MARLBORO — This Special Focus was reported and written by MacLean Gander, with minor additional reporting by Jeff Potter, who edited and designed this section.

Gander has worked for more than three decades at Landmark College, where as a professor he teaches courses in journalism, creative writing, education, and leadership studies. He was the vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college at Landmark from 1997 to 2008.

He worked as a reporter and writer for Newsweek in the 1980s, and spent two years as a freelance reporter accredited to The Nation in the Philippines during the 1986 People's Revolution in Manila.

In addition to his work at Landmark, he gives his time to The Commons as an investigative reporter and as a member of the board of directors of Vermont Independent Media, which publishes the newspaper.

Gander is the son of the late Rod Gander, who served as president of Marlboro College from 1981 to 1996. In producing this special report, and in anticipation of further reporting on the unfolding story, The Commons acknowledges this close tie and the potential for conflicts of interest, real and perceived.

“Often in this reporting I have been reminded by people I talked to as sources that they knew my father and remember him fondly,” Mac Gander writes. “It has been a strange experience, since while my father cared deeply about Marlboro College, I have no relationship with the college myself. I do care deeply about higher education and the role that small colleges play in providing options for students and defining models for larger institutions. But I don't want anyone who reads my work to think I have a pony in the race.”

“My father was a kind and warm-hearted man, but he was also the least sentimental person I have known. He was a journalist before he became president of Marlboro, and he was a state senator after that.

“In the course of my reporting, several people have asked me, 'What would Rod be thinking, what would he be doing?' I don't know the answer to that question - no one can. But I probably knew my father as well as anyone could, and I feel fairly certain that he would say that it is important to tell the story clearly and accurately, to be fair and balanced in your reporting, and to make sure different voices are heard.

“I have endeavored to do that in this coverage. Where I have fallen short, it is a matter of my own lack of skill rather than an intention to tell anything but an unbiased and unsentimental story.”

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