Rise in Nationwide College Closures Forces 2 Vermont State Colleges to Merge

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Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of Vermont State Colleges, said that the country will see a rise in the closing of small colleges in the next 10 years.

To prevent that from happening to their schools, the Vermont State Colleges Board decided that it was high time for Lyndon State College and Johnson State College to merge in order to save the schools from financial problems.

Spaulding said that the board of trustees wanted to save the schools and have decided that while the two colleges will be handled by one administration, Lyndon and Johnson will still have their own academic programs, sports teams, and curricula.

The College Board gave Spaulding the task of coming up with a report on the issues needed to be addressed for the unification so that board members can finalize a vote by its September 29, 2016 meeting.

If the vote is in the affirmative, a task force will be required to prepare the colleges for the unification next year, by July 1, 2017.

A unification would protect the long term viability and vitality of both campuses,” Spaulding said.

Before the September board meeting, though, Spaulding will conduct surveys and meetings with partners, students and their families, the staff, and even high school students (prospective enrollees) regarding the merger.

Board Chair Martha O’ Connor said that Spaulding’s proposal has great merit, since it will save the two colleges, without disrupting their current academic programs.

With the two schools merging under a shared administration, Johnson State College President Elaine Collins will become the overall president.

She will be expected to work together with Lyndon State College Interim President Nolan Atkins.

Collins said that Johnson and Lyndon have worked together in the past, so this merger will work in the two colleges’ favor, as both understand and share values of quality education and community commitment.

Former LSC President Joe Bertolino, who now works at Southern Connecticut State University as president, said that Lyndon will be well managed at the hands of Atkins, and that the transition into a merger-school will be thorough and smooth with the help of the Vermont State Colleges Board.

State colleges only get a small funding from the state.

They are constantly at risk of suffering bankruptcy or financial troubles.

While the academic programs of each college will remain the same, the administration staff will see major changes; some positions might eventually be cut off.

Johnson State College has 1,538 students, while Lyndon has 1,300, but the numbers could rise or fall with the news of the merger.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin expressed his support for the unification proposal.

JSC has just been granted the recognition and honor of being Vermont’s top public liberal arts college by the Council of Public Liberal Arts College (COPLAC) last month, but administrators had been worried that the school might suffer financial challenges in the future.

Meanwhile, USA Sevens Rugby had just called Lyndon’s rugby field the most beautiful in the world.

It would be a shame for the colleges to close down and lose the recognition they have gained within the years.

The merger proposal would indeed help the two colleges in cutting down costs and preserving their institutions.

Rob Clark
 

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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