Category Archives: Annual Conference

FAHE 2022 Conference Epistle

June 15, 2022

At the close of our 42nd Annual Conference, held online with the generous support of Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion, Friends Association for Higher Education sends our greetings and warm best wishes to Friends throughout the world.

Focused on our theme, “Quakers and Racial Justice,” we were inspired by our plenary speaker, Dr. Amanda Kemp, as well as  many workshops and presentations.  These ranged from close analysis of “Hamilton the Musical and the 1619 Project,”  to “Reflections on Incorporating Diverse and Anti-Colonial Material in Natural Science Classrooms,” to exploring ways of “Dismantling Raci(al/st) Ideology,” and to promoting “Town and Gown” community conversations about race. Our worship and other opportunities for interaction enhanced our understanding of the Friends Equality Testimony and encouraged us to support our fellow faculty, staff and student activists striving for beloved community.

In her moving, multi-media plenary, Amanda Kemp shared with us the deep personal stresses accompanying her racial justice activism. After police killed Michael Brown in 2014, the cumulative impact of ever-increasing numbers of sacrificed Black lives, along with the wearing responsibilities of participating in visible protests and the daily interpreting of events for Whites often thoughtlessly invading her personal space, opened Amanda to the pressing need for self-compassion.  Since 2020, she has found relief from relentless discourse “where there is no liberation” by accepting the unconditional love around her, in particular through her communion with trees. By listening to the trees, surrounding us everywhere, we can “feed the core” of our being, experience corresponding joy, and nourish the outward expression of our well-being; a practice well-understood and practiced by indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Friends’ paper presentations and workshops provided scholarly explorations and personal reflections on racial issues and dynamics ranging from Quaker slaveholding, to daunting modern urban segregation, to the need to challenge inequalities on our Quaker campuses.  While expanding the awareness and knowledge of the sessions’ participants , the impact on the presenters of their own work was apparent.  It’s clear that our thoughtful scholarship changes our lives, often leading to meaningful activism.

This year’s Presidents’ Panel, hosted by Earlham President Anne Houtman, featured a new twist,  including three Quaker women presidents from non-quaker Colleges, along with Malone University’s incoming president, Greg Miller. They were Sarah Bolton from the College of Wooster (soon moving to Whitman College), Sarah Manglesdorf from the University of Rochester and Marlene Tromp from Boise State University.  The challenges of leadership, guided by Quaker values, during these financially and politically challenging times, were thoughtfully explored.  

Finally, during our annual business meeting we accepted the invitation from Haverford College’s President Wendy Raymond, pandemic allowing, to gather in person in June 2023. Please join us in the continuation of this good work.

As we depart from our gathering, we stand ready to share with Friends and our colleagues in higher education a renewed sense that we must all further commit to seeking racial justice within and outside of our colleges. To this end, the vitality of our Quaker colleges and study centers remains a central concern of FAHE.

With deep appreciation for our FAHE community,

Stephen Potthoff and Donn Weinholtz, Co-Clerks

Friends Association for Higher Education

Epistle – June 15, 2022

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FAHE Conference 2022

43rd Annual Meeting of the Friends Association for Higher Education

On June 14-15, 2022, FAHE held its annual conference virtually via Zoom, hosted remotely by Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion. The conference Epistle can be found at this link.

Meanwhile, here is a recap of the conference events:

The Friends Association for Higher Education was conceived in 1979 by a group of educators seeking to bring together faculty, staff and administrators at historically Quaker colleges and universities, as well as Friends teaching at other institutions. Since its founding, FAHE has met annually at Friends institutions of higher education around the US and beyond, engaging educators and scholars in ongoing dialogue around Quaker concerns in higher education. From the very beginning, Friends have embraced a strong commitment to education, and Friends schools and colleges have attracted and welcomed both Quaker and non-Quaker educators alike who resonate with the historic Friends commitment to educating the whole person, guided by the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and (especially in recent decades) sustainability.

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FAHE 2021 Conference Epistle

To Friends and colleagues everywhere:

After a one-year hiatus resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, Friends Association for Higher Education held its 41st conference June 7-11, 2021 over Zoom on “Peacemaking in the Liberal Arts.” We have been invigorated by plenary sessions with George Lakey (author of How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning and Facilitating Group Learning: Strategies for Success with Diverse Learners) and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (whose leadership has included terms as Deputy Minister of Defense and of Health for South Africa), 23 workshops, worship and other opportunities for community and emboldened with better understanding of the foundations and history of the Friends Peace Testimony and renewed commitment to supporting our student activists as campaigners for the loving community we seek.

It is natural, Lakey explained, to fear and be repelled by the rising polarization around us. Polarization is an inevitable consequence of the extreme economic inequality and racial injustice of our society. Just as a forge makes metal malleable, so polarization provides the heat that drives societal transformation — for good (as with the Nordic countries in the early 20th century) or ill (Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the same era). Since today’s polarization is inevitable, we must prepare to engage with it.

Lakey’s plenary and other sessions — by providing us with a better understanding of historical peacemaking that emerges from close study of Quaker origins in the 17th century, case studies of Friends service committees in the 19th and 20th centuries, the 1960s Civil Rights campaign, and the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa — gave us reasons for optimism.

Oppression and injustice cry out for forceful action and offend a loving God. But, the slave master’s tools cannot break the master’s chains. Successful transformation depends on vision (prophetic witness), inspired strategy and the health of the change community. It may well be that the key gift to us from early Friends is less the reality of our unmediated access to continuing revelation than the acknowledgement of the inner struggle to be faithful to the seed of God within.

Madlala-Routledge reminded us that the “search for Peace is always a collective effort. It starts with truth-telling, incorporates justice tinged with Mercy…and a lot of meeting with other fully-as-flawed human beings.” She gave us a careful accounting of the successes and continuing challenges of South Africa’s experience with Truth and Reconciliation.

We learned in this and other sessions that true dialogue requires the voice, attention to and acknowledgement of the other. Carefully tended dialogue transforms conflict, leading to reconciliation and forgiveness. There was even the suggestion that dialogue paradigms might be the key to ensuring that machine-based artificial-intelligence technologies serve humane needs rather than stunting what it means to be human.

When those administering or benefiting from oppression decline dialogue, we are called to other forms of nonviolent activism. George Lakey and others charged us as educators to support students in their growth as activists and politically engaged citizens. We learned that there is a place for many skills and roles in social movements: helpers, organizers, advocates and rebels. We learned of the ethical foundations and resulting efficacy of protest, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention in confronting injustice. We shared experiences and plans for specific programs on our campuses to promote global understanding, explore activist identities and promote Quaker leadership.

This year’s conference hosted a Campus Executives Panel with the highest participation yet of any of our conferences with six colleges represented. The discussion addressed stresses and challenges in a time of pandemic, with a valuable sharing of perspectives and experiences by all participating. We talked about the challenges of using Quaker decision-making processes on campuses where most of the community members are not from the Religious Society of Friends. Other topics included finding a balance of collaboration opened up by Zoom while people also experience Zoom fatigue; exploring the possibility of deeper relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as with Native Americans; recruiting Quaker faculty to the Quaker campuses as well as recruiting Quaker students; the challenge of maintaining integrity and continuity of tradition while dealing with marketplace forces; and perspectives on philanthropy. Because we met virtually, the campus executives were not able to share the traditional conversation with each other over a meal, but we hope that is remedied when we can meet again in-person.

In leaving our conference, we stand ready to share with Friends and our colleagues in higher education a renewed sense of what Quaker education can contribute to transformational peacemaking. For that reason, the vitality of our Quaker colleges and study centers remains a central concern of FAHE.

During FAHE’s annual meeting for business we accepted the invitation of Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion to gather in person in June 2022. Come join us in the continuation of this good work.

With hope for our future work together,

Stephen Potthoff and Donn Weinholtz, Co-Clerks
Friends Association for Higher Education

Epistle committee draft adopted June 11, 2021

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FAHE Conference Concluded

This year’s FAHE Conference, “Peacemaking and the Liberal Arts,” has now concluded. Many thanks to all who participated for such a wonderful and inspiring week! We have now posted the conference Epistle.

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FAHE Conference Schedule

Have you been thinking about signing up to attend the FAHE online conference, June 7-11, 2021, but wanted more information first? Now you can see the full schedule to help you decide! Some highlights include:

  • A plenary session on Tuesday night by George Lakey on Gandhi and Early Quakers, with a follow-up workshop on Wednesday
  • A plenary session Thursday morning by Nozizwe Routledge on lessons from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Hearing Quaker college presidents and provosts talk about the challenges they have faced through the pandemic
  • A selection of presentations on Peacemaking and the Liberal Arts
  • Times to gather informally with other Quaker academics
  • Times for online Meetings for Worship, both programmed and unprogrammed

Please see the attached document for full details.

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