A note from the editors…

Next year will be Northern Vermont University’s last, a prelude to the official launch of Vermont State University, and more pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place. The Board of Trustees has named the president, Dr. Parwinder Grewal, and each campus is making the necessary changes to become the combined entity of VTSU. Class schedules are shuffling to align at every campus and programs are being modified to fit the needs of the new university.

Here at NVU- Johnson, we have seen many professors retire, and not as many new ones hired, leaving us wondering what the fate of their respective departments will be.

As we receive more news about the bleak budget outlook, we also wonder what will be left of this campus by the end of the transformation.

The main question we have here is this: Who will be minding the store?

Dr. Grewal’s office will be at Vermont Tech in Randolph, which is about sixty miles south of us, so who will be on our campus to oversee day-to-day operations? This question has yet to be answered. In fact, we have no idea of the shape of a new administrative structure moving forward.

“To be determined” is not an inspiring leadership model, nor is it apt to attract students in a time of declining enrollment, not to mention inspire confidence in those already here.

Even now at Johnson, administrative offices are more often locked and dark than not, leaving the perception that nobody’s home.

Provost Nolan Atkins is most noticeable by his absence, as it seems he is more frequently at the Lyndon campus. While outgoing interim president John Mills has been a refreshing presence at NVU, the current model forces him to split his time between two campuses over 50 miles apart, as it does for Atkins and others. We would hope a similar arrangement would not apply in the future. Clearly it has been unsatisfactory for students, faculty, and staff.

Are we going to have to endure more of the same under the new order? What is our new president’s administrative vision? Will administrative absence continue, to the dismay of students, faculty, and staff? Or will senior administrators – vice-presidents, perhaps – be assigned to each of the campuses comprising the new university?

These questions, one would assume, will be answered over the course of the next school year, and those answers may make or break the interest of prospective students.

Understanding Dr. Grewal’s administrative vision for the future would go a long way towards easing the minds of underclassmen and their parents regarding the security of their programs and ultimate graduation.

Doubts are clearly out there. Recently, the chancellor’s office went on the road to assure the select board of Johnson that this campus would remain open, the uncertainty a legacy of an earlier plan by the former chancellor to shutter both NVU campuses and Vermont Tech’s Randolph campus.

That plan was scuttled following a huge public outcry and the ensuing resignation of the chancellor and the chair of the board of trustees.

Still, the damage was done, which could explain the chancellor’s recent attempt to calm fears in the hinterland.

Dr. Grewal’s success in merging three geographically distant institutions into a new university in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and his commitment to open access and community development give us hope.

More immediately, we strongly urge our new president to establish a clear administrative plan for the individual campuses. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be one – just unanswered questions.

So, who’s minding the store?

The Editors