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College revival leaders see village as important partner

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Antioch College alumni leaders see Yellow Springs as an important partner in their efforts to bring back the college as an independent liberal arts institution, an alumni leader told Village Council at its Feb. 2 meeting.

“We see the village as a critical part of the rebirth of both the programs and the health of Antioch College,” said Matthew Derr, the chief transition officer for the Antioch College Continuation Corporation’s board pro tem. “We see many opportunities for collaboration.”

Areas of potential collaboration between the college and the village might include the arts, health and wellness facilities and programs, and energy use, Derr said.

“These are three basic areas in which we have common needs and the opportunity to work together in a robust fashion,” Derr said.

According to Derr, those involved in the effort to bring back the college include the Antioch College Alumni Association, the College Revival Fund, the ACCC and its pro tem board, and the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute.

“All the groups are working together to build a future for the college,” he said, in an update to Council on the college revitalization efforts.

The effort also includes close collaboration with Antioch University leaders and the Great Lakes College Association, Derr said, stating that all of those entities have a common interest in helping the college to survive.

The effort to reopen the college, where operations were suspended due to financial exigency on June 30, kicked into high gear at the beginning of January after the Antioch University trustees approved a letter of intent for an independent college. That approval followed a five-month conversation between Antioch University trustee representatives Dan Fallon and Jack Merselis and alumni representatives Derr and Lee Morgan in an effort to reopen the college as an independent liberal arts institution.

The next 90 days are critical, according to Derr. At the end of that period, alumni leaders hope that the letter of intent has become a series of definitive agreements approved by the university trustees.

Most important, Derr said, is the alumni leaders’ current fundraising effort, which aims to raise $15 million within 90 days. And that amount is only the beginning, according to Derr.

“It will take tens of millions to return the college to health,” he said, stating that seven fundraisers are currently traveling the country in an effort to reach the fund-raising goals.

Derr declined to specify a time when the college might reopen if the efforts to achieve independence are successful, saying it’s too early in the process to speculate.

The letter of intent clarifies that, if the college reopens, Antioch College will include the historic campus, including the “golf course,” and Glen Helen. Negotiations will take place with the family of Coretta Scott King to clarify the future of the Coretta Scott King Center, Derr said.

Historic college assets that would remain with Antioch University are WYSO Public Radio and Antioch Education Abroad, or AEA, according to the letter of intent.

The alumni leaders intend that the Olive Kettering Library will be jointly used by the college, the university and the village, Derr said.

“We believe educational assets can and should be shared with the village and with Antioch University,” he said. “We have worked hard to change the tone of the conversation over the last six months.”

The board pro tem, which could become the college’s board of trustees if the efforts to revive it are successful, will meet in Yellow Springs Feb. 20–22, Derr said. One of the board’s first tasks is to evaluate the state of the buildings, and for that effort they have hired the Stanley Consultants of Iowa, the same firm that Antioch University used last year to evaluate the condition of the facilities. The pro tem board hopes to build on that previous work, Derr said.

The board chair is Lee Morgan of Yellow Springs and Minnesota, retired CEO of The Antioch Company and grandson of historic Antioch College president Arthur Morgan. The board’s vice-chair is Frances Degen Horowitz of New York City, former president of the City University of New York, and the secretary is Terry Herndon, who is retired from the Lincoln Laboratories of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT.

Other pro tem board members include Pavel Curtis, a software architect at Microsoft, Allyn Hansson Feinberg, an architect and senior vice president for ERTH Technologies, Inc., Atis Folkmanis, creator of Folkmanis puppets, Joyce Idema, director of press and public relations for the Santa Fe Opera, Jay Lorsch, the Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at the Harvard Business School, Rozell Nesbitt, a human rights activist and consultant for diversity for the University of Chicago, Edward Richard, president of the Edward H. Richard Foundation, and Barbara Winslow, coordinator of the Women’s Studies program at the School of Education at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and former member of the Antioch University Board of Trustees. Honorary pro tem board members are Kay and Leo Drey, and the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton. Derr is serving as consultant to the pro tem board.

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