Letter: A bastion of higher learning
Even George Will's admirers are likely to agree that his attack on Antioch College ("Forfeited Glory," July 15) went over the top. His characterization of this icon of progressive American philosophy as "repressive liberalism unleavened by learni...
Even George Will's admirers are likely to agree that his attack on Antioch College ("Forfeited Glory," July 15) went over the top. His characterization of this icon of progressive American philosophy as "repressive liberalism unleavened by learning" fits the fantasy he describes, while veering madly off course from the subject.
Passionate discussion by the board of trustees left little doubt that the closure was not based upon failure of the college's academic program, but on a financially unsustainable business model. This marks the fourth time in 150 years that this college has suspended operations, only to reopen as a more vigorous institution. The board expects Antioch College to open to coming generations of students in 2012, secure enough to sustain its existence indefinitely. The college needs now to generate the endowment that in its history it never secured.
I graduated from Antioch College in a different era, when my fellow students included Eleanor Holmes Norton and Stephen Jay Gould. Even with dwindling enrollment Antioch College has been rewarded by outstanding graduates, as indicated by the college's recent ranking among national leaders in the production of doctorates and on the most envied dimensions of the National Survey of Student Engagement.
A splendid academic innovator, Antioch College developed co-operative education, academic study abroad, outcomes-based assessment of rigorous liberal education, and collegiate governance that treated students as participating adults in an organic community focused in inquiry, knowledge, and growth. Its permanent absence would leave a void in the landscape of higher education. The board I have observed does not intend to let that happen. The wrenching and conscientious decision we made to suspend operations was taken in the conviction only this step could secure its future.
Instead of gloating over what he calls the "dottily" talk of plans by the board to re-open Antioch College, Will should rejoice that there are Americans committed to preserving the legacy of Horace Mann and Arthur Morgan, two giants of practical American idealism. Thousands of alumni and many others are working to rebuild this special presence in American higher education.
Vice chair, board of trustees
Antioch College, Class of 1961