Q&A with BOT chair Art Zucker on College, Core and Common DNA
By Kim-Jenna Jurriaans
BOT, ULC, Toni Murdoch, Art Zucker, John Feinberg; these acronyms and names fl y around frequently, but largely remain an enigma to many residing on campus. Who are these people and what do they do? The Antioch Record sat down with chair of the Board of Trustees Art Zucker ‘55, to talk about the roles of the Board, his memories as an Alum and the future of the College.
What made you apply?
The real fact was that I was dissatisfied in high school with the lack of responsibility given to students. I was looking for a college that would give me the opportunity to be responsible young person and that didn’t have things get in the way like sororities and fraternities and didn’t necessarily have sports either. In those days we called those colleges progressive. I got info on three: Antioch, Reed and Bard. I fell in love with the Antioch catalog and applied only to Antioch. I didn’t visit the campus.
Were you involved in Community Government?
Not so much. I was involved in a broad range of other activities like theatre and music as well. And one of my friends was the CM at the time.
How is Antioch different now than it was back then?
It’s hard for me to say in detail because I’m not there in living. In my mind as I see the students and meet faculty, Antioch is still Antioch. Still the wonderful place I always felt it was, but I’m not close enough to make a judgment on the details. The base values of Antioch are still the base values of Antioch.
How big a part of the schools identity has shared governance been in your time?
I remember it referenced as a community and we were all part of the community. There certainly was ComCil, there was AdCil and there was community meeting. There was a clear comfort level that we amongst ourselves were, well, I’m trying to find a word here, maybe it is contentious, because that is what Antiochians are and should be. I do remember the positiveness of social pressure.
Social pressure. That was when our fellow students would address each other if they though you were not adhering to the soundness of community life.
That is still happening
Oh good, and it should!
You see it as something positive then?
As long as the basis and demonstrative values are sound and objective and fulfilling than I certainly think it is positive.
You learn from the respect of your peers. And it goes on in later life as well. It’s a form of caring. People who care about each other share their thoughts about each other. Even in later relationships, if that caring is constructive and agreed upon values, that caring can be really rewarding.
If you look at the advanced learners how much does the college’s legacy contribute to their wish to enroll on university program?
I haven’t directly talked to the advanced learners about this specific question, but let me say this. I share with my fellow alums at my alumni meeting that when I first joined the board of trustees I had almost no interest in the graduate campuses, because I had no relationship with them. After being involved I had the opportunity to visit the other campuses and I was amazed how much they share the same values, the same goals the same commitment to improve social conditions, to care about environment, the freedom of expression. It seems like there is an Antioch DNA.
It is clear when you are on an Antioch campus that you are on an Antioch campus.
At the BOT press conference there was talk about streamlining campuses on many levels. What are the trustees doing to do to preserve shared governance at the college?
There is no effort to modify any government structure within any campus. Each campus has to operate so the requirements of operating are different. The chancellor nor the board are involved in how this operates. There is a basis to Antioch that is community that is so sound. And I don’t know whether I am in the position to judge because I’m not on the ground, but let me say Antioch is Antioch and those strength are not under threat. It can’t get lost. It’s Antioch.
Do you as an alumnus see shared governance as part of the campuses identity?
There definitely is a role and responsibility for ComCil and AdCil and those roles should be clearly defined. The community meets and the students are part of it. That’s what Antioch is about. At the same time there is the administrative requirement to operate the school in a manner in which the objectives of student learning are accomplished and to develop global citizens who are able to go out into the world. That is the normal operation that has always been at Antioch. What is unique is the community and its community government.
If enrollment goals are not met will Antioch have to close down?
There is no intent of that and in fact it’s the farthest thing on anyone’s mind. I am not volunteering my resources and my energy to close down this college. We are going to find a way to overcome whatever difficulties we have and we’ve had many difficulties over many decades at Antioch. Antioch struggles, but we love it dearly. It’s the brute of my passion. My life’s successes have been the result of my experiences at Antioch College 2/3 of the board members college grads, that’s why we are so passionate. Yes, we do have retention goals because they are connected to financial performance and we do have enrollment goals and those are Steve’s responsibility, but I can’t even put in my lexicon the concept of there not being an Antioch. I read the chronicle of higher education, and we are not the only ones having financial pressures. Its a difficulty of higher education today. But we have the strength: the strength of commitment from the board, the faculty, from students and administration. And I have absolute confidence in the students. And faculties are so influential. I still remember some of the key faculty in my time and I have the greatest admiration for them. We are going through a big change. For the faculty to be able to develop new programs and continue with the old… and the students as well. It is not easy to change and give something up that is solid and comfortable and step out. And Antioch told me how to do that.
There is nothing on paper saying if we don’t make X retention rate than we have to close down?
We have to operate in a financially sound manner. The difference is what we can do about it and the people doing it. And that is where I have a lot of confidence
Is there a time line if we are not financially sound by X than Y?
Not to my knowledge.
So no magical number 2010?
Every year there is a budget. There is nothing set in concrete that if not x by y than z.
We expected retention problems while we are going through change. That is good logical thinking .We have to make sure that we do all the things to assure our future.
Are you confident?
I am confident
Does it reflect in figures as well?
There have been substantial donations. There has been a history of alums not being that positive about Antioch. Hearing from alumni I have talked to at reunion lately, there is a lot more confidence and positivism that there has ever been before. I’ve heard positive responses to the new program.
Is there a back up plan if the core program fails?
I don’t know. There is a long history as to how ‘the plan for Antioch’ was developed. There were trustees as well as external experts in education involved. This is the plan. If something should change we have to look again.
What made you decide to get more involved with the College?
I had retired and being an energetic person I just happened to meet Devine Bob at an alumni event and I was impressed what he was doing and he asked me to get more involved. I spent two yeas on the Alumni Board and now I’ve been a member of the Board of trustees for almost 6 years.
How long does it usually take a member to become chair?
There are levels of experience value for one to go through. Antioch is unique in the world of higher education so as a board member it sometimes takes a year or two to get to know what’s going It takes experience on the board and committees. It requires A chair to work with committee members.
You have to keep in mind that everybody is a volunteer. They don’t work for me, I can’t tell them what to do. I have to be able to convince them of the importance and the value of the work that needs to be done. Where does the University Leadership Council come in? The ULC is the management team that runs the place. The Board’s responsibilities are fiscal oversight and strategy and direction and vision. And hopefully come up with a lot of money.
Is the board the boss of ULC?
ULC is all University presidents plus the vice Chancellor of finance. Toni Murdoch as chancellor of the University is chair of the ULC. In the line of command ULC members report to Toni; Toni reports to the board.
A regular Trustee Board meeting consists of all the board members plus Toni, plus all the members of ULC. She reports to the board through the Chair, which is me. In the end Toni is responsible for everything.
Antioch Seattle is currently looking for a new president. Is it the board that in the end hires chancellors and presidents?
The board hires the chancellor. We open search for a new chancellor next June, I will be the chair of that committee. Toni chairs the search committee for a new president for Seattle. The task of that committee is to come up with a recommendation. In the end it is the chancellor that makes the final decision.
How long does one stay on as chancellor?
It could be anything. Traditionally, first term would be a contract for three years. After that the contract can be made as long or as short as you want. Board is responsible for the chancellors, the chancellor is responsible for presidents and the president is responsible for anybody on campus.
Board member Barbara Winslow recently commented on the Board’s current structure as being “to male, to pale, to frail”
Yes, were to male and to pale. We’re trying to get younger people and more color. We hardly take what we can get. People have to be willing to commit their time, have the intelligence and experience, the skills to deal with complex matters. We’re looking for the passion and hopefully for the ability to provide funds or bring in funds. In addition, there needs to be the willingness to get along and the ability to interact honestly and straightforwardly.
How big is the pool of people you can chose from?
It can be anywhere from two to twelve people.
How often is it decided to bring new people on?
Mostly every year. There are people leaving. Every member can spend four three-year terms
Is it always the same number of people?
Anywhere from 20 to 25. It needs to be workable.
How many times do subcommittee meet outside of board meetings?
Usually two to three times between board meetings, mostly via conference call.
What did your time as a student at Antioch give you?
I went into Antioch as a child and I came out a young adult. I got the opportunity to develop freely and make mistakes and learn from it. That experience gave me the confi dence to make changes. That was enhanced by the co-op experience. When we were there we would leave twice a year, on a Friday evening and on Monday we would have to report to work in a city. It takes a certain person to want to do that. Wanting to fail and coming back to do it again. I changed majors three times.