Monday, September 15, 2014

Just a Quick Note...

     I'm going to be busy for the next couple of days with a meeting in Pineville, Louisiana. With that said, I will hold my post about the LBC Executive Board's response to my motion until later in the week (or even later). Please pray for us and that all the right changes are made... otherwise there will be no substantive change whatsoever.
     Until that time let me recommend you review my earlier post about the event to which SACS appears to refer when it cited LC in regard to Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 (external influence). Further, take a look at my original 2 posts about the role of the Executive Director and LBC Bylaws and the LC / LBC relationship. That should catch you up and prepare you for what I hope to be one of my final posts related to my involvement with Louisiana College. The LBC, on the other hand, is a different subject all together.

Ego Paene Effectis

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Part 7 - My Response to the SACS Letter

     For those of you who have been frustrated by the debacle that has been Louisiana College over the last few years and who rightly identify the previous president as a major factor in that terrible situation, may I remind you that had it not been for the active defense and protection of the LC president by the Executive Director of the LBC I believe that the Board would have dispatched the president in the Spring of 2013.
     I have been on record as publicly citing issues of integrity and undue/external influence at LC since early in 2013. I felt a responsibility to make such a public expression after witnessing and/or becoming aware of untoward and manipulative actions in and around the Fall of 2012 and only after my vocal warnings and protests were met with dismissive commentary and correlating votes from the Board of Trustees. At every turn the findings in the SACS letter validate what we've tried to say and I believe goes so far as to vindicate those of us who've attempted to passionately and appropriately address these concerns. Thus far, our words of warning have been ignored and/or dismissed. Maybe now Louisiana College and more importantly the Louisiana Baptist Convention will be forced to deal with these charges.
     I did not want to do this. I do not enjoy having people I don’t know (and some I thought were friends) belittle me and call me a troublemaker for simply trying to tell the truth and stand up to institutional bullying. As a trustee I am charged with caring for the school and I have taken that responsibility seriously… even to the point of personal embarrassment and misguided criticism leveled against my character. For the first few years I served as a trustee in naivety and with a Pollyanna view toward trusting leadership, but after a short time I began to notice inconsistencies, questionable actions, purported programs which seemed to falter one after the other and an unusual culture of blind loyalty. All this led me to take an appropriately critical look at what was presenting itself. I’m ashamed to say that it took a whole term to see these things but I’ve spent the second term trying to correct my inaction.

My heart is broken…  
     I hurt for those who've ignored our warnings. I hurt for those who’ve not had the backbone to stand with us. I hurt for those who’ve been taken in by misinformation. I hurt that there will be those who will not apologize and rightly and biblically seek restoration through repentance. I hurt that once again LC’s reputation has been tarnished. I hurt that there are still those who think they've done nothing wrong. I hurt that there are those who think I am in league with Satan. I hurt that reasonable actions and high academic standards have been compromised for the sake of ego, political maneuvering and personal theological bias. This has been a time of grieving for me and simply put… it has hurt me.
     But above and beyond all these things my heart is broken over the precious faculty, students and staff families and individuals who have been maligned, non-renewed, belittled, embarrassed, castigated and suppressed. These people are the real casualties of what has transpired at LC over the last few years. The retaliation from on high toward those who dared to "blow the whistle" is unChristlike and more than that, it is illegal. The needless casting aside of faculty who hold a particular soteriological position in order to garner the protection of one who would swoop in and successfully defend such an action (and inept presidency) through undue/external influence is tragic to say the least. The castigation of our former board chairman, Gene Lee (who has been a godly example of humility and who simply sought the truth by properly investigating what he was told) in some cases has been downright cruel. The manipulation of information, deception and total lack of transparency all have contributed to reasons why we are once again on probation.
     Even though there are many who think I have "spouted off, ran my mouth, aired laundry, acted unChristlike, and have personally attacked brothers in Christ" let me say the following. I have attempted to present my concerns by systematically and deliberately working through the given process. I have only done so with much prayer and contemplation. Let me explain... I had concerns with an individual exerting what I knew to be undue influence (which anyone in the academy would know is a transgression of 3.2.4.). I spoke to that individual on a few occasions but to no avail. So, I then took my concern to the LC executive board again… to no avail. I then presented my now growing concerns to the full board and again nothing happened to correct the issues. I even went so far to draft a censure resolution to address the undue influence that was being exerted on the board but stopped short of presenting it when I saw the clear and distinct lines of demarcation. Clearly, by that point anything I would have presented would have been immediately dismissed and, believe it or not, I did not want to stir up any more strife.
     I continued to speak up when I felt the board was being manipulated even to the point of leaving a meeting in protest after a bizarre and unnecessary action was forced upon the board. I’ve tried to point out the issue with the LBC by offering a motion that pointed out that, according to the Bylaws and Constitution of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director actually is not afforded a seat on any of the four boards of trustees (see here and here) and I even referenced the possibility of accreditation sanctions in my motion when I wrote "WHEREAS Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 of the Council on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) states: “The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence,” WHEREAS being found out of compliance with such Comprehensive Standards might result in further sanctions or even denial of reaffirmation by the accrediting body;" That motion was set aside (after the Executive Director himself dismissively spoke to the issue, which itself is arguably not an appropriate action to allow) to be handled by the Executive Committee of the LBC. The Executive Committee handed it off to the Administrative Committee which then (and I will be presenting more detail on this soon) offered a deficient, misguided and now verifiably contradictory response to my motion which was then presented to the full Executive Board and was ratified.

     I will be publishing my response to the LBC Executive Board’s actions regarding my motion within a few days. I’d like to ask each Louisiana Baptist to consider contacting members of the LBC Executive Board to suggest that in light of the now public SACS findings I be asked to address the full Board to (this time) be given a fair hearing in order to help remit the clear and now openly known and officially identified transgression of external influence (of which I first warned the entire convention in November of 2013).
     Let me further say (and this is not a threat, it is a transparent statement regarding what will be my response dependent upon how this issue is handled by the LBC) if there is any attempt to play off, minimize or dispute in any way the SACS findings regarding Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 (external influence) I will be forced to once and for all publish hours of recordings, and explicit transcribed statements, that validate the SACS findings concerning the Executive Director of the LBC.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Part 6 - The SACS Letter Release

     Well, I wanted to post about the content of the SACS letter, however, I think it is more important to first post about the background regarding as to why and how this news came to be a front page story this particular day.
     I noted (here) that the Board of Trustees have been told nothing about numerous significant issues at LC which have come about since this past April. We’ve lost 4 Vice Presidents, the Dean of Students, have been in the midst of a presidential search of which we’ve been apprised of nothing (including even if there are applicants) and we found out we have been placed on probation but had been given nothing of substance (until today) about that probation and what it means for us.
     On September 5th, Louisiana College finally released a letter from SACS detailing our transgressions and what we must do to remit the cited findings. The timing of this is of note. I had been told, but have not verified this, that the board chairman had decided to hold the information until we convene on the 15th of this month. The letter is dated July 9th. In other words, they’ve had this information for almost 2 months and although we were told we’d get info “as soon as it becomes available” we were not given such info. That is, until yesterday morning (Thursday morning) when the Board Chairman found out that the local news paper had the report and that they were going to be running a story on Sunday (by the way, the first story is out and can be found here). As soon as that was known board members began getting the following email….

Dear Friends:
     Dr. Smith is sending out a copy of the SACS letter dated July 9, 2014 to each trustee tomorrow, September 5th.
     He will bring a report to the board on how the college plans to respond to SACS so we fully comply with the requirements for accreditation.
     Thanks for your service to LC as a trustee.

Tommy French, Chair
Louisiana College

Wasn’t that interesting timing? The following is an email to the board chairman, sent to the whole board, from LC alum and tenured board member Lonnie Scarborough…

     Why are we just now receiving this?  We were told by you in an email dated June 25th (see email and highlight below) that you would share this information when it becomes available, and now we see that you have had it since mid-July?  What precipitated the sudden need to send this information out when others have been requesting it for weeks?   Please explain.

Lonnie Scarborough
(phone number redacted)

I thought that was a great question. I actually had become aware of the letter when the Town Talk contacted me for comment. By that point I knew what was in the letter but promised not to say anything public about it until after the first article ran. I keep my promises. So as much as I wanted to give more info I simply replied to Lonnie’s inquiry (since experience with this particular board leadership has assured me that we weren’t going to be given a straight answer). Here is my response (with typos, bad grammar and all) (I have also redacted a few things that took place in executive session)…

     If I may... allow me to tell you why this information is only now being sent to us. This morning Dr. French received word that the local media has a copy of the SACS letter dated July 9th. Yes.... that's July 9th!!! Shortly after he received that information is when we began getting emails from Dr. French. The Town Talk will be publishing the letter and a lengthy story on Sunday. Once he found that out, clearly (and withing minutes) he began to let us know that we would receive the letter tomorrow.
     Lonnie, you are absolutely correct, Dr. French did indeed tell us that he would send us information "as soon as it becomes available." They've had it since mid July and we've not received it. Also, in the April meeting he similarly told us, concerning the pre-April dated letter, "redacted due to executive session." We never received that information. Further, he told us, regarding the confidentiality motion most of you agreed too, "redacted due to executive session." He went on to say, "redacted due to executive session." Friends, that is a direct lie. SACS does not require us to have a confidentiality motion. Further, and what might be the most egregious fabrication to us was his inference in at least one meeting and his direct false statement in an email to us where he said, "Demands by individual trustees to circumvent board procedures and threats to take independent actions with SACS, the press and blogs is improper and is part of the reason we have been placed on probation." Friends, trustee action on blogs and with SACS was not, and has never been "part of he reason we have been placed on probation." Our current chairman has lied to us repeatedly and has now, in the face of numerous and direct requests for information, withheld another letter from us to the point that ONCE AGAIN the media has information before we do. Not only will I be calling for his immediate dismissal at our meeting in two weeks, I would argue that this his actions rise to the level impeachment and a request to the LBC for his dismissal. That will be up to the Board.
     The letter is a scathing report. It is embarrassing and validates each of the concernes that a few of us have expressed on numerous occasions. The most heart breaking truth is that this probation was absolutely unnecessary had the board heeded some of the warnings of those of us who have dissented. It is time for the rest of the board to, with integrity and leadership, do what is right and make sweeping and serious changes so that we do not lose accreditation due to the continued mismanagement of Louisianan College. You will choose to do what is right or we will lose accreditation.
     ps. By the way, lest Dr. French says that the reason we did not receive the letter earlier is due to there being a typo date in the letter understand that the date has nothing to do with the content of the correspondence or its charges and findings. The letter could have been disseminated to us with that one caveat.

Jay Adkins

I received no response from anyone until 7:33 Friday morning when I opened up my email and read this…

September 5, 2014
To:  Jay Atkins

     In your haste to indict someone, in whatever righteous cause you are pursuing, you made some false assumptions.   These assumptions, not supported by facts, then led you to make false accusations against me.
     You called me a liar. You attacked my character. You slandered me. In the spirit of our enemy, you threatened to call for my dismissal at the next board meeting and suggested that a request should be made to bring me before the Louisiana Baptist Convention to ask for my impeachment and expulsion from the board without facts or cause.
     I am not afraid of your threats and accusations. I serve at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees and of the Messengers of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
     These false accusations were not made in a personal and private letter to me.  Had you done this we could have discussed the facts in the matter to find the truth. Instead, you broadcasted your false accusations to the full board of trustees and you are guilty of slander.
     I have not lied to anyone.  I have not lied about anything. I have not misled anyone. I have not deceived anyone. I have followed proper procedure and protocol so that things might be done decently and in order. My character and my reputation before the Lord Jesus Christ are fully intact.
     You have joined with the one is “a liar and a murderer from the beginning” to bring a false accusation against a brother in Christ. You have joined with the one who slanderers the brethren to slander me.
     I sought the Lord and His counsel in this matter. Then I brought you and your name before His throne and waited for His answer.
     The Lord answered me without delay and said,
     “I am your shield. As I have protected you in the past I will protect you in the future. Leave Jay Atkins in my hands. The slander and lies that he has written about you is now written for eternity and cannot be erased. Therefore, he will wear his slanderous words as an albatross upon his character until I call him home. Anyone who joins with him in his slander will share in his guilt and I will hold them accountable.”

Deo Vindice,
Tommy French

I can’t say that I have ever been “prophesied against” (at least that I know about) but this was interesting for more than the neo-charismatic nature of the babblings of spiritual gobbledygook from a seasoned Southern Baptist pastor. What was most interesting to me is that I have been charged with being “a liar and a murderer” and have “joined with Satan.” Now for those of us who have been around LC for any length of time, this is nothing new. This is the modus operandi when one dares to speak against “god’s anointed.” When someone challenges leadership they are immediately chastised, charged with being in league with the devil and summarily dismissed. Normally this is all done with hyper-charismatic spirit speak (in this case, apparently coinciding with a direct prophecy of a curse from god upon my head). Seriously, this is nothing new.
     However, the following is what I find most fascinating. Conspicuously absent from the chair’s reply to me is any refutation to my specific charges. He notes that I am a slander, yet does not support that charge by telling me where I am mistaken. That is because he cannot. The things that I have noted I only noted because I have printed and/or audio proof of his obfuscation and disinformation. Thus, I sent back the following final reply to the board…

Mr. French,
      Slander is a very serious word. To be slanderous is to make a false and damaging statement about someone. I noticed that your pious bloviation in response to my correspondence does nothing to address the particular “accusations” I have made which you’ve said to be slanderous. You have not identified which of my statements are a false characterization of your actions.
    I will see you at the meeting with documented evidence from both audio transcriptions and email correspondence of your numerous lies to the Board. I will have printed copies for each member and will be happy to play the audio recordings if necessary. At this point it is not even an issue of taking my word for it… even SACS has identified such action from your leadership noting, “a prevalent culture demonstrated by administrative staff and the governing board of misstating, ignoring or denying matters of documentable fact and generating an apparent pattern of breaches in institutional integrity.”
     P.S. I have also been taught to be very cautious of any “special revelation” that is said to come from the Lord. I understand the Canon to be closed, so you’ll excuse me when I say I am not the least bit concerned about the prophesied albatross hanging from my character.

Cum Recta Doctrina
Jay Adkins

I have much, much more to say on this subject. Remember that I have not even published the LBC’s response to my lodging a concern with them about the role of the Executive Director and their simplistic and deficient response to me. Please pray for me that I will continue to seek the mind of Christ and fulfill my role of seeing this through until its end. Until I post again please be sure to check the follow-up Town Talk article that will come out sometime this evening or tomorrow morning… AND, if you are a Louisiana Baptist, how about you demand full coverage and reporting of this important story from our state paper, the Baptist Message.