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Higher education— Antioch up and running again

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The newly revived Antioch College began 2011 with a new president on board, and a full plate of activities to prepare for its first class of students. At the end of 2011, those students had completed their first quarter, and while acknowledging a daunting workload, gave the college strong reviews.

Having moved the previous month from Pittsburgh, in January 2011 new Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt plunged into his new job. Formerly the superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, Roosevelt had been credited with turning around a failing school system, and in his new job, he faced equally daunting challenges.

In January the college brought to Yellow Springs a new interim director of development, Ron Napal, an alum and retired head fundraiser of the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation of New York City. Napal led the college’s fundraising and development team until June, when permanent head of fundraising Steve Sturman was recruited from the Culver Military Academy in Indiana.

More students than expected

In late February college leaders announced that they had admitted their first four students for the fall from early admissions applicants, and that recruiting was going well. Leaders anticipated an initial class of 25 students out of about 140 applicants; in April, about 45 potential students visited campus to hear presentations about the school. The college accepted about 45 students to achieve its goal of 25 students; however, 35 of those accepted said yes, so that the first incoming class was larger than expected.

In March, former Antioch College tenured faculty member and Nonstop leader Hassan Rahmanian was named the college’s dean of curriculum, assessment, planning and interdisciplinary learning. He was charged with overseeing the final stages of development of the college’s new curriculum, which had been initially created by the Morgan Fellows. Rahmanian’s title was later changed to vice president for academic affairs.

In the spring of 2011, the college announced the hiring of its first six tenure track faculty members. Later, several adjunct faculty members were hired to fill in gaps in the curriculum.

In April the college announced that the late longtime literature professor Nolan Miller and his brother, Richard, had bequeathed to the college $3 million, administered through the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, to be used to build the relationship between the college and Yellow Springs. The bequest funded 10 positions in local nonprofits for Antioch College students.

Mission of sustainability

In his State of the College address in May, President Roosevelt for the first time articulated a new mission for the college as environmental sustainability. In following talks, Roosevelt refined the mission as having a focus on food production, partly due to incoming students’ interest in food issues, and partly to the college’s Midwest location.

Taking the next step toward that focus, in August, the college announced the launch of the Antioch Farm, located on the college’s 35-acre former “golf course.” Local organic farmer Kat Christen was hired to oversee development of the farm’s initial stage; plans included growing food for students and using the farm as part of the curriculum. During the fall quarter, several students worked on the farm to complete their work obligation, and Yellow Springs community volunteers joined college faculty and students weekly in performing farm chores.

In June college leaders announced that former tenured faculty member Louise Smith would be the dean of community life on campus.

Students give thumbs up

At the end of September, the re-opened college’s first students arrived on campus, finding their way to Antioch from 16 states. They spent the first 10 days in orientation before plunging into a demanding schedule of classes and 10 hours weekly of work on campus. New to the curriculum were interdisciplinary global seminars required of all students, with each quarter focusing on a different sustainability issue. The first quarter global seminary, focused on water, was taught by new tenure-track faculty members Lewis Trelawny-Cassity, a philosopher, and David Kammler, a chemist.

The heavy workload was cited as a concern by students in December, when 13 students assessed their first quarter in an article for the News. However, overall the students gave the college strong reviews, and felt excited to be a part of its rebirth.


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