Since the spring 2020 announcement of the imminent closure of three of our five state colleges by then Chancellor Jeb Spaulding, Vermont’s state colleges have endured tumultuous program changes and closures, numerous layoffs and firings of faculty and staff, the expansion of high paid administrative positions at the Chancellor’s office, and the resignation of two Chancellors, two interim presidents, and the selling of assets including land and two FCC licenses.
In that time, the Vermont legislature voted to increase funding for the VSCS by over $200 million dollars yet there has been no public accounting of how that investment has been spent. Program changes and eliminations continue. Layoffs continue and lack of accountability continues to reflect a system and leadership in disarray.
This has damaged student life, the livelihoods of dedicated employees, the greater community’s connection to the colleges, and has placed the colleges in greater jeopardy.
Concerned Alumni Faculty Staff & Students of the VSCS or, CAFSS-VSCS gathered numerous times to address the failure of the Board of Trustees asking that they manage the state college system with full transparency, and inclusion of constituent voices. There has been no public voice in the “transformation” plan provided. Trustee meetings have been held in executive session. Consultants hired to aid in the transformation predominantly reside out of state with little real connection to Vermont, its students, families, or communities. The VSC Board of Trustees and its administration has failed to create a clear plan of how it will recruit new students, retain students who are currently enrolled, and who have been told their degree programs would be sustained while, at the same time, the administration has accepted the resignations of faculty critical to sustaining many of these programs.
“Vermont State University does not belong to a board or a chancellor, a president or a campus. It belongs to Vermont. It belongs to everyone who aspires to become. It belongs to everyone who imagines, discovers, and is curious about themselves and about the world. It serves no one in particular and everyone all at once. It is the best of us and we have a charge and an obligation to work in transparency, offer access and support, and to put our students first for the benefit of all Vermonters.” – Cathy Collins Printon, Johnson State College. Class of 1985
For these and other reasons, we have reached out to the Vermont legislature to ask it address the failure of the Board of Trustees to operate with transparency, fiscal responsibility, or to manage these important and necessary educational and community assets for the benefit of Vermont.
We are asking for a full investigation of the management of the colleges, reform of its leadership and authority, and support of Senator Brian Collamore’s Bill: Bill dr req 24-0248 – draft 3.1 which reflects many of the points we have raised in our letter.
We will join the Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation at the Vermont State House, Thursday, January 4th, at 11:00 a.m. for their press conference and Lobby day. We invite you to join us there.