MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to merge Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges into a single institution with separate campuses.
Thursday’s vote followed preliminary approval from the board in July. Officials say merging the two colleges will expand opportunities for students and improve finances within the state college system.
“Unification will create new academic and experiential opportunities for students, a bigger and more diverse faculty environment, advantages for recruiting new students and a significantly strengthened financial foundation,” VSCS Chancellor Jeb Spaulding told the board. “They are pivotal institutions in their regions and they are beloved by their alumni, faculty, staff and current students. Unification is our recognition of that love and our commitment to maintain two vibrant and viable campuses for the coming decades.”
The merger is slated to take effect on July 1, 2018, and will be led by current Johnson State College President Dr. Elaine Collins. The two colleges, once merged, will have a consolidated leadership team with representation from both schools, according to officials. That team will be put in place on July 1, 2017, to allow for a year-long transition.
“The Board has chosen to put the two colleges into the strongest position possible to address the significant challenges facing small, tuition dependent colleges. The Chancellor’s analysis and explanation of the financial, academic, and community benefits of unification is substantive and convincing. Unification will make a stronger college with new opportunities for students and a promising future for both campuses,” VSCS Board President Martha O’Connor said in a statement.
Once the merger is fully implemented, officials said it is expected to produce a savings of about $2 million annually. The merger should also produce about $2 million in additional revenue “through enrollment growth beyond what would otherwise be expected for combined dollar value of budgetary savings and increased revenue is approximately $4 million annually,” according to a news release from VSCS.
Implementation of the merger plan is expected to have a one-time cost of $2 million, which will include significant costs for marketing and information technology improvements, according to VSCS. Details about academic programs, marketing and branding, student services and campus activities in the unified college will be determined by the Lyndon and Johnson faculty, staff and students with the new administration.
A Unification Advisory Committee will continue working on gather input and advising officials on key issues to help make unification successful. The committee will hold two campus-wide meetings at each college in October.
The Board of Trustees has asked that Spaulding, with help from Collin’s new leadership team and the Unification Advisory Committee, recommend a name for the merged institutions by the board’s meeting on Dec. 1.