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Historic Antioch College Faces an Unsure Future

A shortage of students and money leads to a disputed plan to close the Ohio school next July and reopen in 2012. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, is a private liberal-arts school with a history of social activism. It was the first American college to name a woman as a full professor and one of the first to admit students of all races.

Antioch also became one of the first to offer work study programs, so students could gain experience in jobs. And it was among the first to stop using grades to record progress.

A Protestant group known as the Christian Church started Antioch College in eighteen fifty-two. Even in those days it was different from most other American colleges because it admitted women as well as men.

During the nineteen sixties, Antioch students were active in the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War. At that time, the college had more than two thousand students. But times changed.

In nineteen seventy-eight Antioch University was created. Antioch College became the undergraduate residential program.

But it has struggled with a shortage of students and money. School officials say students are rejecting the college because it lacks modern dormitories, wireless Internet or new athletic buildings. The number of students has dropped to only four hundred this past year.

Now, the university Board of Trustees has voted to suspend operations at Antioch College next July. School officials say the goal is reopen the college in two thousand twelve. They say they want to raise enough money to design what they call a twenty-first century campus.

Today Antioch University has five other campuses around the country designed to serve working adults. The closure will not affect the other campuses.

Some people say Antioch's expansion is one reason the college is in financial trouble. But university officials say the other campuses have been helping to support Antioch College. They say the college has been operating at a loss for several years.

Antioch College has been closed and reopened three times already in its history, for financial and other reasons. Teachers and former students have talked about the possibility of legal action to try to stop the new plan. The Antioch College Alumni Association has been collecting money to try to keep the school from closing again -- or at least make sure it reopens.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. To learn more about American education, go to I'm Steve Ember.