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Alumni board pledges to raise funds for Nonstop

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At its meeting in Yellow Springs last weekend, the Antioch College Alumni Board unanimously resolved to raise $255,000 to fund the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute through June. The board also recognized Nonstop as an important link to the revival of Antioch College.

“It was very rewarding and fulfilling to hear the alumni board’s confidence in Nonstop,” said Nonstop Institute faculty member Hassan Rahmanian on Monday. “Now we can put more energy and effort into this, with more certainty that we are in operation.”

The alumni board, which met in Yellow Springs, voted to raise $255,000 for Nonstop by April 1st, to fund the program through June 30. The board identified an initial goal of raising $135,000 by Dec. 1, which is the amount needed to fund faculty and staff. If the board reaches that goal, it will go on to raise another $120,000 by April 1 to fund the full program, according to Antioch Alumni Board Vice President Ellen Borgersen this week.

Toward that Dec. 1 goal, at the meeting the board members raised $80,200, which included $42,000 of personal pledges and $37,000 that alumni board members pledged to raise from their personal contacts.

“Most of us are not wealthy. This was digging deep,” said Borgersen of the meeting, which was attended by about 20 alumni board members from around the country. “We want to show the world how much we value Nonstop.”

Board members were very impressed by attending Nonstop classes and presentations during the Nonstop Festival of the previous week, according to Borgersen.

“There is serious intellectually rigorous education going on here,” Borgersen said. “The heart and soul of Antioch College is alive here.”

Until last weekend, Nonstop Institute faculty, staff and students did not know if their effort would continue past December. Launched in February 2008 after the alumni board pledged financial support, the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute is composed of former Antioch College faculty, staff and students who chose to continue the traditions, values and educational model of Antioch College even though the college closed in June. Along with the Nonstop Institute, the initial alumni donation funded Nonstop Antioch, which is the effort’s political arm. This weekend’s resolution pledged funds for the Nonstop Institute only.

Beginning in September, Nonstop Institute, which is not accredited, drew about 20 fulltime traditional college students plus 58 full and part time students from the village, who take classes in local homes, churches and businesses.

According to Rahmanian, now that the Nonstop Institute organizers know they are likely to continue through winter, they plan to redesign some classes to meet the needs of more villagers. Specifically, villagers seemed especially interested in the daylong workshops, so that Nonstop hopes to offer more workshops in winter and spring.

Having the funding pledge in place also means that Nonstop can move ahead to recruit new fulltime traditionally aged students for the winter semester, Rahmanian said. According to Nonstop staff member Robin Heise, about 15 new fulltime students have indicated interest in attending Nonstop this winter, including seven former Antioch College students who are currently on Antioch Education Abroad.

Just as important as the funding was the alumni board’s statement of support for Nonstop as an important link to a revived and independent Antioch College, Rahmanian said.

In past interviews, Nonstop Institute organizers have described their effort as a “bridge” to a new independent Antioch College. A task force of two alumni representives, Lee Morgan and Matthew Derr, and two representatives from the Antioch University Board of Trustees, Dan Fallon and Jack Merselis, have been meeting since July in an attempt to reach an agreement on the terms of creating a liberal arts college independent from Antioch University, in response to a request from the university trustees in June to do so.

Trustees meet

While the Antioch University Board of trustees met last weekend, Oct. 23–25, in Seattle, there was no action taken on the task force effort.

According to an e-mail from Antioch University Board President Art Zucker on Monday, the board heard a status report from the task force, presented by three members of the group.

“The Board recognizes, supports and respects all of the efforts being made by this task force,” Zucker wrote.

No action was taken because no proposals were brought forward by the task force, according to Antioch University spokesperson Lynda Sirk this week.

Great Lakes Colleges Association President Rick Detweiler, who is acting as spokesperson for the task force, just returned after being out of the country this week and was not available for comment. In earlier interviews, he has stated that the task force hopes to bring the effort to conclusion as soon as possible, but that no specific deadline has been set.

According to a press release from the GLCA dated Oct. 15, on that date task force members met with Zucker and Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock to appraise them of the task force’s efforts.

“The meeting was positive and constructive, and we made significant progress toward formalizing a resolution,” the press release stated. “It is clear that everyone sitting around the table shared the commitment to the creation of an independent college, and that the only question is the optimal route forward, particularly in these financially turbulent times.”

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