The Vermont College of Fine Arts offers a special blend of old and new.
"You have this old campus and yet you have some of the leading contemporary artists, writers, musicians and designers," said College President Thomas Christopher Greene.
The school was founded in 2008. In that time its budget has doubled to 10-million dollars. Right now the school offers five graduate programs that span the arts -- growing responsibly is now among its biggest challenges.
"We bought the most expensive house in the neighborhood and we have to pay the mortgage on it, so it is always a challenge financially," Greene said.
VCFA's 350 students come from across the country, but you won't find them all on campus at the same time. Instead, the school uses a low residency model, where students come to Montpelier for two, ten-day stretches while completing course work from home.
"They get to collide with one another and work on things that they can then take back to their home studios," said Silas Munro, a graphic design professor.
"Even though we are a low residency model and we are not with each other on a daily basis, we email, we Skype, we have monthly check-ins with our advisors," said Rachael Hatley, a graphic design student and mother of two from Louisiana. She said her graduate program is allowing her to balance work and family in ways others would not. "I am raising two small boys and it is very difficult to go to classes when you have children to go back to, and I want to be there when they get back from school, so the independent study model works really well for me," she said.
For now, the fine arts school is leasing some of its 33 acre campus to the state to help pay its bills. It would eventually like to double the amount of enrolled students, but that could be a few years away.
"We're raising money, we're doing all the things you need to do to run a college, but for us it is about staying entrepreneurial, nimble and growing, and continuing to attract the best people," Greene said.
VCFA is now in the process of adding a film program for graduate students. Tuition, room and board ranges from about $18,000-$20,000 a year, depending on the program.
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