CINCINNATI -- The state has given a stamp of approval to an Ohio liberal-arts college that was purchased by an alumni group in 2009 after it closed due to financial problems, state and school officials said Friday.
The chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents on Thursday approved the request by Antioch College in Yellow Springs in southwest Ohio to offer bachelor's degrees in arts and science when it reopens this fall. The school – known for its social activism and alumni that includes "Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling – closed in 2008. It plans to reopen as an independent four-year college, with classes starting Oct. 4.
The Ohio Board of Regents sent a review team to Antioch to meet with campus leaders, faculty and others before Chancellor Jim Petro approved the school's request, board spokeswoman Holly Hollingsworth said.
"This approval was a major milestone for us," school spokesman Gariot Louima said. "Without it we couldn't move forward with our application for accreditation."
Antioch College plans to submit its formal application in a few weeks for accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the Chicago-based North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Louima said. The school has been in contact with the commission, but commission spokesman John Hausaman said he couldn't comment on specifics until after the formal application is submitted.
The private college, founded in 1852, combined academic learning with experience through a co-op program that allowed students to work in various fields off campus. Social activism and civil disobedience became part of the school's fabric over the years, especially in the 1960s with ant-war protests and weekly peace vigils.
The school, also attended by Coretta Scott King, had 2,407 students enrolled at its peak in 1972. In the 2007-2008 academic year – its last year of operation – 286 students were enrolled, with 119 graduating in the last class, Louima said.
About 35 students will be enrolled as freshmen when Antioch reopens, and the college plans to have six full-time faculty members plus visiting professors, Louima said.
A school official said the state's approval was "very good news."
"We have put a lot of effort and energy into this," said Hassan Rahmanian, the college's dean for curriculum. "This is something our alumni trust us to do. They want to see the institution revived and rebuilt."