NCHEMS report due Dec. 4

In less than two weeks, NCHEMS (National Center for Higher Education Management Systems) representatives will present their final draft of their recommendations for the Vermont State College System’s (VSCS) future.
The initial draft, a 21-page bulleted document, garnered much critical discussion about the importance of liberal arts at the Vermont State Colleges, when members of the Vermont Select Committee noted that NCHEMS had left it out.
At a Nov. 16 Board of Trustees meeting, VSCS Chancellor Sophie Zdatny addressed that the system was already working on a number of the recommendations, including standardizing the core education program, focusing on short-term workforce oriented programming, delivering selected majors throughout the state via different modalities, collaborating on programs between Castleton and NVU and centralizing a web based catalog of VSC online courses with full transferability within the system.
Trustee Adam Grinold added that although the NCHEMS recommendations might help guide the Board of Trustees, he did not see a clear path to cutting the needed $42 million deficit out of the VSCS’ budget. “What information do we have to be gathering financially in order to make the decision [as to] what has to be cut in order to save the system? I still believe we’re not gonna nibble around the edges. It didn’t jump off the page in that Select Committee report.”
Trustee Janette Bombardier agreed, and added that she hoped they would take a “quick sort” method, prioritizing speed, cost and feasibility in to all solutions, to see what would “float to the top.” She hoped that NCHEMS would not simply take public opinion.
Joyce Judy, president of CCV and Vermont Select Committee member said, “I’m hoping that the next draft, NCHEMS will come with far more financial analysis.” Echoing Grinold and Bombardier, she suggested that after the Dec. 4 presentation of the NCHEMS report, the board should take up the three criteria and do the analysis themselves.
Judy added that, “there are some people in the public who feel very strongly that if the legislature just gave a higher appropriation that this would help,” but stressed that the financial situation of the State of Vermont was also “pretty dire…Thinking that this would be the savior for the system is a bit dangerous,” she said.
Because the initial NCHEMS report did not go into depth, Judy and others are hopeful that the final will be more specific.