12 million and counting

“Roughly 12 million dollars” is the number on Alumni Board Treasurer Rick Daily’s abacus this week. It’s the result of the most recent count of cash and pledges donated to the College Revival Fund, that was established less than 12 weeks ago. As the College’s development office prepares to launch a full-fledged fundraising campaign, the Alumni Board has hired a consultant to assist in creating a viable business plan that will encourage the University Board of Trustees to reverse its decision to close the school in June 2008.

The willingness of alumni and supporters of Antioch College to put pen to checkbook-paper has managed to surpass expectations, even before the launch of an official campaign by the College’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Of the $12 million raised so far, approximately 600.000 dollars is cash, the rest is constituted by pledges. Though the cash amount is low in comparison to the pledges, the ratio is not unfavorable to the alumni’s agenda. “We are looking for conditional pledges and the condition is self-governance,” Rick Daily said in a telephone interview with The Record on Sunday. With the Alumni Board now working closely together with the College’s development office, the fundraising strategy has changed to supports the Alumni Board’s Plan for Governance and Fundraising that was presented to the University Board of Trustees in late August. From here on, the campaign will no longer accept unrestricted donations, except for the annual fund, in order to support the proposal to grant the College a separate Board with far-reaching autonomy in the future. Alumni and supporters are optimistic that current trustees will make a decision to that affect at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting on October 25 in Yellow springs.

Business plan
Meanwhile, over 20 alumni are working on a much discussed, but still largely mysterious, business plan that outlines the near future of Antioch College. The University Trustees require a viable business plan in conjunction with significant fundraising to lift the suspension. On Friday, the Alumni Board hired outside consultant Tracey Filosa to aid development of the plan. “I’m helping analyze data about the college enrollment, –fundraising and so forth –and formulate the business plan,”  Filosa commented on Wednesday. “A great deal of work has been done by those who’ve been involved with the plan so far.” Filosa caught the attention of alumni because of her previous work with Notheastern University, and has also worked on business plans for Harvard University and Boston College. “It seems from the contact I’ve had so far with the alumni that they’re absolutely passionate about the experience they’ve had at Antioch and they put together a very compelling story that convinced me to get on board and help them with their effort.”
According to Daily, the committee working on the business plan is currently keeping all options open. A full plan, he said, will not be up for review until the board meeting in October.
Although tenure is likely to be included in the business plan, representatives of the Aumni Board on various instances voiced concern to constrain a new Board of trustees of Antioch College in its capacity to shape the future of the school. “Will Antioch have tenure? We certainly believe so. It’s hard to imagine an Antioch College without tenured faculty. That said, the final decision is up to the new board.” Daily emphasized that although the new board should not be given a mandate, tenure will be taken into account in the current search for future members of the board.
Under the current Board of Trustees’ resolution to suspend operations, College development had been unable to solicit money for plans regarding the future of the college. Now, folowing negotiations between alumni and trustees, the offices of Development and Alumni Relations have been put under the control of the Alumni Board, opening the way for a massive fundraising campaign development officers have been waiting to launch.
“We’ve rolled the annual fund into the revival fund,” confirmed Risa Grimes, head of the college’s Development Office, last night.  In addition to raising money to keep the school open past 2008, the Alumni Board  another 2 million to contribute towards the operating costs for the current academic year.  The amount is high, says Grimes, but she sees no reason for the campaign not to reach target. “I spent all last week with Matt Derr of the Alumni Association to get a handle on how best to fundraise. We worked long hours on the campaign and we can do it.”