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)