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Antioch deadline extended

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The 90-day deadline that the boards of Antioch University and the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, or AC3, had set as a goal to reach an agreement on the transfer of Antioch College passed last week without a final agreement. However, principals of the negotiations met in Queens, New York, to extend their negotiations for another two months.

Both parties agreed to extending the deadline to June 30 because substantial progress toward an independent Antioch College is being made, according to Art Zucker, the chair of the Antioch University Board of Governors.

“What is clear today is that we are much closer than we ever have been to a final agreement that strengthens Antioch University and gives Antioch College the best possible prospect for success,” Zucker said in a press release from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, or GLCA.

The extended timeline relates to the difficulty involved in separating the 155-year-old college from the university, according to GLCA President Rick Detweiler, who is acting as an honest broker of the talks.

“The timeline is being driven by the complexity of what must be done,” Detweiler said in an interview Monday, citing issues such as determining the state of campus buildings, separating the college endowment from the university, and seeking non-profit status for the board pro tempore of the AC3 alumni group. Some of those agreements must be reviewed by third parties, such as the Ohio attorney general for the transferral of the endowment, and the IRS for the non-profit status.

When the 90-day deadline was set at the end of January, “people believed they could get things to happen that were not humanly possible” in that length of time, Detweiler said. “We didn’t realize the enormously long list of things to be addressed.” That list numbers about 100 agreements that need to be reached for the effort to succeed, according to Detweiler.

However, he said, those involved in the negotiations are confident that the transfer will occur.

“It’s a very collaborative relationship with a can-do attitude,” he said. “It’s a very constructive process at this time.”

However, Detweiler said that it’s possible the college independence effort will need more time after June 30.

“In my judgement, it remains an aggressive goal to pull it off,” he said.

A significant piece of the process is an AC3 fund-raising effort that aimed to raise $15 million by the end of April. In an interview last week, AC3 Board Pro Tempore Chair Lee Morgan said he could not comment on the amount of money raised so far, but that more needs to be raised. He remains optimistic that the goal will be reached, Morgan said. He and AC3 Chief Transition Officer Matthew Derr are working full time on fund-raising, Morgan said, along with seven or eight employees of the College Revival Fund staff, plus several volunteers.

The end of April deadline was set after the board pro tempore and the Antioch University trustees in January agreed to a temporary set of agreements reached by a task force composed of representatives of the Antioch College Alumni Association and the trustees. The task force had met for five months to reach temporary agreements after the trustees in June 2008 requested that the alumni group find a way forward toward an independent college.

Last week’s meeting took place at a location near La Guardia Airport outside of New York City, according to Detweiler. Participants were Detweiler, Morgan, Zucker, Derr, Vice-chair of the Antioch University Board of Governors Dan Fallon, Antioch University Trustee Jack Merselis and Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock.

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