Know Your College History
Know Your Antioch College History
- In 1999, Antioch University changed its bookkeeping practices to charge depreciation of the campus buildings to the College, but to keep the endowment on its own books. This guaranteed that the College, on paper, would forever be in the red, despite modest gains in enrollment and endowment in the 1990s.
- In 2001, The University seized control of the College budget. Among the deep cuts mandated at the College by the University were cuts to Admissions and Development; two areas crucial to the survival of the College.
- In 2002, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA), the accrediting body, conducted an external review of Antioch University and Antioch College. The review concluded the following:
- (1) Assessment was uneven and inadequate across the University;
- (2) The Physical Plant at the College needed renovations
- (3) Problems existed across the University due to a lack of centralized planning, and
- (4) there were concerns whether the University had adequate capital to achieve its educational goals. The HLC/NCA recommended a focused visit to assess progress in these areas early in the 10-year review cycle.
- In 2004, Antioch University responded to the NCA review with its own Renewal Commission Report. The Renewal Commission
- (1) declared its intent to raise 50 million dollars for capital improvements to the Antioch College campus, and
- (2) to re-design the College curriculum with an emphasis on Assessment (note: both of these goals seem like direct responses to the NCA review). The Renewal Commission Report acknowledged defects in the governance structure of the University, especially in relation to the College and McGregor, but elected to table the concerns about governance until a later, unnamed date.
- The Renewal Curriculum was rushed into implementation a year early, in 2005. That year, the College lost half of its entering class, due to dissatisfaction with the new curriculum. The death spiral in admissions and enrollment at the College was a direct result of the Trustee-mandated Renewal Curriculum. The Trustees had promised to cover financial costs if the new curriculum resulted in admissions and budget shortfalls.
- In 2006, NCA sent another accreditation review team to conduct a focused visit. The NCA team praised the College faculty for its heroic efforts to implement the Renewal Curriculum, but stated the curriculum was too new to definitively answer concerns about assessment. The team also praised the improvements to the Science Building, including capital improvements to the IT structure. HOWEVER, the NCA team expressed continuing concerns about
- (1) whether the University had a central planning structure capable of achieving its goals;
- (2) whether the University had sufficient capital to achieve its goals, especially pertaining to improving the conditions of buildings on the College campus. Another visit was promised for 2009; if the University failed to pass muster in either of these areas, it would lose accreditation in its entirety.
- 2006: Toni Murdock becomes Chancellor of Antioch University, despite having received a vote of No Confidence from her faculty while previously serving as president of Antioch University Seattle. She receives two more Votes of No Confidence from the faculty, staff, and students of Antioch College in September and October of 2007.
- 2006: AU McGregor President Barbara Danley seeks a bond to finance construction of a new building for the AU McGregor program, which previously shared facilities with the College. The new building, Campus West, is located across town on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road. Campus West opens in 2007.
- 2007: In June, Chancellor Murdock issues the surprise announcement that the University will declare financial exigency for the College and close the college after the 2007/2008 school year (note how this will avoid the College being open for the 2008/09 school year, thereby dodging the 2009 NCA focus visit bullet). The Trustees renege on their promise to raise funds to financially support their own Renewal Plan and Curriculum for five years.
Saving Antioch: Crisis and Activism
- At Reunion 2007, Chancellor Murdock announces her plan to suspend operations at the College until 2012, reopen with the College and McGregor merged at the new Campus West building, and open campus to "higher density development" and re-purpose it as a retirement village. The proposed timeline for closing and reopening is just long enough to legally excuse the University from re-hiring the tenured College faculty. The Alumni Board declares its intent to raise money for an Independent Antioch College. The Alumni Association passes a resolution to preserve the College with its traditions, assets, students, staff, and faculty intact.
- In December 2007, Alumni Board president Nancy Crow emerges from negotiations and trumpets the Agreements in Principle, which would have established the College's own Board of Trustees, but one still under a University Board of Governors, with ultimate decision-making power still in the hands of the University. Deep-pockets alumni reject this offer due to its failure to secure Independence from the University; these alumni form the Antioch College Continuation Corporation (ACCC, or AC3). Another group of alumni, with less deep pockets, forms the Antioch College Action Network (ACAN), to provide direct, material support to the campus community.
- In Winter and Spring of 2008, The University refuses to meet in face-to-face negotiations with AC3. Despite generous financial offers being placed on the table, the University refuses to lift the state of Financial Exigency at the College, and the College closes in Spring of 2008.
- The faculty and remaining students of Antioch College form Antioch-In-Exile, under the authority of ExCil. Antioch University threatens to sue over use of the Antioch trademark, so the project becomes known as Nonstop (Nonstop Antioch, with the "Antioch" part being implied). Over the course of the following year, the faculty teach courses all over Yellow Springs, and students take classes despite accreditation having perished along with the College's closing. Nonstop is supported through a resolution by the Alumni Association, and financed by the College Revival Fund (independent from but contiguous with the Alumni Board) and donations from alumni. It is widely understood that Nonstop is a continuation of the closed College, and represents the DNA or soul of Antioch College.
- In Spring and Summer of 2008, ACAN and CRF mount a successful letter-writing campaign and petition to pressure the University to meet with AC3. Another ACAN-initiated petition, in early June, calls for the resignations of Chancellor Murdock and Art Zucker, President of the University Trustees. More than 800 people sign this petition.
- June 2008: The AU trustees meeting in Keene, New Hampshire is crashed by the Antioch 6, who distribute literature about Antioch College, hold teach-ins on the campus, and meet with members of the Antioch New England's (non-tenured) faculty. The "official" representatives from the College Revival Fund attending that meeting are Risa Grimes and Matthew Derr.
Losing Antioch: Pattern of Privilege
- In a surprising about-face, the Antioch University Board of Trustees abandons Chancellor Murdock's previous plan, and directs the Alumni Association, under the direction of Nancy Crow, to prepare a plan for transferring ownership of the College to unnamed alumni (note that, just days before Reunion 2008, this Keene Resolution provides the illusion of victory for the alumni, despite the absence of any concrete agreement, and effectively derails most alumni activity against the University).
- At Reunion 2008, members of ACAN mount their own protest against the University locking College alumni out of the campus buildings. This incenses Risa Grimes of the College Revival Fund, despite favorable press coverage.
- Matt Derr and Lee Morgan are named as those negotiating with lawyers for transfer of the University. They disappear behind closed doors, and alumni are assured that those doors will be opened to their participation in rebuilding the College, once deliberations are completed. Those doors are never opened.
- In Fall of 2008, Professor Peter Townsend warns that campus buildings will be damaged if the University does not heat them properly. Alumni Association President Nancy Crow is quoted in the Yellow Springs News as saying that she trusts the University will do the right thing. In December, pipes burst due to lack of heating, and a waterfall from the top floor of Antioch Hall floods the president's office. There also is damage to other campus buildings.
- In Fall of 2008, a Board Pro Tem is formed to take ownership of Antioch College. Meanwhile, in early 2009, each of the Antioch University campuses gets its own Board of (local) Trustees, under the authority of a University Governing Board, just as Chancellor Murdock wanted.
- The College Revival Fund stops funding Nonstop in Summer of 2009, for reasons that remain murky. The Alumni Board and Nonstop faculty draft a plan for the re-integration of Nonstop into the (anticipated) independent Antioch College, but the Board Pro Tem (i.e. the New Trustees) neither addresses that plan nor acknowledges the existence of the former faculty.
- In Fall of 2009, Lee Morgan and Matt Derr receive the keys to Antioch College. Derr is named President of the College. Professors Bohlen, Gregorek, Rogers, Warren, and Eklund-Leen are hired, without restoration of their tenure, as Morgan Fellows; at-will employees tasked to work on curriculum and accreditation. All but Eklund-Leen (and Rogers, who departed) are eventually dismissed after accomplishing their tasks.
- President Derr ignores the recommendation of the American Association of University Professors that the former Antioch College faculty be given rights of first refusal for any job openings for which they are qualified. The New College responds by asserting that they are a non-successor institution, not legally bound to employ the former faculty (meanwhile, they hold the endowment and trade on the reputation of the former College and the accomplishments of its faculty, students, and alumni). At Reunion 2010, President Derr asks alumni to adopt a hands-off policy toward the New College, and keynote speaker Eleanor Holmes Norton assures attendees that it is okay to let parts of Antioch College die.
- In early 2011, Mark Roosevelt is named President of Antioch College. He lacks the doctoral degree customary among college presidents. In his previous position as Superintendent of the public schools in Pittsburgh, he contracted with a private company to place "problem students" in a "soft-prison" model school. The company is being sued by the ACLU. Does this sound like progressive education?
- In 2011, new faculty are hired. None have tenure.
- Fall 2011: Antioch College is re-opened, without a tenured faculty, without students who pay tuition, without accreditation, without Community Governance, and with a very limited range of co-ops. The bright, shiny faces and biographies of the new students are exploited in alumni materials, to raise money to renovate the only remaining aspect of our alma mater: the campus buildings.
The plan to "save" Antioch has the same results as the former AU Chancellor's plan to kill it.
Spring 2012: members of the Alumni Board are informed
- (1) that ownership of the College will revert to the University if the new college fails to receive accreditation, or
- (2) if the College fails at some later date, and
- (3) the University retains some kind of veto power over changes made at the College, in accord with the secret agreement between the College and University. Is this independence?
WHAT IF WE'VE BEEN FOOLED?
What if the secret agreement between the College and the University is just an updated version of the 2008 Agreements in Principle? What if Antioch College isn't really Independent?
What if the appearance of Independence was fabricated to raise money from alumni to refurbish the campus buildings, before the College reverts to ownership by the University? If the new faculty remained untenured, and the new trustees simply became the local trustees of Antioch University Midwest, then the problems of governance, physical plant, and central planning identified by the NCA accreditation review of 2006 would have been solved, and the non-tenured faculty and small undergrad program would be in accord with the ULC's 2007 Summary of Recommendations for Suspension of Operations at Antioch College (Murdock's plan).
What if the new curriculum of Antioch College is intended to fail accreditation? Are the new students, who pay no tuition, capable of taking legal action if they have lost no money? Do the new, non-tenured faculty have any recourse if the College disappears out from under them? Would there be anything stopping the University from turning the campus into a retirement village?
The best evidence that the new college is planned to fail is the refusal of the administration to re-hire tenured faculty. If former faculty were re-hired by the College, and then the College reverted to University ownership, they would have tenure as employees of Antioch University. That tenure would confer upon them legal standing that the current, non-tenured faculty lack. Those few former faculty who have been re-hired have been hired in non-tenured, administrative positions. Antioch College is completely without tenure, rendering its faculty extremely vulnerable. The faculty have been abused before, by Antioch University and, then, by the Board Pro Tem. There is no reason to assume that abusers will stop being abusive, unless we make them stop.
This may all be idle speculation. But we may never know, because the Board Pro Tem/New Trustees have never released the minutes of any of their meetings. Does a legitimate institution of higher education require secrecy? Wouldn't you like to know the truth?
If I am mistaken, then I am just a crank, and can easily be ignored. Please, please, please prove me wrong. If I am correct, then the only harm that will come of this account will be to those who deserve it.
Let Antioch Be Antioch!