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The distinctive towers of Antioch's Main Building
Antioch College is a private, independent liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohiomarker. It was the founder and the flagship institution of the six-campus Antioch University system. Founded in 1852 by the Christian Connection, this college began operating in 1853 with the distinguished scholar Horace Mann as its first president. This college's educational approach blended practical work experience with classroom learning, and participatory community governance. Students received narrative evaluations instead of academic letter grades. This college's enrollment during the last academic year that it was open for classes (2007-08) was less than 200 students.

In June 2007, the University’s Board of Trustees announced that Antioch College would be suspending operations as of July 2008, and it would try to reopen in 2012. On June 30, 2009, it was announced that Antioch University had agreed to transfer its campus, its endowment, and the adjoining Glen Helen Nature Preserve to the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, an alumni-led group seeking to find a way to re-opening the college. The transfer of assets was completed on September 4, 2009. Previously, over half of the Antioch College faculty had filed a lawsuit in August 2007 to bar Antioch University from discharging the college's tenured faculty members, or liquidating the college's financial assets. This legal case was dismissed by the Greene County Common Pleas Court on November 26, 2008. The Court held that "the decision to declare financial exigency, or to use less drastic means than that, to alleviate the University's financial problems is a business judgment." The announcement of the suspension of the College's operations sparked an intensive fundraising drive by the college's alumni association. On November 3, 2007, the University Board of Trustees agreed to explore alternatives for the college to remain open. Negotiations broke down in late March 2008, however, greatly increasing the likelihood that the college would close at the end of the 2007-2008 academic year.

Antioch College closed in June 2008. However, the trustees passed a resolution on June 7, 2008, stating "that the Trustees request the [Alumni] Association create the necessary process, plans, and resources for the development of an independent four-year, residential, liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a business plan for the transfer of assets from the University, and to present those plans to the Trustees for their consideration and approval and that the Association present its timetable for implementing this request to the Trustees." On July 18, 2008, the newspaper, Dayton Daily News, reported that the directors of the Antioch College Alumni Association and the trustees of Antioch University have "agreed on the framework for a plan to create a new, fully independent Antioch College."

Antioch College is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, which mediated negotiations for transfer of the College from Antioch University to the ACCC, and the North American Alliance for Green Education. It was formerly also a member of the Eco League. Current efforts to keep the College alive include the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute and the College Revival Fund. On July 17, 2008, the Antioch University Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of the Antioch College Alumni Association announced their intention to create a fully independent Antioch College that would open at an early date. The negotiations will be facilitated in part by the Great Lakes College Association.


On October 5, 1850, the General Convention of the Christian Church passed a resolution stating "that our responsibility to the community, and the advancement of our interests as a denomination, demand of us the establishing of a College." The delegates further pledged "the sum of one hundred thousand dollars as the standard by which to measure our zeal and our effort in raising the means for establishing the contemplated College." The Committee on the Plan for a College was formed to undertake the founding of a college, and make decisions regarding the name of the school, the endowment, fundraising, faculty, and administration. Most notably, the committee decided that the college "shall afford equal privileges to students of both sexes." The Christian Connection sect wanted the new college to be sectarian, but the planning committee decided otherwise.

Despite their enthusiasm, the Christian Connection's fundraising efforts proved insufficient. The money raised before the school opened failed to cover even the cost of the three original buildings, much less create an endowment. The Unitarian Church contributed an equal amount of funds and nearly as many students to the new school, causing denominational strife early on.

Early years

Horace Mann, Antioch's first president, ran the college from its founding in 1853 until his death in 1859. The young college had relatively high academic standards, and "good moral character" was a requirement for graduation. The first curriculum focused on Latin, Greek, mathematics, history, philosophy and science, and offered electives in art, botany, pedagogy, and modern languages. Tuition was $24 a year, and the first graduating class consisted of 28 students. Although the founders planned for approximately 1,000 students, enrollment only exceeded 500 once in the 19th century, in 1857.

One notable character in Antioch's history is Rebecca Pennell, who was one of the college's ten original faculty members. She was the first female college professor in the United States to have the same rank and pay as her male colleagues. Her home, now part of the Antioch campus and called Pennell House, served in recent years as community space for several of Antioch's student led independent groups.

In 1859, Mann gave his final commencement speech, including what became the college's motto: "Be ashamed to die until you win some victory for humanity." Mann died in August and was initially interred on the Antioch College grounds. The next year, he was reinterred in Providencemarker, Rhode Islandmarker, next to his first wife.

The original founders gave no consideration to the question of whether Antioch should admit students of color, neither forbidding nor explicitly allowing it. The associated preparatory school admitted two African American girls during the mid-1850s, an action one trustee responded to by resigning and removing his own children from the school. His opinion was apparently the minority one, though, as the African American students were not withdrawn. In 1863, Antioch trustee John Phillips proposed a resolution stating "the Trustees of Antioch College cannot, according to the Charter, reject persons on account of color." The resolution passed with nine trustees in favor and four opposed. However, the college remained nearly all white until after World War II, when the school undertook a minority recruitment program.

Antioch College faced financial difficulties in its first years, mostly due to the Panic of 1857. From 1857 to 1859, Antioch ran an annual deficit of US$5,000, out of a total budget of US$13,000. In 1858, Antioch was bankrupt. Mann died in 1859 and the college was reorganized, but deficits continued. Mann's successor, Thomas Hill, took Antioch's presidency on the condition that faculty salaries be paid despite deficits. Despite this stipulation, his salary was often not paid, and he supported his family with loans. Hill and a colleague attempted to raise an endowment, but potential donors were put off by the strong sectarian leanings of some of the college's trustees. Hill resigned in 1862 due to increasing financial troubles, sectarian conflict between Christian Connection and Unitarian trustees, and his election as president of Harvardmarker. In 1862, the college was closed until finances improved and remained closed until after the end of the Civil War.

In 1865, the college reopened, now administered by the Unitarian church. The financial health of the college seemed improved, as the Unitarians had raised a US$100,000 endowment in the space of two months. The endowment was originally invested in government bonds and later in real estate and timber. The investment income, while performing well, was still insufficient to maintain the college at the high level desired by the trustees. Some of the principal was lost to foreclosures during the Long Depression, which began in 1873. The college closed again from 1881–1882 to allow the endowment to recover.

In 1869, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings began their inaugural season as history's first professional baseball team, they played a preseason game at the site of what is now the Grand Union Terminal in Cincinnati against the Antiochs, who were regarded as one of the finest amateur clubs in Ohio. The game was played on May 15, 1869, and Cincinnati defeated Antioch 41-7. Antioch had been scheduled to host the first game of this professional tour on May 31, 1869, but pouring rain and an unplayable field kept the Red Stockings inside the Yellow Springs House until they left for Mansfield. So, while Antioch was not a part of the first professional baseball game, the college does hold claim to hosting the first ever rainout in professional baseball.


The turn of the century saw little improvement in the colleges finances. In 1900 faculty made between US$500 and $700 a year, very low for the time, and the president was paid $1,500 a year. In contrast, Horace Mann's annual salary was $3,000 more than forty years prior. Enrollment did increase significantly under the presidency of Simeon D. Fess, who served as president from 1906 to 1917. In 1912 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and served three of his five total terms while also acting as president of Antioch.

World War I had little effect, good or bad, on the college and though some people contracted influenza during the Spanish flu epidemic, there were no deaths. In February 1919, the Young Men's Christian Association attempted a peaceful takeover of the college, offering to raise an endowment of US$500,000 if Antioch would serve as the official national college of the YMCA. The YMCA proposal was received positively by the college's trustees and enacted by a unanimous vote, and Grant Perkins, a YMCA executive, assumed the college's presidency. By May, Perkins had resigned, reporting that he was not prepared to raise the necessary funds.

In June 1919, several candidates were submitted to the trustees, including Arthur Morgan. Morgan was elected to the board without any prior notification of his candidacy. An engineer, he had been involved in planning a college in upstate New Yorkmarker that would have included work-study along with a more traditional curriculum. Morgan presented his plan for "practical industrial education" to the trustees, which accepted the new plan. Antioch closed for a third time while the curriculum was reorganized and the co-op program developed. In 1920, Morgan was unanimously elected president and in 1921, the college reopened with the cooperative education program.
Arthur E.
Morgan, circa 1921.

The early co-op program was not required; students could enter as traditional students or cooperative education students. Despite this, by the 1935 academic year, nearly 80% of the student body had chosen the cooperative program. Students initially studied for eight-week-long terms alternating with eight-week-long work experiences. Male students generally took apprenticeships with craftsmen or jobs in factories; female students often served as nursing or teaching assistants. In 1921, when the program was first inaugurated, less than 1% of available co-op jobs were located outside of Ohio, but this had grown to about 75% within 15 years.

The college had no black students from 1899–1929 and only two from 1929–1936 (neither graduated), so it is unknown how racial discrimination among employers affected the co-op program. While Antioch itself had no religious quotas (elsewhere common until the 1940s), many employers discriminated against Jews, a fact that limited the number of Jewish students at Antioch. The program suffered for available positions during the Great Depression, prompting the college to employ many students at industrial jobs on campus.

In 1926, the college's Administrative Council was formed as an advisory body to the president. It was chartered in 1930. The Administrative Council was originally a faculty-only body, though a student seat was added in 1941. Over time, the Administrative Council became the primary policy-making body of the College. The Community Council was established a short time later, to advise on and manage what at other college campuses would be considered "student concerns". At Antioch, these matters, such as campus artistic and cultural life, have been regarded as community-wide issues, affecting students, staff, faculty members and administrators.


Beginning in the 1940s, Antioch was considered an early bastion of student activism, anti-racism, and progressive thought. During World War II, Antioch, among other eastern colleges, with the help of Victor Goertzel, participated in a program which arranged for students of Japanese origin interned in Relocation camps to enroll in college. In 1943 the college Race Relations Committee began offering scholarships to non-white students to help diversify the campus, which had been mostly white since its founding. The first scholarship recipient was Edythe Scott, elder sister of Coretta Scott King. Coretta Scott received the scholarship and attended Antioch two years after her sister. Antioch was one of the first historically white colleges to actively recruit black students. Antioch was also the first historically white college to appoint a black person to be chair of an academic department, when Walter Anderson was appointed chair of the music department.

In the 1950s Antioch faced pressure from the powerful House Un-American Activities Committee and faced criticism from many area newspapers, because it did not expel students and faculty accused of having Communist leanings. College officials stood firm, insisting that freedom begins not in suppressing unpopular ideas but in holding all ideas up to the light. The school, including professors and administration, was also involved in the early stages of the American Civil Rights Movement and remains a supporter of free speech.

In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the commencement speech.

Antioch became increasingly progressive and financially healthy during the 1960s and early 1970s under the Presidency of Dr. James P. Dixon. The student body topped out around 2,400 students, the college owned property all over Yellow Springs and beyond, and the college grew throughout the decade. It began to appear in literary works and other media as an icon of youth culture, serving, for example, as the setting for a portion of Philip Roth's most popular novel, "Portnoy's Complaint". At this time, Antioch became one of the primary sources of student radicalism, the New Left, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the Black Power movement in the region. The town of Yellow Springs became an island of liberal and progressive activism in southern Ohio, an otherwise very politically conservative region.

In many instances, the environment of the school spurred its students to activism. Eleanor Holmes Norton, future congressional delegate for Washington, D.C.marker, recalled her time at Antioch as one "when the first real action that could be called movement action was ignited", according to an interview now available in the National Security Archives.

The 1970s saw the college continue to develop its reputation as a source of activism and progressive political thought. Several graduate satellite schools around the country, under the Antioch University name (with the college as a base), were established as well, including the McGregor School (now known as Antioch University McGregor located on a new campus in Yellow Springs that opened September 2007). Antioch University New Englandmarker was the first graduate school offshoot in 1964. The university campuses are located in Keene, New Hampshiremarker; Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker; Los Angeles, Californiamarker; and Santa Barbara, Californiamarker. The corporation of Antioch College legally changed its name to Antioch University in 1978. The name Antioch College continued to be used for the residential undergraduate program in Yellow Springs, OH.

Funding and enrollment at the college began to decline as the University system was created. In the late 1970s, the new Antioch University system partially collapsed, leaving Antioch College in dire financial straits by the beginning of the 1980s. Beginning in the mid 1980s and continuing through the 1990s, under the leadership of Antioch Presidents Alan Guskin and Bob Devine, Antioch's enrollment figures and financial health improved, though college enrollment never surpassed 1,000 students. The campus underwent renovations and many buildings that had been boarded up were repaired and reopened, including South Hall, one of the college's three original buildings.

The Sexual Offense Prevention Policy

In 1993 Antioch became the focus of national attention with its "Sexual Offense Prevention Policy." This policy was initiated after two date rapes reportedly occurred on the Antioch College campus during the 1990-91 academic year. A group of students formed under the name "Womyn of Antioch" to address their concern that sexual offenses in general were not being taken seriously enough by the administration or some in the campus community. Advocates of the policy explain that the original "Sexual Offense Policy," as it was then called, was created during a couple of late-night meetings in the campus Womyn's Center, and that "this original policy was questionable. It was not legally binding, no rights were given to the accused, and it called for immediate expulsion of the accused with no formal process." The policy, both as it then stood and as revised, uniquely viewed any sexual offense as not simply a violation of the victim's rights, but as an offense against the entire campus community. It was revised to focus more on education and less on punishment and clarified in a series of community meetings during the 1991-92 academic year. Once revised, it was endorsed by the entire campus and the Board of Trustees, and thus became the official policy of the college that year.

This revised policy attracted renewed national publicity two years later, during the fall semester of the 1993-94 academic year, allegedly when a student doing a co-op on the west coast mentioned the policy to a Californiamarker campus newspaper reporter. An Associated Press reporter picked up the story in the early days of the term, and a media frenzy ensued, one that arguably garnered more attention to Antioch than anything since the student strike of 1973. The policy was often ridiculed by the mainstream American news media that fall, even becoming the butt of a Saturday Night Live sketch, entitled "Is It Date Rape?" Some media outlets voiced support for the policy. For example, syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman asserted that most "sexual policy makers write like lawyers in love," and that, likewise, "at Antioch the authors could use some poetry, and passion." But, she was ultimately sympathetic to their goals of leveling the sexual playing field and making students think about what consent means, saying that the Antioch campus "has the plot line just about right."

The 21st century

In 2000, Antioch College was again subject to media attention after inviting political activist and death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal and transgendered rights advocate and Jamal supporter Leslie Feinberg to be commencement speakers. Graduating students had chosen Jamal and Feinberg to highlight their concerns with capital punishment and the American criminal justice system. Many conservative commentators criticized the Antioch administration for allowing students to choose such controversial commencement speakers and the college administration received death threats. Antioch President Bob Devine chose not to overturn the students' choice of speakers, citing the ideals of free speech and free exchange of ideas, and likened the media reaction to the coverage of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1965 commencement address.

In the early 2000s enrollment declined to just over 600 students. This combined with a declining economy caused Antioch University to institute a "Renewal Plan" in 2003. The controversial plan called for restructuring Antioch's first year program into learning communities and upgrading campus facilities. Many students and faculty stated that they were shut out of planning. Antioch University's Board of Trustees committed to five years of funding for the renewal plan but discontinued this commitment to the college three years into the plan.

Simultaneously with the announcement of the renewal plan, the University's Board of Trustees announced mandated staff cuts at the college, including the elimination of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Student anger over the mandated renewal plan and program cuts led to a student-initiated protest entitled "People of Color Takeover", which garnered negative media attention. Partially in response to this, Antioch College created the Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom in 2006.

With the implementation of the controversial renewal plan, enrollment dropped from 650 students to 370 in two years, a decline that many feel was a result of the curriculum change mandated by the Board of Trustees. At an Antioch University Board of Trustees meeting in June 2007 the Board stated that while the college was only in its third year of implementation of the plan they had not raised the funds needed, and that the college would be indefinitely closed at the end of the 2007-08 academic year.

Many Antioch alumni and faculty, upset at the prospect of the loss of the college's legacy, began organizing and raising funds in an effort to save the college, keep it open without interruption, and gain greater transparency in its governance. In August 2007, the college faculty filed suit against the Board of Trustees, charging that the Board was violating various contractual obligations.

Following a meeting between university and alumni representatives in August 2007, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution giving the Alumni Board until the October 2007 trustees' meeting to demonstrate the viability of an Alumni Board proposal to maintain the operations of the College. Despite initially stating he would remain until December, Antioch president Steve Lawry abruptly stepped down as president on September 1, 2007. The role of president was turned over to a three person group, comprising the Dean of Faculty, Director of Student Services, and Director of Communications. While no reason for Lawry's immediate departure was given, it has been reported that he was forcibly ousted by the Board of Trustees. In response to this reported ousting, the faculty gave Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock a vote of no confidence.

A story about Antioch's closing in The Chronicle of Higher Education detailed the uncertain future of some faculty and staff members, along with the town of Yellow Springs, following suspended operations at the college. One professor, who got tenure 28 hours before the college announced its closing, had turned down other jobs in academia to work at Antioch. The story includes a slideshow showing outdated and crumbling buildings on campus.

On November 3, 2007, the University Board of Trustees agreed to lift the suspension of the college, which would have seen the college operate continuously rather than closing. The Alumni Board embarked on a $100 million fundraising drive to build the college's endowment, raising more than $18 million in gifts and pledges by November 2007. However, major donors balked out of concern that the deal did not make the college sufficiently autonomous from the university, and a group began meeting directly with the university, incorporating as the Antioch College Continuation Corporation (ACCC). On February 22, 2008 the university issued a press release reinstating the suspension, despite ongoing negotiations with the group. On March 28, 2008, university trustees rejected a $12.2 million offer from the ACCC, which then offered $10 million for 10 seats on the 19-member board. On May 8, 2008, university trustees rejected the ACCC's "best and final" offer -- $9.5 million for the college and another $6 million for the graduate campuses in exchange for eight board seats, with an additional four new trustees to be jointly agreed upon by the ACCC and current trustees.

The college closed as promised on June 30, 2008.

Continuation of Antioch College

The suspension of operations of the College led to an historic and unprecedented collaboration between the University and its College alumni association to explore a means to separate the College from the University in a manner which preserved the viability of both. The closure of Antioch College also spurred the creation of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute. Led by former faculty, staff, and students, and with the support of Yellow Springs residents, Nonstop aims to keep the values and mission of the College alive in the midst of its suspension. Recognizing that any reopening of the College required the cooperation and substantial financial support of alumni, the Board of Governors of Antioch University adopted a resolution on June 8, 2008 requesting that the Alumni Association prepare a plan to bring the College back to vigor and vitality. Thereafter, the Antioch University Board of Governors and the Board of Directors of the Antioch College Alumni Association publicly announced on July 17, 2008 the creation of a new task force composed of University and Alumni representatives to develop a plan to create an independet Antioch College. The Alumni Association then delegate its role in the discussions to a limited group of alumni who had incorporated as Antioch College Continuation Corporation ("ACCC"), an Ohio non-profit corporation. The task force discussions were facilitated in part by the Great Lakes College Association. As the result of those discussions, ACCC and .Antioch University agreed to an asset purchase agreement on June 30, 2009. That agreement called for the transfer of the College campus and the College endowment to ACCC which would operate the College as an independent corporation with its own fiduciary board of trustees. As part of the transaction, Antioch University licensed to ACCCC an exclusive right to use the name "Antioch College". The parties closed on the transfer of assets on September 4, 2009, but any reopening of Antioch College is at least two years away. (reference Associated Press)

Profiles, recognition, and criticism

The U.S. News & World Report college and university rankings classify Antioch College as a third-tier Liberal Arts College.

Antioch has been regularly included in the guidebook "Colleges That Change Lives" which declares that "there is no college or university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person's life or that creates more effective adults."

Less positive opinions include that of George Will, who wrote in response to the college's announced closure that there is "a minuscule market for what Antioch sells for a tuition, room and board of $35,221 — repressive liberalism unleavened by learning."

During her remarks to the college in 2004 alumna Coretta Scott King stated that "Antioch students learn that it’s not enough to have a great career, material wealth and a fulfilling family life. We are also called to serve, to share, to give and to do what we can to lift up the lives of others. No other college emphasizes this challenge so strongly. That’s what makes Antioch so special."

The Twilight Zone TV series includes an episode titled "The Changing of the Guard" that is considered to be "the Antioch episode" for its references to Antioch that include mention of Horace Mann and the school motto.

Noteworthy alumni



  • Deborah Meier (1954), Educator, considered the founder of the modern small schools movement
  • Myron D. Stewart (1973), District of Columbia Public School advocate and educator.
  • Lisa Delpit (1974), author of Other People's Children, director of the Center for Urban Educational Excellence








  1. Townsend et al. v. Antioch University, Case No. 2008-cv-0300, Greene County Common Pleas Court
  2. Guschov, Stephen D.. The Red Stockings of Cincinnati: Base Ball's First All-Professional Team and its Historic 1869 and 1870 Seasons. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1998. ISBN 0786404671. Page 45. For more information about the rainout, see also two entries from "The Annotated This Day in Baseball History" blog: [1] [2]
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  4. [3]

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