updated 11/3/2007 9:16:47 PM ET 2007-11-04T01:16:47

Antioch College trustees agreed Saturday to keep the cash-strapped school open with the help of alumni fundraising, reversing plans to shutter the campus.

The plan is contingent on whether alumni and the school can meet fundraising goals over the next three years, board chairman Art Zucker said.

Antioch, which is known for its pioneering academic programs, will still close some buildings and dormitories, and will downsize the faculty to meet budget constraints, he said.

Trustees announced in June that because of declining enrollment, heavy dependence on tuition and a small endowment, the college would close after the spring term, reorganize and reopen in 2012.

Alumni formally asked the trustees last month to reverse the decision, saying they had raised $18 million primarily in pledges to keep the school going. They feared that temporarily closing the college would scare off badly needed donors and make it difficult to recruit faculty and attract new students when the school reopens.

Antioch, which costs $36,000 a year to attend, has an $18 million operating budget and a $2.6 million deficit. Enrollment is down to 230 students.

The resurgence of alumni support and cooperation between trustees and the alumni board made Saturday’s announcement possible, said Nancy Crow, a board member and alumni board president.

Alumni and school officials must raise $6.6 million in cash by Dec. 15, another $12 million by May 2008, an additional $26 million by June 2009 and an additional $19 million by June 2010, Zucker said.

The school will continue offering credits to current students, and the next class of graduates will receive degrees, pending the approval of academic accreditation boards, Zucker said.

‘A heroic effort’
“It’s going to take a heroic effort on the part of the alumni, and this is just the very beginning,” said Jim Rose, a 1956 graduate who was a professor at Antioch until the theater department was closed for financial reasons in 1984.

The trustees and alumni released a 7-page resolution and “agreement in principle” outlining the conditions of keeping the school open.

Antioch students were disappointed with the document, said second-year student Jeanne Kay, who gathered with students, faculty, staff and alumni on campus Saturday afternoon.

“When the announcement was first read there was a lot of joy in the room, but after we read the agreement there were a lot of questions,” she said. “The college isn’t sending a clear message that it won’t decide to close again next year or next month, even.”

The college, founded in 1852 and located about 15 miles east of Dayton, is the flagship for Antioch University, which has five other campuses in Ohio and on the East and West coasts.

The alma mater of Coretta Scott King, “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling and two Nobel Prize winners, Antioch College doesn’t grade classes, encourages students to develop their own study plans and combines academic learning with experience through a co-op program in which students leave campus to work in various fields.

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