2, Number 4, July 2002
Association Uses Mediation
following news story is based on a series of three
articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education dated
May 25, 2001, August 16, 2001 and June 20, 2002. These
articles are referenced in this issue's 'Recently
Found in the Periodicals' section.
proved to be a successful method of dispute resolution
in higher education when it was used to end a three-year
dispute between Mount
Holyoke College and its alumnae
association. Although the organizations had a
strong, peaceful relationship for many years, ties
began to fall apart when each group claimed rightful
control over the College's $8.2 million annual fund.
While the ten-year agreement is not permanent, Mount
Holyoke College and the alumnae association are pleased
with the results.
Holyoke College is a residential, liberal arts college
for women located in South Hadkey, Massachusetts.
Approximately 2,000 students attend the university
and the majority of graduates donate to the annual
dispute over which organization controlled the Holyoke
College annual fund began when accountants for each
group decided to clarify ownership of the fund. The
alumnae association argued that it controlled the
money and decided how much to give to the college.
The college, on the other hand, argues that the alumnae
association does not give money to the college, but
that Mount Holyoke finances the association's budget.
According to Chronicle of Higher Education writer
association wanted Mount Holyoke's Board of Trustees
to affirm, in writing, that the alumnae group owned
the fund, and the college refused. After months of
negotiations, the association and the college agreed
to work with a mediator. Those talks broke off, however,
and [the college president], along with the trustees'
chairwoman...sent a letter...to the 'Mount Holyoke
community' stating that the talks were 'at an impasse'
and that beginning in July, the college would start
a new annual fund.
Mount Holyoke College and the alumnae association
were fighting about a place and issue they cared deeply
about. Neither group intended for the dispute to become
public knowledge. However, letters and documents posted
on the college and association websites added to the
public nature of the controversy. After the mediation
that resulted in impasse, the disputing groups decided
to hold off on further negotiations until after commencement.
Tentative Agreement is Reached
Holyoke College and its alumnae association reached
a tentative agreement in August 2001, two years after
the two groups began fighting about control of the
to Chronicle writer Martin Van Der Werf,
agreement...states that the college controls all fundraising
activity, and that all gifts are given to the college,
not the alumnae association. In exchange, the Massachusetts
college has agreed to pay the budget of the alumnae
association for at least the next two years.
the tentative agreement was a big step toward reconciliation,
the dispute did take its toll on the annual fund.
Giving for the 2001 fiscal year was down $1 million,
as 48 percent instead of 51 percent of graduates donated
10-Year Agreement is Reached
10-year agreement signed by Mount Holyoke College
and its alumnae association in June 2002 marked the
end of the three-year dispute. The agreement
grants the college control over the money in the annual
fund. The college, however, must provide an annual
budget to the alumnae group. The annual budget represents
5 percent of the stock-market value of a portion of
the college's endowment, according to Chronicle writer
Farrell. The agreements suits both parties, as the
alumnae group has reliable funding and the college
is aware of how much money it has to work with.