I believe that sooner or later truth reveals itself. I say this as I sit still dazed from discovering only three hours ago that a rumor had been spread that damaged my reputation and fragmented friendships.
The rumor was that I misappropriated fund from an organization I once managed. It’s been nearly ten years since I resigned from the organization in order to pursue more lucrative career and education opportunities. But after several years abroad I returned to the area eighteen months ago. I was taken aback by the lukewarm and even cold reception I received when trying to reenter my former professional community. And, I was even more surprised when my efforts to reach-out to former friends were met with a wall of silence. I knew something was amidst, but, my belief that sooner or later truth reveals itself, allowed me, mostly patiently, wait for life to unfold.
A decade ago I was the director of a dance program at a fairly known southern university. It was a position I inherited after the program’s founder and director retired and the university made the decision to phase-out the dance program. I had worked for the organization, as associated director, for several years earlier and thus knew the basic politics and logistical coordination necessary for the organization’s day-to-day functionings.
As with many university arts programs, this program was scantly funded with university monies. Each year student dancers and I embarked on a fund-raising frenzy in order to shore-up enough funds to pay more than 12 part-time instructors, up to 5 stage technicians, and at least 2 musicians. The organization offered open dance classes to the areas’ amateur and professional communities and developed a mentoring program for aspiring dance professionals. This helped to augment the shoe-string budget the organization ran-on, but the shoe-string budget required innovative thinking, begging of favors from fellow artists, on-going cultivation and galvanization of an arts audience, and lots of unpaid work.
As a person who is unable to give less than one-hundred-percent to any project I commit myself to, I am careful, maybe even overly cautious, about making a commitment. In agreeing to take over the directorship of the dance program, I stipulated a one-year contract. It was the maximum amount of time I could work on the scant salary that accompanied the position. The financial line that supported the previous director had been reallocated elsewhere upon her retirement.
From an organizational perspective, the year was fabulous: student dancers discovered and stretched their talents beyond their own imaginings, members of the university community began to actively support dance in their environment, and I grew into better coordinator, manger, and fund-raiser than I had ever imagined. The program ended the year in the black.
Although, I am now saddened that students, teachers, dance professionals, and department administrators so easily succumbed to an untrue and vicious rumor, I am happy to know the reason for the cold and evasive encounters I have experienced this past eighteen months.
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