YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio – October 14, 2010 – Mark Roosevelt, the finalist for the presidency of Antioch College, spoke October 13 to a room of alumni, former and retired faculty, staff and community members about his work as a legislator and education administrator, and about his desire to lead the college to full revival.
Roosevelt, the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, told the audience of 125 gathered in South Hall's Herndon Gallery that he believed “something pretty wonderful” is possible with the reopening of the College. But he warned expectations must be realistic and not simply aspirational.
“A large part of our work will be in defining the new Antioch,” Roosevelt said. “Honoring Antioch’s incredible history and legacy, but defining Antioch’s competitive place. What is the niche?”
Roosevelt said Antioch must “reassert its absolute dedication to excellence in every single way.”
That is not to suggest that that has not always been Antioch’s sense of its self, he said, but the reopening, the rebuilding allows for a “rededication to the goal of excellence.”
After a six month search led by a Board-appointed committee of alumni and the hired search firm Isaacson, Miller, Roosevelt emerged as the sole finalist when a second candidate withdrew from the process. His public meeting came after a full day of meetings with key College staff, including: Interim President Matthew A. Derr, who he could succeed as CEO of the college; the Director of Work and the Morgan E. Fellows, former college faculty who are working with Derr to write a curriculum for the independent college; advancement staff, and others.
“I enjoyed interacting with the alumni, former faculty and employees of the college,” Roosevelt said following the one-hour forum at which he fielded a series of questions about his interest in the position, his work experience, and his plans for the college's future. “The interchange was insightful and engaging. Should I be appointed, I look forward to engaging this community as we work toward rebuilding this college.”
The Pro Tem Board of Trustees has asked Antioch College alumni and other members of the community to provide feedback by completing a survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Antioch-College-presidential-feedback.
Roosevelt holds a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College. He is a graduate of the Broad Urban Superintendent's Academy, an intensive executive management program designed to prepare educators and professionals from other fields to lead large city school systems. He has taught political science at Brandeis University, where he was also the director of the Gordon Public Policy Center, and currently teaches a course on the intersection of American history and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz Graduate School of Public Policy.
As a Massachusetts state representative, Roosevelt chaired the Education Committee, where he guided passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993, a landmark legislation providing the equitable resources and accountability measures necessary for school improvement. Roosevelt was also the lead sponsor of the 1989 Massachusetts Gay Rights Bill. In 1994, Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts.
After leading Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, a publicly and privately funded nonprofit economic development agency, and acting as the managing director for the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Roosevelt was appointed the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in August of 2005.
Since that time he has pursued an aggressive reform agenda called "Excellence for All." Four years later, the district has a comprehensive plan to maximize effective teaching that is one of only four such efforts to win support through a highly competitive $40 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; a nationally recognized program to recruit, train, support and compensate principals as instructional leaders; a new, more rigorous curriculum; and several new school models, including eight "Accelerated Learning Academies" for many of the district's most underserved students.
He is also the founder of The Pittsburgh Promise, a ground-breaking initiative that has already raised $150 million to guarantee as much as $10,000 per year in college scholarship dollars for PPS graduates who earn a GPA of 2.5 or better. The Promise now provides scholarships to over 1800 PPS graduates from the 2008 and 2009 graduating classes.
About Antioch College
Originally founded in 1850, Antioch College redefined liberal arts education in the 20th century by initiating an entrepreneurial and experiential curriculum through the development of its hallmark cooperative work program. Many of the now-common elements of today's liberal arts education - self-designed majors, study abroad, interdisciplinary study, and portfolio evaluation - had an early start at Antioch College. Ownership of Antioch College was transferred from Antioch University to the Antioch College Continuation Corporation in September 2009. The newly independent College will admit its first class in the fall of 2011.
Gariot P. Louima
Chief Communications Officer