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College commits to 250 by 2016

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This fall Antioch College campus is buzzing with activity as its more than 100 students settle into the daily rhythms of campus life. By 2016, the number of students could grow to 250 if a plan adopted by the Antioch College Board of Trustees is realized.

At its meeting last month the Antioch board endorsed a stable growth plan in which the college would aim to enroll 75 to 85 students each year for the next three years. The board also reconfirmed its commitment to offer full-tuition scholarships, known as Horace Mann Fellowships, to the next two incoming classes.

According to Antioch President Mark Roosevelt, dormitory space was a major factor in figuring out how many students the college could support. Since another large dormitory renovation isn’t scheduled until 2016, the 250 potential students would live in Birch Hall and North Hall, the current dormitories, and in West Hall, a 30-resident dorm slated for renovation in the next few years.

“It’s all a delicate balancing of the sequenced renovation plans,” Roosevelt said. Keeping class sizes small and making quality co-op jobs available to all students were also factors, he said.
“We think we have the capacity to be strongest with this plan,” Roosevelt said. He also noted that the college is growing faster than was originally planned. Its first proposal was for a 25-student first class and 50-student second class.

Meanwhile, offering full-tuition scholarships to the first four classes was necessary in order to help students who could otherwise not afford Antioch, since the college won’t become eligible for federal financial aid for several years, Roosevelt added. That decision ensures a diverse student body, according to Gariot Louima, Antioch’s communications director.

“Without offering institutional support, the college would be forced to limit enrollment to only families with the resources to pay full tuition on their own,” Louima wrote in an email last week. “That reality runs counter to our commitment to recruiting, enrolling and retaining students from divergent social and economic backgrounds.”

In lieu of tuition, Antioch must rely more on donations to pay for its operating expenses over the next few years, Roosevelt said. The college spent $9.7 million for operations last school year, and has budgeted $11.2 million for 2012–13 and $13.8 million for 2013–14. To keep up with expenses, the college is drawing down about $2 million this school year from its $44 million endowment. The college is also relying on $3 million donated by its 12-member board, and needs to raise about $2.5 million this year from its annual fund. The remainder must be raised from major gifts, Roosevelt said.

According to Roosevelt, fundraising has improved but is still “not where it needs to be.” On the positive side, the college is coming off of its largest annual fund campaign and secured a whopping $3.5 million anonymous donation in August for operations. Alumni are continuing to donate, and new donors are jumping on board, in part because the college has demonstrated that it can attract quality students and because of significant renovations to its 160-year-old campus. But larger donations are not coming in fast enough.

“We get a very nice percentage of alums giving, but what we haven’t ratcheted up, and where we need to make significant progress, are donations $50,000 and up,” Roosevelt said.

To attract large sums, Antioch needs to show that it is becoming stable after many years of operating in crisis mode, Roosevelt said. Part of that is demonstrated through further campus renovations. For 2013, $11.3 million in renovations are planned, including a renovation of the science building and theater building. The college is also slated to break ground next spring on a wellness center in the former Curl Gym. Roosevelt said the campus renovations speak to the college’s commitment to doing things right in all areas.

“[The message is] we’re serious, we’re committed, we’re going to do something quality and we’re not going to cut corners,” he said.


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