Vermont State College closures would cripple communities, advocates say

Local News

After a call for the closure of three campuses in the Vermont State College System, the Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the proposal April 27.

On Friday, Vermont State College System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding, recommended the closure of Northern Vermont University campuses in Lyndon and Johnson, as well as the Randolph Center campus of Vermont Technical College.

“As difficult as the decision is, and recognizing fully, the devastation we are placing on many Vermonters in different regions of the state. But this is about ensuring our ability to continue to provide post-secondary education to Vermonters around the state,” says Spaulding.

Sarah Lafferty, president of the Lyndon Area Chamber of Commerce, says the decision could be crippling in more ways than one.

“I worry about my neighbors,” she said. “Their businesses are already hurting because of this pandemic, we’re already facing scary times. We depend on students from NVU for our workforce, for our volunteer force. I know that on all of the boards that I sit on, I sit next to people who are in our community because of NVU.”

And many businesses in the area heavily rely on the colleges for revenue.

“Our utilities are locally owned, our electric department and our water department. And they get a lot of their money from the expense of utilities at the college. And so that loss will cripple our local utilities. I have major concerns on how that would change with the loss of NVU,” says Lafferty
NVU-Lyndon Professor, Dr. Ben Luce, says “when you look at the benefits of these campuses to their local areas… it’s… completely absurd that they should be shut down. It totally makes sense to keep on working to improve them, and to even make improvements to them if necessary.”

In a news conference Sunday afternoon, Progressive gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, called on Gov. Phil Scott, to create a task force to further examine into the issue while the Board of Trustees is on pause.

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