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Alumni, students wait as officials consider future of Antioch College
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    YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio — Black and gold ‘‘Save Antioch College’’ signs stood on the campus Saturday as supporters waited for a decision on the future of the 155-year-old school known for its social activism.
    Trustees of parent Antioch University announced this summer 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.
    The two groups discussed the alumni proposal behind closed doors, and a decision was expected Saturday.
    The college, founded in 1852, is the flagship for Antioch University, which has five other campuses in Ohio and on the East and West coasts.
    The signs were planted by Antioch supporters who wanted to make sure the trustees know how they feel about the private, 155-year-old school with a pioneering academic program that produces students with a passion for freethinking and social activism.
    An endowment of only $30 million and heavy dependence on tuition revenue amid declining enrollment have hurt the 230-student school in southwest Ohio, about 15 miles east of Dayton. The school’s current annual operating budget is $18 million.
    Alumni fear that temporarily closing the college will scare off badly needed donors and make it difficult to recruit faculty and attract new students when the school reopens.
    ‘‘The costs of going dark are substantial,’’ said Rick Daily, executive director and treasurer of the Antioch alumni association.
    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.
    Its alumni includes Coretta Scott King, ‘‘Twilight Zone’’ creator Rod Serling and two Nobel Prize winners.
    The school has been a fertile ground for social activism. Civil disobedience has been part of that, with Vietnam war protests in the 1960s and ’70s, and demonstrations against the Iraq war in recent years. In 1994, students took over a campus building for 32 days to protest the school’s plans to turn it into an admissions office instead of a student activity center.

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