“I’m taking one day at a time”

The announcement by the Antioch University Board of Trustees to suspend the operations of Antioch College in 2008 has had resounding consequences across the entire college campus.  Staff reductions have created tension as the workloads of former staff members are distributed among those who endure, students find limited access to resources, and rumors about the closing or persisting float back and forth across campus.
During the three months following the announcement of suspensions, the staff of the school has been whittled down to a bare minimum.  Many areas of the Antioch College infrastructure have experienced staff cuts.  Offices such as the admissions office were the most obvious choices for staff reductions, but other areas of the college have been impacted as well.  Employees in the Academic Support Center, Physical Plant, Olive Kettering Library, and development office have also been fired.
The fact lingering in the minds of all of the college’s faculty and staff is that, under the current board decision, all are facing an uncertain future in terms of employment.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of faculty jobs in higher education has increased by over 50% between 1981 and 2001, while the number of full time positions has actually decreased by 9% of the total positions.
Reactions among staff to the pending closure, and the effect it may have upon their career is largely cautious.
“It’s so up and down, I don’t know what to tell you,” said Carolene Minter of the Financial Aid Office at Antioch.  “I wish I had a concrete answer.”
Many staff members are unwilling to make solid plans for the future.  “Some things you control, and some things you can’t.  I’m taking one day at a time,” conceded Marcia Brim, college custodian and steward for the Local 767 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine workers of America (UE 767).  “[Antioch] has educated me in a way no other place could,” the 37-year employee added.
Some staff members are entitled to severance packages upon the termination of their employment, especially those who are represented by labor unions.  Severance packages often include additional payment after termination, payment for unused sick days or vacation days, and insurance possibilities.
Staff without severance packages may find it increasingly appealing to search out new employment, as there is no economic benefit to remaining at an institution with an uncertain future.  Former Interim Director of Admissions Jennifer Rhyner has taken this approach.  Rhyner recently left the Antioch College admissions office to pursue a new position in the Financial Aid department of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  “I really enjoyed working with her for the last couple of years,” said Angie Glukhov, Director of Admissions for Antioch College.
Conversely, former Admissions Counselor Brad Choate was fired three months ago and has had little success in finding a new job.  Choate, an alumnus from 2005, joined the admissions team after discovering his love of academia while on co-op.  “I had made the decision that I wanted to continue to work in higher education.  I haven’t had much luck pursuing that end, though,” Choate said.  After applying for some ten vacancies in varying positions, he was turned down each time.
“I only wanted to work at small liberal arts schools with similar values to Antioch’s,” Choate mentioned.  Certainly, such institutions are a dying breed in a world of increasingly market-driven institutions of higher education. “I think my experience with Antioch was a bonus rather than a detractor,” he said.