Goddard Board of Trustees Deliberates College’s Future

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(Host) Since the 1930s, central Vermont’s Goddard College has been known for it’s unique and unorthodox approach to higher education. The college’s Board of Trustees meets this weekend and there are indications the board could decide to make significant changes; including merging with another institution or even selling the college.

As VPR’s Steve Zind reports, some community members have other ideas.

(Zind) Several months ago the Board of the private, non-profit college organized a task force to look into how to deal with the increasing financial demands placed on Goddard. The task force will present its options to the Board this weekend.

(Kesson) “I think it’s very likely that there will be a change.”

(Zind) Kathleen Kesson is a faculty member on the Board of Trustees. Kesson says Board members are feeling a sense of urgency. She says despite increasing enrollment and a balanced budget, Goddard, like other small institutions, is finding it increasingly difficult to meet financial requirements necessary to run an accredited college.

(Kesson) “Goddard is not in trouble because it’s not doing well. Goddard is in trouble because it’s in a new environment.”

(Zind) The college is also faced with millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs. Kesson says the Board has discussed merging or going into partnership with another institution. Some people have expressed concerns the Board may decide to sell the college. Kesson says so far, that’s hasn’t been discussed.

(Kesson) “The Board has not spoken about sale in the past. But I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t know what’s going to happen this weekend.”

(Zind) Clo Pitkin is the daughter-in-law of Tim Pitkin, Goddard’s founder. Friday morning, Pitkin and others met with the Board and proposed what they called a revitalization plan. The plan calls for Goddard to work with other colleges and organizations to create a new curriculum around issues like world peace, sustainability and globalization.

(Pitkin) “We could get a lot of students coming to Goddard who wanted to be committed to that kind of thing, as well as bring in enough money. So the college could do what it needs to do in terms of campus maintenance and all the things that the college needs to work on at this point.”

(Zind) Pitkin says her group has asked the Board to defer any decision on Goddard’s future. Another group called Friends of WGDR has formed a non-profit to try to take over the license of the Goddard radio station if the Board decides to sell the college.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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