Historic Antioch College Shuts Down

Antioch Hall: Antioch College, Yellows Springs (OH)

Earliest Known Photograph of Antioch Hall (1852)

Coretta Scott King (’51) Accepts The Horace Mann Award, Antioch (2004)

Glen Helen: The Antioch College Forest Preserve

Antioch College, a 154-year-old liberal-arts institution in Yellow Springs, Ohio, widely known for for its socially activist tradition, will close next year because of mounting budget deficits and dwindling enrollment, college officials announced on Tuesday.

The college in Yellow Springs (OH) is the undergraduate residential component of Antioch University, whose Board of Trustees voted over the weekend to shut the campus down. The Antioch Board members said that it was their hope that by closing the college now, a sound financial state might be restored that would enable them to reopen in 2012. Antioch University also has five nonresidential campuses around the country, all of which will remain open.

Paul Fain wrote in the Chronical of Higher Education:

The decision was agonizing,” said one trustee, Barbara Slaner Winslow. “For many of us, the meeting was like a funeral,” said Ms. Winslow, an Antioch alumna who is an associate professor of women’s and social studies at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College.

Antioch officials said revenue from the college’s small endowment of $36.2-million and tuition from a projected fall enrollment of 309 students would not be enough to cover budget shortfalls, which have been exacerbated by the cost of maintaining Antioch’s historic campus, in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

We really need a much larger critical mass of students,” said Tullisse A. Murdock, chancellor of Antioch University, noting that only 125 new freshmen were scheduled to arrive next fall. Of the decision to close the college, she said: “Certainly it’s going to be a huge disappointment to our college alumni.”

The trustees also declared a state of financial exigency, which means most of Antioch College’s 160 full-time faculty and staff members will be laid off by July 2008. College operations will be suspended at that point, but a university spokeswoman said an undetermined number of staff members would stay on to maintain facilities. The university will also establish a commission to determine the college’s long-term future, and some staff members might be included on that commission….

Antioch is perhaps best known for its liberal initiatives, such as eliminating grades and a sexual-offense-prevention policy from the mid-1990s that required specific “verbal consent” for every step of intimacy. But the college also has a long list of famous alumni, including Coretta Scott King, Rod Serling and Stephen Jay Gould. Its first president was the education reformer Horace Mann.”

Interested readers can read a detailed account of the closing of Antioch in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Cary Nelson, Ph.D., Professor of English at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign writes nostalgically about his experiences as an undergraduate student at Antioch College during the mid-1960s, which you can read here.

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