Facebook group of alumni aims to “Save Guilford”

20 Guilford College faculty have been cut, including 15 tenured professors, according to Fox 8 News.  

20 majors have been cut from Guilford College as well, according to the Instagram page “Students Reclaiming Guilford.” These majors include chemistry, philosophy, math, education studies, political science and religious studies. 

Interim President Carol Moore has stated that this will have a minor effect on current students who are intending on graduating with one of the discontinued majors at Guilford College.

However, the President has not been able to follow up on students’ fears with any kind of solid plan as to how current students can continue to take their required courses once their major is cut and the teachers for the major are let go. 

“It means that we will not be bringing any more new students to Guilford for that discontinued major,” Moore explained at a Town Hall meeting. 

For those whose majors are being phased out, Moore stated,“You will work with your advisor and your Guilford guide to plan out the remainder of your time at Guilford… and we will ensure (that) courses are available to you…”

“It is possible that you will have to travel to another college and take a few courses on their campus through the consortium program (to graduate on time),” stated Moore. “But we are going to try our best to make sure all of your required courses are here for you.” 

The fact that students might have to travel to other college campuses in order to complete major requirements is concerning to Quaker students and parents alike. It would require students to supply their own means of transportation to travel to another college, which not everyone is able to do during these unprecedented times. 

At a Town Hall meeting held on Nov. 6, Moore did discuss general recommendations for Guilford College’s future, such as developing new undergraduate and graduate programs (that are in demand), launching a new CCE program model, creating an office for career/internships/experiential learning by combining other offices and reviewing and restructuring (as appropriate) athletics. 

Many social media pages have emerged in response to the proposed changes regarding the College, including a Facebook page named “Save Guilford.” The purpose of these pages is pretty self-explanatory. 

“The name (Save Guilford) says it all, really. The group was founded to rally support for preserving Guilford College as we know it: an innovative liberal arts college, forward-looking yet firmly rooted in its rich history as the only Quaker college in the Southeast,” explained Ellen Yutzy Glebe, Guilford ’01. 

The proposals are “not a done deal,” explained Emily Martin, Facebook Administrator for the Save Guilford College Group.

“This is just a proposal, and we are confident that through the combined efforts of staff, faculty, students, parents, and alumni, that we can come up with a plan that better reflects the mission and values of the school, is attractive to prospective students, and continues to be a beacon of light in the community,” Martin said.

Therefore, it is important that the community does everything it can to have their voices heard regarding the proposal before it is approved. 

Christian Matheis stated there are alternatives that the College could take instead of the proposed cuts and changes, such as progressive salary reductions and expanding the academic program. The faculty cuts at Guilford have left Christian Matheis unemployed. 

“I was recruited and hired in 2018 to contribute to the Guilford Edge,” said Matheis. 

Matheis went on to explain he that did so wholeheartedly, not because he thought it was or was not a good model, but because he really wanted to teach at Guilford given its reputation and history. Matheis even gave up a secure, higher-paying position with a large research budget to come to Guilford.

“There is a typical annual job cycle for academic teaching and research positions,” Matheis added. “Faculty job markets usually open in August with application deadlines in October and November. Those of us who have been fired have no way to go back in time and search for new jobs in the academic job cycle. I will likely be unemployed or unemployed for the next year or more.

“It is important to know that faculty were told we would have a full terminal year receiving notification of termination,” Matheis said. At one point we thought that meant we would be employed until spring 2022. Then we were informed we would only have until December 2021. Then the interim president and trustees moved it up to May 2021. My best guess is that I will not have a full-time job and income in my field or any related field until sometime in 2022 based on the usual job market. Some senior faculty and those who built all or most of their careers at Guilford may never work in academia again.” 

The College’s future hangs in an uncertain balance due to these changes. This raises lingering questions as to how the college will continue to run effectively and how it will recruit new students at the rate it needs to, to stay up and running.

“Guilford College changed my life,” said Guilford alum Emily Martin ’11. “I grew up in a small town in the western part of the state and had no idea what I wanted to pursue in college. I found my place at Guilford among a diverse study body, brilliant and inspiring professors and supportive staff. I felt like a valuable part of a community and it has been my mission since, a constant work in progress, to help others feel this same sense of value.”

If Guilford College did not offer the majors of philosophy and sociology back then (both majors are proposed to be discontinued now), Martin might have never attended Guilford.

Both of Glebe’s with which she graduated from Guilford, history and German, are slated for elimination currently as well. 

Instagram accounts created by Guilford community members to help students stay informed regarding the upcoming changes at Guilford have grown tremendously in their following size and popularity. 

The “Save Guilford” Instagram account went from 97 followers to 188 in a five-day period, nearly doubling the number of followers supporting the cause. 

In addition to the “Save Guilford” Facebook page, “Students Reclaiming Guilford” and “Guilford In The Know” are some of the Instagram accounts that have been created by devoted current students and Guilford alumni to help spread awareness pertaining to current issues. These accounts also inform students about upcoming events, meetings, protests and peaceful ways to  their voices heard by the College. 

“The social media pages have already accomplished what they were created to do: make people who care about Guilford aware of the potential end of the College, and the recent and ongoing elimination of academic integrity” explained Christian Matheis. “The social media pages call students in to advocate for the use of fair, imaginative, well-reasoned and wise strategies.” 

Even though the circumstances are far from ideal, this situation has allowed people to see first-hand how influential and powerful Guilford students, alumni and professors are when they are connected and working together. 

The hard work and noticeable efforts that Quakers are putting in to ensure the future of Guilford College is drawing recognition from alumni, professors and news stations alike. 

“I am inspired by the work students are doing on campus,” Martin said. “I support that work and know they are doing it in the spirit of Guilford, representing and fighting for the values that Guilford should uphold.”

The future of our beloved Quaker Nation is more unknown than ever before.

However, it is evident that our communities’ dedication, resilience and drive to fight for our College and what is right, is a direct reflection of our College’s exceptional character. And therefore what makes Guilford College truly such a special place, and so worth fighting for.