MONTPELIER — During its virtual meeting on Monday, the Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees voted to advance a proposal for transforming the struggling public higher education system into a unified single-accreditation public university comprised of the now independent Northern Vermont University (NVU), Vermont Technical College (VTC) and Castleton University.
The board also OK’d other recommended steps outlined in a recent report issued by the state’s Select Committee on the Future of Public Higher Education in Vermont.
The report was made public in December after a months-long process of study an outside consultant assisted the committee with. The committee was called to act quickly by the Vermont Legislature in the wake of financial crises.
Some $30 million in bridge funding was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Phil Scott to sustain the system through this unprecedented time and while work to find a sustainable path forward got underway.
The Select Committee’s recommendations call for leaving the Community College of Vermont, also part of the VSCS, as an independent standalone college while the other three schools will be forged into a single university.
“I am pleased that the VSCS Board of Trustees has unanimously passed the Select Committee’s proposal to transform and strengthen the Vermont State Colleges System,” said NVU President Dr. Elaine Collins on Monday. “At the heart of the transformation is a commitment to NVU’s campuses at Johnson and Lyndon. A unified university will ensure that the people of northern Vermont have access to higher education in our region.”
Lynn Dickinson, chair of the VSCS Board, said “I want to be clear that the Board is committed to maintaining our current campus locations. In future years, the configuration of the campuses might look a little different as we work to update our physical footprint to help bring system costs down, but we are committed to doing so in a way that keeps our current campus locations open.”
Chancellor Sophie Zdatny added, “The proposal the Board endorsed today is founded on three key concepts: (1) Student success is our singular focus, (2) Education for life and a lifetime, and (3) Vermont is our community.”
Zdanty stated, “We are taking lessons learned from the unification of Northern Vermont University and past administrative consolidations and will carefully consider any change that affects employees. We know that transition of any kind will be tough and will require hard work, but we are confident that we can navigate this together and emerge as a stronger and more resilient Vermont State Colleges System.”
Public input will continue to be sought as the process unfolds.