Wine was flowing and glasses were clinking as Antioch University Santa Barbara opened the doors to its newest downtown campus, located at 602 Anacapa Street, during a dedication ceremony on Thursday evening, March 15.
Opening remarks came from board chair Victoria Riskin, who said that nothing was more meaningful than Antioch’s “mission to educate young people and contribute to the community.”
The floor was then opened up for Tom Parker, of the Hutton Parker Foundation, which partnered with the university to create the 30,000-square-foot campus. Parker commended Antioch’s faculty, staff, and administrators for their continuous dedication and support for higher education, explaining, “Yes, they educate their kids, but what they really do is teach them to engage the community, because that’s what they do.”
Following Parker was campus architect and designer Bob Kupiec of Kupiec Architects, who attempted to incorporate environmentally friendly and sustainable planning as well as state-of-the-art technological infrastructure and multi-purpose spaces within the new campus design. Kupiec discussed the creative thought-process behind his designs, which seek to translate the education mission of Antioch into the 18 classrooms of the new campus. Most of all, Kupiec praised Riskin and Antioch’s president Nancy Leffert for the strong and dedicated partnership they were able to forge throughout the campus planning and building process.
“A wonderful piece of architecture cannot be created without a visionary partner,” stated Kupiec. “Nancy, Vicki, you are partners an architect dreams of.”
Finally, Leffert took center stage, praising everyone’s involvement and dedication in creating the new campus, and making it an educational reality. “To be here tonight is rather unbelievable,” Leffert said with emotion. “And it is the result of the work of many people who believe in the work and core values of this special education institution.”
Leffert described the creation of the new facility as an opportunity for students to experience a transformative and innovative education, as well as reflecting Antioch’s dedication to smaller institutional learning with classrooms that hold no more than 25 students. Leffert expressed lots of gratitude toward the design and dedicated hard work of Kupiec, who became a member of Antioch’s Santa Barbara Board of Trustees at the end of the process. When Leffert showed Congressmember Lois Capps the new campus a few weeks ago, Capps described it as the “gateway to Santa Barbara.”
“If I may use Congresswoman Capp’s words,” said Leffert with a smile, “I think that our new campus will serve as a gateway to new lives.”
Describing the overall process as magical and powerful, Leffert concluded her remarks by stating how profound and significant the experience of creating a new campus has been for her, as well as for Antioch University as a whole. “This special learning environment is the result of magic and very hard work toward a singular vision,” Leffert stated. “And the result has breathed new life into this building.”
Afterward, Leffert led Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schnieder to where the official ribbon-cutting ceremony would take place, in front of a wooden bulwark near the front entrance of the building. Both women were smiling and laughing as Leffert handed Schneider the oversized decorative scissors to cut the large orange ribbon, symbolizing the official opening and dedication of the new university campus.