28. May 2015

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Antioch College is a real food leader

At the Antioch College dining hall last week, the kitchen was serving turkey melts with pasture-raised poultry from New Carlisle, eggs from a family-owned farm in Xenia and organic salad from the college farm about 500 yards from the kitchen. In the world of institutional dining, and in particular in institutions of higher education, food considered “real,” meaning sourced from locally owned, ecologically sound, humane farms with fair employment practices, is apparently quite difficult to obtain. That’s why a national student group is challenging campuses across the country to commit to serving at least 20 percent real food by 2020.

The standards of the so-called Real Food Challenge are ones Antioch College has built its campus culture around since rebooting in 2010. And the college is already well beyond the minimum needed to meet the challenge goals.

According to Antioch Food Service Coordinator Isaac Delamatre, 56 percent of Antioch’s food is considered “real” by the Challenge standards, which is second in the nation only to Sterling College in Vermont, which consumes 74 percent real food. For the challenge, Antioch has committed to 60 percent real food by 2020.

By comparison, Oberlin and UC Santa Cruz committed to 40 percent real food by 2020, while other campuses such as University of Massachussetts Amherst, George Washington University and 21 others signed on to the minimum 20 percent — out of just 35 schools that made a commitment at all.

The Antioch farm, currently producing the kitchen’s kale, greens, onions and asparagus, has something to do with the college’s high real food score. Of the campus’s total food purchases, 28 percent comes from the farm. That makes that portion not only “real” by Challenge standards (grown within 150 miles of the institution), but grown 1,500 feet from where it is consumed. Students work and help manage the farm, a fair employer, and grow and raise the vegetables, fruit trees, chickens and ducks organically and humanely, surpassing USDA organic and Animal Welfare Institute standards.

Delamatre is the other reason for Antioch’s high real food score. Instead of hiring a food service provider, such as Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar global corporation, when it opened in 2011, the college hired Delamatre, who has always sourced local foods from growers he knows and whose farms he visits regularly.

“My main objective is to buy directly from the producer because then they dictate the price, it holds them accountable for their products and it supports the local infrastructure and economy,” he said.

In addition to what comes off the campus farm, 13 of the college’s 14 food suppliers are within 30 miles of Yellow Springs, including Buck-I-Hillz and Flying Mouse farms in Yellow Springs, Ed Hill chicken farm in Xenia and Keener pork and beef farm in Dayton. Instead of having produce, meat and grains from across the country trucked to campus by an industrial supplier, Delamatre and fourth-year student Sara Brooks drive the Antioch truck to make their own pickups.

“It’s a lot of driving,” said Brooks, who learned about sustainable farming when she came to Antioch and committed to it early because it was consistent with the principles of social and environmental justice that the college was built on. As the college’s assistant food service coordinator, Brooks is totally convinced that a self-operated local food service is right for college campuses.

“Once you include the educational aspects, it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

Sustainability is part of the global seminar that every student takes at Antioch because it touches all the academic disciplines and is a world-wide problem that will need solutions. According to Delamatre, having students involved on the farm and in the kitchen enables them to apply their classroom learning in the tradition of the Antioch College co-op to start solving some of those issues.

“If you just started serving real food, you’d miss the opportunity to have a grassroots push where a lot of education happens,” he said. “You don’t want to move too fast because you miss out on the meat of it — it’s a natural progression to learn about it and then ask, ‘why aren’t we doing it?’”

At Antioch people are doing it, and setting higher standards for peer institutions.

“Our goal is to push the model and to act as a catalyst for others,” Delamatre said of the sustainable food movement.

The college has a Food Committee with both college, village and agricultural representatives to guide food policy and sponsor food-related educational films and events on campus, according to Brooks. The campus also has initiated partnerships with the local school district and the local food pantry and has several community projects in the works, she said.

For Antioch the real food challenge will be to keep growing its real food content as it grows in size from the current 250 students to an interim size of about 600 within the next several years, according to Antioch Communications Director Matt Desjardins.

“For a school this size, Antioch is punching above its weight — partly because it had a chance to start from scratch,” Desjardins said. “But people have to care about [sustainability] too,” as college leaders do, he said.

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14. May 2015

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Roosevelt to leave Antioch College in December

At a meeting attended by several hundred in the Antioch College community on Tuesday, May 5, College President Mark Roosevelt announced that he will no longer lead the college when his five-year contract expires at the end of 2015.

“We’ve taken a dream and made it a reality,” Roosevelt said to college faculty, staff and students, stating that he’ll leave his job “with enormous regret and mixed feelings.”

However, he said, he believes, “it’s the right time. This gives the college the opportunity to find a new leader to take the college to the next level.”

The decision to leave is clearly Roosevelt’s, and Board of Trustee Chair Frances Horowitz of New York City, who was unable to attend due to a recent fall, thanked him in a statement read by Trustee Maureen Lynch.

“You have exceeded our expectations — which were high — and set us on a path of momentum that we have every confidence will be maintained in the years ahead,” Horowitz wrote.

Hired as the college’s first president a year after Antioch reopened in 2009, Roosevelt faced the daunting task of relaunching a liberal arts college at a time when liberal arts colleges are closing their doors. When he came to Antioch College five years ago, “There were no students, no faculty, no dormitories, no farm, no solar arrays, no identified means for renovating the campus,” Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis said at the event. “It’s extraordinary what we’ve accomplished. I’m deeply grateful that you’ve positioned the school to succeed.”

At the event, Roosevelt also announced that the Morgan Family Foundation has donated $6 million to the college, the largest single gift since Antioch’s rebirth, and perhaps its largest gift ever.

In an interview on Monday, Roosevelt said that while the task of reviving the college is not complete, “I feel a certain sense of completion.” When he leaves in eight months,  “I will have finished what I tried to do for as long as I could.”

And it’s time, Roosevelt said, “to take a deep breath and to consolidate our gains.”

There have been considerable gains, Roosevelt said. First and most important, the college is well on its way to accreditation. The process, which provides criticial legitimacy to colleges and universities, has been unexpectedly long and difficult but after a successful 2013 site visit from the North Central Association, or NCA, accreditation team, Antioch became an official candidate for accreditation, which allows students to receive federal aid. The second and last site visit will take place this November, when Roosevelt will still be on the job. The college could receive full accreditation in June 2016, he said.

“I’m very hopeful. I feel confident,” he said, stating his confidence is linked to the progress the college has made addressing concerns raised by the NCA team. Those concerns centered on financial instability, and the Morgan Foundation gift of $6 million helps to stabilize finances, he said, stating that the college budget will be in the black for 2015, as it has been each year since he arrived.

The need to raise money has been a constant pressure for Roosevelt. So far $75 million has been raised, and the college also received about $30 million from the sale of YSI stock. Along with operations, the funds have financed large renovations on a campus that had for years been allowed to deteriorate, with the largest renovation that of the Science and Art building ($30 million) followed by the Wellness Center ($8 million), Birch and North Hall dormitories ( about $11 million) and the construction of geothermal and solar energy installations. The college also is renovating West Hall for additional student housing, along with the Foundry Theater.

But the need for campus improvement remains huge, Roosevelt said in the interview. The complete renovation of facilities is estimated to cost about $100 million, rather than the $30 million estimated cost made by earlier college leaders, because the deterioration of campus buildings was so profound.

“About the only thing I’m angry about is how the campus was let go, and how everything was done on the cheap,” Roosevelt said about the college previous to its 2008 closing by Antioch University.

The unexpectedly high cost of upgrading the campus was one of several surprises for Roosevelt when he took on the job, he said in the interview. The other two were the difficulty of achieving accreditation and “the woundedness of the community,” around the issue of former faculty of the college, with strong voices raised both for and against rehiring former faculty members. In the end, while former faculty were not hired to teach, several were brought in to the revitalized college in administrative positions.

While the need for ongong fundraising remains critical, significant progress has been made in the depth and breadth of contributors. Before its closing, about 3 to 4 percent of alumni donated to the college, and that number is now up to 30 percent. The college has received in five years about 40,000 individual donations from 8,500 contributors, Roosevelt said.

What these challenges have in common has been the need for supporters to believe in the viability of the reborn Antioch College, Roosevelt said, and instilling that belief has been his most important task.

“My job was to build belief in the possibility of the college’s success,” he said.

He’s proud of his work, Roosevelt said, but ultimately the pressures of constant fundraising weighed on him. The pollen-rich Miami Valley has been hard on his health and worsened allergies and asthma attacks. And Roosevelt and his wife, Dorothy, feel a need for a change.

“For us now, it’s the right time” to move on,” he said.

Roosevelt came to the Antioch College job one year after the college was reopened by alumni after its 2008 closure by Antioch University, following Matthew Derr, the revived college’s interim president. Previously, Roosevelt was for five years superintendent of schools in Pittsburgh, where he instituted significant school reform. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he had previously served as a state legislator in Massachusetts and led an educational reform effort in that state. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts, was the CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives and managing director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and taught government at Carnegie Mellon University.

On Monday, Roosevelt said he does not know what his next job will be.

In the interview Monday, Horowitz said that the college revival will continue on pace regardless of Roosevelt’s leaving.

“I think we’re committed to maintaining the momentum already established,” she said. “While a new person may have their own vision, nothing already accomplished will be undone.”

At the Tuesday event, Trustee Malte von Matthiessen, who will chair the search committee, said the committee is being formed, with representatives from students, faculty, administrators and the Board of Trustees. The search will be conducted by Isaacson, Miller, the same firm that brought Roosevelt to Antioch.

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6. May 2015

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Roosevelt will leave job

Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt announced Tuesday that he’ll leave his position by the end of the year.

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23. April 2015

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Foundry Theater hard stage to share – Yellow Springs News

Foundry Theater hard stage to shareYellow Springs NewsSince Foundry Theater reopened last summer after its first renovation since the 1980s, the black box at Antioch College has been busy. Yellow Springs High School used the Foundry for its fall play a…

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20. April 2015

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Antioch trustee, grad Ganges dies at 66 – Dayton Daily News

Antioch trustee, grad Ganges dies at 66Dayton Daily NewsTendaji Ganges, vice chair of the Antioch College Board of Trustees, died Friday at his home in Flint, Mich., at the age of 66. Ganges, a 1971 Antioch grad, spent decades working on higher educati…

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18. April 2015

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Antioch College receives $100000 grant – Xenia Gazette

Antioch College receives $100000 grantXenia GazetteThese access and support initiatives fall under the umbrella of a comprehensive new program—still in an early developmental stage—known as the ReinventED Lab + Incubator at Antioch College. This initiative is in response to the challenges that many …and more »

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