On Friday, Antioch independent Once Again

By Diane Chiddister

On Friday, Sept. 4, the keys to Antioch College will be transferred from Antioch University to the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, or ACCC. The action marks the college’s revival after having been closed for a year, and its return, after 30 years as part of a university system, to being an independent liberal arts college.

The public is invited to a recognition of the historic event at around 5 p.m. on the horseshoe on the Antioch College campus. The event will follow several hours of paper-signing by ACCC leaders Lee Morgan and Matthew Derr, who have been vested by the ACCC board with the authority to sign the agreements, and Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock and Antioch University Board Chair Art Zucker, who have been vested by the university board with the authority to do so, according to Morgan and Derr in an interview Tuesday evening.

Morgan, Zucker and Great Lakes Colleges Association President Rick Detweiler will speak at the 5 p.m. event, and Antioch professor emeritus Al Denman will give the benediction.

Friday’s closing finalizes an agreement between the university and the ACCC that was made two months ago. While that agreement identified Aug. 31 as the target date for closing the deal for an independent college, the amount of detail involved led to missing that target by a few days, Morgan said. The closing was dependent on the approval of several outside agencies, including the Ohio attorney general, the Greene County probate court and bondholders for Antioch University.

The June 30 agreement followed a year of negotiations in a task force composed of Derr and Morgan, representing the alumni group ACCC, and university trustees Dan Fallon and Jack Merselis. Detweiler served as the mediator for the group.

“There is relief that the year of hard work and focus resulted in an independent Antioch College and a university that has the best possible prospects to thrive,” Derr said. He and Morgan were speaking for the task force, they said.

The revival of the college is a singular event in the history of higher education, Derr and Morgan said.

“Antioch College was one of the top colleges in the country in the late 1960s and it fell on hard times,” Derr said. “Here we are reviving it. There’s never been a story like this in higher education. No one thought we could pull it off.”

The closing follows a two-year Antioch College alumni effort to save the college after the university board voted in 2007 to close the school the following year due to financial exigency.

The alumni effort to create an independent college succeeded because there was “such a broad and diverse group of people who put forth such a level of effort and conviction that the college should survive,” Derr said, describing the effort as a “relay race” in which, when one group of alumni faltered, another took over.

Many college alumni cared deeply about saving the college because they believed they had received a unique education that needed to be available to future generations, especially in an increasingly complex world.

“It’s a simple model but a powerful one,” Morgan said, regarding the Antioch College synthesis of scholarship, self-governance and real-world work experience. “No one else is doing it.”

The ACCC raised $6 million to pay to Antioch University as part of the June 30 agreement, and an additonal $10 million to begin college operations. Leaders anticipate the need to raise about $40 million more in the next several years, Derr has stated. Morgan and Derr were the key fund raisers for the effort.

The role of Detweiler and the GLCA in reaching the agreement was pivotal, Derr said this week.

“We’re very grateful to the GLCA and Rick Detweiler,” Derr said. “Without Rick and the support of the GLCA presidents, this agreement would not have happened.”

After the Labor Day weekend, Derr, who is the chief transition officer for the ACCC, will set up his office in the second floor of the Olive Kettering library on the Antioch campus. His immediate tasks include hiring people to trim the trees, clean the gutters, and other necessary work required to return the physical plant to good shape after having been shuttered a year, he said.

The hiring of the new staff for the college will also continue. ACCC leaders anticipate hiring about 37 faculty and staff, including the staff for Glen Helen. About 10 employees have already been hired, including Antiochiana archivist Scott Sanders and two administrative assistants, Derr said.

In a previous interview, Derr stated that the number of first-year employees will include about five or six faculty members from various disciplines. These faculty, who will be known as Arthur Morgan Fellows, will be responsible for developing programs for a “symposium year” in the college’s first year. ACCC leaders have stated that they do not anticipate having new students on campus until the fall of 2011.

But between the closing of the deal on Friday and the beginning of the newly independent Antioch College on Tuesday, Derr will take a few days off. He has not had a vacation in some time, he said.

Contact: dchiddister@ysnews.com

Dispatches from the Alumni Board Weekend

By John Hempfling and Jeanne Kay

Steve Schwerner’s Report on Visiting Team

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.

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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.”

Julia and Lela
The Proposal Committee

Nonstop Presentation
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. ”

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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.

Julia and Lela

Toxic Talk: Steve Lawry’s Culture War

toxicheader1

By Jeanne-Kay

Research: Brian Springer, Kathryn Leahey, Jeanne Kay

Prelude: The Discourse of Toxicity

“Toxic Culture.” Steve Lawry’s infamous phrase is now part of the vocabulary of virtually all Antiochians. The year before the Antioch University Board of Trustees (UBoT) resolved to close the college, the key political issue on campus and the polemic that reached alumni revolved around the question of Toxic Culture–whether there was one, how it manifested itself, how to fix it or how to debunk its myth.

To alumni whose only contact with the community in years had been filtered through Media and University intermediaries, “toxic culture” meant a steady decline in academic excellence and increased political narrowness from their time at Antioch onwards; to conservative reporters, “toxic culture” came to be the perfect excuse to write diatribes against political correctness at liberal arts colleges; and to many observers “toxic culture” was a perfect shortcut to explaining how Antioch College had found itself in such an incomprehensibly dire situation: Antioch students were narrow-minded, unstable, out of control–they chased away new students, driving down retention and preventing Antioch from achieving financial stability. The toxic culture narrative made sense–and it was useful.

For many students on campus, however, accusations of toxicity and the clean-up crusades that followed translated into a daily struggle to uphold shared governance, preserve freedom of expression, and debunk a myth that had been imposed from top-down unto what was most experienced as a close-knit, supportive and safe community. “It became difficult to go anywhere on campus without hearing conversations within our community about this analysis of our home,” writes Community Manager Chelsea Martens ’08, a student on campus during the toxic years; “we were being told that no, it was not the structural instabilities of a poorly managed governance structure, or poor financial stewardship of Antioch College by the AUBoT that was suffocating our campus, but a damaging toxic culture that was making Antioch College ill.”

On Monday, March 2nd 2009, The Antioch Papers (www.theantiochpapers.org) published previously unreleased confidential documents that shed light on the workings behind the toxic culture narrative. Through them we learn that Antioch College President Steve Lawry (2005-2007) considered himself engaged in a full-fledged “culture war”–with the full mandate and support of the UBoT.

The attributes of a “failed culture” according to Steve Lawry

The centerpiece of the Antioch Papers’ release is Steve Lawry’s report to the University Board of Trustees on November 2nd, 2006. The seven-page long document was subsequently emailed to all board members and prefaced by Chancellor Toni Murdock’s warning that it should be “treated as a confidential document.” She expresses concern that “the proposals he raises will require far-reaching discussions with faculty and others at the College;” and asks for trustees to exercise their discretion since “it is important that [Lawry] lead and manage them carefully. We would not want some portions to reach members of the community without the careful preparations this kind of process deserves.”

The report begins by exposing what Lawry calls “the attributes of a failed culture.” Here, he describes student culture as intolerant and confrontational; “persons who might not fit the narrow mold of an acceptable Antioch student are subject to severe scrutiny on arrival. Their social values and political credentials are tested through a process of ‘calling out.'” Lawry explains such a phenomenon as students feeling “resentment” from past alienating experiences; “many Antioch students bring with them grievances for how they have been treated in the so-called ‘real world,’ for some by virtue of non-normative lifetyles, not fitting in mainstream culture, etc. As one student rather starkly put it, ‘the Antioch student is the person who did not have any friends in high school.'”

The college president goes on to pinpoint “substance abuse and a tolerance within the student community for it” as yet another cultural problem needing to be remedied. Lawry’s decision to expel three students from the entering class of 2006 a few days after orientation is an example of his attempt to remedy to what he perceived as a major issue for the campus.

Lawry further advances his argument by arguing that “the intellectual and learning environment has over the last two decades been diminished, in my view, through admission of large numbers of students with weak academic backgrounds.” To the college president, this trend in decline makes the Antioch’s self-managed education system as inadapted. The system of narrative evaluations, moreover, “can fail to hold accountable others for unsatisfactory progress,” Lawry writes.

Finally, “a deeply confused ‘shared governance’ model,” according to Lawry, had “…become [a] vessel[…] for vociferous opposition to the administration and strangely misdirected power struggles.” Community governance, he assessed, “has doubtful educational benefit.”

The Mental Health Issue

Steve Lawry’s depiction of Antioch’s “failed culture” then diverges to the issue of students’ mental health. Citing director of the Wright State clinic Dr. Cynthia Olson, Lawry claims that “the [Antioch] student body displays an exceptionally high proportion, for the age group, of persons with bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and eating disorders, exacerbated by high co-morbidity with substance abuse.” To Lawry, “campus social life and the health of entire learning environment are affected negatively” by this “issue.”

On October 31st, 2006, a week before his report to the UBoT, President Lawry informed the college faculty of his concerns about students’ mental health compromising the success of the college. In a document subsequently circulated among the community, former Antioch College President Bob Devine ’67 states: “When a President of a respectable institution tells the faculty, on the basis of a single conversation with a mental health professional, that the students they are teaching have too many gender disorders, bi-polar disorders, eating disorders and other psychological problems, and that is why the College is unable to recruit and retain students, and is the source of the institutions budgetary problems, I have reservations.”

In Fall 2007, an admissions counselor who requested to remain anonymous reported to the Record that Lawry had communicated instructions in 2005/2006 for students to be screened for mental health problems during the admissions process. The question as to whether this constitutes an act of discrimination naturally arises, since the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 “recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities and is modeled after earlier landmark laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and gender. The ADA covers a wide range of disability, from physical conditions … to conditions such as emotional illness and learning disorders,” and applies to “a nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private school, or other place of education.”

On November 2nd, 2006, Dr Linda Sattem, director of the Antioch College Counseling and Wellness center, published a letter on a community forum that stated that as early as March 2004 she “sent out a campus-wide announcements concerning rumors that indicated thinking along the lines of ‘If Antioch did not admit such messed up students, the college would not be having such problems'” Sattem clearly states that “Antioch students are not different than other college students. Our students do not have more problems, more severe problems or a higher incidence of mental illness.” She ends her letter by emphasizing to students: “there is nothing wrong with you. You are not the reason the college is having difficulties.”

Lawry Gets “Culture War” Mandate From UBoT

Steve Lawry’s report concludes with a statement of confidence as to his ability to “shift” the culture to “one founded on intellectual freedom, open inquiry and respect among all community members.” He further recognizes the task as “very hard” because “large numbers of those who see the College as a fit socially and politically continue to bring with the values and attitudes anathema to the culture that we are trying to build.”

Lawry thus set out to renew the culture by changing the way in which was portrayed to prospective students. The Board contracted an independent agency in 2005 to make new recruitment materials that would present a picture of the college that a different population of college students would identify with. Notably, the college’s tradition of shared governance was increasingly downplayed. Professor Jean Gregorek recalls changes on the college’s website in particular; “the portion of the website describing community engagement –under the caption ‘you have a voice,’ ironically enough–was dramatically revised at Steve’s direction to eliminate references to student participation in college governance,” she says.

Lawry presents the “culture shift” operation as crucial to the college’s survival. He plans to adopt “bold and very ambitious” leadership in “addressing the problems identified above.” Moreover, he appears to be advocating for a shock therapy based strategy; “incremental change will not be timely or effective.”

The closed session minutes from the UBoT meeting of November 2-4 2006 state that Lawry told the board that “building a new Antioch entails revamping the structure and operations and a realignment of the faculty to meet new needs.” The minutes report that “Steve was commended by several trustees on the frankness of his report.” Trustee Larry Stone, in particular, stated that he was “pleased to see the support for Steve around the table,” since he feared that “some will see Steve as the problem.” “Lack of community and toxicity are real problems,” he said, “which were identified by the NCA well before Steve arrived.”

Antioch University Tullisse “Toni” Murdock “recognized the courage it takes to fight a Culture War … and underscored the support Steve is receiving from the ULC [University Leadership Council.]” Trustee Sherwood Guernsey “proposed a motion to support the president of the college and his vision,” the resolution was “revisited and passed the following day,” as follows:

RESOLUTION 11.4.06:13 (S. Guernsey/D.Fallon)

RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Antioch University supports president Steven Lawry’s vision for Antioch College based on mutual respect, intellectual freedom and open inquiry [as envisioned by the Renewal Plan] within the University system with the same shared values.

The “mutual respect, intellectual freedom and open inquiry” tryptych is used consistently through several documents–from Lawry’s report to the February 2007 UBoT board meeting.

Divergent Agendas

In a private letter sent to Steve Lawry on October 7th 2006, Professor Bob Devine provides an interpretation of the grounds for the UBoT’s support for Lawry’s culture war: “The origins of the mandate to “clean up the culture” of the College are fairly clear,” he writes; “Between those on the Board who are still angry about the ’60s and ’70s (not just as they played out at Antioch, but in a much broader cultural sense), those younger Board members who experienced the symptoms, among students, of several years of autocratic, insensitive and ineffective leadership, and those who have critically limited experience with 18-year olds (like yourself) and consequently experience the generation gap as a constant affront, it’s no mystery how such perspectives might coalesce to forge a mandate. In my view it’s a misguided mandate, for the very reason that it conflates symptoms with causes.

Chelsea Martens ’08 advances the thesis that the UBoT culture war was nothing less than a red herring: “You have to ask yourself then, why was so much attention focused on an analysis of our campus culture, and not on more significant factors of governance or finances? What interests did this narrative serve? Simply, it was a cosmetic analysis that removed our focus away from the real issue at hand – the mismanagement of Antioch College by Antioch University – and placed the blame squarely on the victims -Antioch College itself. By faulting Antioch for its troubles, and not highlighting any institutional short comings, it paved the way for our very closure, while simultaneously ignoring the responsibility of the University to the College.”

Levi B. Cowperthwaite was Community Manager in ’06/’07; after reading Lawry’ “failed culture” report, he commented in an email to the Record: “Steve cites no evidence for his claims (something my Antioch education taught me was essential when making an argument, especially in a formal document). He was always fond of retelling one or two inflamatory anecdotes as if that constituted a thorough and inarguable statistical analysis of campus culture. In this document, he can’t even seem to produce his favorite flimsy stories as an attempt to back up his claims. This makes me wonder if he wasn’t so much as proposing an analysis to the board as he was confirming a characterization they had already provided for him.”

Indeed, it appears that Lawry made an unrealistically prompt assessment of the state of Antioch college’s culture upon arrival.”After being on campus for approximately 7 days, President Steve Lawry addressed the entire campus for the first time during our regularly scheduled Community Meeting,” recalls Chelsea Martens, 2007-2009 Community Manager; “He shared with us his excitement for the experience and challenges of being Antioch College’s newest world-class President. After a few minutes into his speech, he began to address the issue of a “toxic culture” on campus … I raised my hand and asked Steve, ‘How, after being on campus for only 7 days, do you know us well enough to know our biggest faults?’ It became quite apparent … that this was not an astute observation made by our newest President, but a narrative that had been told to him, strategically, for the purpose of waging a culture war at Antioch College.”

Another instrumentalization of the toxic culture narrative regards the rationale for firing tenured professors. Lawry claimed that dealing with the culture problem would require a “realignment of the faculty,” and his concerns about the lowering of academic standards and out-of-control state of the student body reflected directly on the faculty’s reputation and legitimacy. Media Arts Professor Chris Hill believes that Steve Lawry was preparing the grounds for cutting faculty positions; she recalls a faculty meeting in Spring 2007 in which Lawry spoke; “it seemed that he might be trying to convince the BOT to combine the College with McGregor,” she said, “he offered few details. I asked him at that faculty meeting–if his plan were ratified did that mean that some of the tenured faculty sitting in the room at that time would lose their jobs, and he said yes. I believe that someone else, either at that meeting or the next one, asked how many would lose their jobs, and he didn’t respond. He was probably expecting that exigency would be declared, and that would allow him to cut back on tenured faculty positions, but that level of detail was not provided to the faculty (or Adcil) at that time.”

Patriarchy, Responsibility, Agency

“It was always ironic that Steve was so fond of the term ‘intellectual freedom,’ since the culture he proposed was one that favored limiting campus discourse to only those topics he deemed ‘appropriate,'” further writes Cowperthwaite, referring to Lawry’s attempt to censor the Antioch Record in Fall ’06 and make it unacessible to alumni by demanding that it be taken offline. “Sex was not appropriate. Speaking truth to power about the lived experiences of queer people of color, survivors of sexual assault, people dissatisfied with the expectations given them by society – that was not appropriate,” he continues, “and stepping out of line, the line predetermined by him, meant punishment. He even told staff members that ‘dissent = termination.’ One administrative staff member privately criticized Steve to me and then asked me not to repeat it, adding, ‘Please, I have a family to feed.'”

After the UBoT voted to close down Antioch College, a New York Times article quoted Steve Lawry perpetuating the Toxic Culture narrative at Reunion 2007:

“In its glory days, it attracted students who wanted to change the world, through war protests or work in communities. But Steven Lawry, Antioch’s president, said in an interview that more recently, the college became a magnet for students who felt marginalized, and so bred a political narrowness and culture of resentment. By way of example, he cited students getting “called out” for wearing Nikes, seen as an emblem of globalization.”It became less about intellectual rigor, than a political and social experience,” he said. “The boot camp of the revolution became the model.””We were offering a political re-education” instead of a liberal education.And that model, he added, is sharply at odds with what most students are looking for these days.”

Several faculty and students wrote open and personal letters to Steve Lawry, characterizing the president’s public blaming of the community as “yet another hit in the stomach” during already traumatic times.

To Martens, the cultural war years are the occasion to “learn a lesson: what power do we give a President, and it what ways do we give up our own agency and voice? By hiring Steve Lawry –a man who had no prior experience dealing with youth– to come in and ‘clean up our act’, we invited him to participate in a savior complex,” she says, “we gave up our own power by thinking that what we needed was someone to save us from ourselves. It’s a common patriarchal narrative – a Father Knows Best narrative, if you will – that empowers someone with little knowledge about our community, our struggles, our dreams, and the reality of being young in a chaotic world, with the task of making top-down decisions that do nothing to make our community a more engaging and compassionate place to be. Really, what we needed was for a President who understood the task at hand and who joined us in our commitment to making this world a better place, and who could have gently and compassionately, charged us with the responsibility to do this work with as much dignity, passion, and love as possible.”

Intox vs Detox

Chelsea Martens is now Community Manager at the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute. She still has to deal with the consequences of the toxic culture narrative on a regular basis, as it continues to influence the Antiochian collective unconscious. She is weary of the reductive, oversimplistic analyses that come with the standard toxic culture debate, and tries to provide a more complex discourse; “Antioch College is a demanding educational experience. And we wouldn’t have it any other way,””she explains, “where else can you go to learn about the problems that the world is currently facing, while also being charged with the responsibility to do something about it? Coming to terms with the numbers of victories needed to win for humanity, rattles you to your core. And sometimes, during this process – a process that I would call a detoxing process – you experience sadness, anger, disbelief, and urgency. Everyone goes through the process of learning about this world – and unlearning the stories we have told ourselves to be complacent with it – in their own way. This process has become, wrongly so, deemed part of Antioch’s “toxic culture”. That is a misjudgment. In my opinion, it is a process of cultural detox – one that all Antiochians engage in so that they can become effective change agents, equipped with an understanding of this world and their responsibility to it.”

Archeology of Toxicity: From The Record’s Archives

I/Culture War is Waged

Fall 2006: Luke Brennan and Foster Neill are editors of the Antioch Record.

September:

Three first year students are expelled from campus. Read Record’s report: Part 1 Part 2

-Read letter from father of expelled student

-Record’s Question of the Week starts issue of Record censorship

October:

-Several alumni write open letters in Protest Part 1 Part 2

-Steve Lawry’s ambition to clean campus becomes clear to students

– Andrzej Bloch cease and desist letter to record editors (Satire issue version of Andrzej’s letter here!)

-Alumnus Matthew Baya receives cease and desist letter from Steve Lawry for hosting Record online (read Matt Baya’s answer here)

Part II/ Dealing with the Toxic Brand

December 2006

“Not My Antioch,” Debate with Ralph Keyes, author of “End Toxic Culture in Yellow Springs”In YS News: Part 1, Part 2

-Summer 2007, Antioch College to Close down

Alumnus Michael Goldfarb’s Op/Ed in NY Times: “When the arts were too liberal

Golfarb’s Interview with Record: “When the arts were liberal enough.”

Ralph Keyes: Present at the Demise

Letter from Jean Gregorek in response to Ralph Keyes August 23, 2007

Who Killed Antioch? Womyn (LA Times) and Antioch Student Paige Clifton-Steele’s Response

To the Antioch University Board of Trustees: What about me seems toxic to you? by Julian Sharp, August 31, 2007

From the Antioch Papers:

Culture War – Vision – Nov. 06

Culture War – Open & Closed Minutes – Nov 06

Interview with Lee Morgan and Matthew Derr

– Transcript by John Hempfling

The Record interviewed ProTem Board Chair Lee Morgan and Consultant to the ProTem Board Matthew Derr on Monday, February 16th

Stream this audio interview below, or click on the link to download or listen in your preferred audio application:

Download or Listen to full, unedited interview

The Record: Could you both define your role in the process leading to the definitive agreement? Lee what is your role?

Lee Morgan: Technically I’m the chair of the board ProTem, that’s my role, but I was nominated by the Alumni Association Board of Directors to represent alumni on the Task Force to negotiate the LOI.

What are you doing during the 90 day period, what does your schedule look like?

Lee: I’m trying to raise fifteen million dollars and we have to hammer out the definitive agreement and there are problems with the definitive agreements. I made some mistakes in the LOI one of which is mine, so I’ll fess up… which is the reversion clause in the LOI.

You said at the Seattle meeting that this was a deal breaker?

Lee: It is, for me it is, now Matthew might talk me out it but right now to me it’s a deal breaker.

Is this being worked out, has the university agreed to withdraw it?

Lee: It’s not exactly an all or nothing situation it appears that there are grades of possibilities. So, the question was if we try to save and revive the college and fail what happens. So, it’s trying to guess hat the outcome would be if we failed. The university definitely wants the name back, I don’t think they’ll bend on that, and I don’t fault for that. The question really is the physical assets and the issue that we have is (I’m talking too much this is very dangerous) we have to have clear title to the land, so we can borrow against it, so we can buy other land, we can sell land, we can be creative about joint ventures with the village and not have issues where we have to go to the university every time we want to do something. I don’t think we can finance the institution if we can’t get clear title and the way that reversion clause was written, it was almost as though the university had a lean on the real estate and the assets and I don’t think that was the intent, but it kinda came out that way and they don’t seem to be taking a very hard line.

You’ve already talked to the university about this?

Lee: Before we signed the LOI we already had realized that that would be a problem area. So they know about it and I think we can work it out; it’s just that i screwed up. My recollection is that I was the one who suggested the reversion clause in the first place and then I’m the one who figured out OOPSY! thats a mistake.

Matt Derr: With a reversion clause, I think, is something that the [University] lawyers would’ve inserted at some point.

Lee: And our lawyers would’ve objected

Matt: The reality is with the credit markets shut down, it’s not that much of an issue for us tomorrow, as it is for the people that will come after us years from now in the next five years because it’s actually linked to the accreditation of the college. But the University’s pledge that their interest is in making the college viable and anything that doesn’t make the college viable or threatens that viability is a problem. At least right now, they have expressed a willingness so that in the end their interests are protected but we can do what we need to do to rebuild the college.

What work needs to be accomplished during the 90- now 60-day period of, mostly fundraising, but what else how are you working on the definitive agreement?

Matt: I think their are two levels here, we’ve been focused on the University for a very long time, and now we have a board ProTem that has its own standards and its own agenda. So the fundraising really is not about meeting what the university wants but meeting our own standard for what we think is a healthy goal and allows the college to come back in the way that we want it to, so fundraising! Fundraising! Fundraising! Absolutely. The definitive agreement process is defined by the taskforce working together and the lawyers working together and that’s moving along its a sort of boxed in process that has to happen. We’re ambitious in wanting to finish it in 90-days but one of the things that we do know is that at the 45-day mark, half way through, we’re gonna give a report to the community about how far we’ve gotten and where we see any challenges that may exist. The 21st of April is the 90th day, so you can figure out where the 45th day is, I think it’s the 13th.

Lee: It was march 13th, which is Friday the 13th, and we decided not to do it on Friday the 13th. [laughter] We’re not superstitious but just didn’t seemed to be a good omen.

Matt: So I think its Monday the 16th of March.

Lee: Yeah, thats what we were looking at, I think, tentatively.

Matt: Jeanne Kay, can you do that math to make sure we got that date right?

Not at this second but I will. [laughs] So, can you give the record an exclusive fundraising update?

Matt: Ya know, we can’t, other than to say we think things are moving forward. That’s information we should essentially keep privileged because its part of a whole process of separating the college and the university.

Lee: Mathew, I did blurt out a number in Chicago.

Matt: That’s a bad thing

Lee: And it’s not fair for them to know and not tell Jeanne. The number that I threw out was approximately 8 million. Risa [Grimes] corrected me that it was 7.9 some decimal places but its approximately 8 million.
Matt: I can speak to why we wouldn’t share because i think that would be interesting. We want people to be motivated to give because its not about getting to 15 million, its about getting well beyond that. We want to have operational moneys in place so that we can support the college for a few years. So our fear is that because we have this figure that we’ve been talking about in the LOI or related to the LOI that people will feel, “Well thats as much as we need to do”. Well its not, we’ve got a long way to go. Its really gonna require the whole community to support this to make it successful.

Two weeks ago Risa [Grimes] said that there was a donor that said that when the 10 million would be reached, he would match it with 5 million. So basically, does that mean that we only have 2 million to fundraise to get to the 15?

Matt: Well the donors never agreed to that; we have proposed that.

So is it likely that it will happen that way?

Lee: We certainly hope so.

Matt: We hope so.

Lee: And your right, according to that formula we have roughly 2 million to go, that we will then go to that anonymous donor and say okay… are you good for the 5 or not? Thats going to be a big deal. But I want to just emphasize that i agree with Matt one-hundred percent. I think the toughest decision that the board ProTem is gonna have to make, is at the end of the 90 days, do we have enough money to responsibly restart the college? We’ve got a lot of things were doing to make that an intelligent decision. But the University doesn’t drive it, we expect to drive that, cause the ProTem board has no interest in doing something that poorly or failing so the pressure on the fundraising is tense.

Can you give an update on the state of accreditation for the college?

Matt: Well Francis Horowitz is chairing the group that’s looking at accreditation. It’s important that we get some outside expertise from the North Central Association and from the Ohio Board of Regents, of course. One of the things we’ve done in the last few weeks is we’ve hired Len Clark who’s the former provost Earlham College he comes to us recommended by the GLCA (Great Lakes College Association) to help us create the plan for accreditation. As part of the LOI we have to produce a plan about how we’ll seek accreditation and thats where we are as of today and we’ll start setting up meetings in Chicago and Columbus in the coming month.

The plan for accreditation will prob have to include a curriculum plan, right?

Matt: We’re not actually building the plan that will be accredited, we’re building a plan to get the accreditation.

Oh, OK.

Matt: So, its an important distinction. The board to a person believes that curriculum comes from faculty. We’re not confused about that, and we have a history here, but there has to be ahead of that a plan which particularly looking at some of financial issues that Antioch has faced recently and its history for accreditation around those issues.

Lee: I’ve been shocked at how much of accreditation is about money. It’s kinda sad in a way.

What are the next steps of the presidential search?

Lee: Good Questions.

Matt: Go ahead.

Lee: Go ahead, Matt.

Matt: Well-

Lee: You first Alphonse. [laughter] This is a very very tough question. The board is struggling with that question; we don’t have a good answer. There’s a couple things we don’t know. We don’t know how long it will take. Heres the dream. The dream is that we would have enough money in five year pledges, so that we could hire a world-class president who wouldn’t have to worry about money from the first day. If we can get the money to do the deal and give a cushion to whoever becomes the leader of the campus, then frankly we’re in good shape. We’ll be able to get a world-class leader. If we cant get the money, then it’s going to be much tougher, cause we’ll be looking for someone who can walk in and somehow find millions of dollars. We’ve been beating the bushes already; its going to be very difficult. The board ProTem is struggling with this exact question, we don’t have agreement about it.

Matt: There are two paths. One path would be, we go slow, we hire a president and then everything happens. Or you ramp up and you reach some stability and then you do a search for a president. There are good arguments for either of those strategically, I think that it’s just the fact that we haven’t had enough time together to really think about the strategy of that. Certainly, I know I’ve said this many times, endowing the presidency, or funding the presidency, is something that I hope is attractive to someone among the alums, so that’s making sure that that president knows that he or she is coming into a job that they can do, is really a critical piece.

What is a world-class president, any names?

Matt: There really isn’t.

Lee: You’re talking to a bureaucrat here, I have no idea.

Matt: I know that there is a lot of curiosity about this — no names, not one name has been discussed related to this.

Lee: We can’t even agree on — Do we want a scholar? Do we want a manger? Do we want a brilliant fundraiser? The board ProTem is struggling on what that person should look like.
The board ProTem is meeting in Yellow Springs next week, what’s on the agenda?

Matt: We’re actually going to make the agenda public today, I just have been traveling all day and I haven’t had the chance to do that, so rather than go through it that there are a lot of different items, i think everyone can just look for it on Antiochians.org. The majority of the sessions are closed because they relate to the definitive agreements. This is an unusual meeting, in that so much of what we’re doing right now relates directly to negotiations with the University and that cant be public but there are sections that are open and in particular the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute session, which is at the end of the day on Saturday, is open. We’re in the Glen Building, so we hope you can come to that.

Will anything be decided in terms of the college reopening year or term?

Lee: Decided? Not, now.

Matt: [It’s] not on the agenda to be decided because it’s linked with fundraising. If someone walked up to the college tomorrow and said, “heres a hundred billion dollars….”

Lee: Were in business! [laughs]

Matt: We would start much more quickly than if the fundraising takes longer. It’s a really pragmatic equation.

What is your estimate for the reopening date of an accredited Antioch College?

Lee: I’m the optimist and I’m being beaten up. My original date was ’09 – that’s gone. ‘010 was the latest one and people are telling me that that’s unrealistic and that realistically it’s probably 2011. I don’t know – Matt might disagree.

Matt: I’m sticking with 2010 because it helps us do the fundraising.

Lee: 2010 is what we assumed but I’m hearing pretty respectable voices that say the hiring, the recruiting and rehabbing the buildings is going to take more time than that. Once we get  the money, we’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll. By the way, Jeanne, are you the one that called Barbara  and Atis and did interviews?

[It was] one of the staff members Rose Pelzl

Lee: She did a nice job. They were very pleased with the interviews and they thought they  were very well done.

Rose Pelzl did that, she’s a first year nonstop student and fifth-generation Antiochian.

Lee: Fifth!?

Yes.

Lee: Gee!

Matt: I was thinking of something of a variation on the question of when the college opens. We’ve had almost two years of struggling, with the University controlling our fate (and yes we  still have to get to the end of the definitive agreements) but right now is talking about the future, as far as the president goes, opening the college. Our fate is more and more in our hands around raising funds and if the alumni body wants the college to open in 2010 it has the capacity to make that happen, we just have to do the fundraising as well as we can and not be distracted by all the things that we can be distracted by in the coming months. These are open-ended questions for new reasons.

Nonstop, according to Ellen Borgersen, the refunding decision will be taken by the Alumni Board in March. Is that still true or will the ProTem board have a say in it?

Matt: That’s news to me.

Well, the funding of nonstop is through CRF.

Matt: Right, I didn’t know that they were considering something specific at their board meeting. I don’t think that the board ProTem would have much to say about it.

So the jurisdiction of Nonstop is still the Alumni Board?

Lee: Oh Yes

Matt: Absolutely.

So the ProTem Board delegation came to Yellow Springs last week to learn about Nonstop. What are the next steps after the report?

Matt: The report will be public it will be up on Antiochians.org this week.

[…]

Matt: Out of respect we’ll probably give it to the Executive Collective first and then get it out on the web soon thereafter. And then on Saturday Nonstop has a big chunk of time on the boards agenda to come and present whatever they’d like to present. And then (assuming that it’s structured this way) there will be questions and answers after that. But there’s no intention of making any decisions around the future of Nontop that’s an Alumni Board issue. This is an opportunity for the Board ProTem to get to know more about what’s going on in Yellow Springs on a face-to-face basis.

In the article by Charlotte Allen you [Lee Morgan] talked about a possible collision course between Nonstop and Antioch can you expand on that?

Lee: Charlotte Allen, she’s the right-wing newspaper-lady who called me. Well, I just think that it’s clear that it’s going to be a difficult thing to sort out, the relationship between the two. How’s it going to play out I don’t know. There are timing issues. There are curriculum design issues. There are personnel issues. These are all tough issues and any of those things will be difficult but I don’t have any particular agenda, I just know its going to be tough. That’s my prediction, if I’m wrong that’ll be great.

Do you consider that the Nonstop faculty and staff and students of nonstop are Antioch at this point?

Lee: Are Antioch? I don’t know that anybody is Antioch at this point. I claim to be Antioch. the university claims to be Antioch. Nonstop, I think, claims to be Antioch. The emeritus faculty would claim their Antioch. So i don’t think anybody has an exclusive on Antioch. That’s just my personal view on it. In fact, we have a meeting this week with the emeritus faculty to talk to them about what role they would have going forward. Everyone has their own view of what Antioch is and who they are in relation to Antioch. I think Nonstop has a slightly more intimate involvement because of their recent history. But the recent history’s been such a mess frankly, with the university everyone’s been acting kinda weird. It’s not what you’d call a healthy educational environment. But then to some degree, that’s Antioch. So I don’t know. I think it’s going to be interesting. I don’t know how it’s going to sort itself out. It’s an unfortunate fortunes (?) of what I’d call a fair game. That means i don’t know the answer.

Matt, can you talk about Trancil (which has now become the Transition Advisory Group[TAG]) can you talk about their role, how the membership will be decided?

Matt: Sure, the membership is intended to be broad-based but the original intention of Trancil, the Transition Advisory Group is that it be Yellow Springs-based. I know there were a few people who were at a greater distance who expressed some interest in serving, but my concept of it is that it would start with a small group advising me about events and issues here in Yellow Springs that it would involve a few members of the Nonstop community, some emeritus faculty and representatives, potentially, even of the village who have an interest in what’s going on. It would be a two-way advisory and communications body. The events last week with main building made it difficult, I actually intended to move that forward but it seemed under the situation of the flooding that it would probably be better to wait so it’ll happen this week. One of this things that’s not necessarily known by everyone is that I meet with Executive Collective weekly and try to come to community meeting bi-weekly and Lee does when he’s in town. So, the level of communication between the board ProTem and the Nonstop community, Yellow Springs Alums, and emeritus faculty is pretty significant at this point – Yellow springs has got a big voice.

The transition advisory group will be a liaison between the ProTem board and Nonstop?

Matt: Not Nonstop, no, that actually I think is reserved for the Executive Collective. It’s a group of people who have a vested interest in the future of the college here in Yellow Springs. That’s partly why I changed the name, because Trancil means the college, that’s our history and it’s sort of a silly legacy to convert it Tracil.

Lee: One of the difficult things is we’ve got to focus on the future and everybody wants us to focus on the past. The past, whether it’s Nonstop or the flooding of the building or some legal issue the university wants to argue about that’s ancient history. I think the challenge for Matthew and I is to focus on the future and designing it so that if we’re successful we’ll be happy about it. We’d hate to do the deal and then find out “oh god, what a mess.”

You’re talking about being focused on the future. Are you sometimes afraid that the argument will turn into a sort of blank slate argument, for which now we can start from scratch and rebuild Antioch in a way that will be very different from its past and that’s not recognizable to its alumni anymore?

Lee: If the alumni don’t support it we won’t survive. We have to have the support of the bulk of the alumni. Now, we can’t make everyone happy, I love the Bill Cosby quote, “I don’t about success but I do know about failure; the key is trying to make everybody happy.” We can’t make everybody happy. But the alumni as a group have to support it, otherwise we will not survive. It’s predicated on the alumni support, so if we get so radical that the alumni can’t recognize it, we’re dead, we’re not going anyplace. Everything’s alumni right now. Everything, the ProTem board all the key players everybody’s alumni. All the money, everything has come from the alumni.

Matt: You know I think there are two areas where there has been a sort of consistent theme of concern and this is one of them. That somehow the college will not be recognizable to the next generation of Antiochians that are looking for the kind of education that the college was providing the alumni. I think there are some really basic elements to what it means to offer Anitoch education. Experience and work are critical to it, community governance is critical to it. So you look at the bones and the question is what does the flesh on the bones look like? I do think that there’s room for radical reinvention of the college, there has to be. This is a different economic time, this is a different social time and there are opportunities embedded in that. But at the end of the process of defining the concept of the college, it has to be recognizable to all of us as Antioch College. If it doesn’t have that identity then, as Lee’s describing, people won’t support it. Everyone right now involved in this, principally, we are all Antiochians, which you could argue is a strength or a weakness, because we’re blinded by our passion and our love for the college but at the same time we’re really motivated by it. I think at the end people will be pleased by what the college evolves to become because they participated in it and that’s a really big piece of the puzzle for the ProTem board. The reason we’re going out to the chapters meetings and talking about the college is that we really need that feedback in order to understand what we do next. And [that’s] also why the Board ProTem appointed the visiting team to come and talk to nonstop, to try to collect as much conversational input as we can.

Thank you, can you talk about the issues of the Main Building damage and… who will pay? [laughs]

Lee: We think the insurance company is going to pay.

Matt: We hope the insurance company is paying.

Lee: Yeah

Has their been a confirmation of this?

Lee: I have not had it, no.

Matt: We’ve been very judicious about commenting, this is the university’s business.

Lee: They’ve been very explicit that we have no standing on the physical plant at this point. We have been arguing that we do and they have been arguing that we don’t. But I think they’re moving more in our direction. They’ve agreed at least to try and keep us informed about things. We find out about this stuff the same way you do.

Matt: In the end the ProTem Board has to make a decision about the condition of the campus and whether they’re willing to accept it. Our expectation is that the campus is in the condition it was in when the suspension happened.

Lee: With the possible exception if the insurance company settlement is appropriate we might be able to rehab Main Building and make it better than it was. For example, we could improve the technology in that building, wire it up to things that had never been thought of before. We have to be creative about this, what worries me is that the University is not really talking to us about that. And it would grieve me if they went back in their and restored it-

Matt: I wouldn’t worry about that.

Lee: -and everything’s okay but we missed an opportunity to something that would be better.

Or they turn it into McGregor [laughs]

Lee: They won’t do that.

Matt: All pastels. [slight chuckle]

Can you try to give an estimation of a time-line as to the main crucial events in which we will know things such as: What will happen to Nonstop? When do we get accreditation? When does the college reopen? When will the curriculum be set? When will we start recruiting students? Can you give an estimation of a time-line?

Matt: Which one of those do you want — [laughs] — you’re gonna have to go through them again.

Chronologically.

Matt: So at the end of 90 days we hope to end up having a definitive agreement with the University for the separation of the college. Shortly thereafter, we’re imagining that we’ll actually take possession of the campus, the keys come out. I don’t know exactly what the legal process piece will take. And there’s obviously the issue of the endowment, which we’ve talked about a lot with the Ohio Attorney General, so there are shades of gray here. So, essentially at the end of that period of time (if the board ProTem is willing to accept the college) then we would have had level of success at fundraising. And the amount of, and the degree of success we’d have fundraising would fuel those other things that you’re outlining. So, if we’re very successful with fundraising then we’re making decisions about reopening in 2010 [and] that means that the curriculum piece needs to be planned sooner than if it’s 2011. Decisions about who’s hired – faculty, staff, administration, president — all those different  pieces speed up or slow down depending on what happens with our ability to afford what we want to do. We’ve had this really weighty history of making promises that weren’t backed up by funding; whether it’s curriculum or otherwise, and we just don’t want to do that. So, it’s very difficult I think for Antiochians to hear that the finances are essentially controlling the trajectory of decision making, but responsibly and ethically it has to be that way this time.

Lee: There’s one of those calender things that I think may be a problem it’s getting our 501c3 status. It turns out that educational 501c3’s take more time than other types of 501c3’s. They tell me there’s a queue and you just have to wait. And we will try to exercise political clout to see if we can jump the queue but that’s the kind of thing that could cost us 30 days or something, we don’t know. And that’s a condition to close. […]The nonstop piece I’m gonna let Mathew take care of that.

Matt: I’m happier doing these interviews in part because there’s been an impression I think for a long time because Lee is the spokesperson and I’m out there talking too, that we’re just working out all of this stuff on our own. […]But as you go through and conduct these interviews and Francis [Horowitz] is overseeing the process for the plan for accreditation she’s looking at variety of things related to accreditation . Allen Feinberg is working on facilities along with Terry Herndon. We have people working on fundraising , we have people working on communications, so it’s a very sophisticated and talented board that’s been assembled and as we move forward with all these little baby steps other people will step forward and we’ll see more people involved. We have good a strategy and a good plan in place to work through all of those steps but some of it is still unknown, because of the finances basically. A lot of it is still unknown.

Thank you, I think that’s all but if you’d live to finish by answering what does Antioch mean to you?

[They decide who will go first]

Matt: Right now, it really is a privilege to do this. I think of Antioch as an incubator and I loved the experience that I had as a student. It was an empowering personal and certainly intellectual experience. But being involved with Antioch now again in my 40’s means being involved in something that could create opportunity for reinvention in higher education. We really have this long tradition of values-oriented secular education that has so much to say about our current situation culturally and economically and otherwise and i think that the college could be a wonderful incubator. This is one of the greatest opportunities in higher education and I’m involved in it. It feels terrific.

Lee: It depends on whether you look back or forward; it’s true I was struggling with that. If you look backward I was an advocate for the University for all these centers and stuff, so I thought that was exciting. But I agree with Matthew, right now, if you look forward this is one of the great opportunities in American higher education in the United States and Antioch historically has not engaged in denial about reality, and I appreciate that. Whether it’s evolution or abortion issues or political issues or gender issues we’ve generally been pretty open about reality and now the reality is we have a huge opportunity. But it’s not about reinventing the past it’s about some combination of Antioch values going forward and being a disruptive element in American education (disruptive means a major change). And I love one of the members of the ProTem Board, I say “Now what other schools imitate the stuff that we do?” and she said “Not in our lifetimes.” I love that comment. Another comment made by a board member that I love said, “The students that we want are students that want to learn and want to change the world. If they don’t want to do both of those things they should go to some local school, we don’t want them.”

Nonstop students all apply to that category.

Lee: Now this is very ambitious learn and change the world. This is not about vocational training, this is not about becoming a cog in a big machine. This is about managing the future. It’s a huge opportunity and I just hope that we can pull it off. […]

Matt: I think that if walked around the Alumni Board and asked them and asked the ProTem Board too, “You got involved initially because of what your heart told you to do. You love’d Antioch and you grieved because this place was so important to your development may not be there for other people. But then once I became engaged in it you started to see that you could do something really important for higher education with Antioch as the vehicle to make that happen.” And I think that that’s why a lot of the ProTem members and a lot of the donors were able to make that additional step, which is to become a member of a board of a college that’s going to struggle for some time and it’s gonna this fair share of difficulties, you don’t do that just out of nostalgia and reminiscence you really have to do it because you think it’s really important for bigger, more broader reasons.

Lee: And we’re getting actually broader alumni constituency, people who had not been involved before because they were not interested in perpetuating the past but they are interested in the potential for the future. The other thing that I can mention that Mathew can’t is that Mathew’s been the one who synthesized all the ideas and integrated them into a  coherent but pretty radical education program. He’s not allowed to blow his own horn but I can blow it for him. I don’t know that they’re all original thoughts but he has integrated all the ideas from all these strange quarters into what I think is a marvelously compelling vision for the future.

So you would say that their is already an articulated plan?

Matt: No, I’d say there is an articulated concept.

OK, how would you sum up that concept?

Matt: Well, it has lots of different pieces to it. the important thing is separate this conversation from conversation about curriculum.

Mmhmm.

Matt: So, a concept that I know has been talked about in some of the chapters and otherwise is the idea that you could complete a undergraduate degree in 3, rather than 4, years. So, it’s that sort of basic understanding of the formation of an education, than it is the curriculum and what’s offered. The sum total of what’s in the plan is about how Antioch reemerges as a place that takes on new ways of looking at the delivery of a liberal arts education. We’re committed to small size, we’re committed to liberal arts, we’re committed to tenure, we’re committed to all those pieces but shouldn’t we be the first liberal arts college that acknowledges, that in fact, a majority of students going into American higher education in the next generation are likely to be African American and Latino non-white communities. And how do you create a college that addressees that seismic shift in American education population? How do you look at cost of education? The 3-years is one way of doing that, by going year-round students would cut down on the number of years they would be enrolled. But also looking at the way financial aid is structured and the way tuition discounting is structured and thinking about ways you actually pull down the whole cost of the education from the very beginning, rather than discounting. So, there are a number of things in this concept-paper that I think would help guide the development of curriculum but it’s not a curriculum in and of itself. I mentioned diversity but also mention that in vast majority of countries an undergraduate degree is 3 years. The United States is out of step with the rest of the world, and I’m starting to see this as a way of Antioch embracing the metric system in joining the rest of the world in thinking “actually it’s a 3 year experience.” Ours includes summer and ours includes work and international work assuming that students would not only work in the united states but work overseas, things along those lines. To really make it not just an American school that’s international but a truly global college.

[…]

Matt: One of the plans is to take the concept paper as it exists now and reduce it into a pointer set of standings and then share that more broadly and everybody wants to do that. There’s some people on the board ProTem who feel that it has some value to sort of as a key statement for fundraisng or that it has some value and we don’t want them stealing our ideas, that’s another element of it. But mostly, I think, if I go right to the base of some of the concern, it was concern that people would think that this was a plan and it’s not. A plan takes process and a plan takes participation and it’s much broader in scope. This is a really great set of concepts.

Who wrote that concept-paper?

Matt: I did.

Who did you consult with?

Matt: Well, a wide variety people but it is my concept and the reason we produced it, is that we wanted to have a document to present to the University as the plans and process for the development of the college. It was only written for one audience, and that was the University Board of Trustees. Now it has more utility because people like it. So that’s great but it’s not fully developed and one of the very first paragraphs says “this was designed for the University board of trustees to facilitate the separation.”

But you have been using it for fundraising?

Matt: Yes. Yeah, we have. Because there have been (and I know Risa has been saying this for a very long time) many, many people, potential donors who would say, “Come back when you have a plan, come back when you have a business plan.” And we’ve been unable to address that because of good process that we wanted to have within our community and also the sort of Catch-22 we were in with the University. That’s done now, so we have a concept, we have a basic business plan. Those are not likely to end up being the final concept or strategic plan and it’s not likely end up being the final budget but we have an understanding of how we could rebuild the college financially and that there are good ideas that are innovative and radical, that fit within the context of a college that’s identifiable as Antioch College.

Has the ProTem Board vetted the business plan and the concept-paper?

Matt: Only for it’s original use which was to separate the college from the university so the only original mailing went to all the University Board members, through the chancellor’s office. And then once the agreement was signed (the LOI) there were a lot of board members who were very excited about it and others, obviously this was endorsed not only by the board ProTem but the Great Lakes College Association. So with the GLCA stamp of approval we were able to show it to some donors as well.

OK, well thank you very much for your time.

Lee: You were well prepared, you did a good job.

Meet Your New Cil Representatives

ComCil

Nic Viox (Chair)

Shared governance is a historically important part of this institution, and I am privileged to be a part of it. In Nonstop’s ever changing future, I hope to provide as much continuity as I can by sitting on CoCcil again this term. I intend to do my best to provide service and support to the community as a whole: staff, faculty, and students.

Lincoln Alpern

I think ComCil is important as a venue for the community to address important (if often dull and day-to-day) issues about how we sustain and improve ourselves as an institute and as a community. On ComCil, I intend to serve this community to the best of my abilities, and to do my bit to fill the student quota. In the unlikely event of a real controversy, I will attempt to be a calming influence and voice for reconciliation and constructive dialogue.

Eva Erickson

I am running for ComCil because I want to make sure that our actions line up with our values, and that these Antiochian values that we hold so dearly as apart of our identity are preserved in the future Nonstop/Antioch, regardless of what happens. I also want to try to make this semester be as good as we can make it. I’m looking forward to being involved in this facet of community government, and learning how ComCil is apart of the bigger picture.

Rose Pelzl

I intend to represent my constituency, with your consultation and input. I intend to keep you informed with what’s going on in Comcil and to focus on the success and survival of our organization.

ExCil

Jonny No

I originally began attending and later sitting on both ComCil and ExCil because I had heard that in theory it was an essential component of the learning experience both at Antioch and now at Nonstop. I’m pleased to be able to confirm that this is indeed true. Sitting on councils allows one to participate in the formation, development and nurture of community structures and expectations. As luck would have it, it turns out that when you nurture community, you empower yourself and all those around you, and this is a crucial part of our struggle. I feel lucky to have been able to sit in on (and then sit on) these councils beginning shortly after the exigency announcement, and feel as if this provides a basis for seeking re-election. Not merely to pay lip service to the history of community, but to make sure we are still baking it fresh daily, as the saying goes. Recipes have to get passed down, you know? You can’t get this stuff from books or lectures or conferences, you can only learn as you go.

Jessie Clark

My choice to join Excil this term was made in awareness of the ambiguous yet critical nature of our present time, for Nonstop as well as the future of Antioch.  I look forward to enjoining my intellect, enthusiam, and skills with the continuing efforts of the group. Excil is an essential place of our efforts. My wish is to apply my wisdom and good ideas to its worthy cause.

John Hempfling

I really want to be on ExCil. I intend to represent the students. Also I’d like to participate in the process of developing the relationships between ExCil, the Executive Collective, the CRF and Gommunity Government (to name but a few) since no one can explain to me what their relationships to one another actually are.