It’s time to rethink the “ivory tower.”
There’s a new generation of college students. Today, the majority of K-12 students are non-white. Of entering college freshmen, 30% are first-generation. 24% are first-generation and low-income. These numbers will rise dramatically over the next decade.
But the system of higher education is not adequately serving these students. In an era when a vast majority of well-paying jobs require a college degree, only 30% of low-income students enroll in educational programs after high school. And only 9% will earn a degree within six years. It’s not surprising that we’re facing unprecedented economic disparity in America.
We have a groundbreaking new vision.
As a community of social innovators, we’re creating a new model for higher education—one that addresses some of the most pressing issues facing higher ed today.
In our vision for the 21st century, Antioch College will:
1. Utilize experiential curriculum and programming to better serve the specific needs of new-era students and promote a deeper engagement with the world.
2. Foster the discovery of curricular and structural innovations that can be scaled and shared with other institutions of higher education and create bridges to K-12 educators and students in communities of need.
3. Operate from a sustainable financial model that maximizes resources, cultivates community engagement, and ensures we don’t become heavily reliant on tuition.
4. Act consistently with what we teach—as an informed community of students, educators, staff and citizens of Yellow Springs.
And we’re poised for action.
Antioch College reopened its doors in 2011 as a brand new college. This gives us a distinct edge not found at other academic institutions. As a “start-up,” we’re nimble and able to take risks. And we know from recent experience as well as Antioch’s history that disruption can yield positive change:
- Originally founded in 1850, Antioch was the first coeducational, nonsectarian liberal arts institution founded in America.
- Noted public education pioneer Horace Mann served as Antioch’s first president, instilling our credo: Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.
- Antioch was the first coeducational college to offer baccalaureate degrees to women and African Americans.
- Antioch has been immersing students in the real world since the 1920s with its groundbreaking program of Cooperative Education.
This legacy of social innovation emboldens our present purpose to serve a new generation of college students in new and better ways.
The pages that follow show some of the ways we’re turning our vision for a 21st Century liberal arts college into reality.
The Antioch student experience is different. For nine decades, the College has been proving the necessity of applied learning in a liberal arts education. With the integration of rigorous academics, job experience and social responsibility, our students have always been ready to engage with the world beyond our campus. Upon re-opening, we decided it was time to build on this legacy of educational innovation in order for our students to develop the necessary skills to succeed an increasingly complex world.
Learn by doing: Cooperative Education
In the 1920s, then-president Arthur Morgan established the College’s historic and groundbreaking program of Cooperative Education (co-op). Antioch is now the only liberal arts college in the nation that requires a full year’s worth of paid co-op work for all students. Today’s co-op program maintains the critical connection between liberal arts students and the world in meaningful ways:
- Opportunity. Students pursue work experience aligned with classroom study in such diverse fields as public health, sustainable agriculture, rural development, the arts, and industry.
- Travel. Co-op placements currently exist in 31 states, 14 countries and the District of Columbia.
- Relevancy. Students align their interests and apply what they learn to real-world work.
- Rigor. Four quarter-long employment experiences are required. Fourth quarter co-op is an international placement linked to a student’s foreign language study.
- Readiness. According to a National Association of Colleges and Employment study, students who participate in programs with paid employment opportunities (co-op) nearly double their chances of a job offer after graduation compared to other students.
Courses that matter: Global Seminars
Committed to deeper learning, we launched Global Seminars as the centerpiece of our new curriculum to compel our students to engage in diverse approaches to problem-solving.
Offered once a quarter, each Global Seminar provides an in-depth examination of local, national and global issues that demand our attention—water, food, energy, health, governance or education.
Classroom discussions, interactive lectures and collaborative final projects are immersive and challenging. Students must grapple with the economic, social, political, scientific, moral/ethical, and philosophical perspectives on the chosen course issue.
Global Seminars coursework enables students to:
- Engage in realistic contexts
- Test and refine personal and collective knowledge constructions
- See their needs and interests woven into learning activities
- Demonstrate understanding through authentic performance in relevant contexts
Students have the opportunity to continue their research interests in Continued Studies in Global Seminar (GSC) or engage in relevant field work through co-ops or other experiential learning projects. Four quarters of Global Seminars are a graduation requirement.
Antioch is preparing students for a world that is hungry for thinkers and doers, for collaborative citizens who know how to engage with the biggest issues of our times. Global Seminars have been a natural addition to our experiential curriculum, helping students continue to draw connections between their interests, academics and the workplace.
As we grow, we will continue to develop our campus as a learning laboratory and seek out immersive opportunities for students to test their knowledge and skills further afield. Synthesizing the connection between their interests and the workplace is crucial to improving themselves and the world they live in.
The ReinventED Lab + Incubator
Part of our mission upon re-opening Antioch College was to empower a new generation of students to solve problems in their communities. But an honest look at America’s liberal arts colleges revealed institutions designed to train future academics in positions of privilege—not a diverse population of tomorrow’s citizen leaders. We realized our mission was bigger than our campus alone. It would require leading the charge in restructuring higher education—an endeavor we believe will have far-reaching benefits to all levels of society.
Our ambition is clear.
Antioch College is quickly on its way to becoming a center for experimentation in new models of learning, teaching and student support. At the center of this new wave of innovation is the ReinventED Lab + Incubator. Our goals for it are dynamic:
- Make students active participants in their own educations. Through the Lab, students will be involved in creating new courses and experience-based approaches that help them apply their academic learning to solve today’s most pressing challenges.
- Attract groundbreaking collaborators and promote cross-fertilization. The Lab will invite diverse change-agents from around the world to contribute to programming. This gives students and faculty the opportunity to engage with perspectives outside of academia to develop real-world solutions.
- Respond quickly to America’s current educational needs. Fixing our colleges can’t wait, nor are most academic institutions nimble enough to embrace the transformation that is desperately needed. At Antioch, we have the agility of a start-up and have focused our systems to stay in touch with the world.
- Develop systems that will better serve a new generation of students. We will focus on critical elements for student success, including summer bridge programs, first year classes and overall experience, transition/orientation programs, and advising.
- Share scalable models for adoption at colleges across the country. The challenges we’re facing in higher education can’t be solved on a single campus. An effort this large requires educational innovation on a national scale to generate impact that we can measure within the next decade. We believe incubation can start here at Antioch.
Our vision requires partners.
To fulfill our ambitions for ReinventED Lab + Incubator, we are currently seeking to connect with strategic partners, build networks of support, and raise seed funding for the following necessities:
- Student scholarships to support first-generation and low-income students
- Incentives for visiting entrepreneurs and educators
- Full-time staff for operations, outreach, program design and evaluation
- Dedicated lab space
With the right support, we will be ready to lead the transformation of our nation’s colleges into active hubs of inquiry and skill-building for a new student population.
Sustainable Finances & Operations
We’re restarting Antioch at a moment when it’s abundantly clear that the way Americans live is not sustainable—environmentally or financially. As a nation, we’re overtaxing energy resources and fighting to keep public schools afloat. Tuition continues to skyrocket, making it nearly impossible for working and middle-class students to attend college, let alone survive college debt. We cannot afford “business as usual” any longer. As a college start-up, we’re willing and able to adopt innovative new business practices that allow us to maximize our resources, so that we can invest in an affordable first-rate education.
Numbers that last.
When we reopened the college to students in 2011, the campus had suffered decades of deferred maintenance and neglect. Faced with the need to rebuild our physical plant, we saw an opportunity to link pedagogy with action and invest in a high-performance campus for long-term savings.
90% renewable. By 2018, Antioch College will be among the first liberal arts colleges in America to be almost entirely powered by clean energy sources.
- Fall 2014, we broke ground on a 5-acre solar farm. It will completely offset the electrical consumption of our central geothermal plant.
- Our 345-ton geothermal plant is projected to offset 2900 tons of CO2 + $500,000 in maintenance and energy costs each year. + We’ll save more than $15 million over the 30-year life span of both facilities.
360° approach. Our no-frills master plan maximizes space utilization and ensures all renovations and construction will be built to LEED standards and consistent with enrollment growth.
- LEED Gold certification was awarded to Historic North Hall, now the second-oldest building in the U.S. with such distinction.
- + 28% of food served on campus is provided by the Antioch Farm. Although still in its infancy, we have one of the most robust field-to-fork programs in the state of Ohio. A 35-acre lab, our farm provides students with firsthand work experience and myriad learning opportunities.
Community = Opportunity
Reflecting on our campus master plan, we realized that the living capacity of our 100 acres extends well beyond our projected student population of 1,000. And we have abundant assets that we integrate with our curriculum and the town of Yellow Springs: a working farm and radio station, 1,000-acre nature preserve and equestrian center, and recently renovated state-of-the-art theater and wellness facilities.
We began envisioning ways to maximize this wealth of space and resources beyond their current uses, while promoting new opportunities for our students to engage with the world.
What if Antioch College diversified its campus and operations to:
- Provide affordable green housing and amenities in a region with a real estate shortage?
- Offer communal living options and rich cultural programming for active retired adults?
- Open our assets to the citizens of Yellow Springs to create symbiotic new business models?
- Spark intimate learning and teaching opportunities among a diverse, multi-generational community?
- Test new models for sustainable living and urban planning? A feasibility study determined that there’s not only a market for this “new community,” but it also makes sound financial sense.
With the participation of a more diverse consumer base, Antioch will have the means to make a liberal arts education affordable for all students.
The Current State of Antioch College
Antioch College has an educational tradition and social legacy dating back to 1850. But we operate with a start-up mentality that has guided our rebirth and now fuels the acceleration of our new college mandate. It signals yet another pioneering chapter in the storied history of Antioch College. Today we are far more entrepreneurial than we are institutional—and it shows in how we’re going about the business of rethinking liberal arts education in America.
A conservative approach.
The term ‘conservative’ is not one that is often associated with Antioch College. But from a financial point of view, it is how we’ve been able to kick-start a new Antioch—a leaner operation focused on the fundamentals of an experiential education. As a new college, it was necessary to reopen with a temporary period of guaranteed tuition. But this measure has instilled a disciplined management strategy that will endure. Significant planning has already paid dividends in just three short years, including:
- Budget surpluses. The past two annual operating budgets have revealed budget surpluses for the College without the benefit of paid student tuition. In both cases, these modest surpluses have been thoughtfully reinvested to address some of our most pressing infrastructure needs, including renovating educational and student housing facilities.
- Campus renovations. We don’t fund athletic teams, build stadiums or outfit students with indulgent accommodations. Instead, we’re strategically investing in practical campus facilities that are comfortable, meet LEED standards, and demonstrate our commitment to engage our students with the world, not offer a retreat from it.
- Accreditation and federal grants. Antioch is on track to achieve full accreditation as early as June 2016—two years ahead of schedule. Our new status as a candidate for accreditation means access to federal student aid in 2015, which will offset a significant amount of tuition costs.
- Incremental growth model. Even with the onset of paid tuition and federal grant money, we’re capping annual enrollment at 70–80 students until 2016. This allows us to delay the need for a third residence hall and additional faculty and staff.
- A strategic business plan. Our commitment to restructuring higher education will not come at the expense of our operational needs. We know what it will take to sustain a vibrant Antioch. By 2021, more than a third of our operational and capital needs will be met through student-derived revenue and income from auxiliary programs. But it also means we will be tasked with raising the other two-thirds over the next eight years. This will require pragmatism and strong stewardship. And it will require the participation of key partners to help us realize the full potential of our vision.
A new formula is required.
We have proven that our discipline is strong, our approach is viable, and our potential to disrupt and fundamentally change higher education for the better is within reach.
What’s more, Antioch’s unprecedented comeback is an emerging success story almost completely funded and fueled by the passion and unwavering loyalty of a small alumni base dedicated to big ideas. Without question, they are the “angel investors” in our start-up story.
As we continue to seek sustainability in all things Antioch, we know this: our current funding model is unsustainable. Alumni alone cannot feed our operations and seed our innovation. Now is the time for us to accelerate by inspiring and partnering with others who embrace our vision and agree that college today is broken.
The good news is that we have an unprecedented opportunity to fix it—together.
Change is possible when driven by bold, visionary leaders.
Mark Roosevelt is Antioch College’s chief executive officer, chief administrative officer, and a member of the faculty of the College.
He is not the typical college president. A constructive disruptor and successful change agent whose passion for social justice is all but contagious, Roosevelt has deftly navigated a 25-year career of meaningful change in education and the public sector.
Since arriving at Antioch College in January 2011, Roosevelt and his team have:
- Raised more than $60 million for the College.
- Earned a fast-track to accreditation.
- Grown enrollment from 35 students to nearly 250.
- Expanded the depth of faculty from just 6 to 30.
- Brought the core campus back to life, investing more than $40 million in renovations that are both environmentally and fiscally responsible.
Building on Antioch’s mission, Roosevelt articulated a vision for the College that rests at the heart of its strategic planning, curriculum design, and student and faculty recruitment efforts: Antioch College will be the place where new and better ways of living are discovered as a result of meaningful engagement with the world through intentional linkages between classroom and experiential education.
Prior to taking the helm at Antioch, Roosevelt served as superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) from 2005 through 2010. At PPS he and the leader of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, John Tarka, created a model for school district reform built on collaboration rather than conflict. The Pittsburgh Public Schools garnered national attention for its efforts and won a major grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a new system to foster and reward teacher effectiveness.
While in Pittsburgh, Roosevelt founded The Pittsburgh Promise and secured one of the largest donations ever to a public school system—a $100 million challenge grant from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Promise has raised more than $175 million to guarantee college scholarships to Pittsburgh students who earn a 2.5 GPA or better. It is the largest program of its kind in the country, having sent more than 4,000 young people to college from 2008 through 2012.
As a legislator, he had a remarkable record of achievement. For 28 years, legislation prohibiting discrimination against gay men and women in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations had languished in committee or failed on floor votes. As its new chief sponsor, Roosevelt led an aggressive personal campaign that saw the bill enacted into law in 1989, making Massachusetts only the second state in the nation to enact a Gay Rights Bill.
In 1990, he was appointed chairman of the legislature’s Education Committee, where he was the co-author and chief sponsor of the landmark Education Reform Act of 1993, a national model for comprehensive state action to guarantee school districts the equitable resources and the accountability measures necessary for school improvement. Most observers credit the 1993 Act with the fact that Massachusetts now leads the nation in almost all categories of student and school performance.
In 1994, Roosevelt was the Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts and lost the final election to the Republican incumbent, William Weld.
The great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Roosevelt earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Juris Doctor at Harvard University. He was elected to the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature, in 1986, three years after graduating from law school.