12
Nov 10

Why should Antioch College follow the AAUP recommendations?

November 12, 2010

“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. Moreover, the committee trusts that the corporation will approve a system of shared governance when the college reopens, ensuring primary faculty responsibility for academic matters as called for in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.” – 2009 AAUP Report

There are a number of distinct advantages to be gained from following the recommendations of the AAUP and respecting the tenure of the former College faculty. The AAUP’s recommendation will provide a core of experienced and properly credentialed faculty (i.e. having earned tenure through a rigorous process of peer review and review by the College) to anchor the enormous work of hiring new tenure-track faculty along with part time and visiting faculty. This small core will be available to mentor new hires into a complex academic curriculum and the educational philosophy and pedagogies associated with Antioch’s distinctive Co-op model and community orientation. The acknowledgment of the former tenured faculty will go far to assuage the increasingly vocal concerns of younger alums from the past three decades that their College and their college education are being dismissed as subpar. (There is evidence that loyalty to the College on the part of these generations of alumni is plummeting as we write.) It will dramatically reduce tensions and bad feeling in the Village where the College lives, and it will prevent the hiring of new faculty into what one alum at the last reunion called a “poisoned well” of intrigue and acrimony.

In 2002 the North Central Association, in the process of the re-accreditation of Antioch University, made their scheduled site visit to Antioch College. Their official report opens with comments about the abundant evidence of neglect and deferred maintenance of the College’s Yellow Springs campus. However, the Report continues, once the accreditors looked deeper, past the conditions of the campus facilities, they discovered much that impressed them; they found the very “spirit of idealism and academic excellence.” They found the living educational community of Antioch College: “Indeed, it was not until after frequent and focused dialogues with administrators, faculty, staff and students, and observations of documents, records, and artifacts on all campus sites that the Team developed a degree of respect and admiration for the institution. This is a place where administrators, faculty, and staff appear to be extraordinarily committed to implementing the Antioch mission and academic excellence…In spite of the Team’s concerns about finances, enrollments and facilities, the Team believes that Antioch is a place that has earned continued accreditation—primarily because of the people who work for the University.” How ironic that the daily efforts of these very people to carry on the College’s mission of academic excellence in the face of steadily deteriorating infrastructure, staff cutbacks, faculty hiring freezes, and an unresponsive governance system—the very work and idealism that persuaded objective reviewers that the College and the University merited accreditation despite manifest institutional problems—has now been scapegoated as contributing to the College’s closure in an unsupported and opportunistic justification to begin with a ‘clean slate.’

As members of the academic profession, we strongly believe that the emerging College needs the blessing of the AAUP. If one is trying to resurrect a famous hospital, it does not behoove the institution to defy the respected professional guidelines of the American Medical Association. Criticism or sanction by the AAUP will unquestionably damage the College’s reputation and standing in the academic community. This will not go over well with alumni who hail from the traditional groves of academe, and will be registered with particular force in the progressive sectors of the academy of which the College has historically been a leader and a source of inspiration. Two of the major fronts in university reform of the past decade have been graduate student unionization and defenses of threatened ethnic studies programs. The young faculty and newly-minted PhDs shaped by these agendas are often among the best and brightest, and have exactly the values and commitments we want for faculty at Antioch; they are also the very pool most likely to heed AAUP criticism.

Everyone understands that the revived Antioch College cannot legally be held accountable for contracts technically signed by Board of Trustees of Antioch University (despite the equally clear fact that tenure meant a commitment to the College only; the College was the only University campus that maintained tenure). But relying on this legal sleight-of-hand is hardly going to win friends among the thousands of academics and alumni who believe in the importance of hard-won protections granted through unions and professional organizations. At this delicate moment in the College’s history, there is too much to lose: the College cannot risk a national reputation for unprofessional hiring practices and violations of widely-held industry standards to add to its existing reputation for instability and financial insolvency. The college needs to hold fast to established academic guidelines of fairness rather than the problematic process currently being put forth by the administration. And it needs to hold fast to the higher ideals that will draw and keep talented academic professionals with a social conscience and a spirit of collective enterprise. Only this way will the College be able to serve its students—past, present, and future—and its revered educational mission honorably.

Ad Hoc Former Tenured Faculty Committee


18
Sep 10

Faculty Presentation to Board Delegation

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)

Attendees

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)

Also present:
Scott Warren (Associate Professor of Philosophy & Political Science)


20
Aug 10

Ad Hoc Committee Statement with Timeline

August 20, 2010

This statement was read during the streamed discussion at the Antioch College Friday Forum on Community.

To the Antioch College Community: An Update on the Tenured Faculty of Antioch College

Last month, thirteen members of the tenured faculty of Antioch College sent a letter to the Board of Trustees Pro Tempore of Antioch College seeking to discuss procedures for the reinstatement of qualified tenured faculty whose professional credentials fit the needs of the new curriculum.

A very brief timeline of relevant history:

June 2007: The Board of Trustees of Antioch University announces its intent to suspend operations at Antioch College.

August 2007: The tenured faculty of Antioch College file an injunctive lawsuit in order to prevent the destruction or sale of the College’s assets (the campus), and to challenge the legality of the College’s closure. The College faculty provide initial financial support for this lawsuit; within the next year the College Revival Fund assumes financial support for this lawsuit.

March 2008: The College Revival Fund, the fundraising arm of the Antioch College Alumni Association, resolves to fund Antioch-in-Exile, a sustained collaboration between the College alumni and the College faculty and community. Foundational planning includes maintaining ExCil (AdCil) and ComCil as governance bodies, and eventually streaming those meetings and Community Meetings to maximize information exchange among stakeholder groups and supporters.

September 2008-June 2009: Antioch-in-Exile, now renamed the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute, collaborates with entities in the Village of Yellow Springs, and continues the educational mission of the College, teaching courses and running free arts and cultural programs. These programs are also designed to bring visiting alums to engage directly with conditions and issues around revival efforts in Yellow Springs.

October 2008: The Nonstop Executive Collective begins a series of requests for dialogue with the newly constituted Board Pro Tempore about the role of the Nonstop Institute and the tenured faculty during an extended transitional period or in a revived College. Promised dialogues do not materialize.

March 2009: The Nonstop community submits a Proposal to the Antioch College Alumni Board outlining ideas for Nonstop’s contributions to the anticipated transitional period. The Alumni Board authors a resolution that includes the following statement:

“…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, the Board Pro Tem, the Alumni Board establishes a Taskforce to foster collaboration and to build consensus with the representatives of the key stakeholder groups 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 [March 6, 2009] for presentation to the Board Pro Tem.”

June-July 2009: The Proposal Taskforce sends a detailed 33-page proposal describing options for the reintegration of the Nonstop community into the revived Antioch College (“Report from the Alumni Board and Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute Task Force to the Board of Trustees Pro Tempore”). To date, no response from the BPT has been forthcoming nor was the Report used as a resource in further planning as publicly stated.

June 2009: The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute is defunded by the College Revival Fund.

September 2009: The Antioch College Continuation Corporation completes the agreement which formally separates Antioch College from Antioch University.

November 2009: The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the national organization that defines professional academic values and standards and monitors compliance with these standards, publishes an investigative report analyzing the closing of Antioch College by the Antioch University Board of Trustees. The report concludes that the University’s declaration of financial exigency in order to terminate employees and eliminate tenured positions “remains unsubstantiated.” The AAUP investigators further declare:
“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.”

June 2010: The national membership of the AAUP ratifies the report and votes to sanction Antioch University for unprofessional practices and violations of academic freedom.

July 2010: The former tenured faculty of the College send the aforementioned letter to the Board Pro Tempore.

August 2010: The tenured faculty have so far been denied any opportunity to represent their own positions about employment or reinstatement as faculty to the Board Pro Tempore or to the College administration. It is our sincere hope that, given our innumerable and critical contributions to the revival of Antioch College, such a conversation will soon take place.

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.

–Ad-Hoc Committee of the Tenured Faculty of Antioch College