with my return. Many of my sisters have already spoken of being recognized and heard in class, of being free from the threat of sexual harrassment and assault while at school, and of the camaraderie that blossomed into a strong and supportive network that continues to help us after so many years out in “the wide, wide world”, and I need not repeat what they have said so eloquently. I will only voice my wholehearted agreement.

    It seems that the supporters of this headlong rush to co-education have conflated two questions: whether a single-sex school is right for everyone, and whether a single-sex school is right for anyone. The answer to the first question is an obvious no; the answer to the second question is a resounding yes. Chatham College for Women has been right for many women over nearly a century and half–much longer than many other American schools have existed–and will continue to be right for as many and more women in the future. Rather than abandoning her mission and shirking the duty imposed by her founders, assuming that Smith and Spelman and Mills and others will take care of it, Chatham should be preparing for a future of forming, supporting and challenging those women just as she has done for us.

    Not only do the materials produced by Save Chatham reflect my views, I have contributed to their research and to their recent public protest. I shall continue to add my efforts to theirs and to that of the “small but passionate group” of nearly 100 represented here, and to oppose any efforts toward undergraduate co-education at my alma mater.

  97. Maria Baker Shaulis Class of 1989 says:

    I respectfully request that the Board of Trustees vote NO to Coeducation.

    Chatham College for Women provides a unique and vital education to a special group of women. It allows an atmosphere where women can learn and grow and become independent strong leaders. For many of us, we would not have been able to grow into the World Ready Women we are, if it was not for this single-sex education.

  98. Michele says:

    Wow…i didnt even know this had happened! How could this not be a cause of concern! Shame on them for not addressing this.

  99. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    Follows is a letter that Esther and the Board will be receiving. Dr. Seltzer is from the University of PA. School of Social Policy and Practice. The letter is in its entirety, with the exception of her contact information.

    She has granted permission for her letter to be shared.

    Sandy Kuritzky, ’73


    Vivian Center Seltzer
    School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania
    3701 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104

    April 28, 2014

    Dr. Esther Barazzone, President
    Chatham College
    Woodland Road
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: single vs. mixed sex schooling

    Dear Dr. Barazzone:

    I write to express a few thoughts regarding the proposal your college has under consideration to enter a mixed gender freshman class in the fall. I write to express sadness at this plan and to tell you why.

    I have had the privilege of appointment and tenure at the University of Pennsylvania teaching and advising male and female students for 34 years. I served as professor of human development and behavior, specializing in adolescent development. I taught undergraduate and graduate students in courses related to adolescent development and to human growth, behavior and functioning. Twenty – 25 students in 3 classes each semester wrote frequent papers. Many revealed much on their own development. My conclusion re gaps in maturity levels between male and female students were reinforced by my “l day in 7” part time private clinical practice. My research findings, articles and each of my three books ( Lexington Press, 1982; John Wiley; 1990, and New York University; 2010 presses) offered the necessary punctuation marks. I spent Sabbaticals teaching and carrying out research in Edinburgh, Jerusalem, and Singapore, collecting and analyzing findings on over 6,000 adolescents in 6 countries around the globe, again an opportunity to note variation between the genders.

    Based on above described plus experiences with undergrads in student groups and as Chair of the U of Penn Faculty Senate added additional support to my growing conviction that single sex undergraduate education fills a most valuable niche in undergraduate education…. and it must not be abandoned. Cognitive and emotional routes of development must not be assumed as comparable to height and musculature. Cognitive, emotional and social development of males, except for occasional exception, are slower. My conclusions have been continually reinforced –as far as college entrance is concerned, maturational levels need a few years before the genders reach par.

    Lastly, let me share a personal story. I received my Ph.D from Bryn Mawr College. While their graduate departments are mixed gender, as you know their undergraduate school is for women only. As I weaved in and around their library and read the notices, I was struck by the multiple ways available to explore intellect devoid of the social pressures of a mixed sex school. While I had enjoyed the advantages of a large Midwest school, I reflected on how wondrous it could have been if I felt no social restraints to allowing intellect to lead and allow it to shine. Hence, my letter to you.

    Thank you for seriously considering my comments. If for any reason you may wish to reach me, I am available by telephone at my office 215-XXX-XXXX and at my home 215-XXX-XXXX or via e-mail XXXXXXXX . If you prefer letter mail, it is best to reach me at XXXXXXXX Square, Philadelphia, PA. .

    Sincerely yours,
    Vivian C. Seltzer
    Vivian Center Seltzer, Ph.D
    Professor Emerita, University of Pennsylvania

  100. Kathleen A Ferraro says:

    President Barazzone asserts that the Graduate programs have been subsidizing Chatham College for Women and warns that we are “dangerously close” to damaging “one member of our family to protect another member of our family.” In fact, the opposite is true: It is the College that has subsidized Chatham University. I am reminded of the women who are cast aside by husbands they have supported through law or medical school. CCW resources that have contributed to the University’s success range from its gorgeous, well-equipped campus to its outstanding reputation (brand).

    Graduate students were first admitted in 1994. From then until, the Eastside campus opened in 2010, they ate in Anderson Dining Hall and congregated at Cafe Rachel. They played Frisbee and sunbathed on CCW’s lawn, read in the shade of the trees of Andrew Mellon’s Arboretum, and worked out and swam in the Athletic and Fitness Center. In fact, although the location of their classrooms has changed, grad students still enjoy the resources of the Shadyside campus, just a short Shuttle ride from Eastside. Courses associated with the School of Sustainability were also taught (and, I assume, still are) on CCW’s campus.

    More significantly, without CCW’s longstanding reputation as a quality liberal arts college for women, there would be no Falk School of Sustainability. It’s unlikely that Chatham University would be the recipient of the estate of Sebastian Mueller whose lifelong commitment was enhancing women’s lives through education. It’s also unlikely that without its long association with CCW, the Falk Foundation–known for its commitment to justice, equality, and inclusion–would have made Chatham University the recipient of one of its two final grants.

    Whether intentional or unintentional, the Administration and Board’s failure to recognize the College’s contributions to the University’s success demonstrates that we have not outgrown the need for institutions that put women first. CCW’s 145-year-old reputation within the business and philanthropic communities and in the City of Pittsburgh and beyond is worth more than any marketing and branding President Barazzone and Vice President Campbell can buy for any amount of money.

  101. becky popovich burdick '73 says:

    I think that there is no question that Chatham College offers a unique, necessary and increasingly rare experience for undergraduate women, as expressed so well in Vivian Seltzer’s comment above. I’m not convinced that the University can’t afford it, and so support a delay in the vote. I’m also not convinced that leadership among women’s colleges has been a priority at Chatham – and I would hope that a new, better strategic plan might come from this delay which would re-direct resources and re-commit Chatham College to becoming the best women’s college in America. Tall order – not impossible.

  102. Tricia Chicka says:

    Thanks for sharing Vivian’s value perspective Sandy! Very interesting… And a good call for preserving all-men’s undergraduate institutions as well. I fear that we as a country will realize the value of having this choice until there no choices left.

  103. Kathy Curran says:

    Below is a letter I sent, late last week, to each Trustee’s


    To Board of Trustees,

    I am writing to ask that you vote to defer the decision to make the undergraduate program at Chatham University coeducational. I am aware that the undergraduate program is struggling and that the co-educational recommendation is one item in a series of changes the administration is proposing in order to re-invigorate the undergraduate program; however, I do not understand why it is the first intervention as opposed to one to be addressed later in the process.

    From the materials provided to the Chatham community I understand one of the prime motivators of the co-educational proposal is related to the amount of subsidy that Chatham College for Women is requiring from the university and the long term effect on the university. The university administration has proposed that the subsidy will double in the next 5 years to an unsustainable level. I am intrigued by that projection since it appears that the subsidy from the university to the college is approximately the same today, when adjusted for inflation, as it was in 1992. $3 million in 1992 becomes just under $5.1 million in 2014 using the average inflation rate of 2.41%, to my eyes this appears to be a relatively level subsidy. Why it will double in the next 5 years is puzzling when it has maintained even keel, regardless of the myriad of external factors that have occurred over the last two decades. Sadly, you are sitting in a very similar position as prior trustees in that the CCW facing the question of co-education but you now have not just the endowment to support CCW but healthy university that was born to specifically support CCW. The question is, why is CCW still unhealthy twenty years after this question was last visited. If the answer were as easy as gender then all co-educational institutes of higher learning would be thriving and we know they are not. In the 1990s the concern was that the college would be bankrupt if one of the distinguishing features of the college was not changed so the decision was to offer graduate programs. Are we now revisiting co-education because we are threatening the University which evidently has become a higher priority than the founding heart of the Chatham community – Chatham College for Women? Is this a question of losing our 145 year old identity to assure the long-term future of a 20 year old product?

    Again the question is, why is CCW requiring a $5 million dollar annual subsidy? A theme that continues to arise is that CCW is in dire need of focused attention and leadership just as did the graduate programs and the university when they were being grown. I know the administration would say that CCW has always benefitted from focused leadership of the university. However, if you look at the investments the administration touted during the early town hall meetings through a different lens you may see a bit of a spin on the investments:
    • Renovation of Buhl Hall of Science – the science facilities were renovated as the Physician Assistant (PA), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT) programs launched and early in the accreditation process for the programs. These programs needed facilities and resources that the then College had to build in order to assure the future of those programs. Was the renovation motivated by the accreditation process or was it renovated strictly to benefit the undergraduate program?
    • Construction of the Athletic & Fitness Center –the tennis courts were structurally unsound, the Mellon pool was crumbling and the Gym was in need of significant facilities updates. Was construction of the new athletic resources done to solve several pressing facilities issues or to support the athletic programs?
    My point is not to question previous decisions but to demonstrate that investments in the undergraduate programs can be viewed from many different vantage points and their benefits to CCW equally so.

    Many sound ideas have been suggested by both the administration and alumnae of CCW as to systematic changes that can be made to help the undergraduate program become healthy. In my opinion, CCW is well positioned to become the program for a Women’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – and for those of you who recall Dr. Beck, that will always be Mathematics and never Math). As an administrator in public education, I can assure you that K-12 systems are making it a priority to set in place programs to encourage girls in the STEM fields but yet I see no evidence that Chatham has partnered with area schools on these endeavors. Again, my motive for pointing out the STEAM possibility is to say many avenues for the undergraduate programs have not been explored. What is being explored is to take a struggling undergraduate program and toss it into a HIGHLY competitive market without any real marketable programs. I think we can all agree that there is no room in education for any institution that doesn’t offer desirable programs; this is what I believe to be the core of the program facing CCW. Opening the doors to young men won’t fix anything if CCW doesn’t offer sought-after areas of study. The university thrives because it has marketable programs not because of the gender of the students. Male students can attend CCW today, they simply cannot graduate, yet they don’t choose to cross-registered for courses at Chatham. Employees whose sons could use their parent’s tuition remission choose not to take classes and transfer the credit. Why, because as it exists today CCW is not offering a desirable curriculum. This issue must be addressed before the issue of student gender is addressed.

    What I ask is that (1) you attend the May 1, 2014 trustee meeting, (2) you ask the hard questions posed to you by the members of the Chatham community and listen with a critical ear to the answers, (3) you vote to defer the co-education decision, and (4) you task the administration of the university to develop a concrete actionable plan which invests directly and exclusively in the undergraduate programs as currently being proposed without the co-educational elements. After the plan is developed and presented to the community, I ask that you then set a date in the future to re-visit the co-education decision once CCW has been given an opportunity to re-gain her footing. I realize that you have great faith the leadership of Dr. Barazzone and her team but please do not confuse a no vote on co-education with a vote of no confidence in in Dr. Barazzone. A no vote is not a judgment on her leadership; it is simply directive to explore other options before co-education. We have been assured that the future of Chatham University is not in jeopardy at this time, direct University leadership to use this time to build programs, hire faculty, and re-invigorate the undergraduate program. Do not turn this grand old girl, CCW, into some storybook princess waiting in a tower for prince charming to rescue her; that is simply counter to how Chatham women function, who we are, and what we believe. Please allow Chatham College for Women to walk into any partnership with young men strong and healthy and not be forced to swoon into the waiting rescuing arms of a man.

    I offer you my sincere thanks for the time and resources that you have committed to the university and for your support in this matter.


    Katherine Crookston Curran
    Class of 1983
    Former Director of Computer Services (1985-1997)
    Former Adjunct Instructor (1987-1999)

  104. Rachel Lenzi says:

    The alumnae continue to speak. A collective response to Dr. Barazzone’s letter to the Save Chatham coalition has been posted on the Save Chatham Facebook page:

    In case there’s too much to scroll through, allow an alum to summarize: Dr. Barazzone, respectfully submit your resignation.

  105. Pam Fabish Allison, Class of '74 says:

    I am opposed to taking a vote on coeducation on May 1st because I haven’t seen any hard and fast data from studies showing how many men will apply/attend Chatham College. What efforts will be made to encourage men to apply? Can’t these same efforts be utilized to attract more women applicants? Until there is data to support the change to coeducation, I feel the vote should be delayed.

    I am also opposed to coeducation at Chatham because I feel there is still a place for a single-sex college for women. I reaped such great rewards as a result of my education at Chatham. Academic rewards that I know I would not have had in a coeducational environment. Attending Chatham in the 70s was the single biggest asset in my life from that point forward.

    Please consider delaying this vital vote until more data is obtained.
    Pam Fabish Allison
    Class of ’74

  106. Leslie Beres-Sochka says:

    29 April 2014
    Open letter to the Chatham Community from Leslie M. Beres-Sochka (1983):

    I am writing to express my most heartfelt desire that Chatham College for Women remain a single sex institution. I am absolutely opposed to Chatham’s undergraduate programs becoming co-educational. A line from a song keeps running through my head – “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. I feel going co-educational at this juncture in time, is a bit like that – we will lose that which sets us apart. If the decision is made to go co-ed, there is no going back but we will come to realize too late how good it was.

    I graduated from Chatham in 1983. My path to Chatham was not expected. I was NOT considering attending an all woman’s institution. However, something interesting happened on the way to the university (to paraphrase one of my favorite plays). The Director of Admissions came to my high school specifically to meet me, recruit me, and convince me why Chatham was the college for me. She even brought a freshman with her to assist in the recruitment. I was so impressed that she came to my school to see me, that I decided I would return the favor and at least visit the campus. The visit would entail an overnight admissions event. I might add, my father drove a very un-enthusiastic teenage girl to Chatham. However, once on the campus, I immediately felt that this was the place for me, even if it was only for ‘girls’.

    I am giving this background to emphasize two points. The first is that many of Chatham’s students had not intended to matriculate to an all-women’s institution. But come we did, and for me, it is a path I am glad I chose. I believe the current information that only 2% of girls would consider single sex education is perhaps not the whole picture; some of the 98% will attend given certain recruitment strategies. The second is to bring to mind just how important having active recruitment of prospective students at their high schools can be. Had the Admissions director not come to see me, I would never have attended Chatham. I would have been one of the 98%. My four years at Chatham were remarkable and I am truly glad to have attended.

    I have been a strong supporter of this institution for many years in many capacities. I’ve served as class agent multiple years; I’ve represented Chatham at official functions; I was a member of the Alumnae Board for six years (2006-2012), serving as its Vice-President. I have always supported Chatham however I could, whether it be physically with my time or financially.

    Chatham is an incredible institution one to which I have referred many high school students. Women who attend Chatham leave capable of tremendous things. Our time there was not constantly interrupted or overtaken by the presence of males in the classroom. Women for 145 years have found their voice during their Chatham experience. We were able to express ourselves, and we were heard.

    At the Reunion held in June 2013, I was privileged to be the recipient of the Cornerstone Award for Science. This honor, presented by the institution that put me on the path to my career, is truly one I cherish. I’d like to remind you of our motto – Filiae Nostrae Sicut Antarii Lapide – that our daughters may be as cornerstones. This is taken from the book of Psalms 144 vs 12:

    ‘That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
    that our daughters may be as-corner stones, polished alter the similitude of a palace’

    This is truly a great motto for a women’s college, and epitomizes how transformational Chatham was for many women. I always thought this passage to be interesting – how the sons are plants, which will grow up, but plants also wilt and die, but the daughters, they are the corner stones – that which makes strong the building and without which the building will not stand. I think that Chatham College for Women, was a cornerstone in my life, and I dare say, in the lives of many of our graduates. A world without Chatham College remaining for women only, will be a less strong one.

    I have heard the doom’s day proclamations that Chatham’s undergraduate program must admit men or else it will go under. I respectfully disagree with this proclamation. There are many small, liberal arts co-educational colleges in the greater Pittsburgh area to choose from. Adding Chatham to the mix loses our niche market and we may find fewer students choosing a co-educational Chatham.

    There are other issues, which if addressed, may help Chatham continue as a Women’s college. Recruiting and retaining the Vice President positions in both the Enrollment/Admissions and Institutional Advancement offices, and in key positions within these departments seems to have been a challenge the past few years. In my six years on the Alumnae Board, there were at least three VPs for Enrollment/Admissions, four VPs for Institutional Advancement, three Alumni directors, several annual fund directors, and a complete turnover in staff of Institutional Advancement. These two offices are instrumental in recruiting students and developing relationships that ensure financial stability. The high staff turnover in these two offices is very concerning. The time and money spent training and retraining staff, would be better spent recruiting new students and fully utilizing the alumnae.
    I have been a loyal supporter of Chatham for a very long time. I am extremely disappointed that with very little notice to the alumni body and what seems to me to be very little time to consider this paradigm shift, it appears the Board of Trustees will be voting to forever change the undergraduate college. After careful consideration, and in protest of this, I have decided to suspend my financial support and have so notified the Office of Advancement. I do not do this lightly, but feel it is the only way to express just how strongly I remain in support of all women’s undergraduate education.

    One last thought to the Board of Trustees – please don’t pave paradise. Please delay this vote to allow other voices to be heard and to perhaps find a long term solution that allows Chatham College for Women to continue.

    With a very heavy heart I remain,

    Leslie M. Beres-Sochka
    Class of 1983

  107. Lisandra Rodriguez White, '99 says:

    As a proud alumna who has served as adjunct faculty in the Chatham College for Women, I strongly oppose CCW becoming co-educational. CCW is the soul of Chatham University. Without it you are left with something unexceptional and indistinguishable. I respectfully request that the Board of Trustees delay the vote or vote “no”.

  108. Danae Clark, Adjunct Faculty says:

    I am not a Chatham alumna. I am an adjunct faculty member in the Food Studies program (FST) housed in the Falk School of Sustainability (FSS). Here’s my story:

    I developed two courses for FST (for which I did not receive compensation) and began alternating the teaching of those courses beginning Fall 2011. Last fall I was told my course for Spring 2014 would not be included. Why? Because courses in the Sustainability Studies (SST) part of FSS were not being filled and I was drawing too many students away from full-time SST faculty. The Dean wanted to reduce the number of FST offerings as a way to push up enrollment in SST classes. Food Studies students were not happy. They felt they should not be paying the price for under enrollment in the SST.

    My record speaks for itself. I have maintained high course evaluations, and many students have told me that my courses were the best ones they had taken in FST. I have served on many masters theses and developed strong mentor relationships with students. This spring, two of my former students received the top and runner-up prizes for a graduate student writing competition sponsored by the Association for the Study of Food and Society – one of the main academic organizations in the field. Their articles will be published in the ASFS journal.

    FST students near graduation have told me they are glad to be “getting out while the getting is good.” They see the development of the Eden Hall campus as a folly. Who is going to pay $40,000 to live in a dorm out in the middle of nowhere, they wonder. While many of them admit that the applied courses they have taken at the Eden Hall campus have been valuable, they also know they could have received the same knowledge and skills through farm internships at a fraction of the cost. There is a resurgence of interest in farming across the country. What makes (or could make) the Food Studies program at Chatham special is its academic focus — taking it seriously as an interdisciplinary field of study.

    Here’s the problem with Esther trying to make the Falk School of Sustainability her legacy. Sustainability programs are on a downward trend. If the FSS had been established 10-15 years ago, it would be a different story. But there are now dozens – perhaps hundreds – of similar programs. I predict that all the money being put into the Eden Hall campus is going to severely drain resources from the rest of the college. This is something a “quick fix” like co-education is not going to solve.

    Meanwhile, academic programs in food studies are on an upward trend. In fact, FST has been a cash cow for Chatham. But the program is being stymied in an effort to put most of the apples in the sustainability basket.

    I have enjoyed my time with Chatham graduate students, and I regret that I will no longer be retained as an adjunct faculty member. But it is sad to see the way the Falk School of Sustainability is being mismanaged. Their is so much potential here that is being overlooked.

    Good luck to all of the Chatham women making their voices heard!

    Danae Clark

  109. Dina says:

    Danae Clark, thank you for being frank and honest and speaking out. Faculty should not be treated in the manner EB has allowed to exisit.

  110. Kate Davis says:

    Kate Davis, Class of 2000, Adjunct Professor of Theatre, 2001-2005

    I am opposed to the decision to make Chatham a co-ed institution for all of the reasons my sisters have listed above. I spent 3 1/2 years as a student and about five years as an adjunct staff member at Chatham and thank my sisters for helping me to find my voice and my intellectual spirit. I am who I am today because I decided to attend Chatham after attending the admissions weekend. I had some friends going, and I immediately felt at home. I toured several schools but after meeting faculty and other students, I knew that this was where I belonged.

    And I was proud, when I returned from grad school, to come and teach/direct productions for several years, working alongside my mentors and friends. I watched as teachers were pushed out. I watched the Purnell Theater become a coffee shop. And I moved away just before the end of the theatre program. So a large part of my “Chatham experience” is over already. The decision to become co-ed will be yet another nail in the coffin.

    I’ve always seen Chatham as an institution of learning–and one that was very successful, regardless of enrollment and numbers. But it’s become a business, selling a degree. I was talking to a parent whose daughter recently graduated from Chatham College for Women and she said that the graduation ceremony treated those girls like they were the after-thought and not the heart of this “University”. Too true.

    To my fellow alumnae, I ask you this simple question: What was “your” Chatham? My Chatham was a liberal arts women’s college, dedicated to providing a quality education to the women leaders of tomorrow–we were to become innovators, and intellectuals. Today’s Chatham is very different already. How would we define it today? Small decisions made over time have refocused her and she is not what she once was.

    I said my eulogy years ago. I imagine I will repeat it tomorrow and henceforth be stricken from the record as a Chatham Alumna.


  111. Looks like CCW is not the only one draining money from the graduate programs. It’s not surprising that grad students get angry when their requests for resources–like a workout room at Eastside so they don’t have to take the shuttle up to the AFC–are denied.

  112. Eno Usoro says:

    Dear Dr. Barrazone and the Trustees,

    I am very belatedly adding my voice to the passionate group of Chatham Women expressing displeasure not just at the prospect of Chatham going co-ed, but more importantly at the handling of this entire co-ed discussion. When reading your letter, I was particularly struck by the dismissive tone with which your letter addressed and discussed the allegedly ‘small’ and ‘vocal’ group of alumnae who have taken the lead in presenting the opposition to the co-ed decision. In fact, it disturbed me so much that I (and apparently many of my Chatham sisters) feel moved to break my silence.

    First, I wish to address the fallacy on which your dismissal of the Save Chatham movement rest i.e. that silence means consent. I am ashamed to say I am one of the large group of Chatham women who have, thus far, failed to engage in a debate that will fundamentally change not just my alma mater but my relationship with my alma mater. I have been silent for various reasons. I will be honest and say the tone of some of the communication directed to you (Dr. Barrazone) was a tone with which I could not wholeheartedly concur. I will also be clear in stating that I do not particularly care about the size of your (or truly any member of Chatham’s) compensation package – if it could be convincingly proven to me that it was cutting into Chatham funding, perhaps I would. Finally, as I will explain below, while generally disheartened at the idea that we have come to this pass, I was open to arguments convincing me that co-ed is truly our only option.

    For these reasons and more, I remained silent. Unfortunately, I suspect my silence (and that of many of my sisters) may have contributed to your misconception about the amount of opposition to a co-ed Chatham. If indeed the Save Chatham movement is simply a small and vocal group, the pro-coed group appears even smaller and barely vocal at all. If there is a majority at all, it is likely the silent, somewhat apathetic group to which I formerly belonged. Even amongst this apathetic majority, there are some who, like me; felt a level of opposition but were willing to take advantage of the fact a group of committed Chatham Women who were ready and willing to put in the time, energy and research to develop and state our concerns.

    On the issue of Chatham going co-ed, my instinctive reaction is against the change. Like many, I am proud of having been part of the tradition of women’s college despite the fact I never intended to attend an ‘all-girls school’ and indeed enrolled at Chatham as a stop-gap as I applied to bigger and better. Yet, again like many, I fell in love with the college and ended up surprising myself, my family and my pre-Chatham friends by staying the full four years, graduating with a BA English, BSc. Mathematics and minor in computing. Chatham gave me the opportunity to grow, pursue my interests, build strong female friendships (a skill I had failed to develop until then) and learn to analyse gender issues in a way I doubt I would have picked up in a co-ed environment. It would be a shame if this were to end.

    All the same, I would prefer the College survive even if co-ed were the only means to do so. My problem is that no one has made an honest effort to convince me that co-ed is indeed the only means of survival. As a fairly recent graduate (last decade) I recognize that the College had problems even when I attended. A math faculty of one professor (who I understand has since left) says it all, particularly if Chatham is truly trying to push its STEM faculties. I have heard little, however, about how going co-ed will solve this issue. I have heard little about the improvements to recruiting required to attract this new pool of co-ed students. I have heard little about the actual financial problems facing the College. I am concerned about the survival of our liberal arts tradition, but again, have heard little about the plans envisioned for the liberal arts program.

    In fact I have heard very little at all about anything beyond the announcement that Chatham is considering going co-ed. I count myself fortunate to have received that email at all since I recently took active steps to get myself back on the alumni register. I fail to see how I was lost in the first place, seeing as I am still using the same email address I was using in my teens – well before even joining Chatham. The fact I was not receiving alumni mails from Chatham until this year is a failure that stems right from my graduation when Chatham failed to successfully transition its graduating class into active alumnae. I could embark on a discussion of the many ways in which Chatham has failed to engage with and utilize its alumni association, but this has already been addressed by many. It is sufficient to second their views.

    Assuming that despite the lack of information, Chatham is indeed in a position that requires a shift to co-ed, my letter is not so much a request not to do so as a heartfelt expression of my dismay that matters were allowed to deteriorate to such a point. Like many of my Chatham sisters I wonder how this was allowed to happen. Unfortunately, I cannot shake the sense that this is a decision that has been in the works for longer than we know. I visited the campus some years ago, not long after it became Chatham University, and my sense then, as it is now, was that at some point the vision for Chatham changed. As one who lived the original vision, whose application letter was on what it means to be a ‘World Ready Woman’, seeing the College being undermined of the years has been painful to watch. Seeing a Chatham College that dismisses the views of its alumnae, a Chatham College that calls the police to stop a peaceful protest of Chatham Women, a Chatham College that bars its Women from the grounds, a Chatham College that ignores the wishes of its Student Government to invite alumnae to a discussion on the future of the College….is heartbreaking.

    I cannot honestly say I know whether Chatham should go co-ed or not. What I can speak to is the handling of this discussion by the Chatham administration and I am deeply disappointed. A previous commenter mentioned a plan to sell her Chatham ring and I am sorry to say I can relate with her. That class ring has been my ring of choice since graduation. Even after graduating from other (far) higher ranked universities and obtaining rings from them, I continued to wear the Chatham ring…until this week when for the first time I found that when faced with a choice to pack my Chatham ring or my Columbia ring (or both) for a trip, I could not bring myself to pack the Chatham ring. For the first time, I picked my Columbia ring instead.

    Whatever Chatham decides, I hope steps will be taken to cure this rift being created with Chatham’s alumnae. I want to thank those alumnae who have taken time from their busy schedules to engage in this debate. I wish you and Chatham the very best.


    Eno Usoro
    Class of 2006

  113. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this statement, Dr. Clark.

  114. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this. As one of the “small, but passionate” singled out in Dr. Barazzone’s response, I am honored that you have found your voice to support us.

  115. Christina Griffin, '07 says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous.

  116. Deborah Morrison says:

    Thank you for speaking out.

    I was opposed to the idea of going coed from the start. But I honestly believed that President Barazzone and the Board of Trustees wanted to do what was best for Chatham, and wanted feedback and ideas from the alumnae. What I’ve seen over the past two months has changed that belief.

    I’ve been shocked at the condescending, dismissive and sometimes hostile response to alumnae who have expressed their opposition to eliminating the College for Women and have asked for more information. I was appalled that a small group of peaceful alumnae protesters were thrown off campus.

    Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m afraid that the alma mater I loved is already gone.

  117. Pam Fabish Allison '74 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I see nothing that makes me believe coeducation is the answer. Why not put the effort into recruiting more women since Chatham College has always been an all-women’s college. I’m damned proud to state that I graduated from Chatham College…..if it becomes a coed institution, I will feel very differently about my alma mater.

  118. Kara Lewis, '96 says:

    Dear Dr. Barrazone and the Chatham Board of Trustees,

    I entered Chatham in 1992 soon after you, Dr. Barrazone, became President of Chatham College during a time of financial distress. You immediately set forth changing the nature of the school. You closed liberal arts departments that had been there for years, added graduate programs, and brought men onto campus for the first time. As a result, some students transferred out and many professors left. Those who stayed were told the changes would save Chatham College; that the changes were necessary to prevent the undergraduate school from becoming co-ed. We needed to accept some difficult changes for the long term benefit. So we put our faith in you, Dr. Barrazone, that Chatham and its legacy of women’s education had been preserved.

    And here we are 22 years later. The very consequences that you insisted we would avoid are now the changes that you are advocating. How soon we forget? You saw the hailstorm that you walked into 22 years ago, when the previous President suggested becoming co-ed. Did you honestly think this would be easy? Did you think that after spending 22 years systematically changing Chatham College that revisiting coeducation would be met with support?

    Understand Dr. Barrazone, that what you are now suggesting is not like closing a department, adding a building to the campus, or tagging “University” onto the school’s name. You are suggesting that we change the reason why the school was originally founded: Filiae Nostrae Sicut Antarii Lapides. If you do not ultimately see the results that you expect from this change, what then? There are no second chances this time… no do-overs. You will have changed the very foundation of what makes Chatham a distinctive choice for young women in Pittsburgh and the world.

    I urge you to delay this decision until you have truly examined all possibilities for CCW’s future.

    Kara Lewis, BA History/Philosophy 1996


  119. Kathleen A Ferraro Class of 1972 says:

    Alumnae from the 1970s and 1980s will remember Dr. Fred Adelman, anthropologist, scholar, teacher, and powerful advocate for equality and social justice. Virginia Eskridge, Dr. Adelman’s widow, sent me this message via Facebook and asked that I share it here:

    May 1 would have been Fred’s 84th birthday. He loved that it was on that date because of its significance for the Labor Movement.

    If he were still here, I am sure he would support Chatham remaining a women’s college. He was one of the few true male feminists I have ever had the privilege to know, which was a major reason I loved him so much.

    I, together with Fred (in absentia) send our love and respect to all at #saveChatham.”

  120. Liana Dragoman says:

    As a Chatham College for Women alumna from the class of 1999, as a former faculty member of the undergraduate college, and in solidarity with 2000 + alumnae and supporters of the institution, I oppose the resolution to turn Chatham College for Women into a co-ed undergraduate institution. The arguments for going co-ed are alarmingly unconvincing. They do not out way the benefits of keeping Chatham College for Women…for women.

  121. Deborah Morrison, Class of 1977 says:

    Dr. Adelman (a/k/a “Adelperson”) was my freshman adviser back in 1973. He was a wonderful man and always encouraged us to stand up and fight for what we believed was right. If he were still here, I bet he’d be on campus today with the protesters.

  122. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    As would Dr. Nan Pendrell…And Dr. Frank Lackner…And Dr. Frank Bonn…and Tom McKechnie…and Dr. Doug Chaffey…

    Sandy Kuritzky, ’73

  123. Tricia Chicka says:

    Thank you Eno, for adding your voice. I too find it most disconcerting that the administration is creating a culture of silence and one-sided conversation on campus. Coed or all-women, it’s not a Chatham that I would support.

  124. Tricia Chicka says:

    Thanks for adding your voice Danae! Your story illustrates one of the main reasons I feel that enrollment has not been able to hold steady in recent years. The lack of investment in the faculty. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this does not only apply for CCW, but for the grad programs and SoS as well.

  125. Rebekah Heilman says:

    May 1, 2014

    To Members of the Board of Trustees of Chatham University:

    On this momentous and somber day, I write to no simply implore the Board of Directors to delay a vote on a “proposal” for co-education, I also write to provide information to Board of Trustees members, to ask important and cogent questions, and to plead with those Board of Trustees members who are objective, disinterested, unconflicted and committed to observing their fiduciary duties to with regard to Chatham University and Chatham College for Women. I understand that by now many of you will be decided upon a course of action, but I intend to set forth information within this letter which you must have in order to truly decide the question which has been posted and to perform your duties in accordance with your fiduciary duty.

    Without question, I oppose a decision to go co-ed. I am a Lutheran, I am a feminist, I am a post-modernist, an existentialist, a lawyer, a professional negotiator, and a critical optimist. Based on my identity, I believe that the only way to really understand the reasons and motives behind any proposal for change is to rigorously question information presented by those in power. I believe that a painful period of examination always leads to truth and liberation. I believe that is only in perceiving power distance and educating ourselves to overcome gaps in power and information that we can self-actualize.

    Certainly, I cannot, within this letter, make any of you understand what it feels like to be socially marginalized, to feel powerless, to feel voiceless, to be feel objectified, to feel vulnerable physically, and to struggle to self-actualize. Even if I cannot convince you to embrace Chatham’s historic purpose, I can and must remind you that it is your duty to uphold that purpose first and foremost. Chatham a non-profit corporation first and foremost and as such its Board must function to preserve its health and existence to the extent that such efforts support its mission. I believe that each of you must understand that your fiduciary duties are not limited to fiscal health and that they extend to preserving Chatham’s historic corporate purpose. Within a for profit corporation Boards are encouraged to focus on maximizing shareholder wealth. Such is not the case within a non-profit institution. Alumnae and students are the corporation’s shareholders, and are authorized under law to bring a derivative lawsuit against the Board following today’s vote, and, clearly, we are not concerned with wealth. Many of us have even articulated that if Chatham’s original chartered non-profit purpose is now obsolete that Chatham is “better off dead than co-ed.” Understand that countless non-profit organizations dissolve each year because their non-profit missions have been achieved. I am not writing this letter to argue that single-sex education is obsolete, rather, I am arguing the opposite. Certainly, if single-sex education is truly unnecessary and obsolete and our nation’s problems of sex inequality are entirely resolved, than yes, our historic single-sex education purpose would be obsolete Chatham or any other non-profit organization with a missing of addressing sex-inequities and discrimination could dissolve. I am writing to encourage the Board to refocus its concerns and effort away from wealth maximization, which is a for profit goal, and toward preserving a still cogent mission. The Board of Trustees of an institution with a historic purpose of providing single-sex undergraduate education cannot ignore that mission to focus on wealth maximization. Such is the parlance of a for-profit Board. Any vote of a non-profit Board which is based on maximizing the wealth is not in accordance with charitable law, corporation law, and common law.

    Chatham is not only a non-profit corporation, but also, a private corporation which has been treated by the courts as akin to a public institution. Chatham has received state funding to such an extent that in the past it has been held be federal courts have already held it to be tantamount to a “state actor” under the law. (See Pendrell v. Chatham College, 370 F. Supp. 494 (1974)). It is my position that the Chatham Board of Trustees must understand that given its receipt of public dollars, including recent National Science Foundation monies, it must behave like a public corporation and not a closely held family/private corporation. The Board must behave in such an ethical manner as is expected of any Board of any corporation. With certainty, the Board must adhere to state and federal common law and Pennsylvania statutes governing corporations and non-profit entities. These extend well beyond Title IV and include numerous other state statutes and case law speaking to Board term limits, Board conduct, and revision of Articles of Incorporation, and Board composition and governance. These include all statutes and case law addressing corporate Board ethics.

    Business ethics require that Boards of Trustees consciously consider what is right and what is wrong and take responsible ethical courses of action in all business operations given the impact of decisions on alumnae, students, and the community at large. Alumnae are primary stakeholders who will feel a direct impact based on the Board’s decision and will suffer direct consequences as a result of the decision. Many times Boards must resolve dilemmas without a clear indication of what is right or wrong. If one chooses to accept all information presented by the President and present managers and officers of Chatham it is understandable that Board members might feel that the “right” choice is clear. However, I write to ask you to consider information I am about to set forth, and to ask that, after receiving this information you reevaluate what you have arrived at as the “right” decision. I believe that once Board members are confronted with information about actual and possible conflicts of interest, wrongful use of resources, mismanagement of assets, questionable contracts and new for-profit ventures obscured from shareholders that the decision which is to be made today will no longer be clear.

    Board members and officers owe alumnae and students (shareholders) the fiduciary duties of care and loyalty. Breaching those duties can result in personal liability for Board members and officers. The duty of care requires that all members always at in good faith and that they when voting, must act as an objectively prudent person would in the same situation under the same circumstances. Last, they must be loyal and exercise their vote in a manner which is reasonable calculated to advance the best interests of the corporation (both monetarily and with regard to its corporate purpose). A Board member will fail in their role if they act negligently, fail to act with due diligence, act with private financial self-interest, fail to acquire the best material information on a topic/proposal, or “rubber stamp” a proposal. Board members should never rely on the expertise or assurances of others (including officers, managers, and staff) to fulfill their duty of care if the Board member has any reason to doubt the expertise, information, or competence of that individual.

    I write to present information that I feel should be considered by the Board. I am not encouraging the Board to rely on this information without individually and independently verifying the contents of this letter. I am writing with information which may not have been shared, thus far, with all Board members, as it has not been discussed openly in public forums. I write to encourage Board members to ensure to fulfill their obligation to perform their own individual due diligence, so as to insulate themselves from any claims of negligence or other liability.

    One must not assume that the rationale, information, and justifications one has received are correct. We must reveal truth ourselves. As Mary Daly reminded us, “Courage to ‘be’ is the key to the revelatory power of the feminist revolution.” And, as I say, the power to reveal gives courage to feminists.

    Please carefully consider that several Chatham Board of Trustees members have been financially self-interested beyond what is disclosed in the institutions Schedule L of its Form 990 and that a proposal that aims to increase the study body will lead to increased self-profit. Additionally, it appears that Board members and other managers intend to engage in producing power on the Eden Hall campus vis a vis for-profit corporations connected to Chatham. These profit driven ventures should be explored to better understand what profits will be derived and what individuals or corporations will profit from these ventures. It is possible that these ventures indicate additional self-profit on the part of Board members beyond that disclosed on 900’s.
    Form 990’s tell us that the President and Board members are involved as Board members and managers at Dollar Bank. It appears from public property records (which include certain leases) that Dollar Bank is involved in a lease with Chatham which, in exchange for a commitment of ongoing tenancy expects Chatham to promise to bring applications for loans to Dollar Bank. It appears that Dollar Bank has provided mortgage financing for the Eden Hall parcels. Inquiry reveals that aside from the parcel donated by the Eden Hall Family Foundation, Chatham now has an ownership interest in several other parcels adjacent to the Eden Hall Family Foundation parcel. Public recorded UCC filing (financing agreements) include numerous references to “existing and future” mineral, oil, and gas privileges and easements. Those documents also reference “power and total energy production” equipment, including pipelines and other mining and extraction equipment. GIS and other maps indicate that oil and gas fields exist in the vicinity of the Eden Hall parcel. On October 8, 2013, a private for-profit corporation named Eden Hall Solar, LCC was formed and filed documents with the Pennsylvania Department of State. Eden Hall Solar, LLC is connected to a current Board member. Additionally, and rather coincidentally, on October 22, 2013, another private for-profit entity whose registered corporate address is Chatham’s campus (Woodland Road) named Chatham Investments, LCC. was formed and registered with the Bureau of Corporations. What, if anything, do Board of Trustees members, students, alumnae and the community at large in Pittsburgh and Richland Township know about these new corporations which apparently are engaged in for-profit power production ventures? Who will profit from these ventures? Even if these ventures are limited to solar production and profit generation it should be clear who will profit. These questions and many others should be asked and answered.

    Form 990’s tell us that a Board of Trustees member is the CEO of the UPMC Health Plan and it is widely known that Chatham students are now billed for insurance plans through that company, which passes hundreds of thousands of dollars to UPMC Health Plan each year. A move to co-education which would increase overall student body and health insurance plans would certainly raise the revenue Chatham directs to UPMC Health Plan and that Board member.

    Form 990’s tell us that a Board of Trustees member has a substantial business interest in the Parkhurst Corporation which provides campus dining services. A move to co-education which would increase overall student body and health insurance plans would certainly raise the revenue Chatham directs to Parkhurst Corporation and that Board member.

    We are being encouraged to view all fiscal management as in accordance with the duties of care and loyalty owed to us as constituents. However, it is clear from 990’s that Chatham not only carries what Form 990’s reference as “Bad Debt” but that Board members and offices also decided to directed 10 million dollars toward a bond scheme involving the McKeesport Industrial Development Authority prior 2010. The bond scheme itself, which was the second bond scheme initiated by the McKeesport Industrial Development Authority appears to have been reported in the press as a bit of a boondoggle given problems with both the first and second bond offerings. After investing 10 million dollars and creating significant short fall tying funds up in such a scheme, the Board then further invested more than a million dollars in 2011 just to refinance that poor bond “investment?” Why bail out another entity given our allegedly precarious financial situation? Did this large bad investment contribute to the present problem? How were the funds invested in the bond scheme to be used? Were any of the bond scheme funds, after being passed to McKeesport Industrial Development Authority, directed to renovation projects involving UPMC facilities in the east end of Pittsburgh? And with regard to Chatham’s interest in renovating UPMC facilities, was it sound to invest significant funds renovating a UPMC facility for a graduate health science program and then abandon that project? When, if ever, were the funds spent renovating space ever recouped? Last, was it sound to abandon a local graduate health science clinical training opportunity in favor of a graduate health science immersion program in the Central America (Puerto Rico), which has now cost Chatham in excess of five million dollars. Couldn’t we provide clinical immersion opportunities for graduate students in needy areas of the United States for far less of a capital investment.

    Finally, I would like to speak briefly about Board due diligence with regard to a 2007 amendment to the Articles of Incorporation which removed the institutions historic purpose of educating women-only. Did Chatham Board of Trustees members (present and former) know that they voted in 2007 to remove the colleges “women’s only” purpose? Or, did they believe that the change approved was only a “name change” to “Chatham University” as publicized in press articles, The Recorder and The Communique? Board members’ reactions during town hall meetings and days and written statements issued by Board members over the past 60 indicate that several Board members were not aware that they were changing the institution’s corporate purpose and opening up Pandora’s box with regard to Title IX and possible sex-discrimination claims for the period of time in which Chatham operated without offering undergraduate degrees to men. Why were legal notices provided in 2007 limited only to a change to “University” when, the legal notices filed by other women’s colleges (such as Wilson College) set upon altering their historic women’s only purpose, gave clear notice to stakeholders that they intended to change the entities’ chartered purpose? Why did Chatham not provide such explicit notice of its change in corporate purpose in 2007? Did Board members understand that after removing our historic and legally protected purpose of educating only women in 2007 that we would be henceforth barred from excluding men under Title IX if we determined to accept public funds, as Title IX requires those women’s only institutions forfeiting their “grandfathered” status to begin provide equal educational opportunities for men. Are you aware that under Title XV (Pennsylvania Corporations Law) legal notice is not “constructive notice” of a change in corporate documents and statutes of limitations regarding such corporate changes do not begin to run upon publication?

    Following the 2007 charter change, were changes in marketing made that impacted enrollment and income in the women’s college? Were changes made to recruitment and admissions practices (including staff turnover) after the 2007 charter change removing the “women’s only” purpose and, if so, were those changes made intentionally to avoid liability under Title IX/sex discrimination lawsuits (as public records show) and did they result in lower enrollment, changes in admissions policies, and decreased income and or legal expenses defending sex-discrimination suits.

    Were high turnover among alumnae affairs and institutional advancement staff also to blame, as alumnae have reported that endowed scholarships themselves were “lost” during staff turnover and only reestablished after alumnae donors noted deficiencies in distribution? Additionally, numerous alumnae have reported publicly the institution failing to follow through on requests to volunteer and the fact that alumnae involved in the “Annual Fund Leadership Committee” report that alumnae committee is not functioning due to staff turnover. Written statements regarding misplaced restricted gifts and the atrophy of staff connections to alumnae interested in volunteering and fundraising have been well documented over the past 60 days.

    These facts must be known to the entire Chatham community, in particular Board members. These questions must be answered and responses provided to the entire Chatham community. You must act to fulfill your fiduciary duties and do so ethically. You must have enough correct information to make the “right” decision. The information I have shared indicates that what is “right or wrong” regarding the impending decision remains to be seen. More audits, investigations, research and time are required in order for the Chatham Board of Trustees to say that each member observed his or her fiduciary duties and made an ethical decision. Please know that we demand accountability and that a vote in favor of co-education will not stop our movement.

    The decisions you make are not only your legacy, but ours as well. Will your legacy be that of private profiteering among Board members? To what extent is the institution willing to encourage and sanction such self-profiting? Will more than 145 years of educating women be abandoned simply to maximize wealth, and to maximize wealth for conflicted self-profiting Board members. Should Board members with conflicts of interest and those who have acknowledged self-profiting be permitted to vote on a proposal from which they will increase their profits?

    I trust that you will act with care and loyalty. If you are not profiting in your role as a Trustee please use the power you objectivity brings to reveal truth. Onward and Upward!

    Rebekah Heilman, Esq.
    Class of 2000

  126. Eno Usoro says:

    Thanks for this well-researched brief. I, for one, had no idea about the Charter amendment until yesterday.

    Eno Usoro ’06

  127. Nancy Chubb says:

    Shame on you, Esther and the board of trustees. May Chatham women haunt you dreams forever.

  128. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    I agree, Nancy!

    I’ve just rec’d my “canned” Esther explanation, and one of the Phila. group has just rec’d an email from Advancement advising they’d be in touch in the next week or so, since she had informed them that she’s taking Chatham off her “list”.

    Not that it makes a difference, but I’ll be sending EB a response to her “canned” explanation telling them of my impending donation to Bryn Mawr, once I’ve sold my college ring. I’ll also asked to be removed from all lists. CU has as much meaning to me as any other non-profit who’s looking for my hard-earned money and couldn’t give a horse’s patoot about the things I care about.

    RIP Chatham.

    Sandy Kuritzky, ’73

  129. Sally Davoren says:

    I’m going to start telling people that the college I attended no longer exists, because that is the truth. And it will be true for the whole shootin’ match in a few short years, because the Falk Center for Sustainability is a big, money-sucking fiasco that will pull all of you under.

    Sally Davoren
    Class of 1972

  130. Randi Anderson '82 says:

    Today is a day of mourning because the people entrusted with the care of our beloved institution, Chatham College for Women, have basically knifed it in the back. I fervently oppose this decision to go coed because no one has shown me any proof that this will increase admissions. This decision was rammed through too quickly. The Chatham community gave their input in the very short amount of time given but did you even consider any of the great suggestions? This decision should have at least been postponed to allow time to consider the suggested alternatives. You obviously knew what your decision would be months ago and just gave us the opportunity to vent so you could say we had input into the decision. Goodbye Chatham College for Women. I will remember how you gave me the opportunity to learn without feeling threatened by the presence of males in the classroom. I feel sorry for the current and future women attending since they will lose the sisterhood that was Chatham.

  131. Adrienne Query-Fiss says:

    Goodbye Chatham College for Women. The co-educational Chatham University will not see a cent from me.

    Adrienne Query-Fiss
    Proud CCW Alumna, Class of 2005

  132. Deborah Morrison, Class of 1977 says:

    Someday the Trustees will realize this decision was a big mistake. But it will be too late. Chatham College for Women is gone forever.

  133. Rebecca Varno '98 says:

    Shame on the Trustees! Your job was to care for and allow Chatham College for Women to survive and thrive. I hope you all awake today with deep pangs of guilt. To wipe away 145+ years of history will one (too quick) vote will forever be a mark upon YOUR RECORD. My college is dead, and today I mourn the loss of her. Chatham College for Women, forever in our hearts.

  134. Crystal L. Fleming, Class of 1996 says:

    I was one of the 2% – the women who actively sought out a women’s college. In 1992 I was over the moon to be accepted to CHATHAM COLLEGE (not CU, not some stepchild you pretended was for women but clearly was not). Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would later become part of another statistic – those whose undergraduate alma mater no longer exists. Chatham is dead. Her 145 years of history, tradition and sisterhood were murdered by Esther Barazzone and her henchmen. I will not support, recommend or speak well of CU.

    For many years I was not in a position to financially contribute to CHATHAM COLLEGE. Now I am. But let me assure you that my hard-earned money will never darken CU’s doorstep. Instead, it and my employer’s 100% matching funds will go to support a true women’s college. A women’s college where their students and alumnae are respected as opposed to censored via social media and penned into so-called “Free Speech Zones.”

    What you have done today is a black mark on the history of women’s education. You disgust me.

  135. Sarah says:

    Esther failed the job she was hired for. All those years ago she was brought in to save Chatham. Chatham would not fail us if we do not fail her. I ask Esther to think long and hard about who failed this week. Answer: ESTHER. You may have killed our women’s college but you’ll never kill our sisterhood. Maybe if Esther had been a Chatham woman she would have understood why saving Chatham was so important. Instead she had visions of dollar signs dancing in her head. The most despicable part of this entire debacle is the announcement that not only are you taking Chatham coed but you’ve already fundraised for Chatham’s watered down women’s institute. Esther has been constantly offended when we’ve accused her of lying throughout this process. She needs to take Psych 101 again and learn about lies of omission.

  136. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    More to come thanks to the SC ladies. Check out SC and the Crowd Hall info.
    Sandy Kuritzky

  137. Kelly says:

    In the immortal words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “BIG mistake. Big! Huge! I have to go shopping (for other women’s colleges to help now)! Bye!”

  138. Sheila Confer says:

    While I know my objections will continue to be characterized as those of just another emotional and nostalgic woman (oh the irony), I will say this anyway. Shame on you. I look forward to the continued work of the Save Chatham movement. While the Chatham I knew is no more, I will still fight with my sisters to preserve the ideals of that Chatham. Unfortunately, those efforts will not be focused on a small Shadyside campus but elsewhere where the value of a single sex education is still valued.

  139. Crystal L. Fleming, Class of 1996 says:


  140. Lisa S says:

    The fact that Chatham was a women’s college was the reason I went there. The beautiful campus and everything else was just a bonus. I’m so sad, I feel like I have lost part of myself and had no choice in the matter. So glad my daughter decided not to go to Chatham after all. I never thought I would say those words.

  141. Rachel Lenzi says:

    The federal government released yesterday a list of 55 institutions that are being investigated for potential Title IX violations, not limited to but including sexual assault and sexual harassment. As a co-educational institution, Chatham now has a whole new set of issues and ramifications it must educate itself upon.

    And I will not financially or intellectually enable this type of learning environment.

  142. Christina Mars (Class of 2000) says:

    Shame on you Trustees. Shame on you Esther.

    Thanks for never listening to what Alumnae have to contribute. You made us what we are, yet we’re the first you cast aside.

    I have more money now to donate to Chatham than I did when I was in my 20s. Too bad you will no longer be getting any of it from me.

    Good luck in your future. It will be bumpy and I’m sorry to see that you’re not going to be around much longer. You have nothing to offer anymore.

    I guess it’s all in memories now.

  143. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    Thanks for the post and link, Rachel.
    Sandy Kuritzky

  144. Deborah Morrison, Class of 1977 says:

    I was one of the 98%. I never considered attending a women’s college until I found Chatham.

    The attitude of high school girls hasn’t changed since Chatham College for Women’s peak enrollment just 6 years ago. Students would come to a women’s college if it was properly marketed. “Chatham University” is what changed.

    Even sadder than the fact that Chatham College no longer exists is the disgusting way this whole thing was handled over the past 2 months.

  145. Amy Kay says:

    Just another example of why Esther Barrazone should step down. All interactions with alumni during this process have been childish, defensive, and unprofessional. She can’t even get through this letter without blaming others for her upset and getting personal.

    Let it be clear to all who read this. Esther Barrazone has been the leader in an action that has destroyed the legacy of Chatham College. Any lip service to a continued focus on its women and the future of women is just that, lip service. She can’t even honor, respect, or appropriately converse with the strong women Chatham College honed, let alone properly support our daughters.

    She should be ashamed. The board should be ashamed. It is disgusting.

  146. Julie Miller says:

    I mourn the loss of this incredible institution, which created leaders, advocates, and sisters. I mourn for the future women of Chatham College, who will never know or experience the college experience that we had there.

    Chatham College helped me find my voice, which sadly, over these past 13 years since I graduated I didn’t always have or believe. My silver lining, in her last final hurrah, once again Chatham College helped reignite a spirit inside of me to continue her fight for women’s education. My passion will continue on that path, sadly, not with that previously awesome little school on the top of a hill in Pittsburgh.

    “getting over it” for me includes moving on and fighting this fight…elsewhere.

  147. Tricia Chicka says:

    I too am removing my support from Chatham, with the except of some current students in the drama club (which shouldn’t be a CLUB but at least a program offering a minor). I am profoundly sad to do this, but I cannot in good conscience remain supporting an institution that no longer supports goals with which I identify.

    On this vein, I think you should have been a little more cognizant of how you were treating alumnae in this process if you were hoping to provide MENTORING for the undergraduate women. Burning bridges is not a good way to build alumnae support for this effort.

    Fair well Chatham College for Women, Chatham College, Pennsylvania College for Women. You will be missed, but your spirit will carry on with us… sadly, not at Woodland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA.

  148. Sue says:

    You have taken our alma mater from us. Fortunately, you can never take the experiences that have shaped us into the women we are today.

  149. Asia Mitchell '08 says:

    Chatham you have failed. The Board of Trustee’s decision to allow all undergraduate programs to become co-educational is not testimony to the inclusion of women in higher education. The decision is evidence of a lack of far-sighted vision and appropriate leadership to maintain and promote a 145 year legacy of educating women. No one has won in this decision; not Chatham’s administration, board of trustees, faculty, staff, past or present students. Chatham ultimately will lose the support of countless alumnae, including myself. I will forever and always advocate for the existence of women’s colleges. However, I can no longer support an institution in which the leadership lacks transparency towards its alumnae.

  150. Nancy Taylor says:

    Chatham was my home for 6 years, a place where I found family, where I came into myself. So much of who I am now is because Chatham nurtured me into confidence. I am saddened for the many girls who will not learn what it feels like to be part of a true sisterhood. Chatham College will always remain a part of my heart, but Chatham University will no longer make it into my checkbook.

  151. Rebekah Heilman says:

    Yes, we removed our historic purpose of educating women in 2007. We were not told that was occurring. We then lost an admission director after that and we were told at a town hall it was because he didn’t want to recruit for Chatham College for Women. I believe that he understood the charter change and felt it was not appropriate to recruit for a single-sex institution since we opened ourselves up to coverage under Title IX and would technically be discriminating against men by remaining a women’s college. If 2007 Board of Trustees members did not know what they were doing, shame on them, the filings indicate that the Board read and voted on the changed charter. I am ashamed myself for not being more vigilant and when I asked in a town hall alumnae weekend if “university” status was a precursor to going co-ed EB assured me it was not. Alas, that very amendment made us co-educational. In 2012 I believe that Chatham had a Perkins loan violation. Also, it is my understand that Admissions changed its policy to allow trans-men admission based on a sex-discrimination claim brought by a trans-male applicant aware of Title IX applicability. Legal costs related to some of these things are discussed in public documents. Frankly, its a shame that we have been told that as alumnae we are to blame for the need for this vote to go co-ed when apparently the decision was made 7 years ago.

  152. Rebekah Heilman says:

    Yes, we removed our historic purpose of educating women in 2007. We were not told that was occurring. We then lost an admission director after that and we were told at a town hall it was because he didn’t want to recruit for Chatham College for Women. I believe that he understood the charter change and felt it was not appropriate to recruit for a single-sex institution since we opened ourselves up to coverage under Title IX and would technically be discriminating against men by remaining a women’s college. If 2007 Board of Trustees members did not know what they were doing, shame on them, the filings indicate that the Board read and voted on the changed charter. I am ashamed myself for not being more vigilant and when I asked in a town hall alumnae weekend if “university” status was a precursor to going co-ed EB assured me it was not. Alas, that very amendment made us co-educational. In 2012 I believe that Chatham had a Perkins loan violation. Also, it is my understand that Admissions changed its policy to allow trans-men admission based on a sex-discrimination claim brought by a trans-male applicant aware of Title IX applicability. Legal costs related to some of these things are discussed in public documents. Frankly, its a shame that we have been told that as alumnae we are to blame for the need for this vote to go co-ed when apparently the decision was made 7 years ago.

  153. Rebekah Heilman says:

    And incredible, thoughtful, intelligent, creative, compassionate, strong women we are!

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