ProTem Board Member of the Week: Nancy Crow

Why did you agree to be a Pro Tem Board member?

Well, of course I’m in a somewhat different position from other Pro Tem Board members because I am there ex officio as the president of the Antioch College Alumni Association. And of course, we could go back to 2000 to talk about why I am on the Antioch College Alumni Association. I’ve actually been on the board, the alumni board, since 2000, and was elected first vice-president, served as vice-president for four years, and now in my second two-year term as president of the board. I was on the University Board of Trustees, as an ex officio member, until February 18th when the board was reconstituted as a Board of Governors with individual subordinate boards for the campuses in the Antioch University system. At that point I was off the board because there was no longer a position in the bylaws for Antioch College, and I was able to move onto the Board Pro Tem. I had been meeting with the board Pro Tem, and in person meeting in December in New York as an invited guest, so I’d been very much a part of the process.

So you served on the UBOT, how was that, how did cope with that … over the last two years with the college closing and everything?

It was very challenging, very, very difficult, I think I did a lot of good work both in representing the interests of the college alumni and also in forwarding the interests of the university as a whole. I served on the Governance Committee which reconfigured the governance structure for the University Board of Trustees and to the University Board of Governors, and of course when I started my work on that committee the thought was that we would be able to create a Board of Trustees for Antioch College that would have sufficient authority that it would satisfy the concerns not only of the alumni and um, major donors, but also of potential, you know, high quality presidents for the organization, because it became very clear that one of the reasons why the college has suffered in recent years was because the president of the college didn’t have his or her own board that was paying attention solely to the college, and that’s what’s so exciting now about the Board Pro Tem … once we have the keys to the college, we will have a Board of Trustees that’s solely dedicated to Antioch College, and it will be able to hire quality presidents and quality faculty, and really attract the um, students who are looking at other comparable schools, … the schools in our peer group, although, frankly the schools in our peer group, although they are wonderful colleges, in particular I have to give praise to the Great Lakes Colleges Association, which Antioch College was a founding member, because it has provided such tremendous support and guidance, particularly … the president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, all of our sister and brother schools within the Great Lakes Colleges Association are wonderful, wonderful places, and each one offers a somewhat different educational experience, and of course, one of the reasons, to go back to your question about why I’m on the Board Pro Tem, is because I believe that Antioch College can offer an experience, an educational experience that students need today and really is not duplicated anywhere else.

So now you’re on both on the Board Pro Tem and on the Antioch College Alumni Association as the president, how do you negotiate these roles?

It’s extraordinarily time consuming, and one of my goals right now is trying to help guide the Alumni Board back towards a more traditional Alumni Association role, now that we do have the Board Pro Tem that will be able to take stewardship in fiduciary responsibility for the College, what has happened, and I know this is a phrase that Jeanne likes to use, is that things have developed kind of organically and very quickly, the creation of a lot of ad-hoc committees, responding [to] the the University’s sudden announcement in June of 2007 that it was going to suspend operations of the College up to the creation of Nonstop is that we moved very, very quickly and we have, as I said last summer at reunion, gone places no alumni association has ever gone before and you know as a result things have been very, very quick to develop and um, not always understandable. We have, in typical Antioch fashion, developed scores of, (it’s probably a score, maybe it’s just dozens) of um, entities that go by many different names, and being Antiochians of course we have acronyms for all of them. … from the UBOG to the UBOTs to the ZBOT to the TAG and um, it’s very confusing and what I’m trying to do right now is trying to create a somewhat more understandable, easier to understand structure that is going to continue to evolve and that’s helping me. And I also think in answer to the two hats I wear question, that it’s very important for the alumni who, after all, are going to be the foundation for the rebuilding of Antioch College, to have a voice among the Board Pro Tem, which should, soon I hope, no longer be the Board Pro Tem, but the Antioch College Board of Trustees.

What is your vision for the new Antioch?

Well, as I was saying, oh was it the last week or the week before, I was speaking to a Chicago alumni group, as I was talking about the Board Pro Tem, I was focusing on right now the Board Pro Tem is looking at what the needs are for a world-class college, our educational needs today and the world yet to come. We want to create inquiring, knowledgeable, flexible human beings who can respond to the rapidly changing world today using the skills that they’ve learned in, of course, the familiar fundamentals of an Antioch education, rigorous classroom, community governance and co-op.

The concept paper, which is of course, in some form up for discussion up on the Internet and there’ve been a number of comments related to it. It is an evolving document but it does represent the ideas that the Board Pro Tem is exploring.

How do you think Nonstop will be integrated into the new Antioch?

That’s a very good question. And I don’t think we know yet. Right now the Alumni Board at its last meeting in March on campus, authorized a task-force which is going to help the folks who have been working on proposals for the future of Nonstop, to refine those proposals for presentation to the Board Pro Tem. What we’re anticipating is that those ideas, recommendations, will be ready for presentation at the time that the definitive agreements are entered into which we’re still looking at, I hope, you know, around April 25th date for the definitive agreements. I don’t know whether there will be any slippage in that, but that’s around the end of the 90 day due diligence period for the definitive agreements. So what I’m anticipating is that the task-force will come up with a series of recommendations. The presentation that we heard in March was excellent, it gave a lot of different ideas, about how people from Nonstop, ideas from Nonstop, … can form the foundation for planning for the future of Antioch College. Exactly how that’s going to happen I don’t know, but of course Nonstop has been the keeper of the flame, and has a lot of wonderful people, and wonderful ideas that will help move the process further, but exactly how they’re going to be integrated really hasn’t been decided yet.

It’s unfortunate that we are ending the fiscal year that the Alumni Board was able to commit to through CRF to Nonstop and we don’t yet have the keys to the College, which means the Board Pro Tem is not yet in position to make any commitment to Nonstop and that’s, there may be a gap, I hope it’s not too much of a gap and I’d rather of course not have a gap at all. I’d like to just have an evolution, but I’m hoping that a lot of the great work that Nonstop has done will evolve into work, and part of that is going to, of course, require us to do some reflection, which is again, very Antiochian, um, and what we’ve learned from Nonstop and the experiences of Nonstop.

What was your major? …

I graduated in 1970, I started Antioch in 1966, at that time Antioch was a five-year program, but by testing out of certain general ed requirements I was able to graduate in four … The men did not avail themselves of that option because … the men were subject to the draft, I wasn’t subject to the draft, and therefore I graduated in four years. My major was in the combined departments of Sociology and Anthropology with a focus on Sociology.

What is the most important thing that Antioch taught you?

Great question. The most important thing, the most important thing that Antioch taught me was to be open to new experiences and to examine those experiences and understand them and learn from them.
What did your Antioch look like, or what is “your Antioch”?

The Antioch of my era? … Well, of course it was a much larger student body than it became in later years, and there were a lot of buildings that are now gone on the now temporarily closed campus. And as a result there were people in my graduating class that I never knew. It was interesting: I came back for my 25th reunion, not having come back to Antioch since I left in 1970, and I left without actually going through graduation … I got my degree [laughs], it’s hanging on my wall, but I didn’t go through graduation. In part because it was a very weird time, it was the time of Kent State, which created a huge disruption in Ohio in particular and all over the world. And I came back 25 years later and the first person I saw from the class of 1970 I looked at, and she looked at me, and we said “I’ve never seen you before in my life!” [laughs] which is kind of funny, is that there were half of us on campus at any one time and half of us were out either on co-op or on AEA, and there were a lot of people on campus, a lot of different areas of interest, a lot of pockets of special interests that, they weren’t called, you know, the Independent Groups at that time, but we had them, including of course a great many very politically oriented groups, this was the time of the Vietnam War, it was still the time of the civil rights movement and there were people on campus who were very, very active in those movements, and it’s interesting, one of the other movements that really was just beginning at that time was the environmental movement which was also a strong focus on campus and the very first Earth Day occurred while I was on campus, I think it was April of ’70, and there were people very, very passionately involved in creating Earth Day and it’s fascinating to see how it’s developed in the 39 years since then.
The classes were compelling and challenging, so much so that when I got to law school which I went to after I took a year break traveling around Europe, were so challenging … when I got to law school I found law school to be pretty easy, it was interesting to run into people who’d gone to other schools who say, “Oh, my gosh, I’m terrified, I’ve never written a twenty-page paper before,” and I think I had to write at least a twenty-page paper for almost every class, except of course in math classes.

Anything else you would like to say about being on the Pro Tem Board or as the president of the Alumni Association?

Well, Antioch’s education made a huge difference in my life, in addition to what I said before, another aspect of my Antioch education was my ability to learn and explore areas outside of my career, like film for example, something that was a big focus at Antioch and that I’ve enjoyed film ever since, the ability of Antioch College to provide people with an education for their entire lives is something which is very, very important and one of the reasons why I believe so passionately in what we are doing to ensure that Antioch College can continue as a residential liberal arts college that prepares people for life and for future leadership.