In her “State of the University” address, Toni Murdock, outgoing Antioch University (AU) chancellor, compared today’s institution to that of February 2006, when she was the new interim chancellor. At the time, the AU Board of Governors was consumed with the fate of Antioch College [which closed in 2008], focused more on restoring the college they had known and “failing to recognize the jewel they had, the multi-campus university system,” Murdock said, at the Board of Governors meeting at AUNE June 7.
The boards of trustees and presidents of AU’s campuses have always wanted more autonomy, she said, but the model that works most successfully in the twenty-first century is the multi-campus system. Still, the pendulum constantly swings between decentralized and centralized governance. “There’s a creative tension between a whole and its parts–the challenge is maintaining that tension,” Murdock said. “That’s the board of governors’ job, to do that without making the pendulum stop.”
Murdock outlined AU’s advances over the last six years:
â€¢ An expanded chancellor system
â€¢ More collaboration through cross-campus groups, the university resource groups (URGs,) of which there are now eleven. “You name the problem; we have a group to fix it,” Murdock said. More than 100 policies, about seventy-five percent of what are needed, have been created or rewritten.
â€¢ A business office overhauled for more accountability and compliance
â€¢ Changes in the academic arena, including improvements to faculty contracts and addressing pay that does not meet national norms.
â€¢ Collaborative academic projects among campuses, such as training of psychologists and replication of AUNE’s Psychological Services Center on the Seattle campus; a communications course through AU’s WYSO station that starts this summer; and a plan to make the AUNE, Seattle, and Santa Barbara campuses a national hub for the expressive therapiesâ€”dance, art, play and dramaâ€”beginning this summer with rotating workshops.
â€¢ A unique new academic council that allows faculty to have a voice in university governance.
Welcome, Chancellor Nudelman
Murdock welcomed incoming Chancellor Felice Nudelman and presented herâ€”a woman who will be wearing many hatsâ€”with a hardhat.
“I’m handing over to Felice a strong and durable university with many more challenges to overcome,” she said. “But if you keep the student first and foremost in your mind, ninety-nine percent of the time you’ll make the right decision.”
Nudelman said she’s ready to take on the responsibility. “I’ve realized that the [New York ] Times has been the perfect stepping stone to my real life’s work,” she told the campus. “I’ll be able to collaborate with some of the best minds in higher education.”