The meeting with Harry Hopper, on October, 26, 2012, started 10 minutes early. It was scheduled for only 30 minutes, but lasted closer to 80mins. Harry was ready to talk to us (myself, Katie Macyshyn, and Ella Quimby), but before we dove into the meat of our discussion, Harry asked if he could show us a part of the school that we may not have seen and in turn we show him a part that he may not have seen. It was a bit of a surprise, but the gesture was simply Harry offering an olive branch of sorts before we started talking. Doing this offered a shared experience for all of us to form a basis of a working relationship off of.
Harry showed us a gallery space that has been turned into a storage room with an amazing stained glass window and we showed him the hallway mural that is up the staircase to the right of the library doors and also a few items in White Halls/Walls as part of the Senior Thesis Preview Show.
After this, we headed back to the meeting room we started in. Harry proceeded to give us some background about him and how he ended up as Chairman. He acknowledged the past mistakes that the board has made. He was very very candid and frank and up front. I didn’t feel that he wasn’t paying us lip service. He came across as someone who very much knows that the situation is dire and things need to be fixed. He recognizes that moving the school is an option that is at the very bottom of the list as a last resort. He is very dedicated to keeping the institution where it is.
Harry was very open and receptive to the idea of student representation on the board or in conjunction with the board. He’s not sure what that process would look like but he is open to it and even seemed excited at the prospect of the board interacting more with the students. He did acknowledge the need for more transparency at all levels as it relates to the students. Harry was also excited at the idea of a student made video that showcases the students and why they choose the Corcoran and to stay here. He also loved the idea of a student driven phone bank. These are all things that he and board members (the active ones) can leverage in getting donors to donate money and also in attracting board members. I also suggested to Harry that the board members all come for a student led tour in the middle of the week and let them familiarize themselves with the students, the classrooms, and other areas that they may not even know about.
Harry agreed to meet with us again before the Thanksgiving break and in that meeting, I expect that we’ll find out more regarding board representation and what that process can and will be.
Disclosure – this blogger is a student at The Corcoran College of Art+Design and a member of the Students Stay Sane group.