October 9, 2015

Dr. Palmer’s Update: April 2012

Dr. Palmer’s Update: April 2012
April 5, 2012

Many rumors and misunderstandings have been swirling in the past two weeks regarding an auction of interior doors from Principia College’s historic Bernard Maybeck-designed buildings.

I have been doing some fact gathering and checking, including reviewing documentation and the history of Principia’s stewardship. I’d like to take this opportunity to share the results of that research.

Principia works diligently to preserve our much-beloved Maybeck buildings on the College campus, and the “Maybeck Doors” controversy has provided an opportunity to come together and engage in conversation about the best ways to honor this legacy.

The basic story behind the auction is that the College Facilities Department was approached by an individual interested in purchasing several of the Maybeck doors he had seen in a storage facility on campus. To give everyone equal opportunity, and in the interest of finding a place where the doors would be better preserved, an auction of interior doors was scheduled for last month, including some doors removed from our Maybeck dormitories. These Maybeck doors had been removed over the past 20 years or so because of life safety requirements. An online petition began circulating to stop the auction, and we have agreed to keep the doors at Principia.

The auction was not intended as a way for Principia to make money; our priority remains preserving the Maybeck legacy while ensuring student safety.

I am providing a backgrounder on this issue, including Principia’s original filing for National Historic Landmark status in 1993. I encourage those interested to read the background material.

Meanwhile, many important and exciting things are happening at Principia. During spring break, the School sponsored two exceptional study trips, one to Belize and one to Israel. The latter, a first for the School, was designed to deepen students’ (and faculty members’) connection to the Bible. Be sure to read about students’ academic and spiritual growth on these enriching educational adventures.

Back on the campuses, the School and College are on the fast track between spring break and graduation/ commencement. These short weeks are always full of growth and excitement for our students and faculty. At the School, students are preparing to put on Crazy For You, beginning tonight. College students are busy rehearsing for next weekend’s Dance Production, which includes original student choreography.

More than 200 parents were on the College campus last weekend for Parents’ Weekend. They visited classes and saw presentations on the solar car and several study abroads. Many also attended my presentation about the College’s future planning. Our sports teams were active on the softball and baseball fields, on the tennis courts, on the lacrosse and rugby pitches, and at a major track meet in St. Louis. A talent-filled variety show featured student musicians, comedians, vocalists, and theatrical performances. Three glorious days of fine spring weather made for a gorgeous campus with blooms from Lilac Lane to the dogwood trees, forsythia, and daffodils. It was an inspiring time to be together.

The 63rd annual Public Affairs Conference (PAC) at Principia College, the longest running student-run conference of this type in the United States, took place in late March and was a tremendous success. This year’s title was “Peacebuilding: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution.” A brilliantly planned conference, it started months ago with sessions on reconciliation in Sierra Leone and the showing of the documentary Fambul Tok, produced by former faculty member Libby Hoffman, along with a series of discussions on the peacebuilding process. The conference weekend opened with an inspiring talk by Chic Dambach, former chief executive of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. He shared details of his work in bringing an end to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and gave insights into how students today can learn about and support peacebuilding initiatives around the world. With more than 230 student delegates, the conference was engaging and active. Don’t miss this video about the conference.

The students enrolled in my Management Consulting course came back from spring break with an energetic work package and ready to move forward on our report for the client company. We thought you might like to be involved in this work by completing a short survey looking at issues of business travel and loyalty programs. If you are so inclined, please help us by responding to the student-developed survey here. (The survey takes about five minutes and will remain open until April 10.) Thank you for your help.

  • Ann Kneeland

    Dear Dr. Palmer,

    I appreciate the thorough and respectful way you have handled the “Maybeck doors at Principia” question, and shared the thought process and decisions.  Although you no doubt have many larger issues to address, the patience and humility with which you’ve handled this issue exemplifies the Principia spirit.


  • Jill Perry

    Thank-you Ann.  I agree and could not have said it better myself!

  • Jill Rohrer

    Dear Dr. Palmer,
    I agree you have handled it respectfully.  I am also just want to give my support to your decision to sell them if they would be appreciated somewhere else unless you feel The Principia could use them?  If they have been in storage for all these years maybe they would be more loved somewhere else?  I don’t know the details but have just watched so many loved ones hang onto stuff only in the end to have it be a burden in their lives.
    Still glad you are being so respectful and kind.  
    Wonderful Parents weekend.  The career center was so helpful.  Glad we were able to go to some classes too!

  • David Napper

    I agree with Jill Rohrer !00%, Useful and beautiful  Maybeck doors (or anything) should not be wasted by just holding onto them. There must be a use for these doors. Some beautiful trees were cut down do be graciously designed and divinely crafted  into doors. Trees are worthy of their hire. I know you are dealing with this in the right way.
    Thank you.

  • Corikeys

    Thank you, Dr. Palmer, for your thorough research and direct communication concerning the Maybeck doors. I’m grateful Principia is guided by your leadership. You express both conviction and humility in wonderful balance. Having read the background you provided in this issue, I am confidant the doors are secure in the care of the institution they’ve served so well.