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Council unanimously urges university to save college

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At their meeting Monday, May 5, members of Village Council unanimously passed a resolution urging that Antioch University keep Antioch College open.

“I feel strongly that it’s important for us to take a stand one way or another,” said Council member Lori Askeland, who wrote the resolution. Askeland, John Booth, Judith Hempfling, Kathryn Van der Heiden and Karen Wintrow voted for the resolution.

The resolution cites the importance of the college to the community and the influence of Antioch College leaders Horace Mann and, later, Arthur Morgan.

“The philosophies of these two leaders engendered programs of progressive education that continue to attract socially aware and committed faculty, staff and students,” the resolution states, and continues:

“Whereas, this unique character of the Antioch College community has made it an important contributor to the village’s overall economic health and cultural vitality, including the establishment and support of many major businesses and organizations like Glen Helen, WYSO and the Coretta Scott King Center.”

The resolution also states that “the decision by Antioch University’s Board of Trustees to suspend operations of Antioch College and perhaps to close it permanently, unless rescinded, will cause serious harm not only to the families of its staff who lose their jobs but will also seriously exacerbate the village’s economic challenges.”

The resolution further states that Council in the past “has actively endeavored to retain important institutions, including both Antioch College and Antioch University McGregor; and whereas a revitalized Antioch College would strengthen the programs of Antioch University McGregor as well as the offerings of other cultural organizations in the village and region.”

The unanimous vote followed a revision from the original resolution that provoked disagreement among Council members. The resolution’s first draft urged Antioch University to continue its negotiations with the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, or AC3, until they reached an agreement.

Van der Heiden and Wintrow stated that they were uncomfortable with that wording, because they did not know enough about the nature of the negotiations and had not been requested by either party to intervene.

“I don’t think it’s our role to get in the middle of this,” Van der Heiden said.

Council members came to agreement when they took out references to the negotiations and simplified the resolution to a statement seeking the continuation of the college.

Several community members present urged Council to take a stand.

“Clearly, all of us should be doing our utmost” to encourage the university to come to an agreement with the AC3 that keeps the college open, according to Ken Huber, who with Tony Dallas and Migiwa Orimo submitted a letter to Council urging them to take a stand, given the economic and cultural effects on the community should the college close.

At the beginning of the meeting, Hempfling announced that while Council had requested a meeting with the Antioch University Board of Trustees via a conference call and one had been tentatively planned for May 8, the university had postponed the call until after a decision was made regarding the AC3 offer to keep the college open. Huber urged Council to continue lobbying for such a call soon, since he believes Council should speak to the trustees before a decision is made rather than after.

Other items of Council’s May 5 agenda will be covered in next week’s News.

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