Welcome to The Higher Edge Podcast!
Jan. 31, 2023

Founding a Nationwide University System for Democracy and Social Justice (featuring Bill Groves and John Comerford)

In 2019, Bill Groves (https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-r-groves-23814527/), Chancellor of Antioch University (https://www.antioch.edu/), and the school’s board agreed that affiliation was key to advancing their mission of social justice. Their searc...

In 2019, Bill Groves, Chancellor of Antioch University, and the school’s board agreed that affiliation was key to advancing their mission of social justice. Their search for a sister school ultimately led them to their very own backyard in Ohio as John Comerford, President of Otterbein University, and his peers answered the call.

Together, these institutions are forming a perfect partnership built on strengthening the future of our nation’s foundation of democracy and social justice. Bill and John share how this union came to pass and how it will benefit their institutions, this nation, and the higher education landscape.

Join us as we discuss:

  • The schools’ founding principles and parallel missions for justice (6:13)
  • Why Antioch began their affiliate search and Otterbein’s selection (11:18)
  • The higher ed community’s reaction to the schools’ partnership (25:07)

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Welcome to The Higher Edge, a podcast for the brightest minds in higher education. Hear from the change makers and rulebreakers that are driving meaningful, impactful change for colleges and universities across the country. From improving operations to supporting student success. These are the stories that give you, “The Higher Edge”.

[00:00:30] And now your host, Brendan Aldrich.

[00:00:31] Brendan Aldrich: Hey everyone, and welcome to The Higher Edge. I'm Brendan Aldridge and I'm here today with John Comerford, president of Otterbine University in Westerville, Ohio, and Bill Groves, chancellor of Antioch University. Now, if Otterbein University's location in Westerville, Ohio seems familiar.

[00:00:50] It could be because it's been ranked as one of America's best suburbs has appeared on Money Magazine's List of the top 100 Best Places to Live, and for those who may remember the [00:01:00] television show, glee Westerville, Ohio is also the location of the Dalton Academy Warblers, the fictional competing choir to the main cast.

[00:01:09] Now an Antioch University. Well, Lauren Pope, who is the author of Colleges that Change Lives said. There is no university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person's life, or that creates more effective adults than does Antioch College. Antioch is an institution that provides its students with a, a transformative education in a global context that fosters innovation and inspires social action.

[00:01:35] Now, in fact, both institutions have strong reputations for advancing social, racial and environmental justice. And earlier this year, Announced a groundbreaking partnership to form the nucleus of a new, nationwide nonprofit university system comprised of institutions that are committed to advancing social justice, democracy, and the common good.

[00:01:57] John Bill, thank you for coming onto the program [00:02:00] and welcome to the Higher Edge. 

[00:02:01] John Comerford: Thank you, brendan. After that introduction, we're gonna renew your membership in the Westerville Chamber of Commerce here in. That was great, . 

[00:02:09] Brendan Aldrich: Well, thanks. Hey guys, I know we're gonna dive more deeply into your collaboration in a moment.

[00:02:14] But first I'm hoping you'll share a little bit about your backgrounds with our audience. Uh, bill, for example, how did you, uh, how did you find your path leading you into becoming Antioch University's chancellor?

[00:02:24] Bill Groves: Thanks, Brendan. Uh, it was all a very unplanned scenario. I had graduated from Ohio State Law School and started to apply for jobs.

[00:02:33] One of them I was most interested in was a firm in Springfield, Ohio that just happened to represent Antioch University and had done so since the 19. So, um, that was the firm I joined in 1979. Uh, I remember one of my first client, uh, engagements was on the college campus in 1979. First time I had ever heard of Antioch and walked onto [00:03:00] what was then the college campus here in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

[00:03:04] Um, and from there, I, I spent the next 35. practicing law, most of it, higher education, education, law, K through 12 as well. And Antioch was one of those clients, uh, in the higher education sector. Fast forward 2007, the board decided that the college was failing. Rest of the university was doing quite well, but the original college campus in Yellow Springs was failing.

[00:03:33] I spent the next three years of my life. , uh, winding down the affairs of the college and drafting the documents that resulted in that campus being taken over by a new corporation, uh, owned by alumni of the college. Thereafter, I was asked to come in house. I was leaving the firm after 30 some years of practice to start what was then the first Office of [00:04:00] General counsel for the Univers.

[00:04:02] Um, I will never forget the partners meeting where I made that announcement and one of them asked, well, where do you see yourself in five years? And another partner who did a lot of Antioch work as well and had been my mentor for many years, said He'll be chancellor in five years. Never contemplated that.

[00:04:20] Uh, laughed at it. And then five years later, I was Chancellor . So I am this very non-traditional. Uh, higher education president. About 15% of higher education presidents are lawyers, uh, have their jd, not their PhD. Wow. But I remind people that the first president Horace Mann was a 

[00:04:43] lawyer. Interesting. And then, uh, John, your path to becoming, uh, 

[00:04:47] John Comerford: president.

[00:04:47] Yeah. Well, I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on tv, so there's something there, and, and, 

[00:04:52] Brendan Aldrich: or, or maybe you stated a, a holiday in express. I did. 

[00:04:54] John Comerford: Uh, well, you know, all of that goes together and so, um, I guess I [00:05:00] came up very from childhood in higher ed. Both of my parents were college professors and so when my parents couldn't find a babysitter, they gave me a roll of quarters and sent me loose in student.

[00:05:11] and there was a snack bar and a video game arcade and a bowling alley, and I had a blast. And so I very young age just had the run of college campuses. I'm sure the rest of the world is very nice. I've never visited it. I've only been to college campuses, . And so, um, I went to college, majored in political science, thought I'd go to law school, but I had been active in everything.

[00:05:31] I was in student government. I was an ra. I did all. and someone sat me down and said, you know, John, you can get paid to do this for a living. And I said, shut up. That's amazing. I can get paid to go to college for the rest of my life. And so most of my career was in student affairs. I was in res life, I was a dean of students.

[00:05:48] I, I was Dean Warmer from Animal House. It was, it was the peak. That was, that was the goal. It was then that I had a president say, you know, you'd be a good president and move me over to Advancement where I learned the fundraising and alumni. [00:06:00] And, uh, then I became president of Blackburn College and now President of Otterbine.

[00:06:04] And here we 

[00:06:05] Brendan Aldrich: are, guys. I mentioned in the introduction that both institutions have a commitment to social justice and democracy. I was hoping you might be able to tell us more about that and how it shapes your approach to higher 

[00:06:16] John Comerford: education. So, I, I, Otterbine has this remarkable history and it's funny, we compare Otterbine and Antioch founded within a few years of each other and very parallel in a lot of ways, but, First College founded in the country co-ed.

[00:06:29] Um, first to put women and men in the same classrooms in the same curriculum. First to put women on the faculty. Uh, first we recruited students of color before the Civil War, Japanese Americans out of internment camps during World War ii. I mean, not perfect history. There's lots of things in between there.

[00:06:45] We didn't quite get quite right, but a genuine commitment to inclusivity and a genuine commitment to higher education being a vehicle for equity in our. And if higher education becomes [00:07:00] a vehicle only open to those who already have means those who already have all the benefits of society, then I think American democracy fails.

[00:07:08] I, I, I think our role as that gatekeeper is critically important and what drives this partnership with Antioch is this is a way to serve more deserving students who otherwise have not been well served by American higher education. We've gotta get that right. 

[00:07:23] Brendan Aldrich: Fantastic. And, The 

[00:07:25] Bill Groves: trajectory of Antioch and Otterbine are so similar.

[00:07:28] Antioch was founded by a church like Otterbine. There were several trustees who built three buildings in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the original historic buildings on this campus. Before there was ever an effort to do enrollment before there was ever a president. And once those buildings were done, they had basically exhausted their resources.

[00:07:50] Um, now they need to. And they went out to find a president. And at that time, and we're talking about [00:08:00] 1852 hos, Mann had just opened his first common schools, uh, in Massachusetts. They were the precursor to the American Public Education System. They were the public education system of Massachusetts and a ho man.

[00:08:21] Regarded as the father of public education. Um, up until then, education was done by churches reserved for the elite. But ho man strongly believed that education was the cornerstone of democracy. Um, and he fought hard for an establishment of a public education system funded by the government, which at that time was as controversial as universal healthcare is today.

[00:08:50] not just public education, but one which was diverse co-educational in which students of color and students of both genders were in the [00:09:00] same classroom. That was unusual as well. And they set off to Boston to go talk to him. There was no internet , there were no phones. So they got in their buggies and they literally stopped the man in Boston until they convinced him to come back to Yellow Springs to become the first president of Antioch University, Antioch College at that time.

[00:09:22] Uh, why he decided to jump from his efforts at public education? Of course, he was an ardent abolitionist and served in Congress at the same. that Abraham Lincoln was in Congress at his last graduation speech. He remarked, and this has been kind of the motto of Antioch ever since to the graduates and admonished them to be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

[00:09:49] Brendan Aldrich: Which ties in to the announcement that you both made this last July, that your institutions had agreed to form the core of a new nationwide nonprofit university system committed to these. [00:10:00] Now I, I kind of pictured the two of you maybe hanging out in a local pub and talking it out, uh, the idea out over a couple of beers, but I'm sure that's probably not exactly how it 

[00:10:09] Bill Groves: happened.

[00:10:09] You know, we had been exploring the possibility of affiliation for several years. There had been a number of schools that had knocked on our door, and I think in a very kind of reactive way, we examined those opportunities. They were really business opportunities. They were schools. Failing for one reason or another, we'd kind of turned away from all of those opportunities and decided, well, if we're going to be successful with this ever, we ought to be more strategic about it, more proactive than reactive.

[00:10:39] And the board met in, uh, October of 2019 and agreed that we would, um, initiate a process with consultants to do really a survey of the entire higher educational landscape and think about in a more strategic. Who do we want to affiliate with and what would be [00:11:00] the criteria for affiliation in that meeting?

[00:11:03] The board and the faculty convened together in kind of a weekend long retreat, and we knew there were models of this kind of affiliation out there in higher ed. They all seem to be premised on a business model that bigger was better, but there didn't seem to be any undergird. Mission alignment. So we agreed at that meeting that our affiliation needed to be on a strong foundation of social justice and democracy.

[00:11:38] That we wanted a affiliation, a system in which all the institutions were joined together in a common mission of educating not just for careers, but for social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, all. Social justice elements for the common good, which we are [00:12:00] all, you know, as nonprofits required to do and for democracy.

[00:12:05] And by then of course, we knew that we were at a very serious inflection point in this country around the issue of democracy. We sent out 60 some invitations to institutions to have a conversation to sign an nda. And that process, uh, then culminated in 13 letters of. From institutions including Otterbein, a series of interviews, and it all ended up boiling down to one institution, and that was Otterbein universe today because of mission, because of the academic synergies of that institution and the financial strength of that institution.

[00:12:41] But our histories could not be more parallel. We could not be more excited about finding that partner who I think really expresses the kind of Antioch mission in the way that. 

[00:12:52] Brendan Aldrich: Hey, for everyone listening, hang tight. We're gonna take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and we'll be back in just one minute.[00:13:00] 

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[00:14:02] Brendan Aldrich: Thanks so much for listening to our sponsor. Let's get back to the show. Always kind of amazing, this kind of a nationwide or even global search sometimes to wind up finding your partner practically down street.

[00:14:11] Practically down the 

[00:14:12] Bill Groves: street. We are like 54 miles apart. , uh, I did not know that Washer was the center of a Glee episode or whatever, but, uh, um, it is, um, just near us, very close to us with Columbus. 

[00:14:27] Brendan Aldrich: and, and John, what was that like? I imagine it must be a little strange. They, I'm sure couldn't share a lot of information in the initial email, so you're sort of receiving this message.

[00:14:37] John Comerford: That's right. And Bill's subscription is great because it's sort of like we won the dating show, right? We narrowed down , it's, and we finally, we got the rose at the end. So it was very exciting. And I gotta say that initial outreach is, is you get an email from a consultant, and we've gotten several through the pandemic like this, and it's pretty vague.

[00:14:53] Uh, hey, there's, there's a school looking for partner. Can't tell you anything until you sign an nda, and I wonder how many institutions just [00:15:00] ignored the email or went into junk or whatever it was, and and missed out on opportunities as a result, we, especially in the last three years, have gotten a lot of phone calls from a lot of institutions.

[00:15:10] Some outreach from consultants, just a, some direct president to president. The pandemic has hit higher ed hard in a lot of respects, and there's a lot of schools out there looking for new business models, for new revenue streams, for, for shared services and greater efficiencies. And all these things are sort of in the water right now.

[00:15:26] And so we had a, a number of these conversations about different forms of partnership and Antioch for. Rose to the top of that list. We're still in some of these other conversations, right? There's some of those ideas are still percolating along, but we decided to start with Antioch because the idea here is we're such a good match because we have such common mission, but such different program.

[00:15:50] Right. Antioch University is an adult education focused organization with five campuses, coast. Otterbine is a [00:16:00] primarily 18 to 22 year old residential traditional liberal arts campus. And so there's not a lot of overlap. And so when you look at market opportunities, ways to serve more students, if you can leverage those resources against each other, what Otterbine does at Antioch sites, what Antioch does at the Otterbine site, that opens up a lot of doors.

[00:16:20] And then what's most exciting to. Is that rather than just a, a merger or whatever where we end up with an otter by undergraduate school and an Antioch graduate school, you end up with a system here where there are lots of schools like Otterbein out there that are primarily your 18 to 22 old, two year old traditional campus that wanna be in the adult market, but are not well set up for it that can join this, this group, uh, this system were created and create Antioch University as a real.

[00:16:50] Institution, even more national. It is now with all sorts of locations and all sorts of programs leveraging these sites and programs that you can gather from institutions like Otterbine and [00:17:00] Scale in that area without giving up the small intimate campus we have here in Westerville. And so it's a little like having your cake and eating it too.

[00:17:07] And that's the reason this rose to the top of our list. Which 

[00:17:09] Brendan Aldrich: is a great point that you make. Institutions of higher education are sometimes like a, a study in uniqueness. I mean, every institution has its own story. Its culture, it's, uh, expertise that expresses itself in everything that they do. And you've talked about how it's a priority for, uh, every institution in this new system to be supported and retain that uniqueness.

[00:17:31] Um, but when we talk about scale and some of the purposes is, is that, does that become a. When it also comes to finding more consistency in the ways that you operate to capitalize on that scale, for example. So that's a 

[00:17:43] John Comerford: great and insightful question. I will say, first of all, one of the great problems with American higher education right now is we're all trying to be all things to all people, and that means we're really bad at helping students find their match, right?

[00:17:56] Otterbine is fantastic, but we are not for everybody, [00:18:00] right? We don't have any program under the sun. We, if you don't want a residential, There are all sorts of great institutions out there for you, big Publix, community colleges, trade schools, you name it. It's about finding the match for you as opposed to each institution feeling like it has to be all things to all people.

[00:18:17] And so this allows a school like Otterbine to focus on the traditional undergraduate that we're so great with, but then be a part of this system where we do adult education at scale and graduate degree completion certification programs, things like that. And, and to your question about how do you. . The idea here is the undergraduate programs, the traditional undergrad programs remain distinct.

[00:18:38] There is no merger of curriculum here. We're separately accredited institutions. What an 18 to 22 year old is doing at Otterbine or any other small college that might be looking at joining up with this system, that doesn't really change. There's some new opportunities involved for them, but the fundamental of it doesn't change.

[00:18:56] We then, importantly, do all adult education [00:19:00] together through. And so Otter Binds graduate programs will become Antioch programs and, and we have to create a system where we're not competing with each other in that space. And so we can't have one school with their graduate nursing program and us with our graduate nursing program, and we're all competing with each other.

[00:19:17] We have to align around adult education. So that's a premise of what we're building, a separate traditional undergrad with a unified adult education system. One of the 

[00:19:25] Bill Groves: factors though, we were taking into consideration, Search in our efforts to find an affiliate partner was Synergy. We didn't want another, uh, institution just like Antioch, that would not have been accretive.

[00:19:38] We used to have an undergraduate, you know, traditional undergraduate campus, the original Antioch College. Um, but Antioch today is exclusively an adult learning institution. Our average student is 35, has two kids, and is a soccer mom. 75% of them are. , which is not unusual in graduate programs. [00:20:00] Um, in addition, a mission, I think we both saw that the synergies between our two institutions, this traditional undergraduate campus and this adult facing kind of learning environment at Antioch graduate programs and degree completion provided opportunities for students that they didn't otherwise.

[00:20:20] So think about this as a three plus two. So doing, uh, undergraduate and graduate programs in a year, less time with a year less cost than they might have experienced. Uh, were we not partners and affiliates together? Um, in addition, uh, there are programs that we can bring to Ohio, uh, uh, in the Columbus market that we do not currently have here.

[00:20:44] Especially, um, I think in the areas of psychology counseling, the. , very, um, very much in demand in that market, uh, but also education business, uh, in the, in the graduate program, which will provide opportunities for those [00:21:00] otterbine students, um, and expand our mission to a new geography. So geographical diversity will improve Otterbein programs.

[00:21:09] Uh, there are a number that are graduate level programs, especially in nursing. Um, uh, and we can take those programs to new markets where we're currently located in California, uh, Seattle, Washington and, and New England. Um, so, uh, the synergy and the opportunity expand what we currently do well, um, and leverage those opportunities is an economic benefit, but also a benefit in terms of opportunities to our students and that I.

[00:21:42] It's kind of the underlying basis of this system, which I think distinguishes it from some other systems that preceded us, where I believe, you know, the affiliates in those systems were more boats on their own bottom. They didn't really integrate or think about leveraging the academic [00:22:00] programs from one institution to another.

[00:22:03] They operate pretty much the way they did, but under one business umbrella, and I think this is more of an. leveraging effort than has been seen in higher ed in the past. 

[00:22:14] Brendan Aldrich: Absolutely. Love the approach that, especially as you mentioned, that additive nature of making sure that each college or university is bringing what makes them unique to help support the growth of the system as opposed to just growing for scale and replication now and, and what's happened since the announcement.

[00:22:30] I imagine that there's a ton of work you have to do in order to, to really start expanding or even to to consider including additional. a little bit. , 

[00:22:39] Bill Groves: uh, you know, higher ed is one of the most highly regulated industries in America, probably even more so than banking. Why? Well, because about 80% of our budgets come from direct federal loans to students to pay for their education, and those federal loans come with a lot of purse string.

[00:22:57] So there's a whole area of [00:23:00] law and regulatory, uh, approvals. , uh, for any of these kinds of transactions. And of course the accreditors and the Department of Education are looking at these transactions and their key question is, how will you continue to live up to your obligation to students? Uh, we have current contractual obligations to students.

[00:23:20] Are you gonna be able to fulfill those? They have paid for it and started a degree. They need to be able to complete those. and I think our story to those accreditors and regulators is not only will we will be able to live up to those obligations, we are expanding opportunities for our students beyond what they currently have.

[00:23:39] But it takes time to kind of convey that message. There's a whole process to do so. Um, we are both accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of five regional accreditors in the nation. They're no longer regional, by the way, the notion. Having regions for those accreditors has gone by the wayside in the last couple of years, and they can now [00:24:00] accredit people throughout the country.

[00:24:01] But we are both HLC people and, uh, we're working with HLC in the Chicago office, um, to get through that regulatory and approval process. And that will take until probably, um, June, their June meeting is where we're scheduled to, um, get final. Roll. 

[00:24:20] John Comerford: And there's a theme here. There's lots of lawyers involved in this, and this is, we come back to the beginning here, but there's lots of lawyers on both sides making all this stuff happen.

[00:24:27] The other thing that I would just mention is we've been pleased so far that since our announcement, we have a number of schools that have reached out to us. I think we're up to 17 or 18, something like that. Schools that. Have just sort of reached out. It's not that we're anywhere near agreement or anything like that, but they're just interested, Hey, what is this thing?

[00:24:43] How, how would a new school join? Uh, bill and I were invited to speak at both the CIC President's Institute and the AAC and u meeting. Both happen to be in San Francisco in January until we think as the word spreads when everyone listens this podcast. And frankly, what we've done [00:25:00] is. Sort of given these schools, the information, met with them, we've developed a white paper and signed an NDA so we can share all the, the inside details of this.

[00:25:08] And then we've mostly said, okay, but we've gotta get this transaction done between the two of us probably this summer. And then we will start into a more official process and, and want to even be proactive about what kind of schools we're looking for and reach out to some. And not just wait for schools to come to us.

[00:25:23] And so, but that level of interest is encouraging, but it's also in a lot to manage. It's a lot of meetings and a lot of presidents and a lot of follow up in those conversations, but it's all a good sign. 

[00:25:33] Brendan Aldrich: Well, and I imagine especially, it's not hard to find examples when we look around the world today and we're seeing the, the extreme polarization of our political parties, and we're seeing a lot of the social justice challenges that we're facing as a, as a society and as a, as a.

[00:25:47] that I imagine that that message resonates with a lot of institutions. That idea that, you know what, maybe this is the time for something like this. And I think that's encouraging. I hope that's 

[00:25:56] John Comerford: the case. Yeah. And we have a great diverse landscape of American [00:26:00] higher education, and no one wants to give up their distinctiveness and their mission and their connection to their community, but they also, there's a want to, to make impact.

[00:26:08] There's a want to serve more people and lift more people up and, and change other. And so here's, like I say, that cake and eat it. Two thing where you can, you can still do what you've always done, but be part of this national thing we're trying to build, which is really about giving people those opportunities.

[00:26:23] Brendan Aldrich: Was it Kennedy that quoted that one line that said A rising tide raises all boats? I can't wait to follow along with you both on this journey. It's just really an exciting endeavor. Now, one of the things that I'd love to do on the show is to ask guests if you might have a, a story or an experience from your own lives and.

[00:26:40] That maybe helped you see something a little bit differently, something that might help our listeners do the same thing and, and give them a bit 

[00:26:45] Bill Groves: of the, the higher edge. You know, I landed at Antioch by accident and I never went to Antioch. I did not have a degree from here, but I've gotten a hell of an education from Antioch University.

[00:26:58] Um, maybe it [00:27:00] was fate in some respects, and I've been asked, you know, where I get my social justice leaning. You know, I strongly believe that without democracy, there cannot be social justice, that they go hand in hand. And social justice means many things to different people. My personal experience and journey with social justice has to do with my status as an LGBTQ member.

[00:27:25] Course. I grew up in the sixties and seventies. This was a very different time to be growing up gay, especially with a twin brother who wasn't. I think that as I came to Antioch, I started to. A lot of people who worked there were gay and a lot of people who worked there fought for rights for gays at a time when that was not common.

[00:27:46] Um, I was watching this, the, uh, debates in Congress as they were passing the Respect for Marriage Act a couple weeks ago and saw, um, US representative Vicky [00:28:00] Harlow make her speech, uh, the one that you've probably all seen on the news in which she. Her, her members to vote against this very misguided and dangerous legislation and broke down into tears.

[00:28:12] I was struck by her nephew who made a very impassioned speech in response to his aunt that took a lot of courage. At 24, she reminded me of Anita Bryant, and that's a figure that I grew up with. That is a figure I saw on television, and she kind of had. opportunity because of her status as Miss America to be a very vocal opponent to gay rights at a time when my parents still thought it was a disease.

[00:28:42] So we have, I think, uh, all our own story about what it means to be working for a social justice. My story happens to be around the gay rights movement, which I have fought for and I think will continue to need to fight for. It's [00:29:00] never. And it's like antisemitism comes back. The attacks on the L G B T community will come back.

[00:29:09] Democracy is always needing to be refreshed from one generation to another. I am hopeful that this next generation will do so. I'm proud to be part of an institution that as the forefront of making that happen, 

[00:29:23] Brendan Aldrich: being so driven to become a part of the solution, not just to let the solutions be peed forward by others.

[00:29:30] John Comerford: Well after that Bill, I should have gone first. Who wants to follow that? You just need some patriotic music behind you, and we're all about it. . I, I, I am struck with the power of education to transform lives and transform families and generations to come. And, and I think a lot about my own family in that.

[00:29:47] I mentioned before my parents were both college professors, their parents, my grandparents, none of them had a college. . In fact, I had a grandfather that dropped out in eighth grade cuz it was, it was the Great Depression and someone had to go to work and he was the oldest of [00:30:00] nine kids. And so spent his career in, in steel mills.

[00:30:03] Of those grandparents, none of whom had gone and gotten a bachelor's degree. They so firmly believed in the power of education for their children that that next generation, my parents' generation, every single one of them ended up getting a doctoral degree. Every single one of that next generat. and you can see the trajectory of the family and the success then of my generation and hopefully my kids' generation, that that emphasis on the power of education.

[00:30:33] It was understood in my family, from my grandmother who never went to college, you're going to college, and when, uh, she was in her nineties when I graduated, she made it to 99, and when I called her on graduation day, her reaction was, congratulations. Where are you going to grad school? It was immediate. I, I, I mean, it was just this understood thing.

[00:30:55] And if we can give that opportunity to all those who maybe [00:31:00] haven't had that support, who maybe haven't had those opportunities, who maybe for societal reasons, for financial reasons, for just the intimidation of the idea of going to college, if we can open that door just a little wider, we will change the trajectory of their lives, their family's lives, and the entire community around them.

[00:31:18] If 

[00:31:18] Brendan Aldrich: we can get. I, I think about my own mom, who I think I'd, I'd shared with you both, who was a, a doctor of education who worked at, uh, uc, Riverside as a director of development until she retired. And with all of us kids, it was the same sort of thing. I, I had left school and started working. And then it was always this, when you're going back, when you're going back, you know, you've gotta go get your, your bachelor's degree, you've got, and then, you know, but having that as somebody who went through the educational process as opposed to, you know, really inspirational, to hear about somebody who really didn't do that and didn't have that opportu.

[00:31:48] To really push that next generation, to take that even further. Truly some exciting work, and thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your experiences with us. Thrilled to be here. 

[00:31:57] John Comerford: Thanks for the opportunity. Thank 

[00:31:58] Brendan Aldrich: you, Brandon. [00:32:00] Can't wait to see your progress and the growth of your system. I'm sure it's gonna be a huge amount of work, but so impactful and really, really needed.

[00:32:06] Before our listeners. We've been talking with, uh, John Comerford, president of Otterbein University and Bill Gross, chancellor of Antioch Univers. Hey guys, where can people go to learn more about your universities or even to follow the progress of the new system? 

[00:32:20] Bill Groves: Well, with Antioch, they can go to antioch.edu.

[00:32:23] Uh, that is our website. Um, if they'd like to communicate with me directly and have questions or comments, I can be reached@chancelloratantioch.edu. 

[00:32:34] John Comerford: And for Otterbine, there's lots of information on our our website, otterbine.edu. And then if you wanna reach out to me, my email address is commer, C O M E R F O R D, and the number1@otterbine.edu.

[00:32:46] Brendan Aldrich: Guys, thanks for coming on the show and being a guest with us here on the higher edge. For everyone else, I'm Brendan Aldrich and we'll talk soon. Thanks 

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