College Transfers Glen Helen to Community

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by | Jun 10, 2020

Antioch College and the Glen Helen Association (GHA) are pleased to announce an agreement in principle to transfer the Glen Helen Nature Preserve to the Glen Helen Association.

The Glen was gifted to the College by alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch in 1929 as a memorial to his daughter Helen Birch Bartlett. Since that time, the Glen has served as an environmental research site that the College has made available to the public. It has become overwhelmingly popular over the decades, now drawing more than 100,000 annual visitors from southwestern Ohio and beyond.

As popular as the Glen Helen is with the public, it holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of Antiochians. Countless faculty, students, and staff have put energy into the preservation and improvement of the Glen for nearly 90 years. There have been many threats to the Glen which the College has had to fend off, including a 1950s proposal to reroute highway 68, and a proposed village sewer line project in 1959-60. The GHA was founded in 1960 to help support Antioch College in its efforts to protect the Glen from such threats.

A major milestone was met in 2015 when the College secured conservation easements on the 1,000-acre preserve, taking extraordinary action to ensure strong legal protection against any development, and permanently protecting the Glen as a nature preserve. Proceeds received by the College for the conservation easements were placed in an endowment at The Dayton Foundation to provide for ongoing stewardship.

The College continues to act to protect the Glen for future Antiochians and for the greater community. The Glen’s importance as an educational resource for students and faculty won’t change.

“Treasured by Antioch College students, alumni, faculty, and staff for generations, the Glen has evolved from being an extension of our campus, as Birch intended, into an invaluable natural and community resource, and popular tourist destination,” Antioch College President Tom Manley says. “The College has taken numerous steps to expand and protect the Glen, culminating in the conservation easements, which ensure that the land can never be developed. It is now time to take the next right step in maintaining public accessibility by putting the Glen in community hands.”

The College and the GHA board have quietly been exploring options with the common goal of both protecting the Glen Helen and providing public access in an environmentally responsible way. The College will receive approximately $2.5 million over a 10 year period as partial reimbursement for decades of investment in the Glen. Once the agreement is finalized, the GHA will assume ownership of the Glen and take on management and operations. The agreement will include terms for a strategic collaboration, joint programming, and continuing access for faculty and students for academic purposes.

“The transfer of the Glen to community hands makes perfect sense for the College, for the GHA, and for the community at-large. It also represents another exciting example of how Antioch is a new kind of college, where strategic partnerships and alliances provide new educational opportunities and help to drive innovation. This new agreement will make possible a strong working partnership between the College and the GHA, each with clearly defined roles and responsibilities,” explains Manley.

The Glen will now be stewarded by an organization whose sole mission is to protect it and make it available to the public. The College in turn will be able to focus on its core mission of delivering an exceptional applied liberal arts education to students, in partnership with organizations around the world through Antioch College Works, the College’s new program guaranteeing real-world work experience to all students and full-tuition scholarships for Pell-eligible students.

Antioch College has a long tradition of incubating ideas and organizations which grow beyond the College itself. The College is proud to have been the protectors and stewards of the Glen, and to be able to fully turn it over to the community.

“The people of the Miami Valley have really come to feel that the Glen belongs to the community, and now, with support from the community, this will become a reality,” says Bethany Gray, GHA president. “We will continue to work closely with the College in ways that are mutually beneficial.” Manley adds, “The Glen will remain an important part of the Antioch experience for our students, offering invaluable space for recreation, research, and reflection, at our doorstep.”

The College and the GHA expect the agreement to be finalized later this summer. The GHA will create and announce its plan for reopening the Glen.

Overview of Agreement Details
  • Ownership of the Glen Helen will pass to the GHA once the agreement is finalized (likely at the end of the summer).
  • The boards have settled on a payment to the College of approximately $2.5 million over a 10 year period with 60% of that total being paid in the 10th year.
  • The Trust for Public Land assessed the value of the Glen Helen in 2012 to be over $4.6 million, not including the value of the buildings. When the easements were put in place, the College agreed to forgo development of the land in perpetuity, and the College placed approximately $2.5 million of the proceeds from the easement into a permanent endowment at The Dayton Foundation to benefit the Glen. That endowment will remain in place.
  • The College’s own endowment includes approximately $500,000 which is restricted for the benefit of the Glen. That endowment will also remain in place.
  • The name and rights to operate the Glen Helen Ecology Institute will remain with the College.
    Glen staff will now be employees of the GHA rather than Antioch College. They will remain close collaborators, however, as we strengthen our partnership with the GHA including strategic collaboration and joint programming.
  • Antioch Farm manager, Kat Christen, will move from the Glen to the College to continue her work.
  • The Glen and the College will have a Strategic Collaboration Agreement, which will include provisions for collaborative work.

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