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 Winter 2011

Antioch Notes


For the first time in 40 years, Antioch College has a board of trustees and a president dedicated to it and only to it. You, the alumni, have accomplished something extraordinarily unlikely — wresting the College back to independence.

Mark Roosevelt, President

Mark Roosevelt, President

An expression of heartfelt thanks is in order to everyone who played a role. This includes the College’s dedicated faculty, staff and interim administration; the Alumni Board and Board Pro Tempore; the independence negotiation teams; participants in Nonstop; and of course all those whose dollars fueled the wresting. (Although it is essential to note that these dollars are only a very small start to the huge task of building a financially stable College, but more on that later.)

Having regained the College’s independence, we can now determine its future — together. This is a moment full of possibility, but also of significant responsibility and potential peril.

Let’s focus first on the “promise.”

This “sabbatical” may have been forced on us, but it nonetheless provides a much-needed opportunity to examine what we do in a new century that poses formidable challenges for American educators and students.

We move forward not with a blank slate but with a great heritage. We remain committed to cooperative education — work experience illuminating academic pursuit; community governance — students and faculty empowered to think through and contribute to the rules that govern them and the culture they inhabit; academic excellence and intellectual rigor; and to serving a diverse population.

But layered on this heritage must come new visions. The way we live in America today is not sustainable, and Antioch College should be a laboratory to discover new and better ways of living. We therefore highlight global seminars exploring the critical issues of food, water, energy, health and governance. We are creating structures that will help students examine relationships across academic boundaries, so that a student of environmental science discovers the critical links to political economy and cultural anthropology.

We also know that the world of work has changed dramatcally. In New York recently I met Antiochians who had worked with one company their entire careers. This is a highly unlikely outcome today. To have an impact on today’s world, our students need entrepreneurial skills and thinking. They need to be “open-field runners in an open-field world.” Entrepreneurship — in its broadest meaning, not limited to starting a business — must be at the core of the new Antioch.

Of course these new priorities and re-invention are not really a departure for Antioch. Long ago Arthur Morgan noted that the world did not need just another liberal arts college in America, and that is equally true today. What the world needs is an Antioch dedicated to developing thinking and thinkers who will help us resolve the many difficult problems contributing to our present struggles.

I am confident that we are on our way to developing a compelling vision, but we must also figure out how to pay for it. Chronic poverty explains much of the unhappy drama that has been such a part of our history. Horace Mann may have contributed our oft-quoted motto, but his wife believed that his struggles to keep Antioch afloat and viable were the primary cause of his death.

Over time we can raise mission-driven money from new sources for the College, but in the meantime we must rely on those to whom Antioch matters most. We need to ask you — once again — to make Antioch a priority.

That brings me to the “responsibility” and the “peril.” This is still a fragile undertaking. We have a responsibility to be mutually respectful and to create a shared culture of problem-solving as we work to fashion for the coming century an Antioch College that is worthy of the name. Only by working together can we avoid the “peril” of once again losing what so many have worked so hard to regain.

With enthusiasm for the task before us, I pledge to do my utmost to help guide us forward.