“I did not get this college into this mess, it’s been going on for 30 years, I’m here to get it out of the mess.” –Toni Murdock
If one thing has become evident this week, then it is that Toni Murdock is not the person to get Antioch out of this mess. While holding on to the claim that she did not build the sinking ship, she is not using the wisdom of the crew that sailed it for years. Meanwhile, she does not have the expertise to address the needs of the college, nor the willingness to learn about its history in order to tackle the systemic problems that prevent it from flourishing.
Her appearance in AdCil on Tuesday has once again made that clear.
Murdock’s interpretation of the joined resolution, two weeks ago, goes straight against that of the Alumni Board. Good faith indeed seems to be lost when seeing members of the AB shake their head in disbelief this week when hearing the chancellor convey her outline for the road ahead.
Following Toni’s vision, we cannot recruit students until “financially stable” another two years from now. Financial exigency, meanwhile, continues to be used as a means to terminate faculty and staff contracts, setting off an avalanche of insecurity across campus.
Current students fear their departments and community disappearing, and accepting new students in the near future does not seem to be part of the Murdock strategy for success.
Neither does PR for the college. At a time that the OBR is assessing our continued accreditation, University officials on the chancellor’s pay roll bring out hurtful statements about the College, to the point that I’m almost glad our own inadequate PR person takes regular vacations from her responsibilities. Instead of saying she will do everything in her power to promote the college and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future, Murdock freed herself from blame and refused to even look at the highlighted quote that was passed to her from across the table.
As difficult as it is to make her address the problems right in front of her, it seems impossible to even make her look at that which lies beneath.
It is interesting to see how Murdock acknowledges the college’s problems began with the creation of the University 30 years ago, yet she fails to see its currents situation as an outcome of that. Instead, the essential issue in her view is “The college needs to stop blaming the University.”
In all of this, it is her tone of voice that gives her sentiments away most. The contempt for the college that continuously failed to balance its budget shows her failure to see and address the structural problems at the heart of the college’s financial failure. And they are numerous.
It is exactly this tone of voice that shows why red flags in conversation, like “depreciation,” matter so much, funded or not.
It is university measures like these, imposed on an institution already drained of its resources, that perpetuate the idea that we are not worthy of real, grown-up, collaboration — let alone autonomy over our own finances and future.
Depreciation, for one, made sense when it was carried centrally and the college’s endowment growth was used to offset that cost. It stopped making sense when the charge was booked to the college and the majority of the growth still went to the university.
But attempts to make Murdock see these points as valid, or even remotely interesting, fall on deaf ears, whether it be presented by a long term Economics Professor or former Dean with five decades of experience at the college.
Toni continues to see the college through the eyes of the president of a revenue driven, Graduate campus within the University. Her body language oozes a self-righteous belief in her own paradigm of an limpid educational institution and a false sense of sympathy for the situation of the college.
This leads me to believe she will never be able to make the tough decisions, tough for the University, necessary for the rejuvenation of the mother college with all its intricacies.
It is time for a leader that is willing to make hard cuts, break the structure and incorporate the wisdom of a community that has overcome many storms before.