Journalist and commentator Tom Slayton has been thinking about the
stellar history of a local college, some of its former students, and
it’s current rejuvenation.
(Slayton) Goddard College, which hit a
low point in 2002, when its residential program was terminated, now
seems to be on the rebound under President Barbara Vacarr, who has
infused the college with a new burst of energy and renewed mission.
that’s good news for Vermont, because Goddard is a perfect example of
how even a small, rural college can enrich the community life around it.
Not only does the school offer creative education – it employs
faculty and creates graduates, introducing them to Vermont in the
process. And they, in turn have played a major role in the
transformation of this small state.
Central Vermont would be a
very different place, for example, without the restaurants and food
service run by the New England Culinary Institute. And it was Fran
Voigt, a Goddard faculty member in the 1970s, who was one of the
founders of the Culinary Institute. "I couldn’t have asked for better
preparation (than Goddard) for going out and starting a school myself,"
Voigt said recently. His wife, Ellen Bryant Voigt, is an important
contemporary poet, who has served as Vermont Poet Laureate.
Place Arts in Barre, one of this region’s premier art venues, owes much
of its energy and direction to one of its founders, the artist and arts
educator, Janet Van Fleet, who took her MA from Goddard in 1995.
Winston, who came to Vermont in 1970 because of friends at Goddard and
attended classes there, recalls that the film series that eventually
flowered into Montpelier’s unique Savoy Theatre began in the Haybarn
Theatre at Goddard College.
Montpelier’s first vegetarian
restaurant, the Horn of the Moon, was started by Ginny Callan, who
graduated from Goddard in 1974. Callan now works for the New England
Grass Roots Environmental Fund and serves on the District 5
Buch Spieler Music, which will be
celebrating its 40 th year in business this coming January, was created
by Fred Wilber, who graduated in 1973, Wilber also helped found the
Onion River Arts Council.
Avram Patt, now general manager of
Washington Electric Coop, graduated from Goddard in 1972. He has also
been director of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity.
Goddard’s most famous alumnae are three members of the band Phish,
which was born at Goddard and played many gigs there before going
And the list goes on… Jay Craven, who received an MA
from Goddard in 1978, is well known to Vermonters as film director, and
arts impresario. His films include several deeply grounded in Vermont,
including "Where the Rivers Flow North," and "Stranger in the Kingdom."
Gard Diamond, novelist, professor at Norwich and Union Universities,
and founding editor of the newspaper, Vermont Woman, says:
"Goddard College changed my life…"
same words could have been uttered by many of the teachers and
graduates that Goddard brought to this state. And though none of them
would probably say so, together, they’ve done something profound: They
have helped transform Vermont.