Founder’s Week, Fall Foliage, and Other Forms of Fun

A Periodic Column by Steve Duffy ’77, Library Circulation Specialist

Steve DuffyThere is so much happening on campus and it is happening so fast that is hard to know where to start and how much can one squeeze into a short missive.

Mid-October 2012 finds the Antioch College campus full of some exceptionally colorful trees and some exceptionally colorful people. Seventy-five of these folks are the newest of Antiochians—the Class of 2016—who now join last year’s class to bring enrollment to over 100 students. At the same time, campus also has a volunteer alumni work crew of three dozen people from all over the decades and all over the country, not to mention, 40 some Alumni Board and Board of Trustee members.

So many loyal, familiar, and friendly faces have arrived that Founders’ Week 2012 really seems like some sort of a homecoming, “Antioch-style.” But instead of rolling a football down the field while crowds cheer, our home team has buckets of paint sloshing from rollers onto walls. There may be the sounds of some cheering here and there, though, as some campus walls have waited decades for a makeover.

This week the work crew has given the Olive Kettering Library, the amphitheater, the ground floor of Sontag-Fels (soon a student space), and some Science Building wooden lab desks some great care.

Folks have come in all week but started arriving last Friday. When a smiling David Vincent ’65 came into the library last Friday, lugging two large festive mum planters, I knew the rest of the troops were not far behind. And sure enough, I soon saw Jon Baker ’72, Jim Spangler ’74, Megan Trolander Evelyn ’69, and Tom Lamers ’68. Gary Houseknecht ’66, Joan Stockton ’65, Rochelle Hollander ’63, Dick Schwab ’58, James Taft ’68, Meg Rosenfeld ’69, Carl Smith ’63, Roger Huff ’69, David Hergesheimer ’71, Bernie Guyer ’65, and Joe Foley ’64 were all wielding rollers and paintbrushes, and giving the library some much needed love. Antiochiana also got some new and greener lighting. I serendipitously bumped into Tod Tyslan ’96 and Robin Sheerer ’63 by the amphitheater. I haven’t seen everyone—there are too many folks.

When students have come into the library this Founders’ Week to do their class work, some new friendships have been made with members of the volunteer work crew. Charley Brown ’82 was working on old housing lists from Antiochiana from the early 1960s, and leaned over the library photocopy machine and started having a great conversation with students who were doing research and homework assignments on the computers near the front desk.

As we head into our second academic year, you can feel momentum and excitement starting to build. Library use is way on the uptick. Newly opened and renovated North Hall is now full, and occasionally not totally quiet, so the library is that extra evening place to find a relatively serene spot. Although needless to say, sometimes the library can have its raucous moments. Joe Cali always quipped that we had the noisiest library in the country! Antiochians love to talk with each other, and the topic can be anything from the current photography readings, French, or maybe economics or politics. (I am still waiting for folks to start telling their co-op stories!) There are still quiet spaces throughout the library, a place for students to seek refuge when the front desk area (now known as “Information Commons”) can be a place of laughter or heated chatter.

In the midst of Volunteer Work Project, we celebrated Joe Cali’s birthday on October 17. He would have been 85. To do that, of course, involved some musical “enlightenment,” meaning listening to Toscanini conduct some classics. Throughout the day, music from Brahms, Beethoven, Rossini, Shubert, and Tchaikovsky greeted everyone. We also had doughnuts near our “honor” snack bar and coffee pot. Joe loved Toscanini, coffee, and a great jelly-filled donut. Ah, the sweet and simple joys in life!

During Orientation, Mark Roosevelt set the tone at Convocation in the South Gym. In between some candor, some humor, and a discussion about the Battle at Gettysburg during the Civil War, Mark talked about the essence of a liberal arts education and some accompanying expectations. Folks were asked to take a deep breath and open up—be able to see things in ways other than just black and white, and expect to leave the College after four years in a fundamentally changed state. The classic Antioch mix of classroom, community, and co-op can certainly be a catalyst for that.

Mark also reiterated that we are a work in progress. Things do happen and change in a rather fluid and fast-paced manner. For example, I noticed that, three weeks ago, the parking lot near the old student union was full of construction equipment. Suddenly all that machinery is gone and that lot is now filling up with cars—North Hall’s parking lot! A great sign that life is returning.

Also during Orientation, the Diversity Working Group helped host a dance for the first-year students. The venue was the big white celebration tent brought in for Orientation and Founders’ Week events. With the help of Michael Casselli ’87, Maya Nye ’99, Shelby Chestnut ’05, and the Facebook AOC (Alumni of Courage for Diversity Group), a slideshow was put together. The first-years could look over their heads and see 40 years of diverse Antiochians flash by on the ceiling of the tent. All the photos were larger than life, and provided the perfect ambiance for a dance.

I had not been to an Antioch dance in 30 years, so I was not sure what to expect. Shane Creepingbear ’06, admissions counselor and local DJ, played some old and new school music and by 9:30 p.m., folks started to arrive. After a while, I realized that Antiochians decades later dance in the same joyous and free-form manner as they have for decades. Some folks came in semi date-night garb, but since it is a new generation, there were some “Gangnam Style” moments in a giant circle, as well as more traditional dancing. In the horseshoe, the lights from North Hall and McGregor Hall created a great evening glow as the stars above twinkled under a crisp early fall night sky.

As Founders’ Week continued, both the Alumni Board and Board of Trustees got into high gear as the Volunteer Work Project finished up. The entire Antioch community, it seemed, attended the Founders’ Weekend Community Potluck, despite rather than ideal weather.

I hear that while campus is picking up momentum, alumni chapters are also continuing to do some great work. The D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago chapters are raising money to name some spaces in North Hall, and the Philadelphia chapter has developed some great co-op jobs. We owe so many thanks to so many! Speaking of thanks, many thanks to Penny Storm ’65 and Jon Baker ’72 for helping bring back an army of volunteers for another week.

Perhaps some of you will come back at some point for a homecoming moment, whether it is a Work Project, Reunion 2013, or whether you are just going over the river and through the woods. Be sure to stop by and say “hi!”