YELLOW SPRINGS — The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has reaffirmed the accreditation of Antioch College after routine review at the midpoint in Antioch’s accreditation cycle.
A cross-campus team of staff, faculty, and students enabled the process despite challenges from the pandemic. The next reaffirmation for the College’s accreditation will occur in the 2025-2026 academic year.
“Participation from our students, faculty, staff,and trustees displayed the College community’s passion, commitment, and shared purpose,” said Antioch College board of trustees chair Maureen Lynch. “Reaffirmation of Antioch College’s accreditation is a strong statement on the exceptional experiential liberal arts education Antioch students receive and Antioch’s continued growth since reopening.”
When Antioch College reopened in 2011, accreditation was one of many hurdles. College leadership focused their efforts on designing and implementing the systems necessary to gain accreditation from the HLC and authorization from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), the college said. Antioch was successful in accomplishing this by July 2016, two years ahead of the normal timeline and despite many roadblocks.
On-campus preparations for the five-year accreditation review began in 2019 for an HLC site visit scheduled in April 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders from Governor Mike DeWine delayed the visit to October 2020. A cross-campus team led by Hannah Montgomery, Vice President of Operations and Business, compiled the Assurance Argument, a report based on five criteria presented to the HLC that formed the basis of the reaffirmation decision.
“The accreditation process focuses on continuous improvement,” she said. “Since the last visit in 2015, the college has been systematically incorporating feedback gathered throughout the accreditation process. In 2019, we had small work group sessions for each of the five criteria to formally document such progress, focusing on how we responded to feedback from the last accreditation review.”
That work became the foundation of the Assurance Argument.
“From there, each section and areas that needed updates were assigned to relevant faculty, staff, and students to lead. There was a lot of revising, gathering evidence, and crafting the argument,” Montgomery said.
The effort was inclusive of the College’s whole community.
“Students were directly involved in on-site visits, governance, and curriculum, which are all core components of our accreditation,” said Noah Greer ‘22, who helped compile the Assurance Argument. I think it’s rare to see students, staff, and faculty all involved in processes that can have such an impact on the institution, but at Antioch, we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The pandemic drastically changed the way the on-campus accreditation team worked after the April delay. Students, faculty, staff, and trustees attended mostly virtual forums and meetings with HLC accreditation in early October. The team expressed appreciation for the strong role co-op plays in Antioch’s educational model, the emphasis on practice and rigor, the breadth of the self-design major, and the evolving role of leadership at the College.
In addition, the team highlighted the importance of the Coretta Scott King Center, the Indigenous People’s Land Acknowledgment, the college’s sustainability efforts including the geothermal system and solar array, and its overarching commitment to equity and social justice.
“I believe that the reaffirmation of our accreditation reflects the Higher Learning Commission’s acknowledgement that, despite our small faculty, we continue to offer a strong and unique educational opportunity to our students,” said Dr. Kevin McGruder, vice president for Academic Affairs and associate professor of History.
Accreditation affirmation comes at a time of transition for Antioch. With a Presidential Search Committee assembled, the campus community has embarked on the process of defining the qualities of the next president of Antioch College. The College’s focus on its educational mission and programs like Antioch College Works,which address access and equity in higher education, are its cornerstones and will continue to mark the experience of future Antioch students.