December 2, 2010
Editorial by Diane Chiddister, Yellow Springs News
As someone who has reported on Antioch College off and on for the past 25 years, I find the apparent exclusion of former faculty from the college’s revival to be heartbreaking. Not all former faculty were stellar; there were a few slackers, some burn-outs. But over and over I’ve been deeply impressed with the dedication and talent of this tiny, scrappy group of teachers. A significant number of former faculty performed extraordinarily well under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
There are two critical reasons why Antioch College leaders should reinstate former tenured faculty in positions for which they are qualified, and also increase the number of those positions. First, it’s the right thing to do. According to AAUP guidelines, the college has an ethical obligation to reinstate former tenured faculty. And in a higher education landscape in which academic tenure is increasingly threatened, this move would place the new Antioch College squarely among the ranks of principled liberal arts schools.
Equally important, the revived college needs former faculty. All agree that the college’s unique educational model should be continued: how, without experienced faculty (or administrators), will new hires learn this model? How will new students be guided? People don’t learn from an abstract example; they learn from other people who have a passion for a subject. Those people are former faculty, who have a passion for Antioch.
Everyone involved in this controversy cares deeply about Antioch College and wants it to succeed. A mix of new faces and a substantial group of seasoned veterans, as proposed by some alumni, may be the best path forward. Whatever the specifics, former faculty should be embraced as valued partners in the rebirth of Antioch College.