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College accepts class of 2016

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This week Dean of Admissions Cezar Mesquita sealed the deposits of 69 students who have committed to becoming the second class of Antioch College students since the school reopened in 2009. The college is still waiting to hear from 10–12 more students who are weighing their options, but Mesquita is confident that within the next two weeks the school will land right on target to admit between 70 and 80 students to the revived college’s incoming class.

With a larger than expected pool of 3,100 applicants, prospective students have been captivated partly by the full tuition fellowships the college is offering to its first four classes, Mesquita said.

“But at the end of the day they’re choosing Antioch — they’re choosing to engage in the community we’re creating here,” he said.

None of the names will be released until the roster is complete, but according to Mesquita, the students hail from all corners of the U.S., from Maine to south Texas to Washington state, while 28 percent reside in Ohio and one is from Yellow Springs. The class includes one student who recently immigrated from Africa and several who were trained at preparatory schools in New England, while 30 percent of the students are multicultural (compared to last year’s 20 percent) and 71 percent are female (last year 60 percent were female). And many chose Antioch over a broad range of other schools, including Amherst, Barnard, Oberlin, Emory University, McAllister, Evergreen and University of Texas, Austin.

According to Louise Smith, dean of community life, what called to a lot of the students was the experiential learning that Antioch creates through its co-op term, interdisciplinary global seminars, project-based curriculum and the hands-on farm-to-kitchen cooperative dining program.

“I think what really speaks to students is that they’re not sequestered in the classroom all the time and they’re getting that built-in co-curricular piece, because that’s how they get prepared for the world,” Smith said.

“It’s true, that has become the gold standard of value ­— it’s not only what are students are doing in school but what will they do after they graduate,” Mesquita said. “We’re already able to provide evidence that students are getting jobs and doing something meaningful with their lives, and we’re doing it in a way that’s affordable.”

Six new faculty hired

In order to accommodate what will soon be a campus of about 100 students with both classes combined, this spring the college appointed six tenure-track faculty members and Coretta Scott King Center director Derrick Weston (whose story the News reported last week). The move brings the total number of tenure-track faculty to 12, which will allow the college to establish concentrations or majors in 11 fields, in addition to providing language courses, which currently include Japanese, French and Spanish, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs Hassan Rahmanian.

In the sciences, the college hired assistant professor of biomedical sciences Savitha Krishna, a published researcher who taught most recently at Wilberforce University and served as adjunct faculty at the college over the winter; associate professor of environmental science Linda Fuselier, who taught in the biosciences and directed the women’s and gender studies program at Minnesota State University-Moorhead and also has research published in many refereed journals; and assistant professor of psychology Michelle Clonch, who, along with publishing research, practiced as a mental health counselor before becoming director of the Women’s Center and Women’s Programs at Western Carolina University.

In other departments, the college has also hired Rick Kraince as associate professor of cooperative education. Kraince has published research on socio-political movements around the world and most recently served as a tenure track faculty member and as the academic coordinator for the Center for Asian and African Studies at El Colegio de México in Mexico City. Serving as assistant professor of history will be Kevin McGruder, who currently teaches history and African-American studies and is a scholar in residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at Lehman College (CUNY). He has also worked in the advocacy field and published scholarly work on sexuality in black culture. Finally, wrestler and filmmaker Charles Fairbanks, a former Guggenheim Fellow who has worked with filmmaker Werner Herzog and taught at Universidad de Ciencias y Artes at Tuxtla, has been hired as assistant professor of media arts.

In the world of higher education, doubling the faculty in a year is basically unthinkable, Rahmanian said, but it was necessary to serve the students with a spectrum of disciplines and scholars who are able teach the higher level courses that the first class of students will need by next year. The current faculty members took a strong leadership role in searching for and naming the new faculty, and the college will soon look to hire two more full-time faculty members in the fields of political economy, part of which Rahmanian is currently covering, and the performing arts, some of which Louise Smith has taught.

“It was a big commitment on our part and a stressful role for the existing faculty to take on and lead these searches,” Rahmanian said. “And it’s a big accomplishment to have found high quality faculty who all bring a balance of scholarship and teaching experience.”

A new place to live, learn, eat

Most of the teaching will still be held in McGregor Hall, along with faculty offices. But a new group of students needs a whole new place to live, which is why North Hall, the brick dorm on the horse shoe just north of Kelly Hall, has undergone many months of intense reconstruction this spring, including a boring machine that is digging 25 600-foot holes for the building’s new geothermal heating system.

The new main dining hall will be located on the ground floor of North, while Birch Hall kitchen may become a fully cooperative kitchen with a second kitchen staff. While North is big enough for housing needs, college leaders are still looking for a larger meeting/gathering space on campus for students.

While the current students were given the option to take the fall term as a co-op term, many have chosen to use it as a study term in order to stay on campus to usher in the new group of students. That has been a blessing to the community life staff, and a testament to the ownership students feel about their role in co-creating the renewed college, Smith said.

“We’re hoping to craft a residential environment with more opportunities for students to integrate their experiences of learning and community,” Smith said. “Our aim is to create a cohesive, intentional, compassionate, respectful community…that’s what we’re hoping for.”


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