MONTPELIER – As the Vermont State Colleges System hashes out plans to merge Castleton University with two other state schools, a handful of state senators from Rutland are taking steps to try and preserve the Castleton name through any changes.
As part of a larger proposed bill being debated within the Senate Education Committee, the VSCS would be denied state funding if the current name of a college or university isn’t included at the beginning of a new name post-merger.
Five years ago, a similar scenario lead to the end of both the Lyndon and Johnson State College namesakes when they merged to become Northern Vermont University.
Rutland lawmakers, including Sen. Cheryl Hooker (P/D), argue that there’s consequences that come with dropping the Castleton name, which dates all the way back to 1830.
She compared it to a brand, adding that students, families, donors and businesses recognize the name, and changing it could impact enrollment, donations and other support.
“These schools have been around for a long time,” Hooker said. “People know them by their names especially down here in Castleton, where Castleton was the first of the higher education schools in the state.”
The bill, S.134, would also require state colleges to submit annual financial statements to the Vermont Legislature along with information on financial sustainability and enrollment.