Many questions

Our primary focus this semester is to cover as best we can the work being done by students, faculty, staff and administration on the campuses of Northern Vermont University, Vermont Technical College and Castleton University to prepare for the launch of Vermont State University in the fall of 2023, less than two years away.

A transformation of this dimension is unprecedented in Vermont, and the process is complex, involving all aspects of university life.

Among the less dramatic changes affecting student life will be block scheduling, explained in this issue on page 2. What will campus life look like in fall of 2023? Will all the campuses remain fully functioning as residential institutions? How will athletics be distributed among the four campuses? What will a new cross-campus academic departmental structure look like? Who will be the first president of Vermont State University?

We hope to answer at least some of these questions as the various working groups begin to deliver their reports throughout the semester.

However, so much will depend upon the Vermont Legislature, which has become deeply involved in the transformation of the Vermont State Colleges system and which has pledged significant funds towards that transformation.

It has also, unfortunately, seriously underfunded this system for the past four decades, which in part has brought us to our present crisis. We need to keep an eye on them as well as we chronicle this crucial time.

Although state support has increased in recent years, Vermont remains at or near the bottom of the 50 states in financial support for public higher education. More than 80% of the system’s operating funds come from tuition, which accounts for the high sticker price students in Vermont must pay for college.
Less-than-adequate funding is also reflected in the ongoing pressures of maintaining our campuses, where deferred maintenance will be an increasingly costly issue as the years pile up (See page 3). How will we pay for those repairs?

Will the Legislature begin once again to fund public higher education at levels that would live up to the initial promise made when the State Colleges were formed by statute in 1961: to fund entirely or in substanial part the state college system?

Stay tuned.