September 18, 2010
Eleven members of the Ad Hoc Tenured Faculty Committee met with Interim President Matthew Derr, Board President Lee Morgan and Board Member Tendaji Ganges in the Herndon Gallery, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH (see complete list of those present at end of document). The following statements were read by faculty spokespersons.
I. REINSTATEMENT POSITION & OTHER ISSUES (Chris Hill)
Good afternoon to you all on this beautiful early autumn afternoon, and thank you Matthew, Lee and Tendaji for agreeing to meet with us today.
The former tenured Antioch College faculty here today request that the Antioch College Board Pro Tem acknowledge the professional recommendation by the AAUP to reinstate “qualified” faculty members who were hired through national searches and earned tenure through a rigorous multi-year process of peer review that assessed our long term value to the institution. I will quote again the conclusion of the AAUP investigatory report, ratified by its national membership in June of this year— “we trust that the Antioch College Continuation Corporation will appreciate the fundamental importance of the tenure system and will offer reinstatement to those whose appointments terminated with the closing, restoring their tenure rights.”
As we have stated in our recent letters, we acknowledge that the projected size and curriculum requirements of the College may mean that not all tenured faculty will be reinstated. The AAUP’s respected practice considers “qualified” faculty for reinstatement as those for whom the new curriculum is substantially similar to earlier curricula, and those who have not secured a tenure track job elsewhere. Given the available public information about the new Antioch College curriculum, it would appear that approximately 14 faculty positions, not including Coop, will be needed in the first year. When considering those projected 14 positions, there may be between 7 to 9 former tenured faculty who would qualify for reinstatement.
We are advocating today that a process be developed for working together toward the reinstatement of those qualified tenured faculty before positions are posted with stated commitments to national searches. We understand that you may be considering posting positions in the near future, and so we do understand that moving toward reinstatement means beginning work on an agreed upon process as soon as possible.
What would such a process look like? First, Antioch College administration would finalize a list of what positions need to be filled for the 2011-12 academic year. Next, College administration would work together with the group of former tenured faculty or their representatives with assistance from the AAUP staff to review the list of positions and curricular needs, review the professional and teaching experience of the former faculty, and then determine who among the former tenured faculty are “qualified” for reinstatement for positions within the new curriculum. Remaining searches for 2011-12 would go forward following the decisions about reinstatement.
Such a process is very much in line with the one recommended by the AAUP that includes faculty input on decisions about searching and filling positions following a determination of financial exigency. We recommend reviewing the AAUP Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure for the spirit of this collaborative process that must include faculty input.
I want to mention two more issues that are important to put on the table now. For all former faculty, whether reinstated or unable to qualify for reinstatement given the requirements of the new College, library privileges should be established along the line of what has historically been made available to emeriti faculty, that is, ability to use the library and Interlibrary Loan system not only from the terminals in the library when the library is open, but to be professionally recognized in such a way as to have remote access to this system at any time and from any place. Former tenured faculty remain active professionals and the 14 signatories to our letters have collectively contributed over 150 professional years of service to the College that included major contributions toward building the collection of the Olive Kettering Library.
There is also deep concern among us about unsubstantiated criticism directed toward the former faculty and the quality of an Antioch College education in the years, and even decades, before the closure. Such criticism has been allowed to circulate unchecked and largely unchallenged. Again, we remind you that the AAUP report, the only independent investigation of the closure of the College by a team that included 3 economists, documented a long history of fiscal and governance violations that undermined the institutional health and security of Antioch College and the professional lives of its tenured faculty. Unsubstantiated criticism of the College’s professional workforce is unwarranted and undermines us each professionally, whether our individual futures lie with the College or not. Such conclusions ignore the complex fiscal and governance issues that undermined the College as well as faculty’s best efforts in an under-resourced institution. We would like to work with the College administration in coming weeks to address this situation. The reinstatement of qualified former tenured faculty would certainly help affirm the tenured faculty’s value to Antioch College, past and present.
II. FACULTY ASSETS (Anne Bohlen)
The reinstatement of qualified faculty represents our firm support for the professional standards regarding tenured faculty established by the AAUP long ago, and we recognize that it is our duty to bring these issues to the Board’s attention since we have heard the Board express support for tenure. In addition such recognition and support of the professional standards of the profession will speak well to the new faculty hires about the Board’s commitment to carry those standards into the future.
We think the newly constituted College needs senior faculty to prosper institutionally and educationally. Having a group of senior faculty that are familiar with Co-op and understand the pedagogical strengths of Antioch’s Co-op program and situated learning experience would be a tremendous boon to the institution, and to the newer faculty that are hired.
Our experience has indicated that faculty either fresh out of traditional graduate programs or experienced faculty from non-co-op institutions have a steep learning curve when it comes to appreciating the pedagogical strengths of Co-op and working in a program where their students are regularly off campus for a term. The rigors of a year round program delivered with a small faculty will also be mediated by our experience. Most of us have taught in quarters, semesters and block systems, and that experience will strengthen the current program.
We believe that the new Antioch needs a faculty with experience teaching in an intensive block structure and in interdisciplinary courses such as the Global Seminars; we have that experience, know what could work, and have demonstrated over decades that we can develop new ideas and innovate with creativity and collegiality.
We think the College would profit from our collective experience as a faculty that understands and has contributed to the development of community-based learning, and governance, again with an emphasis on the tried and true pedagogical strengths of situated learning. Since all of the new students will be working on campus, the entire community will be involved in promoting Antioch’s vision of a community of committed and involved learners.
Our experience working on institutional matters will also be a tremendous boon to the College. This group of 14 former tenured faculty represent 3 former chairs of the Faculty Personnel Review Committee, many faculty who have chaired search committees, and many who have mentored younger faculty members. The group includes a former Dean of Faculty, a former Asst Dean of Faculty, former Curriculum Development leaders, a former College President, and faculty who have created curricula and developed Co-op jobs domestically and internationally.
We would like to point to the high scores that the college earned on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) over the last decade. We see these scores as directly connected to our success as committed teachers, developers of curriculum, and strong student advisers.
We believe that as a group we have proven our commitment and dedication to the program of Antioch College over many years of institutional change with aplomb and grace. Three of our members are Antioch College alumni. In addition we all have strong, close relationships with the College alumni of the last 25-30 years.
Finally, this group made significant contributions to the Revival of the College with the support and encouragement of Antioch’s Alumni Board and the College Revival fund through both the faculty lawsuit and the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute, where we fulfilled our obligations and commitments to create an interdisciplinary, community-adapted, situated learning project that was developed successfully in a very short time because of our accumulated experience—through vision, leadership, and the ability to work with each other knowledgeably; and also through the generous support and partnership of the Alumni Board/College Revival Fund and the support of the Yellow Springs community. As people who have lived in this region for 15-30 years, we have many professional connections that could be helpful as the College restarts.
III. SUMMARY (Chris Hill)
As we have articulated in our letters and in today’s presentations, reinstatement is both professionally supported by decades of AAUP-guided precedent, and morally just given the circumstances of the closing of the College and the faculty’s critical professional and legal contributions to the revival. Reinstatement will serve the near and long term interests and needs of both Antioch College, the former tenured faculty, and alumni of all generations.
As Anne’s presentation has documented in detail, reinstatement will deliver experienced and nationally searched faculty members who have demonstrated their deep commitment to Antioch College and to its revival, as well as their flexibility over the last 25 years working in a resource-strapped environment. Most of the former tenured faculty eligible for reinstatement still live in Yellow Springs.
We share the Board’s articulated concern for diversity, and many of us have worked creatively to achieve a more diverse faculty, staff and student body despite setbacks that were often dictated by fiscal cutbacks. We would like to point out that 3 of the 14 signatories to our recent letters are faculty of color with strong teaching records. Also 3 of the 14 grew up outside of the U.S. and so bring expanded international perspectives to their teaching and would represent resources to an educational community that has foregrounded global educational engagements.
Reinstatement is a sound use of existing resources, both financial and human. The College will save tens of thousands of dollars and the time and resources required to conduct a number of the projected national searches. Reinstatement will bring on board a critical mass of committed professional educators, representing expertise across the curriculum, in a short period of time. Through the employment of former tenured faculty who themselves have been nationally searched and peer reviewed, the College will secure an experienced core faculty that will speak to the concerns of accrediting agencies as well as prospective parents. These are professional educators who can assist with other faculty searches, and contribute to the ongoing work of curriculum development and its integration with Co-op and community. Their knowledge of the history of the College and the resources of the region and the village will bring confidence and insight to the advising and welcoming of prospective students and their families in coming months.
In closing I’d like to quote from the letter that we will be passing out:
“The revival of the College stands as a bold and heartening refutation of the University’s unlawful closure of Antioch; we sincerely hope that the College’s new leadership will continue to chart a more positive course, and to honor the values of justice, fairness, and community that Antiochians of all generations cherish. We stand ready to share with you our collective experience and knowledge in order to forward the efforts of an independent Antioch College.”
Note: At the end of this meeting there was a decision between the Ad Hoc Committee and the Board delegation to meet again; there was also an agreement to issue a joint statement soon (to be posted when completed)
Board Pro Tem Delegation:
Matthew Derr (Interim President)
Lee Morgan (Board Chair)
Tendaji Ganges (Board Member)
Ad Hoc Faculty Committee:
Jill Becker (Associate Professor of Dance)
Anne Bohlen (Professor of Film & Communications)
Chih Tsong Chen (Associate Professor of Computer Science & Math)
Bob Devine (Professor of Communications)
Dennie Eagleson (Associate Professor of Photography)
Jean Gregorek (Associate Professor of Literature)
Chris Hill (Associate Professor of Communications)
Nevin Mercede (Associate Professor of Art)
Hassan Rahmanian (Associate Professor of Management)
Louise Smith (Associate Professor of Theater)
Peter Townsend (Professor of Geology & Environmental Science)
Scott Warren (Associate Professor of Philosophy & Political Science)