The following column first appeared in the November 25, 2010 edition of the Yellow Springs News under the headline "College hiring process sound."
By Matthew A. Derr, Interim President of Antioch College
The Board Pro Tempore and I have been asked to “engage tenured faculty in hiring for Antioch College.” I appreciate the effort to express support for the former faculty and now write to thank the community for its continued involvement in the revival of the College, to share my views on this most critical issue, and to invite all readers to consider alternative perspectives on the hiring process we’ve selected.
In our effort to reopen the College, we have developed a process for hiring in which we have ethical and legal confidence – a process that acknowledges and respects all prospective candidates, including those who were faculty at Antioch College before it was closed and when it was a campus of Antioch University.
Antioch College is an equal opportunity employer committed to conducting open and inclusive searches for key posts. Alumni throughout the generations fought valiantly for fair and open hiring processes. We cannot claim to be stewards of this legacy if we contravene our values in such a way as to imply anything other than thorough searches for faculty positions. Open searches for all faculty positions allow us to recruit a diverse pool of qualified candidates, thus protecting the institution against charges of discrimination or favoritism in hiring.
We are not Antioch University, therefore we cannot legally “reappoint” faculty or staff members who were employed by the University prior to the College’s closure. Honoring the legacy of this institution, however, we have consistently engaged the alumni, former faculty and former staff in preparing the College for its reemergence. In fact, more than 80 percent of individuals employed at Antioch College either held positions or were students here prior to its closure.
We hope the formerly tenured faculty of Antioch College – many of whom worked with us in developing the new curriculum – will consider the opportunity to apply to work at the College now or in the future as the faculty ranks continue to grow with enrollment. I expressed this desire directly to the former faculty in Yellow Springs who have met with me over the course of the past two years and as recently as earlier this month.
The many accomplishments of our recent alumni did not materialize out of ether. The unique relationship between faculty and student in the context of study, work and community made Antioch College worthy of its reputation. Despite the financial strains under which the College operated in past decades, the “three C’s” model – classroom, cooperative education and community – was successful because faculty worked to sustain it. The College is deeply grateful for the service of these talented and devoted teachers. We intend to provide opportunities for a tenured and tenure-track faculty to once again fulfill scholarly and teaching roles in the context of an Antioch College that will continue its commitment to classroom, community and co-op.
This letter will be one the last few communications I will have the honor of composing as interim president. The topic feels appropriately timed because it reflects clearly on the core set of challenges the College will face in the coming months and years. Namely, our passion for what is ethically just has been hard-wired into our consciousness by our educational experience at Antioch. I celebrate that energy and its expression even when, or perhaps especially when, we don’t agree. As we work to revive this small but important college and prepare to welcome its new president, Mark Roosevelt, let us not loose site of the rare and hard-won opportunity we have before us in the crafting its nature now and in the future.