Monday, January 28, 2013

CORE questions and answers

I'm getting a lot of questions about CORE and its future, and I want to clarify some things.  Obviously, I can't tell you everything right now, but I'll share what I can.

Why in the world would Bryan drop the Center for Origins Research?  This is a common reaction, and I understand the frustration (believe me, I understand the frustration).  It would be very easy for me to give in to bitterness and question the wisdom of the Bryan administration, but I am not a college administrator.  I only have a small tidbit of the college to worry about.  The administration is responsible for the well-being of the entire school and hundreds of jobs.  Given the strict stance on budget deficits by the college's accrediting agency, Bryan doesn't have the "luxury" of raising the debt ceiling.  If Bryan doesn't meet budget, it risks losing accreditation, which effectively means the end of the college.  In that position, if I were the president of the college, I would probably sacrifice a few jobs to save hundreds more, too.  I hate that it's my job that got cut this time, but I won't second guess the college's leadership.  I'm not in their shoes.

Will I still be able to work at Bryan College?  Probably not.  If things don't change, I will be 100% unemployed by Bryan College starting July 1.  I will need to secure some kind of salary support or full-time employment elsewhere at that time.  If I am still in Dayton this fall, it's possible that the biology department would want me to adjunct, but that's not a permanent solution to my predicament.

What are the chances that CORE can stay at Bryan?  Our current regular donations constitute 0.75% of the annual cost of running CORE.  That means we need about 133 times the annual donations we're currently getting in order to keep CORE going here at Bryan, and we need that every year.  Call me pessimistic, but I seriously doubt that donation income will change that much in the next five months.

How much do you need to keep CORE going?  Three full time salaries (two faculty, one assistant), benefits, and a modest operating budget.  You can do the math.

If you did get the funding, would you stay at Bryan?  Hey, if God opens the door and does provide the money, of course I'd stay.  I would, however, run things very differently with much more focus on education and donor development and less focus on research, which means the very things that made CORE unique would be severely curtailed.  I don't think I would have much choice in this, since I would be responsible for raising my own salary and the salaries of those who work for CORE.  Since I have no talent at fundraising or public relations, I would probably continue seeking a more stable and permanent arrangement for the future of CORE (i.e., a commitment from an educational institution to sponsor CORE).

I should also note that an endowment of about $5 million would take care of all of these anxieties, so if you know a creationist Warren Buffett who wants to sponsor a very different take on the creation/evolution debate, send him my way.

Will Bryan College change its mind and reinstate CORE at some point in the future?  I have no idea.  That's not my decision to make.

Are there other colleges seriously considering adopting CORE?  Beats me.  Remarkably, there have been five institutions (so far) that have expressed curiosity about taking CORE.  Some of these institutions are experiencing financial problems similar to Bryan and are also instituting budget cuts.  I cannot say what the outcome of this curiosity will be, but hey, at least no one has yet said no.  To help these institutions make their decisions, I am currently preparing a portfolio explaining CORE.  These portfolios will be distributed in the near future (this week or next), and then perhaps I'll be in a better position to judge the possibility of moving CORE to one of these institutions.  Pray for these portfolios and these institutions!

What happens if no one adopts CORE?  Beats me.  There are a number of biology faculty positions open at Christian colleges, so I may be looking at a retirement from research.  I already have one school that is keenly interested in hiring me to teach full time.  My wife's pretty adamant about keeping me working on research projects, though, so maybe she'll get a good-paying job, and I'll work free-lance.  I honestly don't know right now, but I'm trying to keep all options on the table.

What will happen to __ if CORE shuts down?  Some things have been canceled already.  We're not doing a journal club this semester.  We're not going to do the bus tour of the Smokies.  I've (hopefully temporarily) sidelined several of my personal research projects.  The disposition of the CORE assets (library, databases, equipment, etc.) is still up in the air.

How do I feel about all this?  It's only been two weeks, so I'm still swinging widely between anger, grief, and the mad hope that God has something even better just around the corner.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.