It’s finally happening! Nearly three years after the student revolt which became national news, Evergreen State College president George Bridges has announced his intention to return to teaching and hand the office of president to his successor. But true to form, Evergreen’s announcement of the decision said nothing about the reasons he is leaving. In fact, the Board of Trustees had nothing but praise for Bridges:
Bridges, who came to Evergreen after serving as president of Whitman College in Eastern Washington, recently informed the board of his decision to retire as president and return to teaching, according to the news release…
“George has led Evergreen in making important advances in our academic programs and support for students, including significant fundraising for scholarships. He has helped create a more equitable and inclusive campus and laid the foundation for a major fundraising campaign. And he has done so while guiding the college through many challenges, with wisdom and compassion,” said Fraser.
Sweet merciful crap, what a load of horse hockey that is.
Did you catch that reference to “a more equitable” campus? That’s the Board’s way of saying they still completely support his handling of the student takeover of the campus. And part of that ongoing support is that Bridges won’t be leaving until his current five year contract expires next June. So, in essence, he’ll be able to leave on his own terms, head held high, despite the fact that he helped drive the school’s enrollment over a cliff. Current enrollment is now about what it was in the early 1980s:
The @EvergreenStCol is dying, and nothing is being done about the man who’s driving it into extinction. This man’s signature is on my degree, by the way, which is more than a bit irritating. pic.twitter.com/fEYnp3B1eH
— 𝖡𝖾𝗇𝗃𝖺𝗆𝗂𝗇🌋𝖡𝗈𝗒𝖼𝖾 (@BenjaminABoyce) November 18, 2019
The result of this drop has been a budget shortfall of several million dollars, layoffs and the inability to hire faculty. The planned construction of new dorms also came to a halt. Meanwhile, in his State of the College address, Bridges told stakeholders that once the “big classes” had graduated, Evergreen’s enrollment would start to climb again. That may be true but in the meantime the college has been set back 40 years.
The college’s net annual revenue has been in the red for five years, according to a June financial overview to trustees. In 2018-19, Evergreen looked to cut 10 percent from its operating budget. For this school year, it cut another 5 percent.
Doesn’t it seem odd to anyone that Bridges is being allowed to finish his contract given the disaster which took place on his watch with his encouragement? I can’t prove it but I’d be willing to bet the reason he hasn’t been pushed out is that his fellow progressives don’t want to do anything which might be seen as an admission that the dastardly right-wingers who criticized the school had a point. Better a slow-motion train-wreck than an admission the school’s far-left politics backfired.
As annoyed as I am over this story, I can’t claim a fraction of the outrage that Benjamin Boyce can. As a graduate of the school who was there when the student takeover happened, he has long been angry that Bridges supported the fringe protesters at the expense of the school’s future and its reputation. Here’s his take on the news that Bridges is finally on his way out.