Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Rally to Save NVU-Lyndon

VSCLYNDON- A couple of months ago, students, faculty and staff at Northern Vermont University (NVU), as well as members of the community were faced with some tough news about the University. Thanks to the efforts of all, they were able to push pasty the struggles and take action. 


“The issue of sustainability of small colleges in New England, is an issue that is on the minds of many, many presidents. It’s not just something that has affected just you know, either Caledonia County or Lamoille County” said NVU President, Elaine Collins. 


With many small colleges across the country struggling to keep their heads above water, here in Vermont, we are certainly no stranger. Earlier this year, three colleges in the state shut their doors for the final time. Southern Vermont College, Green Mountain College and the College of St. Joseph all closed due to financial struggles caused by lack of enrollment. The Vermont State Colleges (VSC) system has been trying to put a plan in place to keep these schools from facing the same fate. 


In June, the Office of the Chancellor put together the white paper, a document outlining the current struggles that were facing the VSC system. The papers intentions are to lay the groundwork for the “strategic actions” in which the VSC system may use to achieve their goal in “an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing higher education environment.” 


In early September, a rumor surfaced that a member on the Board of Trustees said that they should close the campus of NVU-Lyndon. This caused students, faculty, staff and community members to panic, believing that the Board intended to close the campus. In an interview with VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding back in September, he said that he wishes all of the speculation “never happened”, and that it was “scaring students”. Adding that all it was doing, “is making things more difficult for Northern Vermont University.” He continued to explain that “the trustees haven’t really even delved into this yet” and that for everyone to be panicking is just “bad for the University and makes things harder.”


The Chancellors office planned to have a series of meetings at each of the schools in the VSC system, which would address these issues facing the college system, and would allow time for students, faculty and staff along with members of the community to offer up ideas. They all met at NVU-Lyndon on Thursday September 12th. The students rallied together, trying to make their voices heard, and fight to keep this campus open. 


Pete Cormier, a student at NUV-Lyndon, was one of the main people involved in getting students together. Through countless hours of planning and work, they made it happen. Recalling on the meeting, Cormier said “the place was just packed. It was jam packed with professors that were having classes that they had to miss, because this was an important thing. Kids were missing classes, students were missing classes. It was important to be there, and when I left, I was proud when I walked out of ASAC 100, because students spoke up, teachers spoke up. We might be professor-student” he added, “but at that point, we were all equal, and that was the best feeling about that”. 


President Collins expressed how excited she was to “see so much interest and passion demonstrated at that meeting,” adding that the turnout was “very good”. “There were students, there were faculty, we had business leaders come in from the community, we had legislators there. So it was a full house of people, expressing their interest in ensuring that NVU would continue as a two campus system” she said. 


Just under a week after that meeting took place, at their annual Lake Morey Retreat in Fairlee, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution. This would put NVU to the forefront of their focus, ensuring that both campuses of NVU would remain operational. 


“We really wanted to make sure the people had confidence in Northern Vermont University, on both campuses,” said Chancellor Spaulding. Adding that the reason the board sped up the process and put NVU to the forefront of the issue because students, faculty, staff and members of the community really showed they cared about its future. “If that concern hadn’t have been raised the way it was, we probably would have said, ‘look we’ve said we’re going to keep all of the ideas on the table, for now, and not take anything off of the table, or prevent anything from being added to it’.But when we saw how much concern there was, we recognized that it would be having a negative impact on the future of Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, if we didn’t make it clear that we support the two campuses.”