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Antioch College remains open amid financial crisis

COLUMBUS – Trustees overseeing Antioch College said Saturday they have reversed an earlier decision and will keep the school open.

The reversal is contingent on whether alumni and the school can meet fundraising goals over the next three years, board chairman Art Zucker said.

Antioch, which is known for its pioneering academic programs, will close some buildings and dormitories, and will downsize the faculty to meet budget constraints, he said.

Because of the school’s small endowment and funding shortage, the declaration of financial exigency made by the board in June remains in effect, a college statement said.

The declaration is a formal statement made by an institution that is facing an imminent financial crisis.

Alumni and school officials must raise $6.6 million in cash by Dec. 15, another $12 million by May 2008, an additional $26 million by June 2009 and an additional $19 million by June 2010, Zucker said.

The school will continue offering credits to current students, and the next class of graduates will receive degrees, pending the approval of academic accreditation boards, Zucker said.

Trustees announced in June that because of declining enrollment, heavy dependence on tuition and a small endowment, the college would close after the spring term, reorganize and reopen in 2012.

Alumni formally asked the trustees last month to reverse the decision, saying they had raised $18 million primarily in pledges to keep the school going.

They feared that temporarily closing the college would scare off badly needed donors and make it difficult to recruit faculty and attract new students when the school reopens.

The resurgence of alumni support and cooperation between trustees and the alumni board made Saturday’s announcement possible, said Nancy Crow, a board member and alumni board president.

“It’s going to take a heroic effort on the part of the alumni, and this is just the very beginning,” said Jim Rose, a 1956 graduate who was a professor at Antioch until the theater department was closed for financial reasons in 1984.

The college, founded in 1852 and located about 15 miles east of Dayton, is the flagship for Antioch University, which has five other campuses in Ohio and on the East and West coasts.

Antioch, which costs $36,000 a year to attend, has an $18 million operating budget and a $2.6 million deficit. Enrollment is down to 230 students.

The alma mater of Coretta Scott King, “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling and two Nobel Prize winners, Antioch College doesn’t grade classes, encourages students to develop their own study plans and combines academic learning with experience through a co-op program in which students leave campus to work in various fields.

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