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Green Mountain College closing, many transfer to Castleton

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Green Mountain College closing, many transfer to Castleton

Green Mountain College’s main quad

Green Mountain College’s main quad

Courtesy of Google.com

Green Mountain College’s main quad

Courtesy of Google.com

Courtesy of Google.com

Green Mountain College’s main quad

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POULTNEY, VT—After 185 years of service, Green Mountain College (GMC) announced on Jan. 23 that it will be closing at the close of the 2019 spring semester. Despite multiple attempts to find new financial partners, the board of trustees issued the official announcement, which caught most by surprise. Its enrollment plummeted in recent years from 775 to 425.

Due to the falling number of high school graduates in New England, there has been a recent enrollment crisis for colleges all over Vermont, both private and public. “In northern New England, there are roughly twenty percent fewer students graduating from high school this year than there were ten years ago,” said VSCS Chancellor, Jeb Spaulding. “That makes classes smaller, your cost structure is going up.”

With the rapid increase of tuition costs for higher education, many prospective students have started asking if a degree is worth its price. “I think that the forces that caused Green Mountain College to make the decision to not reopen next fall are the same that are vexing colleges and universities all over the place. Particularly in places that are rural—northern New England, upstate New York, a lot of the Midwest—areas that don’t have a lot of immigration, are seeing an aging population, and that’s certainly been a factor for them.”

While this year’s seniors will be the final class to graduate from GMC, the rest of the college’s students will have to find other institutions to transfer to. GMC has been working with the New England Commission of Higher Education (the accrediting body for the colleges of New England) in order to aid students in their transition. “We are in the process of formalizing agreements with other colleges and universities to ensure our students have the best opportunities to continue their studies and to earn their college degree,” said GMC President Robert Allen.

The Vermont State College System (VSCS) is taking its own steps to help GMC students. “The Vermont State Colleges all agreed to be teach-out schools for the Green Mountain College students,” said Spaulding.

Being a teach-out school would mean that the VSCS schools can provide benefits to GMC students during the transfer process. “No application fee, easy transfer of credits, opportunities to try-out for the sports teams,” said Spaulding, noting these are just some of the ways that the teach-out institutions can help.

GMC has a list of preferred teach-out schools on their website, including Alaska Pacific University, Chatham University, College of the Atlantic, Marlboro College, Paul Smith’s College, Prescott College, Sterling College, Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, Vermont Technical College and Unity College. One of the schools, Prescott College in Arizona, has agreed to take on some GMC’s programs and faculty, as well as admit new students into these programs.

In the case of Castleton University specifically, many GMC students have been choosing to transfer there rather than to the other VSCS institutions. Although NVU–Lyndon, for example, has a long-established Mountain Resort Management, most of the Green Mountain College students enrolled in a similar program will be transferring to Castleton.

“Castleton is seven miles down the road,” says Spaulding, “so it made a little bit more sense for them to be highlighted. They’re part of the same regional economy, it’s close to where the students already are, and they have an overlap of a lot of their programs.” Because of the history between the two programs, Castleton has become a prime candidate to inherit one of GMC’s most valuable partners: The Killington School of Resort Management.

The Killington school is a three-year program that certifies students in degrees like ski resort management while providing them jobs, room and board at Killington. The partnership between GMC and Killington made sense from a business perspective—with one school emphasizing social/environmental sustainability, and the other focusing on resort management. The Killington school has indicated that it would like to start negotiating a partnership with Castleton considering its proximity and similarities with GMC.

Green Mountain College is the second small liberal arts college to close its doors in recent years. Burlington College shut down in May of 2016, and other small private colleges including Goddard in Plainfield and College of St. Joseph in Rutland are in danger of losing their accreditation this year because of precarious finances.

Spaulding said he hoped the closure of Green Mountain College will send yet another signal to the Legislature that it needs to increase funding for the four Vermont State Colleges System institutions: Northern Vermont University, Castleton University, Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont. The level of state funding for the VSCS now stands at 17 percent, the lowest level of state support for public higher education in the United States.

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Green Mountain College closing, many transfer to Castleton