By: Matthew Seaver, Web Editor
The discussion on the unification of Johnson State and Lyndon State College continued with an open session on Thursday, September 8.
The Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding was joined by Interim LSC President Nolan Atkins and JSC President Elaine Collins. Spaulding began the session by explaining what the unification is and what it actually means for the two schools.
He spoke of the ever changing world of education and said how, “the cost of providing a college education is going up.”
Not much has changed from what most people know about the unification, but for those who know little or just need a refresher, here is a brief summary.
Chancellor Spaulding, on the heels of the departure of former LSC President Joe Bertolino decided that it would be a good time to propose unification between LSC and JSC administrative bodies. The unification will decrease the number of people in the administration as well as free up funds to help cover growing expenses for both schools. The idea was approved pending a final proposal that will be decided on by the VSC Board of Trustees on September 29. The hope is that it will create two strong campuses under one administration.
“We see the unification as expanding student opportunities,” Spaulding said during the open session.
The main focus that is being communicated to students is the increased educational opportunities. Both schools are currently looking into ways that technology can be used to connect the two campuses. There are no set in stone plans yet as to what the increased opportunities will be, but the Chancellor and both presidents have spoken about access to programs at the opposite campus.
One of the early questions that came from unification was about athletics. Would there still be separate teams? Yes and no.
The NCAA has approved of having the sports teams separate. The club and intramural sports were still not fully set in stone. Spaulding said that he saw an advantage in having those combine to increase the number of participants.
These decisions and others were not made without thought. Chancellor Spaulding explained that he has done extensive research on other colleges that have unified to learn from what did and did not work for them.
So what happens if the VSC Board of Trustees approves unification?
For a while nothing will happen and when things do begin happening there will be little to no noticeable change for all students.
On July 1, 2017 the two schools will begin to slowly combine the administrations starting with the new president, Elaine Collins. Formal unification and accreditation for the unified school will not happen until the following year on July 1, 2018.
Being that this was an open session, that invited student input, there were questions that students had. One of the questions surrounded the location of the administration once unification is complete. Collins addressed the issue by saying that there will likely be parts of the administration at each college and that they want to be as available as possible to each campus.
Another major question that was raised related to a plan B. What happens if things do not go as planned? Spaulding said that any issues with unification will be addressed as they appear.
In the case that unification is not approved by the VSC, there is no plan B; at least not until it becomes necessary. If the VSC denies unification, then a plan will be made for each school as to how to address the ever growing financial issues.
“We are going to do everything we can to maintain the long term viability of both campuses,” Spaulding said.
The VSC has set up a website with all of the unification information at unification.vsc.edu.
With the decision right around the corner, what do you think of the unification proposal? Let us know. Message us on Facebook at Facebook.com/LSCcritic or at firstname.lastname@example.org.