March 27, 2003
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Patricia Whitlow

Antioch dean of students
to step down next month

After seven months with Antioch College the dean of students, Patricia Whitlow handed in her resignation last week.

Joan Straumanis, the college president, announced the news on Thursday, March 20. In an e-mail to college students, faculty, and staff, Straumanis expressed “deep regret” that Whitlow is leaving Antioch.

Whitlow’s resignation will take effect at the end of the term, in April.

Whitlow came to Antioch last August, when she replaced former dean of students Scott Warren. Whitlow said that she is leaving to accept a new appointment at the University of Kentucky, where she served as the associate director of residential life before coming to Antioch.

She declined to comment for this article.

On campus students said that Whitlow was not a good fit for Antioch because she had a difficult time identifying with the student body and understanding the democratic process at Antioch.

“Other deans are much more interested in communicating with students and seeing things from all perspectives,” second-year student Bengal Seibel said. “I think she’d be happier somewhere else. She didn’t feel happy with the Antioch community.”

“She never paid much attention to student opinion, and that eventually caught up with her,” fourth-year student Jacob Glasser said.

Many students said they were not surprised by the dean’s resignation. Most students also seemed pleased with the dean’s decision to move on. Students stood outside the Student Union last Friday afternoon spreading the news of the resignation.

Some students criticized Whitlow, saying that she had a negative affect on student life. Fourth-year Robert Scott said Whitlow “made life hell for students” because she “tried to make radical cultural changes without a complete understanding of what Antioch is and what it should aspire to be.”

But not all students were happy to see the dean go. Fifth-year student Greg Day said he is concerned about the impact Whitlow’s resignation will have on Antioch. “I think it is unfortunate that [Whitlow] didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s really bad for the university to have that position turn over in less than a year.”

In her e-mail announcing the news, Straumanis called Whitlow’s resignation “another blow to the administrative stability of our college.” Antioch College is already conducting searches for administrators to take over the dean of faculty’s office, the dean of admissions, the director of multicultural affairs and the advocate for the college’s sexual offense prevention policy.

The timing of Whitlow’s resignation does not give the college time to conduct a national search before the summer term begins in May. The associate dean of students, Jimmy Williams, will assume the responsibilities of the office once Whitlow leaves.

Straumanis was unavailable to comment, though through her assistant, Sally Frye, she said, “We have an associate dean with responsibilities to cover for the absence of the dean. The associate dean is under contract until the end of June, but no official decisions have been made regarding the appointment of an acting or interim dean.”

In an interview on Monday, Williams said he was surprised when Whitlow told him about her plans to leave the college. “I was stunned. I really didn’t see it coming,” he said. “She has had a difficult year, but it seems like it has been a difficult year for everybody [at Antioch], and the dean of student’s job is always difficult.”

Williams has served in a variety of capacities at Antioch College for more than 14 years, and he was a candidate for the dean of students job last year. But, he said, because the college has not decided how it will fill the dean’s position, he is unsure about whether he will apply for the job again.

Williams also said that as part of his job as associate dean, he is expected to cover the duties of the office when the dean of students is absent. He said that he would fulfill that duty.

“The most important thing to me right now is that I continue to serve this community,” he said. “I will serve in whatever capacity I am called to, but the important thing is continuing to serve.”

When asked about who they would like to see as Whitlow’s successor, students almost unanimously said that Williams is their choice. “To me, Jimmy is already the dean of students,” second-year Courtney Combs said.

—Lauren Heaton and Brian Loudon