Critics of Marlboro College closure search for alternatives

Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 6:48 PM EST
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It's been just over a month since Marlboro College announced it's closing as part of a merger with Boston's Emerson College. But some worry what will happen to the southern Vermont town if the small liberal arts school shuts down. Our Adam Sullivan takes you there.

Since the Merger was announced back in November, which some say means the beginning of the end for Marlboro College, both former faculty and alumni have rallied together to say not so fast.

"Marlboro College has been described as a jewel in American higher education," said Adrian Segar, a former computer science professor.

Retired professors Adrian Segar and T. Hunter Wilson have more than five decades of combined experience at Marlboro College. They say the tiny campus of roughly 150 students creates big opportunities for its graduates.

"The relationship is close and intense and very unusual if not unique," Wilson said.

But they also both agree the current model is not sustainable. And due to declining enrollment, the college has announced it's changing course. The merger plan with Emerson College would allow the students and tenured and tenure-track professors to transfer to Emerson along with the $35 million endowment. The campus buildings would then be sold.

But now, only a month into the announcement, an informal group of alumni and past and present faculty have gotten together to "slow things down."

"Either alter the deal with Emerson or to map a different path forward," Wilson said.

If that path is not altered, some community members say it could have dire consequences for the region.

"My best guess is that there would be a period of several years where there would be some houses on the market, people would move out, find other jobs. But then again, there is always the possibility of something exciting happening," said Evan Wyse, the assistant town clerk.

At this point, many questions remain about the proposed merger. WCAX News called and stopped by Tuesday but were told no one was available to comment.

According to the college's website, the tentative agreement will not become official July 1 of next year.

In the meantime, those who care about the college are exploring viable alternatives.

"Essentially Marlboro College 2.0, a transformer school that can continue into the future which is ultimately what everybody involved in Marlboro wants," Segar said.

A board of trustees meeting will take place on campus this Saturday where public input will be accepted.