The Antioch College Comeback

The recently shuttered college could be back in business as soon as 2011.

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Call it a comeback. After having its operations suspended for the past two academic years, Antioch College will begin admitting new students as soon as 2011, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Leaders of the failed college's alumni association and the Antioch University Board of Trustees announced on Tuesday a plan to make the college independent of the university that closed it. The deal gives the college ownership of its campus, its $19 million endowment, its name, its literary journal, and, most important, total autonomy from the university. In return, the university will receive $6 million from the college's alumni and other donors.

Antioch's departure and return have been as controversial as its history. Founded in 1852 by Horace Mann, the college played a part in the abolitionist movement and was one of the first institutions to admit students regardless of gender or race. In the 1900s, Antioch was one of the first colleges to promote co-op education, a system in which students alternate between learning in the classroom and learning through on-the-job work experience. The college's famous alumni include Clifford Geertz, Stephen Jay Gould, and Coretta Scott King.

Though the college's campus is designed to accommodate 2,700 students, it saw fewer and fewer students enroll in the years preceding its temporary closure. Many members of the Antioch College community also resented the college's association with Antioch University, an entity created to run branch campuses across the country that offered mostly graduate-level courses. When the university decided to suspend operations of the college, many members of the Antioch College community argued that the university was sacrificing the very foundation of the institution.

Since the announcement, many alumni have pledged to increase the size and frequency of their donations to the college.