11
Feb 11

Heal divide on college faculty – A Letter to YS News

Here’s a letter from the Ad Hoc Former Tenured Faculty Committee printed in this week’s Yellow Springs News (2/10/11) on the Community Forum page in response to the letter from the BPT printed in the 1/17/11 YS News. The YS News gave it the headline: “Heal divide on college faculty” (note: the YS News will only print a certain number of names, so the letter was submitted from the entire Committee but we could only list a few names):

We were puzzled to read the recent editorial about faculty hiring policy from the Antioch College Board of Trustees, as it takes pains to refute several positions which we, the Ad Hoc Committee of the Former Tenured Faculty, have never espoused. First, no one in our Committee (nor the American Association of University Professors) has claimed that the College has a legal obligation to acknowledge the tenure status of former College faculty. We understand the legal meaning of “non-successor corporation”; our position has always been that there are strong ethical, professional, and pragmatic reasons for the College to welcome our experience and institutional knowledge, and to work with us. Also, no one has opposed the principle of national searches which we, too, see as the generally preferred procedure for hiring faculty in a liberal arts college.

Our point has been that national searches are at this time only necessary for *some* positions in which qualified former faculty are not available. We have already been selected through national searches and then demonstrated our ongoing value to the College through a grueling multi-year process of rigorous peer review in order to achieve tenure.

Because we, too, desire that Antioch will once again take its rightful place among pre-eminent U.S. liberal arts colleges, we continue to request that the Board seek the imprimatur of the AAUP on matters of academic policy and hiring practice, as these are the standards across the academy. Yet the Board of Trustees has so far ignored the Association’s recommendations. The Board of Trustees also recently heard from the Alumni Board Task Force on Former Faculty, whose report made the recommendation that “it is in the best interest of the opening Antioch College that faculty initially hired include a representation of the faculty of the closed Antioch College so that faculty familiar with Antioch’s educational approach can mentor new faculty and can carry forward experience with Antioch’s educational approach.”

A broad coalition of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and Yellow Springs residents fought for and were critical in winning the independence of the College. The Board’s claim in their editorial that following the College’s closing in June 08 that they were the sole actors in securing the College’s independence is simply not the case, as almost any issue of the Yellow Springs News during that year will show. Different representations of the history of the last three years, and ideas of what constitutes a “just” solution to the situation of the former tenured faculty, have, sadly, divided College supporters. We had hoped that the Board would see the logic of working to heal these divisions, especially as we, like many alumni, believe that Antioch would immediately benefit from our wide-ranging institutional, curricular and academic expertise, and our abundantly demonstrated commitment to the College.

– Jean Gregorek, Anne Bohlen, Chris Hill, Hassan Rahmanian (for the Ad Hoc Committee of the Former Tenured Faculty of Antioch College)


29
Nov 10

An Open Letter from the AAUP to Antioch College

November 29, 2010

Reopening Antioch: An Open Letter to Antioch’s New President and the College’s Stakeholders

A letter from the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) to Antioch College

The AAUP’s 2009 investigative report on “Antioch University and the Closing of Antioch College” included the following clearly stated expectation:

“The committee is concerned about the role that the Antioch faculty members who were released when operations were suspended will play in the development of the academic program at a reopened Antioch College and in teaching there when operations resume. The investigating committee trusts 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.”

In the summer of 2010 staff members of the national AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Shared Governance met with the interim Antioch president and members of the Pro Tem Board in the AAUP’s Washington, D.C. office to reiterate those concerns. AAUP president Cary Nelson also attended the meeting at the interim president’s request. The staff reminded those present that the AAUP would follow its standard procedures in handling any complaints received from tenured Antioch faculty who subsequently asserted they were denied appointment to suitable positions at the college after it was reopened.

Now that Antioch College is about to begin the process of appointing faculty members, the AAUP believes that specific guidance to the new college about academic freedom and the rights of faculty who were laid off is appropriate. The AAUP recognizes that the new Antioch College is a different legal entity from its predecessor, that it will require reaccreditation, and that it must phase in faculty appointments as funding and enrollment permit. We note also, however, that the new College continues to invoke not only the history and legacy of the old institution and to bear the name and goodwill of the old, but to benefit from many of the tangible assets of the historic Antioch College, including the alumni, the campus and facilities, and the substantial endowment. The faculty of the old Antioch College, including those faulty who were laid off, were at the core of creating and sustaining those assets. Thus we believe that such benefits entail certain continuing responsibilities to those long standing employees who are qualified for and remain available for positions in the new college–especially the tenured faculty. Further, although we respect the decision of the new College to phase in faculty appointments as funds and enrollment permit, we do not believe that the decision to defer some appointments beyond the College’s re-opening in fall 2011 moots the College’s obligation to appoint formerly tenured Antioch faculty who are qualified and available for such suitable positions as become available. A suitable position is one for which the faculty member is qualified by previous training and/or experience or may become qualified by modest additional training.

It would not be appropriate for the college to prevent those involved in defining faculty positions from being informed about the qualifications of former faculty. There appear to be, we should emphasize, no legal impediments to the reappointment of faculty who held tenure at the former college.

The AAUP is also deeply concerned that comments by Pro Tem Board chair Lee Morgan published on November 25th in the Yellow Springs News suggest that donor objections to appointing previously tenured Antioch faculty are broadly influencing planning and hiring decisions. If this report is accurate, we must emphasize that such considerations run counter to values at the core of the AAUP and widely recognized in the academy.

AAUP (American Association of University Professors)
Anita Levy, Senior Program Officer
Gary Rhoades, General Secretary

Read Antioch College’s response to this letter.
Read the original posting of this AAUP letter to Antioch College.

18
Sep 10

Ad Hoc Committee Letter to Antioch College

September 18, 2010

This letter was delivered to the Board delegation from the Ad Hoc Committee during the discussion at the Herndon Gallery

Dear President Derr and the Board of Trustees of Antioch College Pro Tempore:

The undersigned tenured faculty of Antioch College, having lost their professional positions through the arbitrary closure of the College on the part of Antioch University, are requesting that the new Antioch College Board of Trustees Pro Tempore agree to enter into a hiring process which acknowledges our former tenured status at the College and which is consistent with the procedures and standards recommended by our professional organization, the American Association of University Professors. As you know, the AAUP has stated publicly that it “trusts 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.”

We believe that the reinstatement of some faculty into positions consonant with their qualifications has much to offer the College as it works to gain academic accreditation and prepares for the arrival of students in fall 2011. We are experienced professionals whose commitment to the College has been tested by time. With few exceptions, the tenured faculty was hired through comprehensive national searches. Our tenure status was earned through rigorous multi-year processes of peer review incorporating numerous internal and external evaluations in order to assess our long-term value to the institution. We bring with us a unique wealth of experience with, and deep knowledge of, Antioch’s distinctive mix of Co-op and the liberal arts, with its long traditions of faculty and community participation, with its outward-looking, globally-oriented educational mission.

We have come to realize that fully grasping the benefits of Antioch’s vision of Co-op poses a steep learning curve for many academics from traditional graduate programs, whereas we are intimately familiar with its pedagogical objectives–all of us have helped to develop Co-op jobs, incorporated Co-op learning into the classroom experience, and/or articulated its value to numerous constituencies. We also bring with us our deep roots in the Yellow Springs community and in the region, as well as our irreplaceable connections with decades of former students.

Persuasive practical reasons exist for the College Board Pro Tem to entertain the reinstatement of some tenured faculty. As fall of 2011 is fast approaching, the hiring of a ‘core’ start-up faculty to aid in the recruitment of students and to implement the planned academic program becomes an immediate necessity. Reinstatements of tenured faculty would reduce the number of time-consuming national searches, with their attendant costs. The vital process of obtaining accreditation could be expedited and the labors of the current Morgan Fellows shared; having a core faculty with significant experience preparing for prior accreditation reviews can only enhance the nascent institution’s prospects for speedy accreditation. This core group would help to conduct searches for other faculty positions and mentor subsequent hires into the nuances of the Antioch curriculum and vision of education. The tenured faculty have consistently demonstrated the ability to ‘hit the ground running’ effectively and creatively. And the presence of recognizable Antioch faces would reassure alumni and donors that the College was maintaining points of continuity with the past while participating in the creation of something exciting and new.

We are well aware that the hiring and creation of an academically-excellent and smoothly-functioning college faculty is a highly complex undertaking, and one that involves a certain amount of risk and uncertainty for any institution. A reconstituted Antioch faculty in which at least a portion of its members are known entities who come with established track records of success at this institution promotes a stability and predictability much needed at this time, and works to minimizes the risks of the enterprise at large.

Further, the resurgent Antioch College requires the recognition and support of the wider academic community. The acknowledgment of tenure would provide an immediate demonstration of the College’s commitment to the professional standards adhered to by top-ranked liberal arts institutions. And it would reverse, rather than reiterate, the unjust and unprofessional actions of Antioch University.

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).

Respectfully,

Jill Becker (Associate Professor of Dance)
Anne Bohlen (Professor of Film & Communications)
Kabuika Butamina (Associate Professor Of Chemistry)
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)
Pat Mische (Professor of Peace Studies)
Nevin Mercede (Associate Professor of Art)
Hassan Rahmanian (Associate Professor of Management)
Louise Smith (Associate Professor of Theater)
Chuck Taylor (Professor of Physics)
Peter Townsend (Professor of Geology & Environmental Science)

cc: Gregory Scholtz, Director, Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure & Governance, AAUP; Anita Levy, Associate Secretary, AAUP


12
Jul 10

Letter in Response to AAUP Report

July 12, 2010

Ad Hoc Committee Letter sent to Antioch College Interim President and Board of Trustees Pro Tempore

To Interim President Matthew Derr and the Antioch College Board of Trustees Pro Tempore:

We tenured faculty of Antioch College are writing to express our support for the College’s revival and its preparations for an incoming first class of students. As you know, tenured faculty members were denied their rightful employment when the Antioch University Board of Trustees voted to close the College in June 2007, in violation of Faculty Personnel Policies that required faculty involvement in the pursuit of less drastic measures in response to a declaration of financial exigency.

This tragic decision to close the College was made by a University Board and administration that abrogated professional academic standards of governance and the commitments inherent in tenure contracts. A coalition of dedicated faculty, alumni, students, staff, and townspeople challenged this decision by sustaining organized resistance for three years. The tenured College faculty was instrumental in the long struggle to revive the College. Our critical contributions included extensive on-the-ground organization and mobilization, the filing of an injunctive lawsuit to prevent the sale of College land and assets, and the operation of the strategic Antioch-in-Exile, or Nonstop project (March 2008-June 2009). The latter initiatives received major financial support from the College Revival Fund, the fiscal arm of the Alumni Board and the same body that created the new Board of Trustees Pro Tempore in 2008.

Both faculty initiatives applied strategic pressure on Antioch University during this extended period of uncertainty. The lawsuit achieved its immediate goal of preventing the possible disposal of College property and buying the alumni time to negotiate for the campus. The Nonstop project inspired local support and publicity, as well as wide interest and acclaim in the world of higher education. The determined and sustained collaborations of multiple stakeholders pushing on multiple fronts came to fruition with the hard-won negotiation of independence from the University in September of 2009.

During the winter of 2008 and through the summer of 2009 the local tenured faculty sought to organize a dialogue with the Board Pro Tem about their role in the revived College. The most recent formal proposal, a joint effort of members of the Alumni Board and Nonstop Institute, submitted in July 2009, received no written response.

You are now aware that the American Association of University Professors has authored a report documenting 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. To date this has been the only in-depth investigation of the closing of the College. This report was first published in November 2009 and subsequently ratified by the AAUP membership this past June 2010. In discussing the future of the College faculty, the AAUP Investigating Committee stated: “the committee trusts 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.”

We, too, hope that the Antioch College leaders appreciate the significance of adhering to the tenure system and the fair labor practices and academic freedom it preserves. In moving forward to retake its place as a distinguished liberal arts college Antioch needs the recognition and support of the wider academic community.

Further, faculty members who held tenure when the University closed the College request an audience with the Antioch College Board of Trustees Pro Tempore by September 15, 2010 to discuss procedures for the reinstatement of qualified faculty. We acknowledge that the projected size and curriculum requirements of the College may mean that not all tenured faculty will be reinstated. However, we urge you to honor the standards of our professional organization, the American Association of University Professors, and to work with them and with us to reinstate tenured faculty as appropriate.

If Antioch College seeks to perpetuate its founding values of justice, fairness, and respect, it is then bound both professionally and morally to engage the tenured faculty and/or its chosen representatives in a timely manner as it plans to receive students for fall 2011.

Yours,

Jill Becker (Associate Professor of Dance)
Anne Bohlen (Professor of Film & Communications)
Kabuika Butamina (Associate Professor Of Chemistry)
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)
Pat Mische (Professor of Peace Studies)
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)

cc: Gregory Scholtz, Director, Dept. Academic Freedom, Tenure & Governance, AAUP; Anita Levy, Associate Secretary, AAUP

Note: Interim President Matthew Derr responded on 8/20/10 to faculty representatives with information that a delegation of the Board would meet with the Ad Hoc Committee in September; this information was also announced by Derr at the Friday Forum streamed discussion.