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Board Letters Background

Board Letters Background

This page is an explanation of content found here >>

[prepared by Rachel DeMille; first person references are in Rachel’s voice]

The question may arise, how were the statements from the board members prepared? Why are they so similar? Who actually wrote them?

The answer is that former Board Member Ken Krogue contacted me in Summer of 2015 raising concerns over Oliver’s and Shanon’s reputations being misrepresented, and contrary to his own personal knowledge and experience. He wanted my permission to try to seek reconciliation with the GW Foundation board, and to seek some sort of resolution that was more positive than the direction things had gone, and were heading.

I told him that Oliver had basically moved on and was just trying to live his life without regard for what detractors had said. Ken was respectful of this, and after exchanging more personal pleasantries about families and reminiscences of the past, we said goodbye.

In October of 2015, the Board of GWF published new, more elaborate and more strident language criticizing Oliver and Shanon. I knew these things to be misrepresented. Oliver and Shanon had previously agreed, and informed me of their decision, that if GW ever escalated further it would be time to step up and oppose it with legal action.

In the course of events, I got back in touch with Ken Krogue (I don’t recall who reached out to whom at this juncture). He said that the Board was reaching out to him, asking for a donation of $30000 to complete an audit. He was willing to donate this with the stipulation that they withdraw their online content criticizing Oliver and Shanon.

I explained my understanding of what the audit was for, and my opinion that it would ultimately brand the students and the school in an unfair and negative light based on a criterion that was not relevant or just. He agreed, and withdrew his intent to donate to that effort, but remained in contact to try to effect a sit-down where the parties in dispute my come to some reasonable détente that wasn’t such a public spectacle, harmful to all.

His efforts on that end led to a discussion between Oliver, myself, Diann Jeppson and Ken Krogue. It was basically a wasted time, as she was resolute in her solidarity with the GW Board, and was not interested in seeing our evidence that refuted their assertions.

After this failed effort, Ken got in touch with Rusty Bastian (who had served on the GW Board with him during the mid-2000s, and during the whole time of the Monticello project). Rusty likewise remembered things differently than what was being portrayed. Ken called Doug Free – another Board member from mid-2000s, and Doug was of the same posture. I was of the opinion that Lyle Mast was another who had similar concerns, based on conversations we had during Lyle’s visit to Southern Utah in summer of 2015.

Ken synthesized a strategy whereby a group of previous Board members would release a statement inviting the 2016 Board members to reconsider their assertions based on witness of first-hand players without a personal stake in the outcomes of the lawsuit or the public dispute.

Ken’s schedule being extremely tight, and me being invested as I was, I was tasked with interviewing the individuals in question and recording their recollections. I was extremely conscientious to ask non-leading questions, such as:

  • Do you recall the time period when the Monticello project was in the planning stages?
  • What do you remember about that time?
  • Do you recall any private interactions with Shanon Brooks asking for advice on the project?
  • Were you aware of any proposals on how to fund the project?
  • Were you aware of an initiative to fund the project using private loans from individuals, to be repaid in either money or land?
  • Was the board aware of such an initiative?
  • Do you recall any interaction where Shanon briefed the board regarding the project?
  • Do you recall any concerns within the board regarding Shanon’s level of transparency?
  • Do you recall any concerns within the board regarding the viability of the project?
  • Do you recall any details about a site visit to Monticello?
  • Do you recall any details regarding the final vote on the Monticello project immediately prior to the Gala?

I took careful notes on these interviews, and found that the recollections of the board members, who had not consulted one another or in any way collaborated to create the statement, were completely harmonious.

At Ken’s request, I prepared a statement that reflected the content of my interviews with these individuals, such that they could review and personalize it as desired, without having to create a personal statement from scratch.

Below is an email exchange where this document is presented to the individuals that contributed to the preparation of the letter from the board members:


On Apr 29, 2016, at 9:36 AM, Rachel DeMille wrote:


It is my dearest wish at this time to see that the legacy of goodness and greatness that GWC aspired to promote be celebrated. We have a multi-pronged plan to reinstate the good reputation of and good will toward the students and the school, including:

* A book from Oliver, “A Manifesto On Education: The George Wythe College Story,” which has its early draft now ready for review
* A documentary telling the story of GWC, the students, their many projects of international, service and community outreach, “where are they now,” etc.
* A website where people can go to view FAQs that clarify misunderstandings and answer common questions

Ken Krogue has been a great asset in helping reduce the tensions and seeking reconciliation between the current leadership and the founders, and has asked that I contact you to request your input on some questions that are critical in restoring trust between the many interested parties. He asked that I research to confirm the facts in question, and draft for him a first-person account that could serve as a foundation for early board members to refer to in drafting personal statements.

You will recall that you and I previously spoke on the phone, with me asking non-leading open-ended questions in hopes of gaining your unbiased responses. I have done the same with others who had first-hand knowledge to contribute. It has be [sic] our singular desire to be accurate and honest, and I [sic] the document attached is fair and correct to the best of my ability and knowledge.

There are some high-stakes players who have personal influence and interests in common with the current GW leadership, and who are willing to lend their influence to an effort to end the conflict with a mutually agreeable arrangement. Ken believes that testimony from previous board members would inform a more effective negotiation, with a firm foundation of truth and respect.

You have previously expressed your willingness to go on record, sharing your witness of past dealings of GW, founders and the Board on which you served. Would you be so kind to do so now? I believe it can make a great difference.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, or if you find that my research and/or conclusions disagree in any way with your understanding.

And please let me know if you will provide a page or so of personal comments that could be used to bring new understanding, respect and reconciliation. While I do have a deep personal interest in the outcomes of this controversy, I can say without reservation that our deepest concern has been for the students who labor under the difficulty of an alma mater that is reticent to advocate for them, because of misunderstanding and distrust. I hope that gaining the voice of other credible witnesses will help ease the conflict and bring positive outcomes for all involved.

Let me know about your willingness and availability, as time is short and things are moving quickly.

Best to you and yours,

xoxo rd

Rachel DeMille


On Apr 29, 2016, at 11:44 AM, Doug Free wrote:

My sentiments exactly. Masterfully written and accurate. I would not change a thing. What would you like me to do?



On Apr 29, 2016, at 11:48 AM, Rachel DeMille

Can you please create a document under your name (identical is fine, IMHO) and give me permission to share it?

The intention would be to either/or share it with the players in the negotiation, post it on the FAQ website, email it to current board members of GW, etc.

Rachel DeMille


From: Douglas Free
Subject: Re: Confidential and Urgent
Date: April 29, 2016 at 11:55:30 AM MDT
To: Rachel DeMille
Cc: Lyle Mast Rusty Bastian , Ken Krogue

Signed letter attached.


On May 8, 2016, at 6:07 PM, Rusty Bastian wrote:
I am getting to this letter and wondered if you know the dates that I served on the board?


From: Rachel DeMille
Date: Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 6:19 PM
To: Rusty Bastian
Subject: Re: Confidential and Urgent

Hmmm. I do know that you’re listed in the catalog that was printed in 2007. The Gala with Glenn Beck was in Summer 2009. The groundbreaking for the Monticello Campus was Aug? 2008. Does this help?


Rachel DeMille


Begin forwarded message:
From: Rusty Bastian
Subject: Re: Confidential and Urgent
Date: May 8, 2016 at 6:55:40 PM MDT
To: Rachel DeMille

That helps, thank you…


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