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.

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