Otterbein and Antioch University Create the Coalition for the Common Good

Posted Aug 24, 2023

Otterbein University and Antioch University have created the Coalition for the Common Good, the first national higher education system of affiliated universities organized around a shared mission of educating students not only to advance their careers, but to promote our pluralistic democracy, social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, and the common good.

On Aug. 15, Otterbein president John Comerford, the newly named president of the Coalition, and Antioch Chancellor William Groves, the Coalition’s vice president, came together to announce the launch of the Coalition and discuss its role in fixing the problems in higher education today.

“We need to shift our mindset and work together as a sector to serve more students and create more opportunities,” said Comerford. “Through collaboration, rather than competition, Otterbein and Antioch University can bring transformational change to communities by providing affordable education to more students in more locations.”

The Coalition for the Common Good will expand to include other colleges and universities from across the nation that share our long-standing commitments to preserving democracy, furthering social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, and in providing access to those seeking to advance their lives and communities through education.

“Higher education owes our nation more than career preparation. It requires that we educate students to be engaged global citizens and critical thinkers who are seekers of facts and truth, respectful of history, scholarly research, and science, and who are advocates for democracy, civil rights, human rights, and the rule of law,” said Groves.

Among the first benefits is the opportunity to bring Antioch University’s nationally accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program to Otterbein’s campus in Ohio, increasing enrollment while training counselors to address the state’s mental health needs.

“There may not be a higher demand in employment right now than in mental health counseling professionals. We are bringing Antioch’s long-established and distinguished program to central Ohio for the first time to meet this urgent need,” Comerford said. 

The Coalition is building an undergraduate CMHC Early Admission pathway that will allow Otterbein undergraduates take three CMHC graduate courses prior to obtaining their undergraduate degree and then move directly into the CMHC program, reducing time to degree and student cost. Planning is underway for Early Admission pathways in Art Therapy and the MBA, with expectations of more pathways to follow.

The Coalition for the Common Good unites Otterbein’s and Antioch’s graduate programs to form a graduate division with a national scope. This division will be operated by Antioch University and will build on the faculty expertise of both institutions. Planning is underway to create a new Graduate School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Antioch that will expand the graduate Nursing, Allied Health, and Athletic Training programs currently offered by Otterbein, bringing these degree programs to other regions where Antioch operates as early as the fall of 2024. A new Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics degree is also being designed for launch by the Coalition. Additionally, the two universities are completing work on a joint MBA program and exploring opportunities in graduate education programs.

Unbound by geography, Coalition for the Common Good will use the combined resources of the member institutions to develop and deliver targeted educational and professional development programs that meet unique requirements of our communities through academic partnerships with local businesses and employers.

“The Coalition is both nimble enough to meet the workforce development needs of niche, start up and family-owned business, and scalable to provide affordable workplace education programs for regional and national corporations,” Comerford said, noting that programming will be offered across a variety of learning modalities. “These programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of the employer, inviting those businesses to share in the cost of that education, improving access and affordability of higher education.”

The new system is much more than just a solution for the workforce development needs of the region and nation. It is about education for a more just society.

“This is the first system to be created in which the affiliate institutions are bound by a common mission of educating for social justice and a commitment to building and preserving democracy. This mission-driven system could not come at a more important inflection point in our nation’s history,” said Groves. “Democracy cannot survive without social justice, and social justice cannot be achieved without a strong democracy. These are American values and they are our values.”

The Coalition will also work over next few years to build a robust shared services organization that will help reduce operational costs to all member institutions.

Governed by a nine-member Board of Directors, the Coalition for the Common Good has four directors appointed by each of the institutions and a ninth member, not affiliated with either university, appointed by the Board. The system is designed to allow for the addition of new members based on institutional mission alignment, geographic diversity, and complimentary academic programs.

The creation of the Coalition for the Common Good comes after more than two years of planning by the institutions involving senior leaders, faculty and staff working groups, and even student input on the new system’s proposed mission. This spring, the institutions successfully underwent a change of control, structure or organization review by the Higher Learning Commission and the Ohio Department of Education which included a day and a half in-person meeting with system leadership and faculty and staff from both institutions.

Watch the announcement and learn more at the Coalition for the Common Good announcement website.