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Tom Manley reflects on first weeks at Antioch College

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Last Thursday, the News caught up with Tom Manley, Antioch College’s new president, who started in the job on March 1. A seasoned college administrator, Manley was recruited from the presidency of Pacific Northwest College of Art, an institution he’s credited with turning around from a struggling art college to a creative cornerstone of Portland. His move to Antioch is motivated by a desire to take part in another kind of transformation, one that builds on the college’s “onlyness,” he said last week — what Antioch uniquely does.

“If you imagine Antioch at its core, our co-op program is singular in the way we do it.” Its value orientation, its dedicated faculty and its integration with the curriculum are unique, he said. As is its aim. “We’re in service to finding new and better ways of living in the world.”

Since accepting the job in November, he’s reflected on his own role in developing and sustaining that “onlyness.” He said he has plenty of ideas about the college’s mission and its role in higher education. “Ideas are kind of what I do,” he confessed with a wry smile. But he believes that something else is required of him.

“What I need to bring is not a new box of ideas to be unpacked and put on the shelf with all the other boxes of ideas. We need to develop a framework for the emergent knowledge that’s here.” In other words, he said, he sees his role as a facilitator: “not CIO —  Chief Idea Officer — but CFO — Chief Facilitator Officer.”

Read the full story in the March 17 issue of the News.


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