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Antioch College Names Dr. Jane Fernandes As New President

Antioch College in Yellow Springs sign with red flowers growing around it.
Antioch College
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Antioch College in Yellow Springs

Dr. Jane Fernandes, formerly of Guilford College, will be the second female president in the college's 168 year history.

Dr. Jane Fernandes is Antioch College's next president. She’ll be the 2nd woman in the role and the first president of the college who’s legally deaf.

Fernandes was selected by a twenty-two person search committee. The committee included alumni, students, faculty and staff, as well as higher education consultants and local non-profit leaders.

Shelby Chestnut is a graduate of Antioch who now serves on the college’s board of trustees. This was the fifth Antioch College presidential search committee Chestnut has been a part of. They say the presidential search committee was impressed with Dr. Fernandes—from the initial interviews all the way through an on-campus visit last month.

“Every interaction she had with the community, I found that she was answering the questions before they were even asked of her and knew really well what we were thinking," Chestnut said. "But also [she] was eager to share her sort of thinking around what can we do better.”

Since the college re-opened in 2010, it has relied heavily on philanthropy. The college says it has fundraised more than $126 million. The college currently has a bit more than 100 enrolled students — making it one of the smallest liberal arts colleges in the country. Fernandes will be tasked with increasing that enrollment number to a more sustainable target number of 300 students, Chestnut said, and to continue the college's fundraising record.

Fernandes was most recently president of Guilford College in North Carolina. She said in a news release that she was drawn to the job at Antioch because it combined two of her academic passions: the liberal arts and social justice. While at Guilford, Fernandes received national attention for her stand against North Carolina's Anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2.

Former Antioch president Tom Manley announced his early retirement last year due to health issues. He was named President Emeritus by the college's Board of Trustees in October 2020.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.