Mark Roosevelt is Antioch College’s chief executive officer, chief administrative officer, and a member of the faculty of the College.
Since arriving at Antioch College in January 2011, President Roosevelt has worked with the faculty and his administrative team to define a path forward that will reestablish Antioch as a leading national liberal arts college.
The core of his work has been addressing Antioch’s purpose. Antioch College remains committed to its social justice mission, an ethos established by the College’s founding president, Horace Mann, who, during an address in 1859, admonished students to “win some victory for humanity.”
Roosevelt reconfirmed Antioch’s commitment to this mission by articulating a vision for the institution that rests at the heart of its strategic planning, curriculum design, and student and faculty recruitment efforts: Antioch College will be the place where new and better ways of living are discovered as a result of meaningful engagement with the world through intentional linkages between classroom and experiential education.
Under President Roosevelt's leadership, Antioch College has recruited a stellar faculty of scholar-practitioners, who are dedicated to teaching; admitted high-capacity idealistic students a large number of whom come from challenging economic circumstances; began a staged renovation of its 160-year-old campus; and re-established one of the oldest and most robust cooperative education programs in the country.
Rigorous Liberal Arts Education
To deliver on the institution’s academic promise, President Roosevelt, working with faculty and staff, developed a strategic plan that addresses student learning, program assessment, federal and state compliance, and economic sustainability.
“The core of what we need to deliver, I’d argue, is intimacy: quality teaching from quality teachers with whom you get to form a deep relationship,” he told The New York Times Magazine.
The core feature of an Antioch College education is the attention that is paid to each student’s personal and academic growth. The faculty, staff, and administrators of the College are all partners in each student’s journey to graduation. Student leadership skills are built through participation in decision-making, engagement with the broader community, and learning the habits and skills of the workplace through the groundbreaking cooperative education program.
The Antioch College curriculum, which emphasizes language acquisition and Global Seminars focused on urgent international challenges, will enable students to navigate effectively across the boundaries of nation and language.
A core curricular innovation has been the development of a series of Global Seminars on food, water, energy, health, governance, and education. These interdisciplinary, theme-based courses are designed to provide students with a broader understanding of several of the contemporary challenges facing humanity, using economic, social, political, scientific, ethical, and philosophical approaches to problem solving.
New and Better Ways of Living and Learning
Antioch College—an institution that closed in 2008 and re-opened in 2011—is dedicated to modeling new and better ways of living and learning.
Antioch College is now home to the oldest building in the nation renovated to LEED GOLD standards. North Hall, constructed in 1852 as the College’s first dormitory, boasts solar panels and an environmentally friendly geothermal heating and cooling system.
The Science Building, constructed in 1930, underwent modernization and renovation, which includes the installation of green fume hoods. Roosevelt authorized the development of Antioch Farm, a partially student-run enterprise that provides most of the vegetation and poultry to Antioch Kitchens, the on-campus dining halls.
And the cooperative education program—which requires students to complete periods of full-time work in the world outside of campus—launched the Ohio Agrarian Trade (OAT) Partnership, a state-supported enterprise that will result in 52 new co-op jobs for students. The project will increase understanding of the knowledge and skill sets required by employers of Ohio food producers, as well as improve undergraduate curricula relating to food production.
A Remarkable Ability to Get Difficult Things Done
The great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Roosevelt earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Juris Doctor at Harvard University. He was elected to the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature, in 1986, three years after graduating from law school.
As a legislator, he had a remarkable record of achievement. For 28 years, legislation prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations had languished in committee or failed on floor votes. As its new chief sponsor, Roosevelt led an aggressive personal campaign that saw the bill enacted into law in 1989, making Massachusetts only the second state in the nation to enact a Gay Rights Bill.
In 1990, he was appointed chairman of the legislature’s Education Committee, where he was the co-author and chief sponsor of the landmark Education Reform Act of 1993, a national model for comprehensive state action to guarantee school districts the equitable resources and the accountability measures necessary for school improvement. Most observers credit the 1993 Act with the fact that Massachusetts now leads the nation in almost all categories of student and school performance.
In 1994, Roosevelt was the Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts and lost the final election to the Republican incumbent, William Weld.
He served as CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives and as managing director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. He also served as an adjunct professor of politics and head of the Gordon Public Policy Center at Brandeis University.
A graduate of the 2003 Broad Superintendents Academy, Roosevelt served as superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) from 2005 through 2010. At PPS he and the leader of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, John Tarka, created a model for school district reform built on collaboration rather than conflict. The Pittsburgh Public Schools garnered national attention for its efforts and won a major grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a new system to foster and reward teacher effectiveness.
While in Pittsburgh, Roosevelt founded The Pittsburgh Promise and secured one of the largest donations ever to a public school system—a $100 million challenge grant from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Promise has raised more than $175 million to guarantee college scholarships to Pittsburgh students who earn a 2.5 GPA or better. It is the largest program of its kind in the country, having sent over 4,000 young people to college from 2008 through 2012.