There’s a lot of irony in this document and its appearance, obviously professionally produced and presented in a fairly polished fashion but ambiguously signed, a collective ‘we’ of an untold number of heads and hands that, by all accounts, speaks a future of Antioch College without involving the trouble of an open discussion in the present with the people who over the last several decades have done the work of continuing the much lauded tradition of exceptional educational outcomes, often in conditions of institutional distress that would have predicted anything but the levels of success Antioch has enjoyed. This document makes its gesture to past successes but looks back much further to supposed greener fields before any of us personally remember, to Mann and Morgan. A substantial number of exceptional young people have gotten their start here much more recently, up, very nearly, to the present and that’s in large part connected to a committed faculty who have resolved to make things happen without remorse about resources lacking.
I’m calling signature of this document ambiguous and a little odd for what it excludes. It’s not the first time we have gotten this feeling reading about Antioch action and policy with surprise. This isn’t a matter of content, although I believe there are matters of content that need to be discussed. It is a question of process, and for the aggrieved faculty of Antioch College to read this report waxing optimistically in a vague future tense about a newly empowered faculty of the college as a future project is where it gets ironic, and it might even be a little funny except we’re all in a very serious and precarious position that doesn’t much lend itself to laughing.
A report about moving forward, if it is going to do justice to the present and especially if it is going to learn from mistakes of the past, benefits immensely from an open dialogue and constructive partnership with the faculty who most understand what has distinguished Antioch even in its hard times; an intellectual and professional partnership that can serve as a basis forward. In this past year in which for the broader American culture so many of the smug ‘wisdoms’ of the market status quo have proven to be puffed-up nonsense, pyramid schemes built only on personal acquisitive ambition rather than any sound sensibility for how we all might better move ahead, Antioch’s values have not been found bankrupt. There has not in recent decades been a time better suited for Antioch values to find a receptive ear, and again consultation and collaboration with the most recent Antioch faculty seems one of the simplest and surest ways to pursue a renewed vitality and an educational plan that arises from the educational offering this new Antioch community would embody.
Of course the document on the table is just a document on the table and not necessarily the last word on what is planned or what might be hoped for. I would though find my confidence better bolstered and much prefer to see a renewed inflection on the newness that gets talked about here brought to practice in the present by favoring fully inclusive process.
M.Arch. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies
Having watched Antiochians over the past fifty years, it has been my experience that while Antioch has gotten smaller–as a direct and indirect result of the ’73 Strike, the 25% cuts in faculty the year after (financial desperation has never worked as a recruiting tool), lingering on the edge of bankruptcy and oblivion, presidents who have not been fond of the institution and have tried to change it into something more marketable and mainstream, shrinking resources and departments (we all know the story)–the students who have come out of Antioch over the years (and those now at NonStop) continue to be, more or less, of the same cloth. Folks, this is remarkable. And the reason for this is the faculty, staff and the smart students who saw through the absence of trappings to something genuine that would engage them.
To be an effective teacher at Antioch demands a dedication and malleability on the part of teachers most institutions don’t require.
I am in the midst of a long essay on Antioch. I have interviewed 20 people, each person for about two hours: from students in the 1930s to current students at NonStop, as well as a number of faculty and two presidents. I think this bit of transcript from my interview with English Professor Jean Gregorek more than makes my point.
JEAN: I was teaching 19th Century British Lit. 20th Century British Lit. Post-Colonial Literature. Literary Theory. Contemporary Drama. African Literature and Caribbean Literature. And Detective Fiction.
ME: Boy, that’s a lot.
JEAN: (Laughs.) In my line of work it’s unheard of. I’m a complete anomaly. No one tries to cover that much…A normal English Department at a small school is, you know, six or seven people.
(Actually, after I interviewed Jean, I checked both Oberlin and Kenyon’s Websites: they both have between 15 and twenty instructors in their English departments. Antioch in its last year had two and a half.)
The point I am trying to make is this: these teachers are not only damn good in their fields, they take on an extraordinary amount of extra work because of their devotion to the ideals of Antioch and because they get a charge out of the students (OK, not all of the students: but even the difficult ones, they are there for them). Teachers for Antioch are as self-selecting as the students. And if outside proof were needed to make this point clear, let me direct you to the 2000 and 2001 National Survey of Student Engagement-sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning.
Antioch College ranked number one among 470 institutions in “Level of Academic Challenge” and “Enriching Educational Experiences” and in the top 10% in “Active and Collaborative Learning,” “Student Interactions with Faculty Members,” and “Supportive Campus Environment.” And, according to the Franklin and Marshall study of Baccalaureate Origins of Doctorate Recipients, Antioch College was among the top twenty undergraduate institutions whose graduates went on to earn Ph.D.s.
Loren Pope, in his 1996 addition of Colleges that Change Lives, says of Antioch College: “Antioch is in a class by itself. There is no college or university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person’s life, or that creates more effective adults. None of the Ivies, big or little can match Antioch’s ability to produce outstanding thinkers and doers…For decades this yeast of American higher education…has produced higher percentages of future scientists and scholars than any Ivy League university except Princeton.”
Between 1985 and 1990, according to Ph.D. data supplied by the National Science Foundation, in overall Ph.D. output (in all fields) relative to total undergraduate enrollment, Antioch College outranked M.I.T., Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, U. California-Berkeley…and the list goes on.
It is past time we stopped this self-flagellation. The problems of Antioch are not and were not the quality of its faculty. The NonStop faculty and staff is the DNA of Antioch College. And without that DNA what you have is little more than an instruction manual.
Let us not forget the passion and dedication from which NonStop was born. Let us remember were it not for the threat of a lawsuit by the University, Nonstop would have been called what it has always been in reality: Antioch College in Exile. And let us remember the Alumni Reunion of ’07 and how for so many of us it was the assault on the faculty that galvanized us into action. Or as Emeritus Dance Professor Dimi Reber articulated our collective concern in her eloquent letter on behalf of the faculty: “I am writing because current faculty are facing possible layoffs and the elimination of tenure and feel unprotected…Our dignity as faculty is at stake, the definition of what Antioch is and has been is hanging in the balance.”
At this crucial time of transition we must support what is the mind, heart and soul of Antioch College–the staff and faculty of The NonStop Stop Liberal Arts Institute. More than support them, we must celebrate them!
Make your donation now to NonStop to guarantee the future of a vibrant and prosperous Antioch College! (secure.imodules.com/s/1050/qs1_index.aspx?sid=1050&gid=1&pgid=310&cid=809)
My name is Chad Johnston and I am an alum of ’01 and a Community Manager of ’01-02. I was a very nontraditional student who always sought out alternatives to conventional education. Antioch was the only college I applied to and I cannot tell you how influential Antioch was to my life and my career.
I was able to go to Nonstop to talk about my current work in media reform, social justice and media policy. I knew from a distance why the committed employees and supporters of Nonstop were so important to the future of the College. However, I did not realize how deep the spirit of these brilliant people ran until I was able to be with them.
I realized in theory how Nonstop was the DNA of the institution, but until I was there to hear and see the students, faculty and staff in action, I did not realize how in practice this was so very true. The people of Nonstop are beyond courageous, and exemplify what an Antioch education means when taking subjects beyond the confines of the academy, and into action. Without this DNA, a new Antioch will be just as those in the University wanted it to be: safe, marketable, and without real value except in respect to the bottom line.
I run a nonprofit and understand on a day to day basis how this economy has effected our ability to do good work. I also understand that when times are tough, it is up to supporters to engage even more. I was speaking with a board member of a foundation the other day. I told them that we were expecting foundations to tighten their belt. He told me, “if there was a time foundations and supporters should be stepping up even more, now is the time and it will happen.”
My nonprofit is small. We have an annual budget of about $170,000 a year. I do not make a ton of money by any stretch of the imagination. However, after seeing Nonstop in person, and after hearing much of the conversations over the last couple of days about them being left in the cold, I have decided that I must do something.
I will contribute $100 a month just to support Nonstop, which is roughly %3 of my salary before taxes. Duffy called me the other day and told me he had given his entire paycheck back to the Revival Fund and Nonstop. If Duffy can make that kind of sacrifice, so can you. If Nonstop employees, who are risking their livelihoods for the sake of saving Antioch College, are giving back part of their paychecks, you can too. By supporting Nonstop, we also send an important message to the “powers that be” that we are in full support of Nonstop being an integral part of the new college, its values and its future. If we can raise millions of dollars for a new College, but not support those who have kept the institution alive and have literally put their ideals and lives on the line, then what have we really done?
I am a change agent and a social justice advocate because of Antioch College, and I need it to survive. We need it to survive. In my opinion, Nonstop is the lifeline to assure that Antioch College, in its new form, carries on the values which have made me who I am, and I’d bet, who you are as well. I am ashamed to die until some victory for humanity is won by my actions. I am committed to living life without dead time. I am a life learner, a risk taker, and an activist who will fight for justice until I have no breath left to give this world. That is because of Antioch College. Those who will come after me as Antioch graduates, will have a history and a new phrase inscribed in their lexicon, and it will be Nonstop.
I call on each one of you to do what you can for those who have stepped up to keep Antioch alive.
The Record: My first question is for you to introduce yourself, in terms of your experience at Antioch: when did you graduate, what was your major, what was your Antiochian experience, what was your relationship to Antioch since you left?
Joe Foley: I’m Joe Foley and I graduated in ’64 with a B.S., I had a major in philosophy and a minor in math, and my primary interest at that time in my life was documentary film production which I did largely through co-op jobs because there weren’t any real courses on campus related to that. […] I worked a number of times with a documentary film company in DC and Antioch kept wanting me to take a wider variety of jobs and I kept saying but I’m doing a different things there every time so it came out my way as these things tend to at Antioch and it was very good. I also did a stand at a hospital as nurse’s aide and several odds and ends of things. After Antioch I did my graduate work at the University of Iowa, which turned out to be an excellent experience though Iowa city was a place I never thought I would go. And did my graduate work in communication, I was in speech and dramatic art and worked as a teaching assistant and ultimately as an instructor there largely teaching television production and running the instructional television studio that they had on the campus. After that I taught for a year at America University in DC and then went to what I thought was a temporary job at Ohio State University where I ended up staying 25 years. At Ohio State I was teaching some production classes, largely on the television side at that point, some social science research classes dealing with impact of media on audiences, and over the years my interest evolved and I became primarily focused on telecommunication policy things, first amendment issues, media and society issues, and issues that were developing in the 70s, 80s, 90s, as information was becoming a commodity rather than a kind of free good like it had been previously.
When did you become involved with the Alumni Board?
I joined the Alumni Board I think three of four years ago … and had been not particularly involved with the alumni association or with the alumni prior to that time. I certainly was not involved with the political aspects of campus life when I was on campus either.
Did you often come back to campus after you graduated?
Living in Colombus we came over to Yellow Springs a lot, particularly because our kids really liked coming to Yellow Springs, it was a town where they could go do things on their own…we would come to campus sometimes and sometimes come to a campus event but I didn’t have any particular ties with the campus.
You’re the new Vice President of the Alumni Board, how do you envision your role, how are Nancy Crow and you dividing tasks?
That’s very much evolving, and my view-in other organizations I’ve been board vice-president, I’ve been board president-my view is that the vice-president basically does the things that the president asks them to do. And one of the things that’s clearly gonna be part of my role is that I’m much closer to Yellow Springs than Nancy is so I’ll be more likely to be coming over here for meetings and so on.
So are you planning to interact with the Nonstop Community?
I’m certainly open to that; I don’t particularly feel like I need to impose myself on the Nonstop Community, which is clearly an exciting and dynamic and ongoing group. On the other hand if there’s ways I can be helpful, I’m glad to be and there may be some places where I feel I need to interfere and the Nonstop community will also see me in those roles.
And so you’re going to be more involved with the CRF office, is that what you meant by more involved in Yellow Springs?
Well, CRF, Nonstop, ExCil, all the other Cils… Don’t ask me to do a chart of how all the Cils relate to each other ‘cause I don’t know but… [I’ll be] involved in the whole movement for ongoing Antioch. But also that is very much a movement that is being done very well by a lot of very committed people in Yellow Springs who have invested large amounts of energy and creative kinds of problem-solving in making that happen.
What direction is the AB/CRF going to take in the next few months concerning the reintegration of Nonstop after the definitive agreement? What position do you see the AB/CRF taking?
Overall I don’t know that the Alumni Board has a position in the sense of “here is the particular scenario we wanna have played out,” I think that’s going to be an evolving piece of work over the next weeks, months, whatever the time frame turns out to be. The Alumni Board has a primary commitment to reopening an independent Antioch College in Yellow Springs with undergraduate instruction etc… the whole litany. And how we get from where we are now to that point clearly is something that’s going to continue to evolve based on the circumstances as they occur.
What are the next major decisions that the Alumni Board will be confronted with or issues that it will have to tackle?
The next major things I suppose are going to depend on what happens with the Board ProTem fundraising … If it comes out that yes there’s a definitive agreement, yes the Board Pro Tem Project is going forward then there is a whole series of things the Alumni Board has to do to handle the transition to that forward movement. If all of that turns out to be going nowhere then there’s clearly a whole series of other things the Alumni Board is going to be faced with and I don’t think anyone has any idea of how one would respond in that situation. The emphasis has been on what can we do to help increase the likelihood that the Board ProTem Proposal is going to be successful and that we can go forward in that direction.
Nonstop is a project of the CRF and Nonstop is coming to an end in terms of funding on June 30th. What is your position on what should happen after that, or how it should be reintegrated?
It’s not at all clear which of a number of directions that … will go. That’s gonna depend on external things, like what kind of funding if anything is available for various directions, and it’s going to depend on individual decisions from people who have been working with Nonstop. I think it’s certainly likely in a lot of those things that whatever is happening relating to Nonstop in the coming year will be substantially different from what happened this year. But what the parameters of that are, and which things will be different and which things will not be different, I don’t know. As far as I know there’s little likelihood that the funding sources that were available this year are gonna be available after the June 30th time period and that poses some pretty severe challenges to what could be designed going forward. One of the things the [AB] Task Force is looking in and a lot of people are looking in and talking about is what are some ways we can have a viable program going forward that captures the values and energies that Nonstop has had. If there were an easy answer to that everybody would be saying oh yeah there’s the answer, but apparently there’s not an easy answer to that.
At the last AB/CRF meeting we learned that there was a fundraising gap for Nonstop and we weren’t sure that the budget would be paid until June, do you have an update about that?
As of last night’s conference call with the executive committee, it looks like if the expenditures for Nonstop are within or below the budget figures, we’ll be able to reach the end of June in a position that’s ok. If the expenditures for Nonstop are above the budget figures, we have a real problem.
So we are going to be able to meet the budget target?
It looks as though the dollars available will be able to cover the dollars specified in the budget. The challenge is going to be will the expenses be within the dollars comprehended by the budget. It looks like we’re on target for that and but that is never an easy thing to do and the next few months are very critical in making sure that happens. And it’s important obviously ‘cause you can’t pay for things with money that doesn’t exist but it’s also important I think for the Nonstop story going forward; that story is told one way if the fiscal result of Nonstop is amazingly “this whole project was carried off with all these exciting things and was within budget” and that’s one kind of story and it’s a very exciting story, and another story that is not so exciting is “lots of interesting things happened at Nonstop but it really didn’t make any sense fiscally because it was over budget by x amount.” And even if x is a relatively small dollar figure, it really colors the way the story of Nonstop is told into the future. So I think it is very important that we be sure that it comes in with the expenses within the numbers comprehended within the budget.
My last question is how do you envision the upcoming few months?
I think the upcoming few months are going to be very very challenging for everyone. Saying we’re living with a lot of uncertainty certainly doesn’t make the news in Yellow Springs, you can’t imagine a headline saying the future of Antioch college is uncertain as being something anybody thought was a new breaking story, but in fact that is the case. And as the parameters become more apparent as to what that story is going to be, either going forward with the board ProTem or not going forward with the Board ProTem, or deferred judgment on the Board ProTem’s part or whatever the scenario happens to be and there are hundreds of them that could be out there that we all speculate on, then there’s going to be some real adjustments that are going to be made to that scenario.
A tiny swarm descended upon Yellow Springs on Nonstop’s Community Day, on March 25th. The bees, as they call themselves, are members of the Beehive Collective, a political media-arts collective based out of Maine. Their mission is to “cross-pollinate the grassroots,” touring their large-scale graphic campaigns that intricately weave together the environmental and social aspects of issues from around the globe. With a focus on horizontal organizing, consensus based decision making, and communal living, they had a lot to share with the Nonstop community.
The giant banner they were currently touring focused on MTR, or mountain top removal, a modern form of coal mining that uses heavy machinery to blast away the entire mountain top. This mechanized process exposes a seam of coal that is then scraped away. In addition, this method requires the rock and debris that once was a mountain to be scraped off and dumped into the surrounding valley, decimating one of the most bio-diverse places in the world. In addition, it negatively affects all communities in its wake, destroying their land and forests, toxifying the water and soil, and continuing to weaken a historically exploited and economically depressed region. The complex graphic was compiled of several large sections depicting different aspects of this involved issue. These included a social and environmental history of Appalachia, the changes in industrial and mining process, the effects of mining and coal consumption locally and globally, and a picture of current resistance and a vision of a healthy Appalachia.
Rather than use images of miners, coal companies, and other human constituencies, the posters make use of plants and animals from the bioregion to play these roles. The story becomes even more visibly connected to the history of the place they are dealing with. The bees do much of their research on site, and have spent months traveling Appalachia to gather a picture that is relevant and real from the people that are living with and fighting the socially and environmentally destructive practice of mountain top removal.
At Nonstop’s Community Day, they gave a presentation discussing the situation, the graphic, their work and missions as an organization, and the work that is to be done. They facilitated small group discussions to process the material and generate feedback about their work. Simultaneously, the groups generated ideas about solutions, organizing, and further work against mountain top removal. The bees stayed for long conversations and did some networking, sharing, and organizing with the community, and even ate at the acclaimed Nonstop weekly staple, Big Beautiful Pizza. They talked with children at Mills Lawn before heading to their next tour stop later that day. The community’s reaction was quite positive. As one community member said, “It feels good to be able to talk together about something important that isn’t our own institutional issues.”
At the April 7th COPAS (Community Organizing, Participation, Action and Service) Community Meeting, Nonsters reflected on organizing and about our experience with the bees. Meghan Pergrem, current Nonstop Co-Community Manager, reflected on their visual presence helping our community to understand what they were doing. Chelsea Martens, our other Co-Community Manager, appreciated their use of those visuals to reduce reliance on a specific language and make the material accessible to a wider audience, which the bees covered in their presentation.
The community’s discussion about our lessons from the Beehive included observations about their skills in communication, methods of research and organization, their process of presentation and education, and the similarities and joint struggles between our two communities with regards to commitment, transience, individual and collective needs, and the specific struggles of communal living and working. This illustrated a connection and a depth of learning and conversation that has stayed with this community since the bees presented here. While we were sad to see them buzz off, we’ve clearly been cross-pollinated.