Not being much of a Charles Dickens fan, I would say these are neither the best of times nor the worst of times, but we may soon find ourselves close to one extreme or the other with the approaching deadline for transferring Antioch College to the Board Pro Tem.
That does make these the most stressful of times for many of us in Nonstop, the College Revival Fund and the Alumni Board.
Perhaps it’s thus an apt time to turn to some fragments from the poem “If” by another Brit who is not one of my favorites, Rudyard Kipling and conclude with a bit of paraphrase to fit our circumstances:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
“Are losing theirs …
“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
“Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies…
“If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
“If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim…
“Yours is the legacy and all that’s in it,
“And — which is more — you’ll be an Antiochian.”
Knowingly or not, that old colonial racist was explicating a principle attributed to the pre-Christian sage Hillel (cited here in a slightly interpretive translation) in the Talmud:
“Where there are no human beings, strive to be a human being.”
Collegiality, creativity and fortitude, especially now, are among our most treasured assets.
Where there are no Antiochians, strive to be an Antiochian.
— Tim Klass, Alumni Board Nominating Committee chair, winter 1968 Record editor, class of 1971
I want to take this opportunity to thank you profusely for my experience of these past six months. My one year at Antioch changed my life, expanded my horizons, deepened my understanding of the world we live in, and facilitated my growth as a human being. My experience at Nonstop has done exponentially more.
Since beginning my course of studies at Nonstop, I have sat on ComCil and the Diversity Committee. I have attended meetings of the Yellow Springs Human Relations Committee and the YS youth council. I have helped draft and implement policies and community agreements, painted walls, worked sound systems and microphones, attended numerous presentations and even participated in a few myself, and I have participated in countless powerful, emotional community discussion. I’ve also sat in classes that absolutely blew my mind, had innumerable meaningful discussions with unbelievably intelligent people both in and out of class, and worked myself to death to complete assignments.
And I’ve had the great pleasure and great honor to socialize with some of the most intelligent, most caring, dedicated, and inspiring people on the face of the planet.
In some ways, I think the uncertainty we find ourselves with now is the greatest we have ever faced. The definitive agreements are likely, but not certain, and if they are implemented, we’ve no guarantee that the living spirit of Antioch College-the heart, mind, energy and values which make us unique among institutions of higher education-no guarantee that these strengths will be carried over to the new Antioch College in the form of the current Nonstop Community.
Personally, I’m an incurable optimist. I’ll go on assuming that Antioch College will continue in spirit as well as name after this June until proven wrong beyond the last shadow of a doubt.
But I tell you this: even if the very worst should happen; even if all that is left of Antioch College after this June is a name and a memory: it was worth it. Worth every last sleepless night, interminable meeting, mind numbing-cramming session, and frantic strategy session. Worth every tear, every scream, every exclamation of inarticulable disgust.
[…] this opportunity to recreate what Antioch should always have been. […] An institution that encourages young people to think for themselves, to backup their ideas with actual rigor and, and to appreciate the conflicting ideas of others. […] We have this great combination of an institution with a great legacy and at the same time has a pause in which we can really catch our breath and do what’s right without having to keep it running day to day.
[…] I didn’t want to disappoint anybody with my being on the board. I didn’t want people to assume that I had great buckets of money that I could give the college. I didn’t want anybody to assume that I had great huge amounts of time that I could give on a day to day basis to the college. So I think those were the two biggest concerns. […] And they insisted. […] they basically reassured me that I wasn’t going to be disappointing anybody. […] So I agreed because I am very excited about the whole possibility of what we’re doing. And I resisted because I didn’t want to let anybody down.
What is your vision for the new Antioch?
An Antioch that has strong academics, full of people serious about learning. And intellectual rigor, I think the word rigor is very important to me. That I want people who don’t just believe things, but they can back up their belief in something with strong argument and strong evidence. And that while their passion may be driven from their emotions, their action is backed up by their knowledge. […] Antioch has always, Antiochians in general have always had an enormous amount of passion, have not always been very self-critical, they have not always been required to back up their ideas with intellectual rigor, and an explanation and evidence. […]
And so for me the vision of Antioch has to include a campus that’s full of conflicting ideas. People have to be getting practice in defending their point of view. Not from attack, not from ad homonym, or emotional hurtful statements, but from honest legitimate inquiry. […]
[A new Antioch will] strongly encourages people to be agents of change in the world. […] that makes the world a better place than what they’ve found.[…] I want us to turn out people with agendas.
[…] I’d like us to create an Antioch in which all of those time-lines of helping somebody right this moment, helping somebody over the course of the next few years, and helping the whole civilization over the next ten or fifteen years, all of those time-lines are valued. […]
And so I’m looking for diversity that will, in some sense, force everybody to reexamine their own ideas […] And I think that’s the great thing that the cauldron of the college campus can offer, is that opportunity to be in a relatively safe place, and yet really getting practice at defending your ideas, living your ideals, and being challenged.
How do you think Nonstop will be integrated into the new Antioch College?
I mean, mostly there isn’t much I can say, we don’t know, is what it really come down to. And there’s really not very much that’s known, um, I think one of the most important things that we need to do is to think about, … we need to figure out what the right thing for Antioch is, what should it be, what do we want it to be? And when we know what it is we are trying to create, then we’re in a much better position to look around at the resources available and try to make the best use of them to achieve that goal.
And we’re just beginning a process, that will take lots of people, not just the board, but lots of people a long time, to figure out what is it we’re trying to create here. Because I think that’s very important to kee-, the verb I like the use is ‘create’, not ‘restore’. We’re not trying to go back to some earlier state, we’re trying to create a new thing. And when we know what it is what we’re trying to create, we’ll know what resources we need and how best to bring them to bare.
What was your major?
[in ’77] I was a Drama major in New York City. […] And that was just not me, I mean, I loved all the studies, but everything seemed to be pointing at […] Broadway […] and I wasn’t at all interested in that. […] and so I ended up leaving the drama program […] and becoming a double major in Music and Computer Science and looking for another college to go to and ended up choosing Antioch, and thought I was going to continue my double major in Music and Computer Science, but Computer Science Department had disappeared between the summer when I had visited and the fall when I arrived, and so I ended up being a Music major, […] majoring in my avocation, […] and teaching and TAing computing on the side. And did all my co-op jobs in computing, sometimes in finding a job in computing [laughs]. And ended up getting a BA in Music, […]
What was your favorite co-op?
… This is 1980, I believe, it’s spring/summer co-op … So it’s a sixth month co-op and that means you can get a sort of longer job, and Al Denman, who I believe was a faculty member, and I think is still around, I don’t know, had a son, Don Denman, who was working as a programmer, I believe, at a then much, much smaller company called Apple. […]
So […] Apple was in like two different buildings, and Steve Jobs is walking around and it’s all very exciting, and Don informs me that they have a hiring freeze, and they won’t be able to hire me. […] trying to find jobs in computing, which was a lot harder than, then say, a few years ago. And uh, I remember one of the jobs that looked really good was being a Unix system administrator for the US Geological Survey […] and so I met with those guys, […] And this was gonna be great. And it turned out the position was actually outsourced to a company called EDF, […] we went into the office of this woman who was the representative of EDF, […] and we’re filling out all the paperwork and I remember, she said, […] “And of course you’ll need to shave your beard and cut your hair.” […] And this was just a complete shock to me and to the other two guys.
And they were just like “What’s going on here? Why is that the case?” […] and it turns out that because I would be working for EDF and not working for the government, I have to follow the EDF dress code, […] And Mr. Perot doesn’t approve of long hair or beards, […] and the USGS guys could tell that I was thinking it over, […], and they said “Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare, we’re really sorry not to get you, but you can’t do this to yourself. Don’t give in to this.” And so I didn’t. And I’m glad they, they did that. And uh, and I didn’t get that job, it wasn’t available to someone who looked like me.
[…] and so that’s my most memorable coop, I’m sure. I had a second co-op, um, before I left. I was only at Antioch for two years. […] but I don’t remember what the other co-op was. […]
What is your position on open-source software in the context of higher education?
[…] My position is that there’s a lot of great software that’s open source, there’s a lot of great software that’s commercial, I’m not a zealot in either direction. I think that there are a lot of sources of cost of software, one of them is the purchase price, but much more of it is what happens after that, support and deployment and maintenance and growth. And that you need many situations to think about what you’re requirements are, and uh, and then look at the various options that are available, and count the complete costs, […] And in some cases it will be open source and in some cases it will not be. And that’s the right way to choose software and not based on ideology.
And I think the key thing I think we need to do is to share the cost of software with other colleges, the obvious group would be the Great Lakes College Association, […] And so that we might be able to run personnel management and payroll through one system that one member of the associates pays for and maintains and we might be able to run, you know, content management for academics in a different way, and again, share these resources across various institutions […].We aren’t going to find a single piece of software that’s going to meet all of our needs across that huge breadth, and so I just think we just need to take a very clear-eyed non-ideological point of view about it and make the best decisions for each case, really considering what the requirements are.
What are you doing now?
[…] There’s a huge revolution in computers coming, very shortly, it’s nearly upon us, most of the general public is unaware of it. […] what it really comes down to is we can’t afford to make computers faster, we know how to make them faster, but we cant afford it. And the thing we cant afford is heat. […] And it turns out there’s really only one solution, and that’s to run slower, […] the nice thing is slower computers can be very, very small, we’re still good at making things smaller and smaller and smaller, we don’t seem to be close to the edge of that. So the only thing that we can do is instead of having faster computers, we can have lots more smaller slower computers, […]
[…] we’re moving towards a world where that little desktop computer that you’ve got, […] Your computer is going to get a lot more processors, […] And the crisis is that we don’t know how to use that many. […] We have to take, you know, the applications that you’re using and they have to be written in a different way, so they can take advantage of multiple processors. […]
[So I’m working] under a senior vice president at Microsoft, […] he reports directly to Steve Ballmer, the chairman or CEO of the company. And we’re this little group of about 75 people. […] basically trying to figure out how should we build computers that are vastly more secure, vastly more reliable, vastly more connected to the network. And able to deal with vast numbers of processors, because it’s not the way that any of the existing operating systems, whether it’s Windows or Linux or Mac OS, […] and they’re all based on ideas that were maybe right 30 years ago, maybe, but they’re certainly wrong now. … it’s an opportunity to do things right. […]
[…] really great jump from that to the Antioch experience, which is that we really aren’t trying to figure out not how to restore the Antioch of two years ago, or five years ago, or 50 years ago, we’re trying to figure out for today, the right Antioch and build that. And that’s what’s so incredibly exciting about this opportunity.
[…] I mean, the board’s job is to guide the overall process and in particular for these parts were you just can’t have a whole mob of people involved, getting these legal agreements and getting separated from the university. […] in order to really begin the process of figuring out what is the right Antioch for the 21st century. And that’s a process where we expect to get a lot more people involved and try to figure out what the right thing is and once we know what we’re trying to build, then we can look around at the resources that are available, and figure out how to best bring them to bare to achieve that.
Before the school closed down in April of ‘07, […] I was part of something called the Antioch Science Advisory Board, […] and we all came to campus in April, […] talked about how best we […] could help the sciences at Antioch, by bringing to bare all of these incredibly accomplished science alumni of the college […] help science education at Antioch and it was so exciting, […] the great things that we could do, starting seminar series and […] and like a month and a half later comes this stunning announcement, that the school is shutting down. […]
[…] that was the first time I’d been back to yellow spring in 25 years, which is a very, very trippy experience. Oh my god, I just had to get away from people and walk on campus. Its like all these ghosts are talking to me. […] things that I’d just completely forgotten. […] it was just an incredible experience for me to just sit there and regain all these memories, […] And then a month and a half later “No, no, no, we’re going to shut it all down.” […] So that’s one of the things we talked about a lot on the board, and you know, exactly what are the conditions of these buildings, exactly what can we afford to save, what can we not afford to save.
The first Alumni Board meeting of the year opened morning of Friday the 6th with a presentation by Antioch Emeritus Professor Steve Schwerner, who was representing the delegation if educators who came to Nonstop and reported on their visit to the Board Pro Tempore. [link to Record article on visit] Schwerner said he expected that everyone had already read the eight-page report, [Link to the Report] and preferred to answer questions from the floor rather than reiterate the points made on paper. He specified that he would be unable to answer “questions of speculative nature,” since he was not in a position to answer them, and stipulated that he could only speak for himself.
Schwerner, however, stated that the Visiting Team was “impressed on every level; we were impressed by the seriousness of the faculty, by the excitement of the students, the innovations, the ability to make something out of nothing.” Yet he emphasized that despite the unquestionable value of Nonstop, it was too early to assess how it would be reintegrated into the new college; “to lose everything that Nonstop has done seems foolish, to incorporate everything is impossible.”
Several board members pressed Schwerner for a more definite assessment of the way Nonstop would or should be integrated back into Antioch College, but he found himself unable give any more details; “how to incorporate [Nonstop] verges on the area of speculation,” he said, “I do know what I’ve been told from people whom I trust who are on the ProTem Board, that that hasn’t even come up yet; that all of the attention is being focused on getting the college back.” Signing the Definitive Agreements was described as the ProTem Board’s priority, as well as securing accreditation, fixing the campus buildings and fundraising for the new college. The Visiting Team’s report, however, fulfilled its purpose with great success, according to Schwerner; “everybody on the ProTem Board now believes… that Nonstop is a really serious organization and needs to be looked at as something to help with the building of the new Antioch,” he said, “that’s probably the single, most important thing that came out of this visit, from my perspective.”
Matthew Derr Speaks to the Board
Chief Transition Officer and Consultant to the Board Pro Tempore, Matthew Derr started his address to the Alumni Board by commenting on the previous conversation on the reintegration of Nonstop; “the history of the college–recent and back to Horace Mann–is essential to what happens next and we are all stakeholders in that history,” he said, “the notion that somehow an institution starts in a new direction and loses that legacy is one of the most unattractive and certainly not a beguiling characteristic to the ProTem Board.”
Matthew Derr then announced that the Task Force was making “significant progress in coming to an agreement with Antioch University;” “we are in a dance together… until we come to an agreement,” he said, “the dance seems to be speeding up and the parties seem to be getting along.” He expressed confidence about the eventual separation of the college from the University “in a way that we described in the alumni resolutions from Reunion and in the charge for the Board Pro Tem.” While the room erupted in laughter at Derr’s statement that “much of what we’re doing now is actually in the hands of attorneys, and that’s a very good sign,” he assured the board that GLCA “neutral” lawyers were involved and that all parties involved in the task force were working in the same direction. The Task Force will meet in Boston on Monday March 16th for a midpoint report, and a GLCA press release will follow.
Derr dismissed the rumors according to which the date of the definitive agreement had been deferred. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to do this sooner rather than later,” he said.
Despite the economic crisis, the fundraising target for the 90 days period are not unattainable, Matthew Derr affirmed. “We’re making progress, funds are coming in, big gifts seem to be coming in daily, people are taking our appointments, they’re not turning us down.” As to his fundraising strategy, Derr said: “My essential case statement is: now is the only time when one gets to support Antioch. It’s now. I personally give to planned parenthood, but it will be there next year.” He further explained that “by necessity,” the focus was on major giving ($25,000 and up,) but that a broader, Obama-style fundraising campaign was to be expected for the upcoming years.
In regards to the college’s accreditation, “it is a very narrow band of work we’re doing,” said Derr, who emphasized that the task consisted of delineating a process for obtaining accreditation; “it’s process, not content,” he underlined. “It is our impression that there is a lot of goodwill and interest in facilitating this,” he assessed.
The issue of the concept paper was then discussed. Derr explained that the concept paper outlined a business plan but did not address curriculum, and was written for the primary purpose of showing a plan to the University, and was now being used solely for fundraising purposes. When further questioned by board Member Laura Fathauer ’95, Matt Derr acknowledged that “the concept paper should have been out there earlier,” and said that it will be circulated “as quickly as we possible can.”
Matthew Derr asserted that there was a “high degree of communication” between the ProTem Board and Nonstop. Corroborating examples include the ProTem Board’s decision to send the visiting team to report to them about Nonstop, their choice to meet in Yellow Springs in February and to let Nonstop give a presentation about their work, and Matthew Derr’s weekly meeting with Nonstop’s Executive Collective. He echoed Steve Schwerner’s statement according to which the Board ProTem was not yet in a position to be taking concrete decision about Nonstop; the spirit of the board follows the following logic: “We will make no assertions, we will make no commitments until we can make promises. I think it’s partly based on the history of unfunded mandates…and this board tries to behave differently,” he said, “you should not interpret their silence as meaning anything other than silence, and I encourage you to look at their actions and try to understand how they may look at the world.”
When several board members expressed concern about the fact that no Nonstop faculty member had been invited to join the Board Pro Tempore despite the alumni board’s recommendation, Matthew Derr answered that the bylaws included provisions for both a faculty member and a student to join the board. However, none of the Nonstop faculty is, as of now, officially a faculty member of the college: “there will be no employees of the future Antioch College until we have Antioch College,” he declared, “and the process by which we have employees hasn’t been defined.” Moreover, having a board member engaged in a lawsuit against the University would be problematic for the negotiations; the faculty lawsuit was thus cited as another reason for the current absence of faculty member on the board.
“The Board ProTem is aware of the challenges of the calendar, and the decisions that the Alumni Board and the CRF Board will need to make, and the fact that this vacuum is there,” Matthew Derr concluded, “but there isn’t a plan to make this vacuum go away until there is an Antioch College… our timing is off, to pretend otherwise is just not right.”
Nonstop presented Friday afternoon the “Nonstop Antioch Proposal to the Antioch College Alumni Board.” The proposal was written by a committee of ExCil, which included Beverly Rodgers, Hassan Rahmanian, and Chris Hill of ExCol, Community Manager Chelsea Martens, student Jeanne Kay, faculty Jean Gregorek, and staff Carole Braun.
Beverly Rodgers began the presentation with the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14) asserting that the investment that the Alumni Board had put into Nonstop, and the retention of the institutional wisdom of the faculty and staff, would fail to pay “dividends” if “Nonstop ceases to exist at the end of June”. Furthermore, “if Nonstop’s successful relationship building outreach lies foul for a year and a half, I think we will have the same consequences as the buried talent, only you may not have one talent left, it may be totally eroded.”
The proposal described how Nonstop could be integrated into the new independent Antioch College; students could be working in recruitment, fundraising and rehabilitation of the campus; staff working as staff and faculty taking on various administrative roles, writing grant proposals and mentoring students.
“What we’re asking this weekend is for you to help us fine-tune this proposal. It will take all of us to be able to come up with a proposal that makes sense to the governing bodies, to the responsibilities that all these governing bodies have,” said Chris Hill.
During the Question & Answer section, Alumni Board members asked for far more concrete projections than the committee was prepared to make. “Have you thought about what the budgeting would look like for the planning for the reopening and the long-term health of the college?” asked Alumni Board President and Board ProTem member Nancy Crow. Other questions regarding a time-line for bringing the proposal to the Board ProTem and curriculum were asked as well. In response Chris Hill said that conflicting messages made it unclear to what extent the ProTem wanted input on certain issues. Also, they felt, “it was much more important to look at the larger picture and say, ‘if this is something that you feel can go forward, then let’s work together and figure it out.’ I think it’s a larger question.”
The next day, in closed session, the Alumni Board passed the following resolution:
“In the spirit of building from the movement toward an independent Antioch College that the Alumni Board has been trying to advance;
In the hope of strengthening the united movement that has informed the Alumni Board’s creation of three separate entities, one for finance (CRF), one for academics (Nonstop), one for governance (Board Pro Tem);
The Alumni Board establishes a Taskforce to foster collaboration and build consensus with representatives of the key stakeholders who have played such an important role in our movement to develop an independent Antioch College: Nonstop, the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board. The Taskforce is charged to develop the proposal presented by Nonstop to this Board yesterday for presentation to the Board Pro Tem. ”
College Revival Fund Discusses Nonstop Financing Issue
College Revival Fund (CRF) Treasurer Barrie Grenell said that the new bookkeeper was close to straightening up the budgeting mishap. “We had to go back and relook at all of the transactions that took place and make sure that we did have everything correctly, and we need to still do that with the pledges….but in terms of the cash part we feel confident that we’ve got that part down. Grenell announced that a CRF audit was upcoming that would focus on July 07 to December 31st ’08.
Grenell went on to address the issue of Nonstop’s funding. The last benchmark to guarantee Nonstop’s funding through June had not been met yet, and after previsions of incoming funds in the next two months, it was estimated that between $50,000 and $60,000 were still to be raised to fulfill the deficit, but it was suggested that the working figure should be set at $75,000 because of the uncertainty over incoming revenue.
Nonstop unrestricted funds coming every month were presented as one of the best ways to fulfill the gap; about 11,000 dollars have already been transferred from unrestricted funds to Nonstop, and any upcoming unrestricted funds not used for administrative overhead is set to go to Nonstop. Most outstanding pledges were said to have been made by Alumni Board members; Grenell said she had “some indication” that some of these pledges would not be fulfilled.
The floor was then left to the board’s questions. Nonstop IT Coordinator Tim Noble enquired: “I see no evidence of pledges being made [between Dcember ’08 and February ’09] which leads me to believe that nobody is pledging for Nonstop because perhaps they’re not being asked. At what point did we stop raising money for Nonstop?” Director of Alumni Relations, Aimee Maruyama, answered that only gifts in cash were asked to be given to Nonstop, because of the urgency of the situation. “It’s more a strategy for fundraising,” she explained, “because right now… what we need for Nonstop are cash gifts. We’re doing pledges, which is future money, for an independent Antioch College.”
Tim Eubanks ’00 suggested cutting spending in other areas in order to redirect money to Nonstop. Barrie Grenell asserted that Nonstop’s budget should not be micromanaged; and it was said that cuts in the CRF budget should be discussed in another venue.
Budget Committee member Wayne Snively suggested that each board member commit to collecting $2,500 from fundraising or personal funds; Barrie Grenell specified that this would be an average, since each board member’s circumstances vary.
Nonstop Executive Collective member Chris Hill reminded the board that Nonstop came under budget by $150,000, and was thus not responsible for the deficit. She asked whether the CRF would continue to fundraise for Nonstop. “I don’t make decisions on goals,” said CRF Executive Director Risa Grimes, “I put the mechanism into place; goals are set by the ProTem Board and by the CRF board…our primary job is to raise money for an independent Antioch College… We’re in an ambiguous situation; our salaries are being paid by the ProTem Board.” Nancy Crow intervened to specify that “we have one unified fundraising campaign…we are all working towards the same goal: the independent Antioch College… Everything has to happen under that umbrella,” she said. The board, according to Nancy Crow, hopes to see “much of the wonderful work that Nonstop is doing funded as part of the plan for the independent college going further.”
“What I’m saying is why can’t there be an assertion by this board that we’ve made major contributions to the revival of the college” said Chris Hill, “and if there’s a shortfall of 50 or 75 thousand dollars, why that money can’t come from the millions that are being raised to benefit the people who have put their professional lives on the line to stay here and keep the college open and to create a really good story for you all… We’re responsible for real concrete contributions to this revival.”
Several solutions were suggested to remedy the deficit through June, including sending Nonstop community members to chapter meetings, reducing the Nonstop budget–though some objected that Nonstop having come under budget and considering that a commitment had been made by the board to cover the approved budget– and board members individually fundraising among their friends and alumni from their area. “We are going to try our level best to make sure that we can fulfill our promises,” Nancy Crow concluded.
Pledge forms were distributed during the meeting, Barrie Grenell announced that $7410 had been raised in cash, $10,700 had been raised in pledges, there was 350 dollars pledge payment and a possible $5000 withholding, for a total of between $18,000 and $23,000 raised in the hour.