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Antioch hires first faculty, gains on accreditation

Antioch College continues its forward motion toward admitting new students next fall, announcing this week that the college has hired its first three tenure-track faculty members. And last week, the revived college received notice that it successfully jumped the first hurdle on the road to gaining accreditation.

“This is very good news,” said consultant Len Clark, regarding the Ohio Board of Regents, or OBR, peer review team’s recommendation that the college be granted provisional approval as a degree-granting institution, pending the OBR chancellor’s official authorization.

“While our application to the Ohio Board of Regents still requires the approval of the chancellor, this is the first formal indication that our planning team has been successful in creating a liberal arts curriculum that is sound and distinct,” said Antioch College Communications Director Gariot Louima this week.

The review team’s recommendation followed a January daylong visit to the college, during which team members met with college leaders, the Morgan Fellows, student support staff and reviewed the school’s finances and curriculum plans.

The OBR provisional approval allows the college to operate in the state, according to OBR Director of Program Approval Shane DeGarmo in an interview last week. And the action clears the way for the college to take the next step in the multi-year process of becoming accredited, by applying for candidacy to the North Central Association, or NCA, the regional accreditation agency.

Clark, who is retired after 26 years as provost and academic dean of Earlham College, is leading Antioch’s effort to gain accreditation following the college’s achieving independence in 2009 from Antioch University.

The review team’s recommendation was good news because the team could have required significant changes to Antioch’s proposed curriculum that might have compromised the college’s ability to welcome its first students next fall, Clark said. However, the team did not request any curriculum changes, and asked only for clarifications regarding some unusual aspects of the college’s program, he said.

This successful first step toward accreditation “is the result of the hard work by a lot of people, including alumni, the board, the Morgan Fellows, the new president and Matthew,” Clark said, referring to former Antioch Interim President Matthew Derr, who led the college between its 2009 revival and the arrival of new President Mark Roosevelt in January.

First hires announced

This week the college announced that tenure-track positions in cultural anthropology, philosophy and chemistry have been filled. The three positions not yet filled, in Spanish, literature and 3-D art, are expected to be announced in May, according to Louima. Appointments are effective July 18.

The new assistant professor of cultural anthropology will be Kristen Adler, a PhD candidate at the University of New Mexico who will receive her doctorate in May. Adler received her masters in anthropology from the University of Denver and bachelors from Colorado State University, where she graduated cum laude. She’s currently a part-time teaching associate at the University of New Mexico. Her areas of interest include globalization, neoliberalism and the politics of ethnicity, and her doctoral project was a study of indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico.

Adler’s expertise on Latin America was one reason she was chosen, because the revived Antioch will include a focus on Latin American issues, according to retired Antioch anthropology professor Victor Ayoub, who sat with two others on the selection committee. The college received about 140 applications for the position, he said.

Adler also has significant teaching experience, and made a strong impression when she visited campus and gave a presentation.

“She answered questions clearly and intelligently, and I was impressed with how she reacted with former students,” Ayoub said.

Lewis Trelawny-Cassity will be the college’s new assistant professor of philosophy. Trelawny-Cassity, who is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Binghamton University of the State University of New York, received a masters in philosophy from Binghamton, a masters in political science from Boston College and a bachelors in environmental policy from Warren Wilson College. He will also finish his doctorate in May.

In an e-mail this week, Cassity wrote that, “I was drawn to Antioch because of the College’s distinctive educational model that emphasizes the classroom, community and co-op. Antioch College offers the unique opportunity to both teach a rigorous liberal arts curriculum and to work closely with students who are committed to making the world a better place, so there is no place I’d rather be.”

Lewis, his wife and two sons plan to move to the village in June. While he was interested in Antioch before coming to Yellow Springs, he was especially excited about the job after visiting here, Cassity wrote, citing Glen Helen as a place he looks forward to exploring with his sons.

Cassity’s areas of interest include the history of philosophy, political philosophy and environmental ethics, according to Louima, and at Binghamton he received university-wide awards for excellence in both teaching and research. At Binghamton, he also participated in community efforts to increase public awareness of the risks involved in unregulated drilling for natural gas.

The new associate professor of chemistry will be David Kammler, who was assistant professor of chemistry at Antioch College for five years before it closed in 2008. At that point, he accepted a professorship at Wilberforce University, where he taught chemistry and biochemistry. Kammler received his PhD in organic chamistry from Indiana University and his bachelors from Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude.

On faculty selections, President Roosevelt deferred to the recommendations of the selection committees, according to Louima. Committee members, whose names have not been made public, included retired Antioch College faculty, former faculty, alumni who are experts in the field and professors from Great Lakes College Association member colleges.

Candidates were judged on their subject matter expertise; ability to teach; ability to interact with students, faculty, colleagues and community members; ability to collaborate effectively; knowledge of and comfort with the three C’s of the Antioch College educational model, co-op, classroom and community; and their interpersonal style and ability to engage in effective discussion, according to Louima.

Good news from OBR

The OBR review team that visited campus in January included national experts on assessment tools and libraries, along with representatives from other liberal arts programs, including those of Dartmouth and Duke University, according to consultant Clark.

“I was impressed by the quality and credentials of the team,” he said.

Having read “an extensive bundle of information” about the college before their visit, team members met with college administrative and academic leaders, along with student support staff.

The review team’s recommendations included requests for clarification regarding the pace of some faculty hiring and “some things that are unusual,” Clark said.

For instance, the team sought clarification on the college’s proposed policy on faculty rank, which runs counter to the norm in higher education, although is similar to that used at Earlham, he said.

What’s unusual is that, “We have developed a rank policy that doesn’t make much of rank,” Clark said, because college leaders believe that, “Antioch does not want to artificially create classes among faculty. They are all members of the same team.”

If the OBR chancellor approves the review team’s recommendation, the college will immediately submit the extensive materials necessary to be considered a candidate for accreditation to an NCA committee, which will determine if the college is a worthy candidate. If that approval is given, an NCA site visit will take place on campus next fall, according to Clark, beginning the multi-year process of obtaining accreditation.

A critical aspect of being approved as a candidate for accreditation is that Antioch will then be able to offer federal financial aid to its students, Clark said. While the college is planning to offer its first class of 25 students free tuition, that federal financial aid would ease the college’s financial responsibility, he said.

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