YELLOW SPRINGS — Antioch College board members postponed a decision Saturday on whether to reverse their decision to temporarily close the college, telling about 200 alumni, faculty and students that they’ll continue debating for several more days.
“We are dealing with very complex, long-standing matters of critical importance and we simply need more time to deliberate,” said Art Zucker, the chairman of the board of trustees.
The private liberal arts college announced in June that because of declining enrollments, heavy dependence on tuition and a small endowment, the college would close after the spring term, reorganize and reopen in 2012.
On Thursday, alumni formally asked the trustees to reverse the decision, saying they had raised $18 million primarily in pledges to keep the school going.
Since then, the two groups have been meeting behind closed doors hashing out and debating the alumni proposal.
A decision was expected Saturday, but instead Zucker and Nancy Crow, a board member and alumni board president, told those gathered at a community center that discussions among trustees could continue into next week, with some board members possibly voting by telephone.
Most reacted quietly to Zucker and Crow’s announcement, although some audible sighs could be heard.
“I was disappointed because we’ve been waiting for a clear answer,” said Jeanne Kay, 22, a second-year student from Cadenet, France. “This is homecoming weekend and there are alumni who are here to either celebrate together or to be together to figure out how we can continue this struggle. I feel it was disrespectful.”
The alumni plan calls for raising $25 million in donations to assist the college in the 2008 school year and then a five-year, $100 million fundraising drive beginning in 2009. The school’s current annual operating budget is $18 million.
Antioch supporters this week planted black and gold “Save Antioch College” signs along a forest path that leads to the building where officials held their deliberations.
Supporters wanted to make sure the decision-makers knew how they feel about the college — a 155-year-old school with a pioneering academic program that produces students with a passion for free-thinking and social activism.