He's just 10 weeks on the job and new Lyndon State College President Joe Bertolino is already sharing the Lyndon story.
"People know about Lyndon or they don't and what they do know about Lyndon may not be entirely correct," Bertolino said.
The New York City transplant is now at the helm of the faculty, staff and students at the 200-acre Northeast Kingdom campus.
"We are a small, caring college and I want to be the best college in the Vermont state system," he said
But getting there is coming with its challenges for the 101-year-old Vermont State College. Lyndon has a long history of providing "first-in-family" college educations, but finding ways to finance them isn't easy.
"We're serving a need here to students in the Northeast Kingdom and to students in Vermont who might not otherwise have the opportunity," Bertolino said.
Today, roughly 90 percent of Lyndon's students get financial aid, and the demand for dollars is up 30 percent since 2010. Of the $4.5 million the state gave the school last year, $4 million went toward tuition assistance.
"I desperately need to raise dollars so that our students can come here, they can stay here, they can graduate and still meet the needs of their families," Bertolino said.
A lofty goal for the more than 1,400 undergrads, 55 percent of whom come from right here in Vermont.
"I really love the campus. We've got the mountains in the background. It's just a really great part of Vermont," said Michael Mahn, a Lyndon sophomore.
Lyndon boasts dozens of academic concentrations ranging from meteorology to music business and industry, but students say it's the people they love best.
"Probably just the sense of community-- everyone is pretty tight, a lot of friends. You know everyone on campus for the most part," said Andrew Fahle, a Lyndon sophomore.
A campus that Bertolino admits needs improvements. On his wish list-- new recreation and athletic space, as well as more student housing.
"We are busting at the seams for the demand to live here. We simply don't have enough space," Bertolino said.
Lyndon just wrapped up a $10 million capital campaign, and while fundraising continues Bertolino is also focused on reconnecting the campus with the community it calls home.
"Reintroducing the college to the community and bringing the college down from the hill. I think is particularly important for folks to know more about us," he said.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-11 23:56:46 GMT
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