Horace was right! Antioch is more than a University; it’s a 167 year old democracy project. He understood that without democracy there can be no social justice, and that without education there could be no viable democracy. So he fought for a system of free and universal public education. At the time, such a notion was as controversial as universal health care is today. But, he understood that if the affairs of government are to be left to citizens and their elected representatives, they needed to be able to think, analyze, reflect, and act with care and reason.
Education could not just be the luxury of the wealthy elite. In his dedication remarks for the first “normal school” in Boston in 1846, he writes words that have an eerily familiar ring, given the current political climate:
Neither the art of printing (free speech), nor the trial by jury, nor a free press, nor free suffrage, can long exist, to any beneficial and salutary purpose, without schools and the schools for the training of teachers.
For if the character and qualifications of teachers be allowed to degenerate, the Free Schools will become pauper schools, and the pauper schools will produce pauper souls, and the free press will become a false and licentious press, and ignorant voters will become venal voters, and through the guise of republican forms, an oligarchy of profligate and flagitious men will govern the land.
Furthermore, as a lawyer, he understood that democracy depended on a deep commitment to the rule of law, and that the rule of law depended on a deep and abiding respect for facts, and science and human knowledge, that only education can engender, and education should not end at grammar school. So, shortly thereafter, he came to Yellow Springs, Ohio to continue his work in democracy building at the University level. Here, he demanded that an education be informed by the perspectives of others in a diverse and inclusive learning environment not limited by gender, race, creed, color or other immutable qualities. Under his leadership, Antioch was open to both sexes and all races—110 years before that same result would be required by federal legislation.
In these pages, you will read a compelling and more detailed tribute to Horace Mann written and presented at graduation by Laurien Alexandre, Provost of the Graduate School of Leadership and Change, describing Horace’s passion for education and his purpose at Antioch. His legacy is our enduring mission. We educate to advance democracy, social justice, and the common good, and to improve humanity at home and abroad.
Our work extends beyond our classrooms and into our communities through engaged scholarship, advocacy, and service. So, you will also read stories about how our students, alumni, and faculty are engaged in important and critical efforts in advancing democracy and social justice and achieving victories for humanity. They are examples of the rich and meaningful work and contributions so many of you have made, and reminders of the importance and stature of the institution Horace helped to create. He would be so proud of what you have all made of his democracy project known as Antioch University.
Please help us continue his legacy by GIVING today and by remembering Antioch University in your estate planning. We need your help to continue the work Horace began.
William R. Groves, J.D.