19 July 2010

Western Reserve Academy: Open Letter

Thomas Moore
Director of Publications
Western Reserve Academy

115 College Street
Hudson, OH 44236

Dear Mr. Moore:

I've received the Spring 2010 Alumni Record, an impressive document. It packages WRA's purpose: a narrative to alumni on the Special Report: The Future of WRA.
I see a summary of corporate process for alumni whose giving helps sustain it. I see content as process to clarify corporate goals. I see a packaged presentation, worthy of Tim Gunn; an engineered process. I see a 6pt type published for old eyes.
The Board of Trustees must have sensed WRA needed a step-by-step process to achieve clarified strategic goals. The Board has achieved clarity and presented their process for clear goals.
I believe corporate success is derived from student success living into their education and lives. My question is what does the Special Report: The Future of WRA discern for Western Reserve Academy’s students? There is no one-sentence mission statement focused on customers: students and their parents.
What does the corporation say to the parent who asks, “What is WRA’s mission?” A one sentence answer targets the abundance of resources WRA brings to nurturing young women and men for their collegiate scholastic success and beyond.
I, as an alumnus, or were I a parent of a prospective student, would be inspired if the Board had declared, say, just as an example, "Never Give Up," as if that really had been WRA’s mission and packaged The Strategic Plan around that statement.
My suggestion would be something like,

WRA’s mission is educating students through scholastic and athletic achievement to innovate and persevere.
This focus is on the customer, hints at vision, and expects character. In contrast WRA proclaims a pleasing package of process prioritizing prospective plans. I beg the question.
What are WRA students educated for? WRA students are educated pleasing product packages in service of the process to achieve strategic goals? This sounds like current culture. I am not reassured.
I’m reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote:

I have a dream
that my children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character.

What is the WRA mission that educates the content of a student’s character? Bill Danforth once observed I behaved like a, “ . . . crass pragmatist.” Yet his direct honest observation shaped my character. I was 16. My guess? I was being manipulative of a caring adult. He might still reasonably say: plain-spoken, presumptuous, ungracious. I hope not.
I’ve enormous respect for the challenges and day-to-day grind of educating young girls and boys. We need grinders; I’m not in the WRA trenches. I’m not charged with the discernment and guidance for the maintenance of WRA’s future. I do sense a struggle to discern mission. It feels like what was once clear is now obscured.
WRA was a core experience. WRA shaped my character. WRA prepared me for collegiate scholastic success. The motto Lux et Veritas still means something to me; it's not uncoupled from its original intent. In another era, culture, and people, it was WRA's mission. I’m saddened what I believed clear, Lux et Veritas, is now culturally obscured.
Bill Collins, '69

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