A recommendation by Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding would close Northern Vermont University campuses in Lyndon and Johnson, as well as the Randolph center campus of Vermont Technical College.
Spaulding and members of the system’s Board of Trustees said the problems — sustaining infrastructure and services with declining enrollment — pre-date COVID- 19. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, Spaulding said, and keeping the campuses open puts the entire system is at risk.
“Without decisive action or inaction we jeopardize all the pieces,” he said. “We can’t afford not to make a decision. Without COVID- 19, we probably could have gone through a deliberative process for a longer period of time.”
Many students, facility, alumni and former trustees oppose the closures, and after a weekend of op-eds, emails and a petition drive, Monday’s planned vote by the Board of Trustees was postponed until April 27.
With a week to buy time, however, some government officials say all options need to be on the table. “My hope is that the next action the Board of Trustees would take is to adopt a process to make decisions about the future, not to suddenly close three campuses,” said Vermont Senate President Tim Ashe.
Gov. Phil Scott said he wants the legislature to get involved.
“We all need to work together in trying to find solutions,” he said. “So, this will be a topic for us to consider but there is not an infinite amount of money available either.”