Otterbein University and Antioch University Establish Coalition for the Common Good
Posted Aug 15, 2023
Today Otterbein University and Antioch University announced the creation of 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.
At a time when divisive politics drives our nation and higher education is under attack for its work in building diverse, equitable, inclusive communities, the coalition is standing up for the common good. “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,” explains William R. Groves, J.D., chancellor of Antioch University and vice president of the Coalition. “Antioch University and Otterbein University are proud to lead in this important work.”
“The histories of our institutions are deeply rooted in providing equal access to all learners,” said John Comerford, Ph.D., president of Otterbein University and the newly appointed president of the Coalition for the Common Good. “Otterbein and Antioch were among the first colleges in pre-Civil War America to enroll Black students and women to learn side-by-side with white, male students and today Antioch and Otterbein continue that same focus of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.”
“The Coalition for the Common Good offers an exciting, innovative model of excellence for revolutionizing and reimagining higher education in ways that position all students for success in work, citizenship, and life in the 21st century,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Required approvals from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) came earlier this summer. The Coalition for the Common Good will expand to include other colleges and universities that share the universities’ long-standing commitments to preserving democracy, furthering social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, and providing access to those seeking to advance their lives and communities through education.
Built on the faculty expertise of both institutions, the Coalition combines members’ graduate programs to form a graduate division with a national scope, operated by Antioch University.
“Our universities have moved from being competitors to collaborators for the betterment of our students and communities,” said Comerford.
“We will leverage what each institution does best by bringing Otterbein programs to Antioch’s markets and Antioch’s programs to Otterbein’s central Ohio market. We will also collaborate on building or acquiring new programs that will benefit our students,” Groves added.
Planning is also underway for the creation of 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 to other markets where Antioch Univeristy operates as early as fall 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.
The innovative structure of the system allows Otterbein and future member institutions to keep their distinctive undergraduate programs and brand identities, while benefitting from the scale of the national graduate division. “We have data that incoming undergraduate students value the idea of enrolling as a first year student at Otterbein knowing they are on a direct path to a graduate or professional degree from Antioch,” Comerford said.
The Coalition for the Common Good is already making a difference for the communities it serves. Among the first benefits presented by this unique affiliation is the opportunity to increase enrollment from Ohio in Antioch’s nationally accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program to help meet Ohio’s extensive needs for mental health counselors. The universities are building an undergraduate CMHC early admission pathway that will allow Otterbein undergraduates to take three graduate CMHC courses while obtaining their undergraduate degree, and then move directly into the CMHC graduate program, reducing time to degree and saving students money. Early Admission pathways in Art Therapy and the MBA are in the planning stage, with expectations of more pathways to follow.
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,” stated 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 HLC 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.
About Antioch University
Antioch University was founded in 1852 in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Its first President was Horace Mann, the father of public education in the United States who deeply believed that education was the cornerstone of a strong American democracy. Antioch’s mission is to provide learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. Today, Antioch is a national university with campuses in Keene, NH; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA; Seattle, WA; and Yellow Springs, OH, as well as numerous low-residency and online programs. It enrolls close to 4,000 post-traditional age students in a wide variety of professional doctoral and master’s programs, an undergraduate degree completion program, professional certificates, and endorsements. A bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education, Antioch University is a private, nonprofit institution and has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1927. Two of Antioch’s graduates have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, Mario Capecchi (B.S. 1961), co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and José Manuel Ramos-Horta (M.A., Peace Studies, 1984), co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, and later President of East Timor, (now Timor-Leste) (2007-2012 and 2022-present). To learn more about Antioch University, visit antioch.edu.
Note: Antioch University and Antioch College separated in 2009 and now operate independently. The College was an operating unit of Antioch University. It was separately incorporated in 2009 and now licenses the name “Antioch College” from the University. Antioch College is not affected in any way by this affiliation.
About Otterbein University
Otterbein University is nationally recognized for its intentional blending of liberal arts and professional studies through its renowned Integrative Studies curriculum and its commitments to experiential learning and community engagement. From its founding in 1847, Otterbein University has operated on the principle that an educated citizenry would benefit the community. The collaboration that has grown from that foundation is most readily expressed in The Point, a 21st century incubator to economic innovation. Bringing education, industry and government together, The Point advances concepts from ideation to the marketplace. Otterbein students receive experiential learning opportunities from community service to internships, while Otterbein prepares the employees of today and tomorrow with its new Otterbein READY career and professional preparation program. Otterbein was the first university in Ohio to be selected by the American Association of Colleges and Universities to host a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center. Otterbein is recognized by Colleges of Distinction, with additional Field of Study recognition in business, education, engineering, nursing and career development. U.S. News Best Colleges ranks Otterbein in the top 10 among its peers overall and in the Most innovative Schools and Best Undergraduate Teaching categories. Otterbein has approximately 2,100 undergraduate and 250 graduate students enrolled in its more than 60 undergraduate majors; six master’s programs; and doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). Its picturesque campus is perfectly situated in Westerville, Ohio, just minutes from Columbus. To learn more about Otterbein, visit otterbein.edu.