The following letter was written in response to a November 29 open letter from the American Assocation of University Professors.
Antioch College has historically been a precedent-setting institution. Today, we are preparing to set yet another important precedent by opening our doors to students in the fall of 2011.
We are grateful that the American Association of University Professors recognizes that Antioch College is a different legal entity from Antioch University. It is, therefore, inconsistent for the association to support a process of employee “reinstatement” for those the AAUP asserts were “laid off” by Antioch University. We should also emphasize that there are commonly understood elementary and clear impediments to the “reappointment” of employees of one legal entity by another, separate legal entity.
Despite the commitment of its trustees and leadership to the fundamental value of academic tenure, consistent with the AAUP "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure," the decision of the college to move forward with a faculty hiring process that both embraces Equal Opportunity Employment practice and fundamentally protects the new institution against charges of discrimination and favoritism in hiring has not, as of yet, met with public support from the AAUP.
The events that have led to the opening of the college in 2011 and the reasons for our need to hire faculty today are well documented in the AAUP’s exhaustive investigative report "College and University Government: Antioch University and the Closing of Antioch College" (2009). We do not look to the events of the past few years at the college to be another example of Antioch College precedent setting in higher education now or in the future. Tragic? yes. Precedent setting? no.
As those who have been watching closely will likely acknowledge, no leader of an institution of higher learning, CEO of a corporation, or even a talented opera librettist could concoct the scenario that led to our independence from Antioch University. Yet, the opportunity to revive a truly great college, to remain loyal to the values of liberal education in the arts and sciences and to be steadfast in our conviction that faculty are the core of any institution is worthy of our civic responsibilities and mission.
Antioch College and its leadership remain deeply grateful to the AAUP for its vigilant work to protect the integrity of American higher education and the rights of faculty. We are proud that the AAUP’s president is an alumnus of the college and we are equally proud that some faculty who were employees of Antioch University remain steadfast in their commitment to a future that engages them. We encourage their applications, we recognize their extensive qualifications and commitment to the liberal arts, co-operative education and community governance, characteristics that have been used as criteria in all other searches for positions at the college, 80 percent of which have been filled with people associated with the college when it was a campus of the university.
It should also be noted, that the hiring process for the six tenure-track positions available at Antioch College reflect the unique challenges of our newly incorporated college, but in strategy, design and, execution are consistent with appropriate academic hiring practices of scholarly review. We are grateful to the distinguished panelists who have agreed to serve on our search committees. This process serves the curriculum and is not influenced or driven by donors, a point on which we wish to reassure all those concerned, including the AAUP. Planned appointments will be made by Antioch College’s new president, Mark Roosevelt, who will take up leadership of the college in January.
Matthew A. Derr