Addressing Town-Gown Issues
May 09, 2011
by Francis X. Dillon, Stonehill vice president for Advancement
Letters to the Editor
I write in response to comments in the paper by the Town Administrator about Stonehill-Easton relations.
In a recent article, Mr. Colton said that we told the Town how to spend our $20,000 gift. What was not reported is that in the letter that accompanied the check, we added "If, however, the Town feels that the gift could be better directed towards more pressing areas of need, we would respect that decision."
In addition, Mr. Colton's formula for assessing how much the College should contribute to the Town is faulty and overstated. Many, if not most, of the public service calls to campus are covered by insurance and do not result in costs to the Town.
We are not insensitive to Town needs, especially during difficult financial times. It is worth noting, however, that the economic recession impacted the College as well. With many families struggling to pay tuition costs, we focused our energies and resources on helping our students faced with that economic situation.
In weathering that economic storm, we also tightened our belts, trimmed budgets, halted hiring, and watched every dollar. Unlike many colleges, we avoided employee layoffs thanks to an enormous collective sacrifice by the members of the Stonehill community.
Despite the recent challenges and contrary to the Administrator's comments, we contribute to Easton's quality of life.
• In the past six years, we invested $80 million in construction & renovation projects, all of which boosted the local economy and we paid $192,000 to Easton in construction permit fees (excluding the $55,754 penalty).
• Since July 2010, our students have spent $678,000 in area businesses (some in Brockton, most in Easton) using their HillCard. At this rate, with the academic year not yet over, we expect our students to spend more than the $700,000 they did in the previous year with town businesses.
• We financially support the Fund for Educational Excellence in Easton (FEEE) every year.
• Contrary to what Mr. Colton suggested, we accommodate many Easton civic groups at discounted rates and with waivers. In 2008 and 2009, for example, if we had charged the Easton Recreational Basketball League for using our Sports Complex, it would have cost $37,000 annually, but we waived the fee. And, there are many more such examples where we waive fees and charge only for support services.
• Annually, we attract thousands of visitors to Easton for Commencement, Orientation, Alumni Reunion, frequent admissions tours, and athletic events, all of which benefit local businesses.
• Our 700 member work-force patronizes Easton shops, restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and other businesses.
• Easton residents enjoy the use of the MacPháidín Library and increasing numbers of local people use our campus as a safe place for walking and jogging.
• Our students, faculty and staff perform thousands of hours of community service every year.
Looking ahead, we want to partner with the Town and believe that good relations can and will be restored. If the Town is interested in discussion as opposed to media grandstanding, its representatives will find the College serious and focused in its response.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.