Antioch College president Mark Roosevelt announced Tuesday he is stepping down at the end of the year upon the expiration of his five-year contract.
Roosevelt helped oversee the rebirth of the small liberal arts college in Yellow Springs after it closed in 2008 due to sagging enrollment and financial pressures.
The first class to enroll after the college reopened in 2011 — about 20 students — will graduate in June. They attended the college tuition-free, recipients of the first Horace Mann Fellowships.
“Antioch College is back, rededicated to the excellence and innovation that is its legacy,” Roosevelt said in a news release. “(It is) positioned to serve as a model for what the applied and rigorous liberal arts experience can be in the 21st century — not a four-year retreat from the world, but a four-year engagement with it.”
Roosevelt is a former Massachusetts state legislator and superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. The great-grandson of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt holds a degree from Harvard Law School.
Antioch will conduct an “inclusive search process” for Roosevelt’s successor and hopes to name a new leader by November.
“Two or three years ago, at such a nascent stage in our development, this news would have been quite a challenge,” said board of trustees chairman Frances Degen Horowitz. “But Antioch College is in a much more stable place today and this is a logical time to think about the next great leader for this storied institution.”
Roosevelt’s announcement follows the announced departures of two other long-time university leaders. University of Dayton President Dan Curran said last December that he will leave his post in June 2016 and Miami University President David Hodge last week said he is leaving his post that same month. Curran has served as president since 2002 and Hodge since 2006.
Roosevelt’s fund-raising efforts have helped Antioch improve its financial standing. Since 2009, more than 8,000 people have given more than 40,000 donations totaling nearly $80 million, according to the college.
Along with Roosevelt’s decision to step down, the college also announced Tuesday that it has received its largest gift since reopening — a $6 million grant from the Morgan Family Foundation.
“We know that without Mark’s leadership we would not have been able to make such remarkable progress in raising the funds needed to support students, faculty, staff, and to restore the long-neglected and once-again beautiful campus,” Horowitz said.
The school is carrying out a plan to make the 165-year-old campus carbon neutral by 2018, according to the release. Roosevelt also has championed a close relationship with the village of Yellow Springs.
“We know that the way we live in America is not sustainable and are therefore building a campus that reflects our commitment to new and better ways of living,” Roosevelt said.
An Antioch spokesman said current enrollment at the college is 246. Incoming freshmen in the fall with pay half of the school’s full-time tuition of $30,250.
According to the college, the current freshmen class averaged 1,800 on the SAT in critical reading, math and writing, placing Antioch in the top 20 percent nationally.
The school — whose first president was politician and educational reformer Horace Mann — is not yet fully accredited, but earned the prerequisite “candidate” status in 2013. Roosevelt plans to participate in Antioch’s comprehensive evaluation for initial accreditation in November.
“Antioch College alumni — emboldened by their success thus far — will not permit anything less than a persistent, creative, and gritty resolve to keep the college moving forward,” Roosevelt said.
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