Susan Eklund-Leen


Part 1:

Part 2:

Full Text

Just a couple of days ago my neighbor came to visit. He once understood Antioch through the negative press from which we have suffered, but changed his mind after hearing more from me about our situation. Once again he asked about my plans for the future. I responded that I am deeply involved in the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute and gave him a brief description. When I talked about Nonstop carrying forward Antiochian values and the factors we believe make an Antioch education so valuable and powerful, his eyes brightened and he said “Sweet, I hope it works!” I believe Nonstop is sweet, like chocolate or like the smile that each of us needs. Nonstop is sweet because we are building it with ownership, deep belief and affection.

Nonstop is here in Yellow Springs. Nonstop is moving forward. Nonstop isn’t going away. Nonstop has much to offer to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and villagers. We hope many of you attend the curriculum session tomorrow morning to hear more details about classes, workshops, seminars and co-ops being offered by Nonstop.

Perhaps I should rewind and tell you about the Executive Collective and how we were established. Our recent past was an experience wrought with top-down, secretive decision making. The faculty especially wanted the transparent shared governance upon which we are so reliant. Therefore, an ad hoc committee was established by the faculty and charged with identifying leadership for creating Nonstop. Three people ended up being appointed by Executive Council, ExCil, and affirmed by the faculty to roles based upon their expertise and willingness. ExCil is our new version of AdCil. Chris Hill is the External Relations Coordinator, Hassan Rahmanian is the Educational Offerings Coordinator and I am the Administrative Coordinator.

Nonstop is exciting because innovation and creativity abound. With shackles shed and few boundaries my colleagues have dreamed, envisioned and acted to reclaim ownership of the curriculum. Nonstop Presents is a beautiful example of this creativity. This educational and cultural events series is being designed to embrace alumni volunteers who so want to be part of Nonstop. It also allows faculty from other colleges and other experts to become part of our educational offerings. Alumni and guests can make presentations in classes or in evening fora. All of which will be advertised and open to anyone who wants to attend. Through Nonstop Presents, the cultural and intellectual life of Yellow Springs and the Miami Valley will be much richer.

My role today is also to let you know about progress we have made. We planned for Nonstop at the same time we planned to remain on campus. Some faculty planned for new lives elsewhere. Out of love and commitment many of us could only plan our lives here. We have firm commitments of participation in Nonstop from 22 faculty members, two as volunteers. Planning takes committees, people, and allies and we thank everyone who has made contributions. So let me tell you a bit about the work that is underway or completed.

ExCil appointed many committees that include Outreach, Facilities, Technology, Naming, Curriculum, Bylaws and Diversity which was jointly appointed with ComCil. The alumni and CRF committees expand this list and extend our expertise. Together we are a powerful force!

Through the ExCil Outreach Committee recruitment publicity is being written and a draft brochure has even been developed for this weekend. Strategies are being devised to reach out to interested students. In reality, we do not know how many will attend. We expect people from the village and the region to be among our students. Eleven Antioch College students from the classes of 2010 and 2011 are here at reunion. I believe they are here because they want to participate in Nonstop. In addition, a prospective student recently came to visit and many of you will most likely meet him while you’re here. We expect that our fall experience will bring others in the spring.

The Facilities Committee has been quite resourceful and must have visited nearly every available space in Yellow Springs to look for classrooms, a large meeting room, studios, screening rooms, a library space or reading room, and offices for faculty, the executive collective, CG and others.

The committee found free space, rental space, and space for which we will only need to contribute our share of the utilities. The committee has also found two houses that can be rented. Asking for sanctuary has struck a chord with our future landlords. We thank them for their generosity and outpouring of support. I’d love to give you the entire list, but reciting a list of more than 20 places seems a bit tedious. Since the faculty have vacated their offices, it will be exciting to have new spaces.

The Outreach Committee is also working with the ExCil IT committee. Because the campus bubble is broken, you can easily imagine that IT infrastructure will be critical for us to maintain community. We have sought and confirmed computer and server donations from two colleges, an individual, and one IT firm. Believe me; other people’s hand-me-downs are better than the computers that many faculty and staff had been using. We will use Moodle for course management because it’s free and open source and the committee has also been testing Google apps, and all the while, consulting with expert alumni. In the not too distant future we will have a website nonstopinstitute.org which only cost $8 to register.

A draft budget will be presented to the CRF this weekend and totals out at about $2.5 million. We have lived by a frugality model for years…well decades. So we can’t develop the capability to stop that habit now. Our adept and expert fund raisers have done a great job so far, but not all the money Nonstop needs is in the bank yet. I wish them well in the next several weeks and hope you, many of our potential benefactors, find Nonstop as exciting as my colleagues at other colleges have.

We have identified staffing needs for which we want to hire and descriptions have nearly reached completion. Some of those were presented to ExCil this week. Several soon to be displaced Antioch staff members have expressed interest about opportunities and have sent resumes. With your help and successful fundraising we hope to fill these positions by August 1.

ComCil, consisting of students, faculty, staff, and recent alumni, is busy looking at community issues resulting from our bubble is broken paradigm shift. Their biggest task is adapting the leg. code to reflect a non-campus environment and specifically looking at the long standing and highly valued policies and codes of conduct that are fundamental to the Antioch community. ComCil has formed the All Star Record with former editors and the Record Advisory Board is fully staffed with students, faculty, staff, and a professional journalist. ComCil has also jointly appointed the Diversity committee with ExCil and appointed an Elections Committee.

We are moving forward to begin teaching and learning on September 4. The fall includes a festival of learning in October which you can hear more about tomorrow. A monthly calendar of Nonstop Presents events will bring others to share in this endeavor. We will end the fall in mid-December to start again in January. We expect that most co-ops will begin in the summer, but are returning to a Div that some of you may remember well as C-Special. This allows students to study half-time and work half-time. In co-op terms it’s a parallel program. We believe this is a way to make our offerings more accessible to more people.

As we talk about educational offerings the big question we always hear is about accreditation. We currently do not have accreditation. I’ve mentioned sanctuary before as being appealing to potential landlords. Sanctuary is a concept that will serve us well in many ways. Executive Collective members already had a conversation with one college president and plan to approach others to ask for sanctuary. This college president said, “Our friend’s house has burned to ground and they need a place to stay until they can go home”. Sanctuary under another college’s accreditation is not out of the question, but summer may not be the ideal time to seal this sort of partnership. This is high on our list of next steps.

Nonstop is sweet. Nonstop is hard work. Nonstop is exciting. Nonstop will take us to the future. And now my colleague Chris Hill.