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Vermont Likely to Close 3 State Colleges

jimk

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Do you think the massive adoption of online instruction during covid is a harbinger for more closures like this?
 

slatham

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This on top of 3 other colleges deciding to close in past year.

As a weather buff, Lyndon State is legendary. Terrible to close.
 

VTKilarney

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It's definitely a huge blow to the community. The state had been moving in this direction for a couple of years now. COVID-19 gave them the excuse that they needed.
 

Siliconebobsquarepants

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Do you think the massive adoption of online instruction during covid is a harbinger for more closures like this?

Not sure about College . Yes to grade schools but I'm not sure if it will morph into some type of hybrid? Teachers unions have been fighting Charter schools for a long time now it seems they might be competing against them online .It's not a problem for people who have chosen to home school already but I'm not sure how parents who work will end up dealing with the new reality .

It would be nice not to have to support large buildings and all the cost associated with busing .
 

gladerider

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Do you think the massive adoption of online instruction during covid is a harbinger for more closures like this?

may be.

i think the reason why we see such closures now is more to do with economics than anything else. some of these schools and organizations around the country are too much in debt that they can't service.

if i understand correctly, i think what you are asking is do online education push kids to take cheaper online classes over brick and mortar schools in general? i think it would be for some majors but not all. some specialized majors do require onsite instruction like doctors, nurses, chemistry, physics ant d engineering that require in person experiences. but i can see liberal arts schools withering away.
 

deadheadskier

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UVM has an endowment of $460M. The state colleges say they're closing campuses because of a $7-10m deficit. Seems to me it would be a wise investment for UVM to disperse some of their endowment to these schools to keep them up and running. These campus closures are potentially cutting off some future grad students for them.

I shudder to think of what will become of Johnson and Lyndonville if these campuses close.

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Zand

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UVM has an endowment of $460M. The state colleges say they're closing campuses because of a $7-10m deficit. Seems to me it would be a wise investment for UVM to disperse some of their endowment to these schools to keep them up and running. These campus closures are potentially cutting off some future grad students for them.

I shudder to think of what will become of Johnson and Lyndonville if these campuses close.

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https://vtdigger.org/2020/04/17/uvm-asks-state-for-millions-in-relief-due-to-covid-19-stresses/

That endowment isn't enough apparently. Such a joke.
 

deadheadskier

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thetrailboss

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Do you think the massive adoption of online instruction during covid is a harbinger for more closures like this?

No. It's complete mismangement by those at the top. Like with what we saw from the EB-5 fiasco, it's never the fault of those in charge. They don't lose their jobs. They just get shuffled to other positions and continue with the incompetence.

Anyone who saw WCAX tonight saw that the Chancellor was grinning as he was going on about how hard this will be for everyone. Even though he wants us to believe that COVOD-19 was the "crisis" that ended things, his last comments were particularly revealing--"oh, we budgeted money to maintain the physical buildings of the campuses for next year." You don't make that decision overnight.

I am fired up. It's my hometown. Those are my friends, their kids, and their families who go to school there and work there. In 20 years we've lost about 500-1,000 manufacturing jobs. LSC has about 300 or so employees. The $2 Billion in aid to the State meant to prevent these kinds of disruptions mysteriously is not available for LSC. Instead, we have a guy grinning as he waxes poetic about how hard it is to end schooling for 2,000 students and lay off 500 employees in this economy before he continues to keep his six-figure job. Winning.
 

VTKilarney

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I see a whole lot of complaining, but no real solutions being offered.

Let me say at the outset that, as someone who lives in the NEK, I recognize how devastating this will be for the local community. We aren't just losing jobs. We are losing all of the money that students spend in the community. We are losing the resources that the college provides to local schools and institutions. This is going to be a very heavy loss. But let's be honest, LSC is not sustainable the way it is currently operating. If people really cared about keeping the school open, they should have recognized that years ago when enrollment starting sliding.

First and foremost, the tuition is too high. Non-resident tuition is $25,680. Room, board and fees are another $13,106. The school doesn't have much to offer in terms of financial assistance. Plymouth State has set non-resident tuition at $22,769. That may not seem like a big difference, but when you are a student taking on loans, that $3,000 difference matters. There is also the question of whether or not LSC's tuition is worth it - even if you can afford it.

It is absurd to suggest that UVM's endowment should be used to fund the money-losing state colleges. UVM gets very little support from the state, just like the state colleges. Yet UVM has managed to do things right. Why should they be punished because they made the correct decisions? Quite the opposite. They should be rewarded. If the colleges marked for closure each burn through $10 million a year, UVM's endowment is going to get eaten up pretty quickly.

I'm going to be blunt. Other than finding a way to keep tuition lower, which the faculty unions would have prevented, I am not sure that there was much left that LSC could do. They tried different programs. They tried online learning. If anything, LSC has really tried. But the demographics are what they are. There is a reason why so many colleges are closing, especially in Vermont. They all didn't just happen to get bad management in the past couple of years. A knee-jerk reaction of blaming this all on bad management is a lazy approach to the problem.

The simple truth is that the only way for the college to survive is for faculty and staff to take pay cuts and for budgets to be gone over with a fine tooth comb. Because the only way for the college to survive is to charge a low enough tuition that you can market the college on that basis alone. But have you seen the unions offer concessions? Absolutely not. And don't hold your breath. Right now, other than their meteorology program, there is really nothing that sets LSC out from the crowd. Affordable tuition could change that equation overnight.

This may all seem harsh, but if you really want to see the college survive, you need to be honest about the hard decisions that need to be made. Asking for more of the same failing model isn't a long term solution.
 

uphillklimber

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Full disclosure here: I am unsympathetic to colleges, given what they charge. Most, if not all, of their buildings are built thru grants or endowments, so they carry o mortgages or long term debt. State tax dollars are used to build, renovate or improve state colleges, so again, no long term debt on them. How many other businesses would love to work with the same lack of long term debt? That being said:

Most endowments allow for a 5% expenditure I am making this assumption from a quick google search. Basically, endowments are invested and a return is realized. 5% is spent, any extra is reinvested. In a tough year, the endowment board of trustees may dip into the principle to fund expenses, likely aiming to eat up some of the excess returns that were reinvested, while not eating into the original endowment amounts. Basically, living off the interest.

UVM's endowment of $460,000,000.00. 5% of that is... math....23 million dollars. Annually. That is their endowment operating capital, placed next to a deficit of 7-10 million dollars. Basically a deficit of a third. Give or take. What business could operate under these circumstances? Eat into an endowment for such under performing campuses, and that fund will disappear in 2 decades. Poor business management, IMO.

Now add to it the sky high cost of education charged to the student, and the cost of room and board also charged to the students. How many businesses get such a large, effort free, influx of cash each and every year? We are talking 23 million every year, on top of the sky high tuition and room and board fees. As I stated, I am unsympathetic to colleges. With all this income, all the best educated minds in the country, they should be smart enough to run this business and keep them out of the red.

Add to it the granting of tenure with massive salaries, administration salaries, etc... all driving the cost of education into the stratosphere, and let's not even get into the selling of the education to young adults with the promise that the education is worth the cost, when so many are being strangled by the education loans long after college is completed.

How about this? Approach everyone employed at the college about to be closed, thru the union, whatever. Tell them we need to shut down, we are not financially viable. However, if every one agrees to a 10%, or even 20% reduction in total compensation, we can remain financially viable. I'd love to see what the union decides. Are they all about education, or will they suddenly be all about the Benjamins, accepting the deal but each one, in turn, finding a better deal at another college, slowly leaving the college?

I'm not sure what reduction in compensation packages will be needed, but they have some of the smartest minds in that college, they can determine the number needed to make the college financially viable. After all, UVM starts out with 23 million each and every year, effort free, then collects tuition and room and board. I am unsympathetic to their financial woes. These are some of the smartest minds in the state. Make it work. Sometimes businesses need to cut the fat of underperformance.
 
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deadheadskier

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I don't disagree that reorganization and major cost cutting needs to happen at Johnson and Lyndon. All I'm saying is the state's higher education system really needs to be looked at from a system level; not there's UVM and there's everyone else. Maybe consolidate and reduce one of the two schools down to a low cost two year program that feeds the remaining four year schools. Recognizing the expense of our four year schools, NH has done a good job at that. Most of the community colleges have credits fully transferable to the state universities now.

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VTKilarney

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I don't disagree that reorganization and major cost cutting needs to happen at Johnson and Lyndon. All I'm saying is the state's higher education system really needs to be looked at from a system level; not there's UVM and there's everyone else. Maybe consolidate and reduce one of the two schools down to a low cost two year program that feeds the remaining four year schools. Recognizing the expense of our four year schools, NH has done a good job at that. Most of the community colleges have credits fully transferable to the state universities now.

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Vermont already has that in the form of the Community College of Vermont. CCV has something like 11 locations. They don’t need two more.
 

deadheadskier

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Maybe adopt something like Northeastern's Coop program. Alternating on campus semesters with full time work. Might be a challenge in VT as VT doesn't have a ton of industry to partner with like Mass, but you could reduce staffing needs and expenses adopting such a model. Probably easier to implement at Johnson than Lyndon. More work opportunities nearby in Chittenden county

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machski

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My wife is also a LSC alumni, this is very sad as my college closed several years ago and now so will hers. The reality is the NVU system has been financially struggling for years, if not decades. They merged Johnson and Lyndon into NVU to try and drive some synergistic savings but the reality is they should have closed one of them years ago and merged into a single campus. Trying to string both along kept them burning $$ every year. Very sad and no doubt this will make the national airwaves given the amount of on air meteorolgists are LSC grads (Jim Cantore probably the most national, biggest name with Tim Kelly a big regional name). I feel bad for the Northeast Kingdom and Lyndonville itself. Such a quaint town, my wife and I have great memories from her time there. I even gave a bunch of her friends there their first flight experience when I used to fly up for weekends into Lyndonville airport.

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dblskifanatic

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Wow this thread has been very interesting and revealing! I graduated from LSC a long time ago and did not realize there was financial chaos in the making. I thought when the name change took place that things were happening in a good way. This is sad to read and NEK does not need more of this type of economic hardship. I also grew up in NEK and it is a beautiful area but surviving there is becoming harder. My whole family moved away. Lots of my classmates from high school moved away. Many that stayed behind did not go on to higher education so that makes things hard for educational institutions since they have to go after out of state students. The one thing that NVU-Lyndon offered of any recognition was their meteorology program!


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