By Sarah Buckingham
“Its my understanding that we cannot currently accept applications for any students until the Ohio Board of Regents comes back with a decision,” said Robin Heise, Director of Financial Aid, this week. “We do have a few students who deferred their applications, so there will be new students in the spring, but just a handful, less than six.”
When the Antioch University Board of Trustees announced this summer it would suspend operations at the College, it also told the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) that the College would cease awarding credits and conferring degrees at the end of December 2008. Now that the suspension has been lifted, the College needs permission from the OBR to continue granting degrees and credits beyond that date before admissions and recruitment efforts can begin.
As part of it’s efforts to keep the College open, the Alumni Board formed an Admissions Committee this summer to develop a recruitment plan and implement it once the OBR gives the green light. The committee is made up of college staff, Alumni Board members, and alumni, as well as faculty and student liaisons. “A few of us have direct experience in the profession, past and/or present,” said Kristin Pett, a lead organizer on the Alumni Board Admissions Committee, “some of us have had extensive experience volunteering for admissions in the past; some of us are simply in education and some of us simply want to help bring in a new class for Antioch. We have had a few conference calls as needed since August, developed the Emergency Recruitment and Enrollment Plan, have gone through an admissions training, and are now in the process of implementing phases of the plan. The group will implement more phases of the plan as the college becomes more operational, Pett explained. “Most importantly, we see ourselves as being a support for the admissions and financial aid office.”
Currently, however, there are no paid admissions staffers and Weston Hall, the building that used to house Admissions and Financial Aid, is now home to the Office of Institutional Advancement.
“There’s no one in admissions,” Heise said, “There’s no one. That’s why I’m unofficially assuming other duties. I know there have been discussions to possibly bring in a part-time admissions counselor, depending on the Board of Regents, and I assume we’ll have a full-time person in six months.” Until then, it is up to Heise, Pett, and other volunteers to carry out the emergency plan. When they can start doing so is another matter. It is Heise’s belief that the OBR will come back with a positive decision within weeks. “I’m working with the admissions committee of the Alumni Board and we’re trying to unofficially plan visit days. We need help from students with all kinds of things so that when we get that green light we’re ready to hit the road running.
We are unofficially thinking about what needs to happen and putting a plan in place,” she said, “so that once the OBR gives us the okay we’ll be much further ahead than we would be.”
University Chancellor Toni Murdock and Interim President Andrzej Bloch have been in contact with the OBR and, by press time, will have informally met with a representative of that organization. College administrators and alumni are optimistic that recruitment will begin soon, but it is still unclear whether Antioch College will see a freshman class enter next fall. The Alumni Board Admissions Committee’s Emergency Recruitment and Enrollment Plan does not identify first year students as a primary target population for Fall 2008 and focuses instead on transfer and international students, legacies, and re-admissions. The rationale is that is it simply “too late in the season to launch a large-scale traditional recruitment campaign for first-year students.” The emergency plan outlines ways to “simultaneously recruit the entering class of Fall ‘08 and ‘09.”
In contrast, Chancellor Murdock stated in a letter to AdCil, “The College will recruit transfer students as soon as possible. We are talking this week to OBR for permission to extend our accreditation
for current and transfer students to at least 2010…The College will recruit first year students again when the College is in better financial condition.” Specifically, the letter continues, if 18 million is raised this year and if, “we are assured of success in achieving the target of an additional 25 million next year.”
“Right now we are getting ready for the recruitment of transfer students,” said Pett, “Using alumni as tele-counselors will be key to help qualify the inquiry pool for admissions. For example, alumni will help call prospective students, attend college fairs, conduct Interview Days, and host events such as, The Value of an Antioch Education, through their chapters. We will also host transfer events on campus. That’s an event to transfer in, not out!”
“It’s going to be tough, no question,” Pett continued, “but we are more than ready for a full-on grass roots effort. Just look at what we’ve accomplished over the last four months as a community. We were raised on this kind of experience over the last 155 years, throw in a co-op experience or two, and there is no doubt in my mind that we can do this. If there were ever a college to make this work, it is Antioch.”
By Sarah Buckingham