What does the Board of Trustees at Centenary College Think?
Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite is the President of Centenary College in NJ. She has held that position since you hired her in 2009. Centenary College has an enrollment of just over 1,900 students and charges them more than $39,000.00 for tuition, fees, room and board per year. It is located on 44 acres in bucolic Northwest New Jersey, in Hackettstown, Warren County.
New Jersey’s political landscape is such that Northwest New Jersey is by far and away the most conservative part of the state. Officeholders at all levels of government from Northwest New Jersey are consistently among the most conservative in the state.
These elected officials include Congressman Scott Garrett, municipal councilmen and women, State Assemblymen and women and State Senators among them. It is safe and accurate to say that Northwest New Jersey is the most conservative part of New Jersey.
It is against that backdrop that Conservative New Jersey was involved in organizing a panel discussion between movement conservative leaders in New Jersey and grassroots activists that was to have taken place at Centenary College this past Saturday. Discussion and negotiation of the contract started on November 20th of last year and concluded with a 5 page contract dated January 4th of this year. All in all, it was a pretty standard 5 page contract. Right up to late last week when the catering arm of the College was given the number of expected attendees to prepare for, there was no hint of any problems.
Late Friday afternoon, we were contacted by Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, the President of this college and unceremoniously told we were not welcome on your campus and “permission” to hold our panel discussion on your campus was being withdrawn. When challenged for a reason for this last minute cancellation, the esteemed college President responded that she did not approve of one of our panelists/speakers as well as the subject matter; specifically the 2nd Amendment. At 5:57pm on Friday evening she ended the discussion by hanging up the phone. New Jersey conservatives had been kicked off your campus. Do you think she was proud of herself? Was this decision indicative of the mindset of the Board of Trustees?
As any visitor to your campus can easily see on one of the many plaques adorning your buildings, Centenary College has been the recipient of tens of millions in New Jersey residents’ tax dollars over the past several years. (A more accurate dollar amount will be forthcoming) This didn’t seem to bother the President of this liberal arts school; does it bother the Board? Is your mindset truly one of “we can take conservatives’ tax dollars but we don’t have to tolerate them on our campus?” The administration of this liberal arts school appears to want nothing to do with any discussions about one of our country’s founding documents, namely the Bill of Rights if that discussion comes from conservatives. Is that also the Board of Trustee’s position?
If that is the case, then so much for institutions of higher learning being a hot bed for intellectual thought, discussion, and debate.
It is even more disconcerting when you read the following quote from Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite given to the Newark Star-Ledger last February when she welcomed the NAACP to her campus with open arms and presumably had absolutely no problem with anything they discussed.
“As president of Centenary College, I have the distinct pleasure of working with organizations such as the NAACP to further the cause of issues such as diversity both on campus and in the region at large. The idea of inclusion is extremely important to me, as an educator, parent and community leader. The recent creation of the college’s NAACP chapter is a great example of inclusion at work in our community.”
While not agreeing often with positions taken by the NAACP, here at Conservative New Jersey we have worked with them on more than one occasion when we do agree. Recognizing that they often advocate for different political goals than conservatives do, why is NAACP welcome on your campus but not conservatives? Is this a conscious decision of the Board?
“Diversity and inclusion are extremely important to me.” Really? So important that you would breach a contract with conservatives a mere 17 hours before they were to meet on your campus? Is this the way the Board of Trustees entrusts this President and her administration to conduct the day to day business of Centenary College?
If it is a “distinct pleasure” to work with liberal groups, how would you describe working with a conservative group?
Now that the Board of Trustees is well aware of what happened, would conservatives be welcomed in the future to hold a panel discussion discussing the future of the conservative movement, and yes, even one of our founding documents and the inherent freedoms it gives us?
Does the Board of Trustees think that an apology is owed to New Jersey conservatives?
Does the Board of Trustees think that breaching a signed contract 17 hours prior to an event is a good, positive, inclusive way to conduct business in their community?
Is the disdain of conservatives that President Lewthwaite exhibited this past week, coupled with her rudeness, something this Board of Trustees condones, either implicitly or explicitly?
Below is a full list of the Board of Trustees of Centenary College. If you know any of them, perhaps you could ask them if this is the type of “inclusion and diversity” they expect from the President of their college?
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Board of Trustees Officers
- Arden Davis Melick ’60, New York, NY……………..Chairman
- Kenneth Lee Hahn, Califon, NJ…………….1st Vice Chairman
- Norman Worth, Hackettstown, NJ………………………2nd Vice Chairman
- Christopher Treanor, New York, NY……………………..3rd Vice Chairman
- Lucinda Thomas Embersits ‘59, Madison, CT………Secretary
- Alan J. Shaw, Iselin, NJ………………………………Treasurer
Board of Trustees Members
- Ellen Baars-Banks ’93, Mount Bethel, PA
- Audrey Bonaparte-Watts, ’78, Teaneck, NJ
- Howard L. Burrell, Glenwood, NJ
- Stanley Caine, Adrian, MI
- Tilly-Jo Emerson, Morristown, NJ
- Rev. Dr. Frank Fowler, Hackettstown, NJ
- Rochelle Makela-Goodman ’97, Annandale, NJ
- Wolfgang Gstattenbauer ’84, Augusta, NJ
- Michael Halpin, Hackettstown, NJ
- David W. Johnson, Cranford, NJ
- Michael Lavery, Hackettstown, NJ
- Joann LaPerla-Morales, Edison, NJ
- George Muller, Flemington, NJ
- Raymond Nisivoccia, Mt. Arlington, NJ
- Denis Hennessy O’Rourke, Hackettstown, NJ
- Alden Siegel, Morristown, NJ
- Orin R. Smith, Brielle, NJ
- Timothy L. Smith, Parsippany, NJ
- James D. Stryker, Pittstown, NJ
- Linda Van Winkle Watkins ’62, Mystic, CT
- Harris F. Smith, Califon, NJ
- Bishop Hae-Jong Kim, Englewood, NJ
- David A. Lackland, Warren, NJ