Spaulding appointed new VSC chancellor



Jeb Spaulding

The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees announced on Sept. 24 that it had appointed Governor Peter Shumlin’s secretary of administration and former state treasurer, Jeb Spaulding, to be the next chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, following the retirement of current VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan at the end of this calendar year.

Spaulding will take the helm on Jan. 15 after the Shumlin administration presents its budget to the Legislature.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Jeb’s character, integrity, skill, and experience to lead the Vermont State Colleges in the coming years,” said board chair Martha O’Connor in the Sept. 24  announcement from the chancellor’s office. “This appointment will provide the leadership continuity that our college presidents have asked for.  With the appointment of Jeb Spaulding, the VSC has the opportunity to move forward into a future that will continue to benefit all of Vermont and all Vermonters.”

While the reaction to the board’s choice of Spaulding to head the VSC has been generally positive, the announcement also came as a surprise to many, including the union representing faculty and staff at the five Vermont State Colleges.  It had been expected that an interim chancellor would be installed pending a search involving, among others, union representatives as well as other faculty and staff.

In a statement issued after the announcement, President of the Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation Linda Olson expressed her disappointment with the board’s process, noting that “a permanent Chancellor was selected with absolutely no faculty or staff input. That said, we look forward to working with Chancellor Spaulding as faculty and staff continue to advocate for high quality, affordable education for Vermont students, and we hope that he will advocate strongly for a more robust state investment in higher education in Vermont.”

VSC Faculty Federation Treasurer Juliet Theoret said, “It is also a shame that students were not asked to be part of the process.  I was on the search committee when Chancellor Donovan was hired.  I really appreciated the collaboration among all members of the committee.  I think a similar process should have been undertaken.”

However, Theoret noted that “while the Federation is extremely disappointed by the lack of any kind of process in the selection of Mr. Spaulding as Chancellor, we are keeping an open mind and look forward to working with him in the near future.”

O’Connor acknowledged the unusual circumstances surrounding the surprise appointment without a traditional search but cited the need for continuity in the VSC leadership at a crucial time as the prime motivation for the quick decision.

Spaulding had been interviewed by all five Vermont State Colleges presidents.  He was the sole candidate interviewed.

Current chancellor Tim Donovan is stepping down at the end of this calendar year, JSC President Barbara Murphy is retiring June 30, and Vermont Tech currently has an interim president.

Spaulding has had a long career in Vermont government.  Prior to his 2011 appointment as Shumlin’s secretary of administration, he was elected State treasurer for five terms after serving as a Washington County senator from 1985-2001.

During that time, Spaulding chaired a number of Senate committees including Appropriations, Education, Joint Fiscal, and Joint Joint Administrative Rules Committees.

Before entering politics, Spaulding founded WNCS in Montpelier, serving there as president and general manager until 1987.

In an interview with the Burlington Free Press on Sept. 24, Spaulding acknowledged that the offer was not one he was actively seeking, but it represented a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. . . “I’m super excited about it…Education has been a special passion of mine,” he said.

In the Sept. 24 announcement, O’Connor also praised Donovan:  “We are also extremely grateful for the service of outgoing Chancellor Tim Donovan. Tim has dedicated his professional career to the Community College of Vermont and the Vermont State College system as a whole. He has served the Board, the Colleges, and the people of Vermont with great distinction.”