September 18, 2010This 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).
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