As something of a followup to The Story of Glen Helen is a newspaper clipping from the Akron Beacon-Journal issue of January 24, 1954 covering another unusual Antioch College venture (although the majority of the article is given over to Antioch’s history).
Antioch Revenue Raiser
Ohio College Builds A Shopping Center
By THOMAS S. HANEY
Beacon Journal Staff Writer
YELLOW SPRINGS, O.—Antioch College is small and conservatively run but never slow when a forward step is needed. It will take a big one this week.
Wednesday Antioch will open a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shopping center to serve a residential area built up from some swampy, ocean-front land that was left to the college a decade ago.
The center, southern Florida’s largest, and the land development before it are Antioch’s answer to the major problem confronting all small colleges — rising costs and declining endowments.
Here on the little, 100-year-old campus they think the answer is a good one.
Just filling in the swamp brought in close to $2,000,000 in added funds. Most of the shopping center’s 172,000 square feet of space was contracted for months ago.
Numerous retailers have made inquiries, so many that already plans for expanding the place are well along in the talking stage
AS FAR AS it can learn, Antioch is the first college to try such a venture. Many another small—and not a few big—schools have written for information. It may start a trend. Antioch officials hope it will. It would not be Antioch ‘s first.
This was one of the first American centers of higher learning to admit women and Negroes on the same basis and for the same courses as those offered white men.
It helped design the half-classroom-half-work approach to education, the famed cooperate study plan in which 533 employers in 31 states participate.
Antioch has plugged hard for a democracy-on-the-campus program. It gives the student as strong a voice in affairs, academic and otherwise, as that of the highest ranking faculty member.
These—and activities like the shopping center—come about from the powerful influence exerted on Antioch by its first president, Horace Mann. His were greatly advanced concepts. Public education was among them. He fathered it in this country.
A STATESMAN as well as an educator, Mann left a comfortable New England home to take the job. That was in 1853.
The Christian Church had just finished building the college. The church, which had no formal creed, wanted a college that did not teach one, which came into the project later.
But money was a problem then as now, and not even a Dr. Mann could conceive a two-story, flat-roofed shopping center with parking space for 1,050 wagons and buggies as a source of funds.
In 1859 the school including what was then the tallest building west of the Alleghenies was sold at auction. Mann’s friends bought it, reorganized its board, hired him back to run it. He did until his death a few months later.
Up to the time of World War I, Antioch was jut another little college. It offered A.B. and B.S. Degrees in major fields. It worked hard at the job of paying the faculty every month.
THEN CAME Arthur E. Morgan, a man who never went to college but who knew enough to run this one and to go on as the first head of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1930s..
Morgan—his eyes were so bad he had to quit college the first week—had come here to the center of the Miami River Valley as chief engineer for a big state flood control project.
He liked Yellow Springs, once the spa of society from Cincinnati, 65 miles south, and before that a stop on the old Bullskin Stage Trail from Detroit to the Ohio River.
The college took him on as president because of his definite educational ideas, especially in combining work and study. He put the system in operation in the early 1920s.
Antioch students are like those in most colleges that first year. As sophomores they attend classes two months, then put in two months on a job to which they are referred by the college and which is related directly to their major field.
The student is a regular employe. He is paid the going rate which, in many cases in recent years is much higher than that paid the professors who sent him out on the job.
THE ACADEMIC YEAR runs 10 months and is broken up. Five months are spent working, five on the campus. A degree can be had in four years. Most students take five, however.
Though no work -your-way-through-college plan, the system helps with the cost of the extra expenses which result from it. The college loses few students to the employers.
“The kids feel,” said Norman Bixler, the campus news bureau chief, “that if theyr’e worth so much now, they’ll be worth that much more when they’re through school.
“We know, though, that some of them have had perfectly fabulous offers to go with firms full time, especially engineering students.”
ON THE CAMPUS broad policy is laid down by a 20-man board which is chaired by a conservative lawyer from Springfield, O., nine miles north. He is Homer C. Corry. More of him later.
Dr. Douglas McGregor, who will preside at the shopping center dedication, is president. Under him is an Administrative Council. It has seven faculty members and three students. They implement board policy and make some of their own, particularly in academic matters.
Other campus activities are run the the Common Council, six students and three faculty members elected by proportional representation. They appoint a student to serve full-time as a city manager would in the outside world.
Currently the “community manager” is Clare M. Kramarsick, 21, a West Hartford, Conn. co-ed majoring in math. Her budget for directing campus services—police, fire inspection and the like—is $35,000. She is paid $55 a week for her work.
THERE ARE NO inter-collegiate athletic contests. A big intra-mural sports program serves instead.
There are no fraternities. Students have a number of organizations including a not very active left-wing group, a branch of the Progressive Party.
All this, even the left-wing group, is perfectly permissible within what Dr. McGregor calls “the ground rules of democracy.”
As you might expect, the charge of Communism has come up often. Dr. McGregor likes nothing better than a chance to deny it hotly.
WITH SUCH a background and amidst such a system, it is easy to see how the school got into the shopping center business.
The land for it came from an alumnus who failed to graduate, Hugh T. Birch. He flunked out his last term lacking a geometry credit. At his death in 1943 he had made millions out of the land here and in and around Chicago.
Among his holdings was 228 acres of swamp off Fort Lauderdale’s Sunrise blvd. at N. E. Twenty-fourth av. He left it to the college and his retirement home on high ground nearby to the state of Florida.
The college surveyed, went to a business consultant and was advised to fill in the land for development. It did so by a bootstrap method. Each new fill was paid for by money from the sale of the last one. The 188 acres thus disposed of raised $1,750.,000.
The consultant said the final acres on the boulevard provided a good business site. It was the conservative Corry who proposed, after an investigation, that a shopping center be built. The final decision was made in May. Construction began a month later.
THERE ARE three buildings with space for 58 stores, the largest a supermarket containing 15,000 square feet. Expansion plans call for a four-story department store on the site and extension of the main building for as many small shops as are needed.
The project cost $2,500,000.
The dedication ceremonies will continue for three days and mong those on hand besides college and Fort Lauderdale officials will be Magda Gabor of the famous sister combination.
The feeling here is that if he were still around today, Horace Mann would approve of the whole thing right down to and including the appearance of Miss Gabor.