To the Editors:
As a former student of LIU Post, and as a former lecturer at Hutton House Lectures, I am shocked and dismayed at the sudden removal of Dr. Kay Sato from the directorship of Hutton House, a hugely self-destructive mistake on the part of the LIU Administration and an insult to Hutton House Lectures, to all the good people who work there, to its loyal adult student body, and, most egregiously, to Dr. Sato herself.
Under Dr. Sato’s guidance, the award- winning Hutton House Lectures became one of the most unique, most successful, and most admired programs on the LIU Post campus, a program that served thousands of adults every year and that could only have been improved by providing it with more rooms; for, unlike the situation on the main campus, enrollment continued to grow. But it is typical of Dr. Cline’s leadership that the program will now be destroyed, for within the first 24 hours of Dr. Sato’s firing, I personally heard from teachers and students alike who, like myself, resigned from Hutton House unless or until Dr. Sato is reinstated. The magic of Hutton House was the magic of Dr. Sato, and that is irreplaceable. It is also typical that Dr. Sato was ousted like some distrusted account executive in a paranoid corporation, her departure being watched as
if she might take “Hutton House” with her. Such behavior by any lieutenant of Dr. Cline is beneath contempt.
The fact is, the coffee machines, the refrigerator—all of the comforts provided for the adult student body at HHL were bought by Dr. Sato personally. But in a larger sense, Dr. Sato took Hutton House with her in ways that cannot be measured so easily, in ways that Dr. Cline cannot prevent, and in ways that will be regretted by this hugely destructive administration. Fortunately, it is within the power of the LIU Trustees to replace Dr. Cline, to reinstate Dr. Sato, and to save the reputation of a once-great university, not to mention the Trustees’ own reputations as members of the LIU Board.
This week I attended two strategy sessions with outraged sufferers under the leadership of Dr. Cline, focused around the firing of Dr. Sato from Hutton House Lectures but extending more broadly into a range of topics including the No Confidence votes by the main campus faculty, the plummeting enrollment, the utter lack of transparency, the roughly $28 million deficit, the smoke and mirrors PR, the firing of over 300 staff, the dismantling of programs, the gag order on the Post PIONEER and the attempt to shut it down, the shifting of numbers to present a successful appearance, the constant restructuring without prior study or consultation and thus the failure of one project after another, and the total lack of morale among faculty and staff. Among the dissatisfied individuals are some very angry, very smart, very persistent Life Learners who are collectively considering all forms of action. Near half the Hutton House faculty have resigned and are discussing a new collective venue elsewhere; students are demanding refunds upon hearing about the firing; donors are vowing never to give another dime; and, most impressively, 130 of the main campus faculty have signed a letter of protest against the firing of Dr. Sato. When I mentioned the chance of a work stoppage or slowdown to one of the main faculty, they said that such an action is already in effect because no one wants to volunteer for anything and no one has an ounce of stamina remaining.
I have a detailed document prepared by the Faculty Council last year, approved by every member of the Post faculty, and presented to certain of the Trustees but never acted upon. Since then matters have only worsened. My plan is to take it to the TIMES and to NEWSDAY as well as to Channel 12. Nothing in it is exaggerated or unverified. I am constantly asked the Trustees opinion of the rampant destruction of both campuses and I am at a loss. I am also asked what the Board of Trustees is doing about such a drastic situation. No one can accept that the Trustees are condoning what’s been happening. It’s impossible to know exactly how well informed all of the Trustees are, and given the inaction of the Board, most of the people I hear from prefer to assume that it simply doesn’t know how bad things are. But if that’s the case, that in itself is a drastic fault of the Trustees, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if the next No Confidence also addresses the Board itself. Does that need to happen?
Author and Filmmaker
LIU Post Alumnus
Former Hutton House lecturer