VSCS Chancellor Spaulding recommends closure of NVU, VTC-Randolph

Students%2C+faculty%2C+staff+and+supporters+of+NVU+have+changed+their+Facebook+profile+pictures+to+this+image+to+show+their+solidarity.

Students, faculty, staff and supporters of NVU have changed their Facebook profile pictures to this image to show their solidarity.

Editor’s Note: This will be updated as we see more of this story develop. 

On April 17, 2020, Chancellor Jeb Spaulding was expected to meet with representatives from each institution in the Vermont State College System (VSCS) to discuss his recommendations for the Board of Trustees for the future of the VSCS, but his intentions were accidentally announced at an All-Senate Caucus that morning.

At least three senators admitted to having seen the press release before it came out, which told of Spaulding’s intentions to recommend the Board close both campuses of NVU and the Randolph campus of VTC.

The recommendations include consolidation of NVU to Castleton, where strong majors from NVU’s campuses would be instated. 

The VSCS faces a deficit of $10 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and less than half will be covered by direct federal funding under the CARES Act. The state of Vermont will receive nearly $1.2 billion in federal aid, but it is up to the Governor and legislators to choose how to appropriate it.

Without knowing how much the system will receive from the Legislature to cover the deficit, the Board of Trustees may have to make tough choices. Even though NVU met its revenue targets for the year, it may be on the chopping block if the Board of Trustees decides to close a campus to decrease the deficit.

Before the announcement, students were already gearing up for the bad news. Spaulding, on a call with Senators, indicated that he would prioritize CCV and VTC.

NVU-Lyndon student Patrick Wickstrom authored a petition to save the NVU campuses, which garnered nearly 20,000 signatures in less than three days. 

On April 16, NVU-Johnson Faculty Assembly Chair Tyrone Shaw noted that although NVU President Collins had addressed the Faculty Assembly two days earlier, she had not indicated anything specific about Spaulding’s recommendations or the future of NVU as a whole.

“Based on info we received at that meeting,” he said, “it’s reasonable to assume that there will be a change in the status quo of the system. But I don’t want to predict anything; We haven’t heard anything specific. We’re just waiting for information.”

Once the news had been leaked, Spaulding sent the press release out at noon on April 17, rather than waiting for the meeting with representatives that day or a planned, public meeting the following Monday with the Board of Trustees.

Spaulding’s recommendations sparked outrage all over the state, and several more petitions have been started, including one calling for the removal of Spaulding as Chancellor.

A drive-by protest is planned at 11:00 in Montpelier, where 300+ cars will drive by the VSCS offices and honk. While the actual trustees may not be in the building, the protest will hopefully draw the attention of large media outlets. The protest is being organized in a Facebook group, which you can access here.

Along with the protest and petitions, supporters of NVU and VTC-Randolph have sent thousands of emails to the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, the whole VT legislature and anyone they can think that might have political pull in Vermont.

Wickstrom, in an April 17 interview, said that the movement had contacted several representatives at Cabot and Ben & Jerry’s, hoping to get sympathy and support from the corporations.

The Board of Trustees originally solicited advice through an email box at SecuretheFuture@vsc.edu, but switched to a SurveyMonkey link after the inbox was inundated.