By Eva Erickson and Kim-Jenna Jurriaans
Today the University Board of trustees is voting on a proposal put forward by the deeppocket donors in support of an autonomous Antioch College. As the community awaits the outcome of the vote that is likely to determine the level of operations at the college in future months, community members try hard to adapt to campus life under continuing insecurity.
A group of major donors, over the course of the last month, has taken a collective stance against the outcome of the October 25 summit between the University Trustees and the College Alumni Board, that outlines the future relations between the college and the university. After a preliminary meeting in New York City, last week Monday, donors and representatives of the Trustees met again on Sunday at a session of the Board’s governance committee in Dallas to discuss the donors’ demands. Now the Trustees are voting as a full Board.
“My hope is truly that they come to an agreement, so we can all move on,” says Director of Housing, Katrina Dorsey, in her office yesterday. To keep things moving, much of the current work and preparations on the ground at the college is done with two possible scenarios in mind. A favorable outcome of the meeting, scheduled to take place as this paper goes to print, would establish the desired autonomy to the college, which is expected to come with a significant influx of money over the following months. If the university trustees fail to come to an agreement with the group of deeppocket alumni of the college, the latter are likely to withhold their multi-million chancellor to re-impose a state of suspension on the college.
The three Adcil committees that two weeks ago began their work on creating a plan to determine the level of future operations at the college and the budget to support it, continue their meetings. They do take into account that their charge might be terminated, if a vote of the trustees should be unfavorable. President Andrzej Bloch, in expectance of news from the Board, has scheduled an Adcil meeting on Sunday that will discuss the faculty’s nomination for the position of dean of faculty to lead the Adcil committees in their charge.
Students that are finishing up their term this week are largely unaware of the meeting, but try to be hopeful about the future. “I have no idea what’s going to happen next term,” says first-year student Kelsa Dine, “but it’s going to be fun.” For others, the insecurity that comes with announced faculty cuts and continuing infringement of student services at a ‘dimmed college’ made them consider other options. Tasia Karoutsos, another freshman, is planning on transferring at the end of this academic year. “I want a school where there is faculty, a good science program and decent food,” she says. “I’m currently sixty-forty [for transferring]. As much as I like it here, I can’t sacrifice my education.”
The fear of a loss of academic opportunities remains, as ll current faculty, tenure and adjunct, are still officially laid off as of July 2008. Next to their daily teaching duties, the majority of the faculty is currently applying for positions elsewhere to secure financial stability if worst came to worst.
As the academic review committee of AdCil just began its work and official statements by college and Alumni Board representatives do not specify beyond “as many as possible,” the number of faculty that will be rehired is still unknown. A negative decision by the trustees today, would increase the likelihood of unemployment for a majority of the current staff and faculty.
With one-professor departments and tenured faculty having additional responsibilities as mentors, the composition of the faculty after the summer is expected to further influence student’s decision to continue at Antioch.
In the evaluation of necessary reductions in college operations, staff members too face an uncertain future. For Dorsey, and many others, however, the survival of the college plays a main role. “I’m not nervous about my job,” she says, “I want the college to stay open and if that means getting rid of my position than that’s what it means. Union staff and non-union staff have not been told anything different, so my best guess is that we are all looking for jobs.”
In addition to staffing at the college, the state of facilities and continued accreditation will be at the center of discussion as the community returns to campus in January. “Our accreditation needs to be worked out,” reminds new Head Librarian, Ritchard Kerns, who stresses the importance of the Olive Kettering Library within the discussions between college and university as it is “in limbo” between both parties.
As the community is packing for break and faculty move on to grade final papers, all eyes are on the major donors who will decide whether or not to make good on their Collective $18 million pledges, by December 15.