By Jeanne Kay
Andrzej Bloch opened AdCil on Tuesday morning by apologizing for the tone of the letter that was sent to the faculty on November 9th, confirming the fact that they would all be fired on June 30th, 2008. “It may have come through in a very harsh manner,” he said, “But the reality is quite harsh and the letter reflects this reality.” The letter would he retracted and redrafted, but, he specified, the content would remain the same.
In the conversation that ensued about the possibility that the letters interrupting faculty’s employment could be withdrawn, the arguments expressed the previous week were reiterated. Bloch maintained that he had no power to withdraw the letters, because it was the Board of Trustees prerogative. Faculty Member David Kammler argued that the interim president should be advocating for their withdrawal. Faculty Member Patricia Mische expressed the wish that the Faculty Personnel Policy guidelines be followed. She also asked for a written statement assuring the faculty that tenure would be maintained.
Faculty Member Hassan Nejad and Student member Julian Sharp both emphasized the urgency of the situation and the necessity to adapt a more radical course of action in order to prevent mass attrition in the following months. “This ship is going down,” professed Sharp, “and if you don’t understand that, I’m sorry.” “If the future is in the hands of this community,” said Nejad, “We need to act now.”
Several faculty members advocated to have faculty representatives join Bloch in the negotiations with the Ohio Board of Regents. Nothing was officially resolved in this regard.
At 10 a.m. Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock joined AdCil. She presented the assembly with a document (see p. ) composed of a letter to AdCil followed by a series of Q&As, to “clear out some of the misconceptions,” she declared. Some of the points in the document were the subjects of much indignation in the room. The possibility that no first year students would be recruited until the $25million dollars benchmark was met in 2009 was, in particular, subject to sever condemnation. “This is not a plan to keep Antioch College open,” declared Nejad, who pointed out that faculty and staff were already so small that reducing their size would mean that “students are not going to come back.”
“It is a conundrum,” replied Murdock, who further explained that it was “a whole issue of finances,” and that there simply wasn’t enough money to support students and services at the current level of operations. “I cannot pull a rabbit out of a hat here,” she concluded, pointing out that she “did not put the college into this mess.”
Former Dean of Faculty and Alumni Board member Steve Schwerner, speaking in the name of the Alumni Board, declared that the Alumni Board’s understanding of the agreement in regards to recruitment was not in concord with Murdock’s view. He quoted the Agreement in Principle, according to which the college shall “resume recruitment when fiscally and academically feasible.” He then declared that it was already academically feasible, and that “nothing would prevent the college from opening an admissions office this afternoon.”
Schwerner also underlined the fact that the University was not giving subsidies to the college, but royalties, for using the brand name Antioch as well as profiteering from Antioch’s stellar history and reputation. Murdock replied that if that attitude remained, “we’re never going to work together, it’s always going to be us and them.”
“It looks like we can make it,” concluded Bloch, before scheduling an additional AdCil closed meeting for committee appointments, “It’s not going to be easy but it looks like we can make it.”
By Jeanne Kay