Dispatches from Community Meeting

Antioch College, Celebrating 155 Years of Market Tested Toughness
By Billy Joyce

It’s only just begun. Community Meeting was charged with anger and uncertainty this week. With the decision to lift the suspension of operations obliterating the past and only halfway tracing the future, distrust of the university’s minions and its board of trustees runs high.
University Vice Chancellor and Spokesperson Mary Lou LaPierre jockeyed for Community Member of the Week honors this week by putting a heroic spin on this past weekend’s Board of Trustees decision to lift the suspension of operations.
LaPierre told a reporter from Inside Higher Ed magazine what the board of trustees really thinks about the current state of Antioch College. The article says LaPierre told the reporter, “The board believes it would be wrong to recruit new first-year students until facilities are fixed up and academic programs are improved.” She then called the curriculum “not attractive enough to attract enough students,” and added that time was needed for “market testing.”
LaPierre’s statement to the press came up in Pulse as did criticisms of Lynda Sirk, the freshly appointed special assistant to the COO –now interim president– regarding institutional advancement and public relations.
“Our view is that she (LaPierre) cannot speak for Antioch College,” said Alumni Board Governance Chair Ellen Borgersen. “Antioch College must have its own spokesperson.”
Beth Goodney, a student ComCil representative, asked about “the bounce:” the theory that the announcement of the suspension being lifted, together with a coordinated media attack the college, would get an upswing of media attention. Taking into account the incredible grass roots pledge drive by alumni that brought an alternative to the table and what the university is counting as a “historic moment,” Goodney asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: “Where is the good PR?”
Newly appointed interim President and long time administrator, Andrzej Bloch, said that institutional advancement employee Risa Grimes has been out of work recovering from surgery. He also said that it’s important that we “speak in one language.”
“Where’s Lynda?” graduating 2nd year Mariel Traiman asked. “Is she working on this?”
Bloch said that she was doing routine tasks including mailings and sending out emails.
Associate Professor of Film and Communications, Anne Bohlen, pointed out that, “Public relations is not doing a mailing,” while AdCil student member Julian Sharp talked about the need to be “facing the fact in this community: There’s a lot of distrust in that office.”
“That specific function [public relations] has been lacking for quite awhile,” according to Associate Professor of Media Arts Chris Hill. “That function needs to be productive […] if we are going to move forward,” she said.
Other talk in Pulse centered around the ability to recruit a first-year class for Fall ’08. The college right now is not recruiting. This is due to the lack of degree-granting ability designated by the Ohio Board of Regents, Borgersen expained. When the university board of trustees declared the suspension of operations, the regents told the college it could grant degrees until December 31, 2008. Without the proper paperwork filed to get the regents to change their mind, they can’t technically guarantee that an incoming first-year would be able to obtain a degree. Once the proper paperwork is filed recruitment will be an issue to deal with.
There was confusion over accreditation and degree-granting ability. Borgersen clarified that the college’s accreditation was intact, but as it stands now the degree-granting ability runs out at the onset of 2009.
While it is true that the college can’t recruit first-years until it has the go-ahead from the board of regents, Borgersen assured the college can recruit “qualified transfer students.”
Director of Cafeteria Services, Marvin Bohn, informed the community that of the cuts in student services promised by the resolution to lift the suspension, dining services might be counted as some of the “fat.”  Bohn said that the cafeteria’s refrigerators and walk-in freezers have been health code violations for months now. The only reason they haven’t been shut down is that the college was slated to close. Now with the immediate need of new fridges and freezers and their cost, Bohn speculated the Caf might get the axe. Then he walked out before anyone could ask questions.
In other news, Community Members of the Week were Borgersen and Bloch, because they spent a lot of time trying to get the college to stay open, and they did.
Operations Manager, Corri Frohlich ’07, and Associate Professor of Photography, Dennie Eagleson ’71, presented the commencement committee process to the community with a video of some highlight commencement speakers from the past 15 years. The speakers included Bobby Seale, Amy Goodman, Michael Moore, and Stephen Jay Gould ’63. The only speakers Antioch realy needs, though, are for multimedia presentations in McGregor 113; for the fifth time this term people had to hold their breath to hear the audio.
The commencement committee will be accepting recommendations for commencement speakers all week. Email Corri with suggestions or look for a box to slip a note in.
Next week: thank-yous, cil updates, CFB proposals, announcements, hopefully not trivia, and pulse. See you suckers there.