The most recent recovery plan failed when the students stopped arriving, but it was only the final act in a strategic plan set in motion decades ago, which has also had the effect of reducing and now eliminating tenured faculty positions from the staff.
An article in the Chronicle of Education (Scott Carlson) unearthed different viewpoints on the recently announced closing of Antioch College (part of Antioch University EIN 31-0536640 Form 990). Notably, the report quotes college president Steven Lawry citing the "toxic politics" on campus as a cause of the college's final decline:
Mr. Lawry, who came from the Ford Foundation, says that by the time he arrived, the college was in the grip of radically leftist students, intolerant of other views. "It chased off students and had a deleterious effect," he says. "The adults were looking the other way."
A steep decline in enrollment caused the most recent financial recovery plan to stall. Enrollment was at 571 in 2003, far from a goal of 800 set in the late 1990s. But by 2005 it had dropped to 377, then 330 in 2006, and 307 for the term staring this fall. The resulting deficits and meager endowment led to the board decision to shutter the college, hoping to reopen in 2012.
In the wider view, the closure of the college is the culmination of a strategic decision made back in the 1960s to move the institution in the direction of adult education and graduate programs. As a result, Antioch University now has campuses in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California, Keene, New Hampshire, Seattle. In addition, there is Antioch McGregor, an adult learning campus that is located on a separate campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is not closing. In fact, it will be moving to a new location on the west side of town this fall.
Inside Higher Education, an on-line news source, offers a somewhat plausible explanation for the puzzling decision by Antioch University to compete with itself. Neither McGregor nor any of the other new campuses have any tenured faculty among its 131 full-time and 290 part-time staff, while the college had 26 tenured and 13 tenure-track positions and no part-time faculty. This article also points out that the announced intention to reopen the college after four years will have a tenure-busting effect, since any college closing for fiscal reasons has an obligation to rehire tenured staff if it reopens within three years, under guidelines of the American Association of University Professors (EIN 53-0196570 Form 990).
The college denies that theory, and I'm inclined to doubt it, because it didn't seem that the faculty of the college was keeping the rest of the institution from carrying out its programs.
More to the point would be the fact that the college never made its peace with the need to raise funds to keep its physical plant up to date. The idea the that the other campuses would support the college proved to be unrealistic. Yet the college didn't hire a development director until last year.