Antioch College

Efforts at independence for Antioch College move ahead

 

Efforts to create an independent Antioch College moved forward last week with a resolution issued jointly by the college alumni board and Antioch University Board of Trustees that charged a task force to prepare a letter of intent for college independence as soon as possible.

The resolution, released on July 17, was unanimously approved by the alumni board and by the executive committee of the trustees, according to Alumni Board President Nancy Crow in an interview on Tuesday.

What’s significant about the resolution, according to Crow, is that “We have a true collaboration. We really are working together.”

The current process began earlier this month with conversations between two representatives of the alumni board and two representatives of the trustees, aimed at reaching agreements to achieve college autonomy. The conversations were in response to a resolution passed by the trustees at their regular June meeting that asked the alumni board to create a process for college independence. Two other alumni attempts over the past year to achieve independence for the college were not successful.

The task force consists of alumni representatives Lee Morgan of Yellow Springs and St. Cloud, Minn., and Matt Derr of Natick, Mass. The board of trustees is represented by Antioch alumnus Dan Fallon of New York City, who is recently retired from the Carnegie Foundation, and Jack Merselis, a retired physician of Williamsburg, Mass., and an alumnus of Antioch University New England.

New to the process is Great Lakes Colleges Association President Rick Detweiler, who is serving as an “honest broker” in the process, acting in the capacity of a facilitator, advisor and spokesperson, Detweiler said in an interview on Friday.

“The effort has gone forward well,” he said. “I personally feel optimistic.”

The task force meets “very regularly,” Detweiler said, either in person, via conference call or e-mail, since it first met on July 2. While no deadline has been established, everyone agrees that “speed is of the essence,” he said.

The efforts toward college independence are being supported by two grants that total $100,000. The Mellon Foundation has given the university a $50,000 grant to aid the process and that grant was matched by the Morgan Family Foundation, according to the July 17 press release.

The grants and the presence of GLCA bring to the process of creating an independent Antioch College both “resources and legitimacy,” according to Crow.

Areas of agreement

What’s new about last week’s resolution, according to Detweiler, is that it is the first time the alumni leaders and university trustees have clearly stated areas of agreement.

The points of agreement include that “the establishment of a separate non-profit corporation with 501(c)3 status and governance by an independent Board of Trustees represent the best avenue to vigor and longterm sustainability for Antioch College”; that Antioch College operations should resume “at the earliest possible time”; that alumni and trustees will collaborate in developing a plan for an exchange of assets that “does not jeopardize Antioch University’s accreditation, creditors or its financial well-being”; that endowment funds restricted for use by the college shall go to the college; and that endowment funds restricted to university use shall go to the university.

The agreement also states that the alumni will provide the trustees with an outline of an “expertly advised business plan” for the college, and that the alumni will form a “pro-tem Board of Trustees in preparation to assume fiduciary responsibility for Antioch College.” It also states that all parties agree that there is only one corporation, which was founded in 1852 as Antioch College and changed to Antioch University in 1977.

Acording to Crow this week, the alumni are working hard to identify members of the college’s board of trustees, and will probably start with a “core group” of trustees, which she hopes to see assembled by next week.

The alumni are moving quickly because “we are not starting from scratch,” Crow said. “We are building on everything that has been done in the last year.”

Work to be done

The resolution also identifies areas that remain in question, and requests that the task force collaboratively address these: 1) “the definition of the future real estate of the college”; 2) “the definition of other future college assets”; 3) “the status of any tax-exempt bond principal that is specifically associated with the college”; 4) how the name and trademark associated with Antioch College and Antioch University shall be used; 5) future fund-raising efforts by both parties; and 6) the rights of either party in the event of dissolution or change of mission.

The GLCA is an alliance of Midwestern liberal arts colleges whose purpose is to help strengthen the tradition of liberal arts colleges generally and its member colleges particularly, Detweiler said. As such, he brings to the process “the perspective from higher education.”

GLCA member colleges include Oberlin, Earlham, Ohio Wesleyan, DePauw, Dennison, Kalamazoo, Kenyon, Wabash, and Wooster. Antioch College has been a member since the 1950s, according to Detweiler.

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