“We have walked in your shoes,” reads the beginning of a letter sent by twenty-seven former trustees and chairs to current members of the Board that oversees Antioch College and sealed its fate during a meeting in June. The group of various vintages joined hands in an attempt to reach out to the current board offering their institutional knowledge and professional perspective to assure the future existence of the 155 year-old Ohio College.
The letter originally sent to the Board on July 28 by two former trustees and a former chair of the Board, urges current members to “demonstrate its serious resolve to reopen Antioch college by leading with actions no less bold than it has already take.” In the letter Laura Markham, Barbara Winslow and Dan Kaplan propose, amongst other actions, the merger with Antioch McGregor – the College’s Yellow Springs sister spin-off – under a joint board of trustees for the new school. This board, according to the drafters, should consist of representatives of faculty, “staff, town, student, alumni, major donors and luminaries in higher education” and should be burdened with a capital campaign resulting in an endowment of no less than 100 million dollar.
Over the course of three weeks the letter has found its way to 24 other predecessors of the current board who signed their name hoping to acquire a voice in the special stakeholder meeting of the Board on August 25th in Cincinatti. “Our goal is to re-establish trust between the BOT and the Antioch community,” said Laura Markham, trustee from 2003 to 2005 and one of the original drafters, in a separate interview this week. “As former trustees, we have an intimate understanding of the financial challenges and the history that led us to this moment.”
The letter acknowledges the difficulty that many current trustees say they were facing when deciding on the future of Antioch College, but also identifies a mistrust towards the board that might stifle efforts to successfully reopen a revived Antioch College..
“We are in support in whatever way possible to keep the school open,” most recent veteran of the Board, Barbara Winslow, said Tuesday. “We are concerned that when it shuts down, it will not reopen.”
Chair of the Board, Art Zucker, replied by assuring the signers that the trustees will evaluate the creative suggestions in the letter, but reminds of the fiduciary responsibility to ensure longterm fiscal for all units of the university. One former trustee was invited to present on behalf of the group during the afternoon meeting on Saturday.