Community parade shows support for Vermont Tech

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RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt. (WCAX) Traffic came to a halt in Randolph Center Friday morning as friends, faculty and even future students came to support Vermont Technical College.

Just a few days ago, the school's Randolph campus, along with Northern Vermont University, was on the chopping block. A dwindling pool of college students and years of financial woes compounded by COVID-19 had VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding come to the decision to close the schools. But community backlash had him change is mind.

Amanda Ukasick is a 24-year-old Randolph resident who plans to study in the fall in the school's diversified agricultural program. "Now we can move forward and work on legitimate plans to save this school," Ukasick said.

Even though Spaulding has spared VTC, now comes the hard part -- how to keep the college going into the future.

VTC president Patricia Moulton acted as the official greeter Friday overjoyed by the community support.. But she understands things need to change in the state college system. She's looking into the school doing more remote learning, repurposing some of the building on campus into affordable housing and even a daycare center.

"There's no doubt and there's no secret that the colleges need to transform, we need to reduce our expense profile. We've been nibbling around the edges for years due to lack of state support," Moulton said.

State Senator Mark MacDonald has represented Orange County since 2002. The Democrat says any change will need to start at the governor's office

Reporter Joe Carroll: How come the Senate and the Legislature haven't given more money to the college system?
Mark MacDonald: Well, we haven't had a governor who wants to raise taxes to put into state colleges in look, 18 years. So, maybe that will change.

"We have to look at wholesale changes that are going to reduce our overhead, but more important, grow our market. And our community has been energized thinking about innovations -- that hasn't happened before," Moulton said.

With the reprieve from the chancellor, the VTC community can have a victory lap around the campus, but all agree the school will need to evolve in order to survive.