MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) After vocal opposition to his plan to close three campuses of the Vermont State Colleges System forced him to withdraw his proposal, Chancellor Jeb Spaulding now plans to resign.
Spaulding plans to submit his resignation to the board of trustees at their meeting Wednesday, two weeks after pitching his controversial cost saving plan to close both of Northern Vermont University's campuses in Johnson and Lyndon, as well as the VTC campus in Randolph.
He said the three schools were already running in the red by the millions due to declining enrollment to other less expensive schools and online competition. And then COVID-19 hit, forcing the schools to reimburse room and board. On top of that, Spaulding says the state contributes too little to state schools. H said a potential $10-million deficit loomed and he worried about the financial future of the entire state college system.
But his proposal to close the three campuses and move programs to Castleton University and the VTC Williston campus was met with opposition. People worried it would devastate the economy even more in northern Vermont and in Randolph. About 500 people would have lost jobs. They also worried about options for 2,000 enrolled students and those set to attend in the coming months. The faculty union gave Spaulding a no confidence vote. The board of trustees ultimately delayed a vote on his recommendations. Spaulding said he'd wait to comment until after the board meeting and once his resignation is accepted.
But in a statement Tuesday he said stepping down was the best option. "I realize that a fresh perspective and new leadership is necessary to move the VSCS forward in its mission. I will continue to do all I can to provide support in the transition and champion the system's leaders as they work through the challenges ahead," he said.
He's been with the organization for five years. The college system's general counsel, Sophie Zdatny, is likely to become interim chancellor while the board looks for Spaulding's replacement.
“We deeply appreciate Jeb’s extended career in service to Vermont and Vermonters. We at the Vermont State Colleges System have valued his contributions as our Chancellor, and we wish him well as he charts his next course,” said Board of Trustees Chairman, J. Churchill Hindes.