In a message to the campus today, Antioch College President Tom Manley announced his plans to retire at the end of the academic year in 2021. Dr. Manley was named president in November 2015 after a national search by the Board of Trustees. He started his tenure on March 1, 2016 after serving as president of Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, for 12 years and in various teaching and administrative posts at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, for 23 years prior to that.
With a background in East Asian history and culture; expertise in intercultural education, community-based learning, and educational program development; and success as a fundraiser, Dr. Manley has brought a wealth of experience to Antioch. His tenure at the College has been focused on a broad range of challenges related to institutional vision building, budget alignment, diversity and inclusion, enrollment and campus climate, fund and friend-raising, administrative restructuring, and governance.
“It’s remarkable just how quickly the last four and a half years have gone,“ he said. “It’s an honor to be at Antioch College each day, amidst such rich history and at a time when its bold, big-picture thinking, embodied in programs like Antioch College Works, is vitally needed in higher education.”
Dr. Manley engaged with Antioch’s Board leadership about retirement well before making a final decision. “Tom wanted the timing to work for the College, and we wanted to have some distance between his informing the community and the difficult budget actions necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Maureen Lynch, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Antioch Achievements During Manley’s Presidency
When Dr. Manley began at the College, he faced a list of urgent matters, including finalizing fast-track accreditation, addressing a $7 million budget shortfall his first day on the job (through a multi-year budget realignment process), and the need to begin a process of curricular innovation that would distinguish the College.
Under his guidance, Antioch has articulated its distinctive vision for a new kind of college—a college of action—where students own their education, learn experientially, and act for justice. To provide that maximum agency to students and to address to the pressing realities of small colleges, he supported a faculty-led reworking of the curriculum and academic calendar, and worked with the community and Board to increase and strengthen shared governance (including the addition of students and staff to the Board of Trustees and giving all stakeholders the power to vote).
Dr. Manley also advocated for the return of the Community Manager position—a role which was critical to the execution of Antioch’s community governance model for decades—which will be reinstated effective August 10. He has also overseen a fundraising effort many larger and better-resourced schools would envy, raising close to $50 million over the last four and a half years.
He has championed the notion of college and university campuses as anchors of resilience for their communities, and actively sought to further Antioch’s historic commitment to shared governance, social justice, and educational equity. During his presidency, diversity in the administration and on the Board has increased, and, despite budget reductions, positions to better support diversity, equity, and inclusion programming have been created.
Continuing to Build Momentum
In his final year, Dr. Manley will focus his efforts on securing the resources, visibility, and key partnerships needed to ensure the success of Antioch College Works (ACW). Announced in December, ACW addresses the affordability, accessibility, and value of the applied liberal arts with a program providing guaranteed full-tuition scholarships to Pell-eligible students, real-world work experience and preparedness for all students through campus and community jobs, and both international and post-graduate job placements. The ACW program has drawn a strong response from prospective students and donors with enrollment projected to more than double for the fall, and giving for related scholarships totaling $2 million.
“I am very excited by the opportunity to focus on that groundbreaking program in the coming year. There’s lots to do,” Manley said.
Lynch added, “We are glad to have one more year of Tom’s characteristically collaborative leadership as Antioch continues to face daunting challenges, and I take this opportunity to assure you that the Board is determined to continue the vital work of bringing Antioch College forward in a world that needs it now more than ever.”
The Antioch College Board of Trustees will announce a presidential transition plan in the fall. “Tom’s leadership has prepared a clear path for the next chapter of Antioch’s life,” said Lynch.