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PERSPECTIVES


plotting the course

Early this year, we asked Antiochians and friends to tell us what they thought about the first draft of the strategic plan. Here’s a sample of what they thought. You can also read the final strategic plan.

A.J.A., alumnus This is a very exciting plan. Antioch in the 1950s prepared me for advanced degrees, involvement in the community, and a challenging professional life. I am slightly envious of students who will benefit from the new programs. As an alumnus, I wish I could contribute more financially. I have contributed yearly for over 55 years and will continue to do so.

T.G., alumnus With regard to the alumni, we should build chapters that include both alumni in a city, e.g., Philadelphia, and co-op students working in the city. Also employers if they are interested. At least one social event/speaker in each city where there are a substantial number of alumni and co-op students. Try to develop the co-op program in locations where a lot of alumni are living. Many of our students are likely to come from these same communities, and/or to settle in them after graduation. In some cases, you might use alumni and/or employers to teach courses as well. Once students are spread out around the country and the world, you need to do more with online communication. I have a lot of experience with this and could help, especially since I’ll be retired after this semester.

C.S., alumnus Keep up the good work. Even though graduating nearly 60 years ago, I retain a strong, positive influence from my Antioch experience. Your outline seems to continue to pursue this goal.

C.D., alumna How and where are faculty emeriti being included in the strategic planning of the College? I see very little mention of former faculty, many of whom live in Yellow Springs, and were instrumental in the success of the College for decades. How can Antioch expect to develop an academic program without the historical and pedagogical continuity they provide? It’s very odd.

D.G., alumnus I am not sure I see here a strong commitment to building and maintaining a well-staffed development and alumni relations staff. This lack plagued the College in my years of voluntary efforts at fund-raising and donor development. The shock of the closing of the College produced an amazing effort by alumni to reopen and rebuild Antioch College. Let’s not count on that kind of shock to save us again. Donor development takes years of steady effort. Doing it right requires a substantial, long-term investment.

E.D.A., alumnus In my humble opinion, there is a real opportunity to provide high-quality instruction/mentoring by involving retired or semi-retired seniors—call them “senior fellows”—in well-planned, on-campus, term-long commitments in which they serve both the learning community of students and themselves in their ongoing education/development/exploration. There may be a way to structure this so that the experience is “sold” as an extended elder hostel style involvement for those not willing to make more serious formal commitments and “offered” as a bona fide academic adjunct commitment to others with limited formal compensation determined both by the “market” for skills and experience the adjunct may offer and interests of students and the faculty for expertise and enrichment in specific disciplines.

T.A.D., alumnus As someone who has spent over 30 years in the nonprofit world, as an executive director, as a consultant, and as a board member, I have led over 20 strategic planning processes. One thing I know for sure is that the key is implementation. And, of course, that is the most difficult to do. My suggestion, based on my experience and research, is to require that a report on the progress (or lack thereof) toward the goals of the Strategic Plan be made at every management team meeting (the senior management of the College) and a summary of that progress be prepared for every Board of Trustees meeting. This keeps two key groups “on their toes”—those that are responsible for implementation (management/administration) and those that are responsible for overseeing that process (Board). In my years of experience, this is the only way to ensure that the Strategic Plan is implemented. Otherwise, it just sits on a shelf collecting dust.

J.T., alumnus The thing is too wordy, full of slogans. Reduce to the max! One of the things that has always made Antioch great was the “reality check” the co-op program provided, keeping professors close to the ground and out of ivory towers. This document doesn’t reflect that much. I don’t understand what an Antioch Farm has to do with global issues of sustainability. We need to think in innovative ways about environmental chemicals, overpopulation, regenerative energy, natural resources, etc. These are challenges for engineers, physicists, chemists, sociologists, not for do-it-yourself farmers. Get serious! I miss the honor system, one of the great ethical pillars of the Antioch I knew and loved. It taught me that I was only cheating myself when I cheated on exams—fine education! I miss high-tech. Nothing is changing our global community more! College graduates that are not on the cutting-edge will be left behind—not only in their personal careers, but also in their ability to contribute to humanity. I also miss the high-tech aspect in educational strategies. It is very wrong to think of Antioch’s alumni in terms of revenue. They can be a powerful force as faculty, if harnessed through internet teaching. I have offered my teaching services—at no charge—for classes in television journalism, Middle East relations or ethics—and never heard any response. I am sure dozens of alumni have wonderful treasures to offer in a modern curriculum. Keep up the good work!

L.C., alumnus It is short and to the point as it should be. The guiding principles express what education should be about and the wordsmithing is very good. I particularly support the sustainability initiatives. Glen Helen has probably been a neglected resource at times in the past and it should be front and centre as an asset for enjoyment and education for the College community. I assume that a modern easement for Glen Helen referring to maximizing revenue means carbon and possibly biodiversity credits; this is good because robust strong protection of the Glen is important in any circumstance (if the College ever falls over, the Glen should be safe from development) and carbon or biodiversity credits could help pay for important ecological restoration and management. The Glen was very important to me as a student and the emphasis on good management is very good. The Antioch Farm is important in highlighting food ­issues.

A.D., former faculty Disappointed. Jargon found in other statements. It could be gripping. Start Vision with Mark’s near-apocalyptic proclamation: We humans can’t continue plundering our planet. Antioch takes this urgency seriously. All else should follow.

J.G., alumna Very, very pleased with what I’ve read here. It’s really wonderful to see Antioch refocus itself as an academic institution retaining its core values of diversity and global awareness but getting rid of the “boot camp for the revolution” hysteria. Looking forward to further news and so very happy to see how things are shaping up at my beloved Antioch. Well done!

S.H., donor/friend of Antioch Years and years ago the Antioch Student Union had a wonderful restaurant with a limited but very tasty menu at a reasonable price. I would dearly love to see that facility restored and functional with a restaurant just like the one in the old days!

A.F.M., alumnus A very impressive strategic plan. In addition to the commendable role of Glen Helen in environmental sustainability, I urge some special emphasis on renewable energy. This might include solar panels, a wind turbine, an organic farm, and research on biofuels and next generation batteries. As the science building was funded by Charles F. Kettering, vice-president and director of research for General Motors, that corporation might be willing to finance updating of the building. Congratulations!

T.W., alumna  I am part of a family where all three children attended and graduated from Antioch. While I wish Antioch well, I fear they are replicating many of the past errors that initiated the demise of the Yellow Springs campus in its focus on expansionist efforts. I would prefer to see a more narrow targeting of goals followed by success before taking on such projects as the Antioch Farm, the Coretta Scott King Center, global outreach all in a stunted academic number of semesters. Most students barely managed the four and five-year courses of study plus co-op experience and possibly time abroad. Antioch is spreading itself too thin with a scarcity of resources.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Send letters to The Antiochian, , or by mail to One Morgan Place, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.


EDITOR’S NOTE

Though the Senior Leadership Team had been working on elements of the strategic plan since fall, a final draft of the plan could not be completed without first receiving feedback from the wider Antioch community.

The plan, along with a message from President Mark Roosevelt, was sent to subscribers of the e-newsletter, The Independent, on March 22. Seventy readers shared their thoughts. They commented on the academic program, co-op, alumni relations and volunteer programs, advancement, and the College mission.

Roughly half of all respondents gave positive feedback. Twenty-percent of those readers also provided direct critiques and offered suggestions for improvement. Twelve percent of readers were dissatisfied with everything they read and offered no constructive feedback. Eleven percent were not pleased, but offered constructive feedback that we’ve incorporated into the final document. Others were neither positive or negative, but offered suggestions.

We’ve chosen to publish a sample of the letters we received from readers of the draft strategic plan. The names have been truncated to initials because respondents did not send us their thoughts specifically for publication.

Read the plan in this issue of The Antiochian.

— Gariot P. Louima