Thursday, June 21, 2007

A House Divided: How Antioch College Fell Into Straits It Could No Longer Ignore

The Chronicle: Daily news: 06/21/2007 -- 03: A House Divided: How Antioch College Fell Into Straits It Could No Longer Ignore:
Once a prominent countercultural institution, Antioch is a wreck today. The campus looks almost abandoned. Bricks on buildings are spalling, steel-cased windows are decades old and rusting, and weeds push through cracks on buckling asphalt walkways.

Antioch has been hemorrhaging money for years. Its Board of Trustees has decided to shutter the college by July 2008 and lay off most of its 160 staff and faculty members. Although the administration has vowed to reopen the college in 2012, the challenges in doing so will be immense (The Chronicle, June 13).

Antioch has given the world an innovative and much-imitated educational style, based on unabashedly progressive politics and hard work. Its alumni include prominent and daring figures -- people like Rod Serling, Stephen Jay Gould, and Coretta Scott King. Yellow Springs, a jewel of a bohemian community, surrounds the college.

So the question is: While so many other poorly financed, little-known liberal-arts colleges stumble on, why has Antioch fallen flat? ...

[For Antioch, money has always been a problem.]

Over the decades, Antioch had many opportunities to secure its financial future. But raising money and building an endowment were never given the attention such activities get at other elite colleges. A full-time development office was established at the campus only in the past year.

Antioch's missionary zeal also diffused the institution's energy and focus. ...

"I mourn the loss of a school that was willing to buck the trend of a unifying, commercially driven, consumer-driven model of higher education," says Colin S. Diver, president of Reed College, which also appeals to nonconformists but is financially secure, with a $385-million endowment.

There is a good deal more in this story, for those so inclined. A pretty sad story...

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