Antioch, Otterbein Universities Kick Off National System

The Coalition for the Common Good allows schools to pool their graduate resources while retaining their individual brands.
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Updated on August 18, 2023
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  • Antioch and Otterbein universities officially launched their planned national higher education system in August.
  • The system will allow the schools to pool resources for graduate education while retaining their individual cultures and identities.
  • Antioch University will create a new graduate nursing program building off Otterbein's resources as part of the new system.
  • The programs are also working on a joint MBA program.

Antioch and Otterbein universities officially launched their long-planned national higher education system Tuesday, a move that will allow schools to pool their graduate education resources without abandoning their individual brands.

The Coalition for the Common Good features a dual mission of educating students and advancing "democracy, social, racial, economic, and environmental justice," according to a press release.

The two universities scored approval from the Higher Learning Commission and Ohio Department of Higher Education earlier this summer after initially announcing plans for the new system in 2022. The structure will combine member institutions' graduate programs to create a national graduate division spearheaded by Antioch, which already has a nationwide reach focused on graduate education.

Antioch also plans to create a new graduate school of nursing to build on health sciences and nursing programs already offered by Otterbein. Those programs will be available at other markets where Antioch operates "as early as fall 2024," according to the release.

The two schools are also working on a joint master of business administration (MBA) program.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, said in the release that the new system "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."

William E. Groves, chancellor of Antioch University, previously told BestColleges that his institution has long been studying trends in higher education — and that those trends suggest a "consolidation" in the sector similar to what has occurred in the U.S. healthcare industry in recent decades.

Antioch and Otterbein wanted to create a system to allow them to share resources while still retaining their own brands and culture.

"We conceived of it as a justice league," Groves said in a previous interview. "A justice and democracy league focused not just on educating for careers and gainful employment, but educating students in the values of social justice and democracy."

Otterbein President John Comerford previously told BestColleges that the national graduate system will allow the school to retain its longstanding undergraduate programs while expanding into a national market focused on adult learners.

"Our universities have moved from being competitors to collaborators for the betterment of our students and communities," Comerford said in the release.

In addition to advancing social justice goals, Comeford said in the release that the Coalition for the Common Good would be a boon to workforce development across the country.

"The Coalition is both nimble enough to meet the workforce development needs of niche, startup and family-owned business, and scalable to provide affordable workplace education programs for regional and national corporations," Comerford said in the release.

"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 value of a liberal arts education, and the long-term return on investment that comes with it, is key to the new national system. Comerford told BestColleges in 2022 that a liberal arts education will prepare students for rapidly changing industries.

"I just can't imagine a career that isn't going to be totally different in 10 years, much less the arc of a 40-year career," he said. "And so what the liberal arts is, is it's a toolbox. If it's a training program, you're being given one tool. So we're training you how to use a wrench, and that prepares you for a job that requires a wrench, and that's great. But eventually, that job will change."

But the Coalition for the Common Good has selling points beyond return on investment and career advancement. Groves underscored the importance of equity and advancing social justice in the release.

"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," Groves said. "Antioch University and Otterbein University are proud to lead in this important work."