Antioch Reopens At Bubble Time

This week classes began again at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It will be interesting to see how the school fares as it tries to reestablish itself.

Ohio is a state of terrific colleges, and Antioch is one of the most well-known.  It was founded in 1852, and it has a long history of being a ground-breaking institution.  It was non-denominational in an era when most colleges had a religious affiliation.  It was at the forefront of the abolitionist movement.  It was one of the first American colleges to accept women and African-Americans.

In the 20th century Antioch again was at the forefront of educational experimentation and change — and, unfortunately for the institution, some of its experiments didn’t work.  The undergraduate college at Yellow Springs experienced continuing financial problems and after enrollment declined to only a few hundred students the Board of Trustees decided to close the Yellow Springs campus.  The school closed in 2008.

These are not easy times to reopen a college.  Many people are talking about “higher education bubbles” and questioning the cost and value of a liberal arts education.  I hope Antioch makes it — and not just because its success is important to the pretty little town of Yellow Springs.  Antioch has made a real contribution to higher education in America.  It would be a shame to see the voice of change and experimentation that emanates from Antioch stilled forever.

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