Green Mountain College in Vermont will shut down
Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., announced Wednesday evening that the school will close after the end of the spring semester.
Trustees of the school, which specializes in environmental studies, said that after an 18-month effort to find a way to stay open, they decided it was best to close the school.
The school cited financial pressure stemming from declining enrollment brought about by the overall decline in college-age students across New England. Ultimately, the school was unable to collect enough tuition to fund the rising cost of providing degrees, officials said in a news release.
Indeed, Green Mountain is just the latest casualty in a national trend. Small liberal arts colleges face increasing financial pressure as the college-age population shrinks and families are increasingly unable, or unwilling, to pay high tuitions. Schools try to compete for students by offering scholarships, but with small endowments, they depend on tuition to stay in business.
In a statement Wednesday, president Robert Allen said Green Mountain officials explored a range of options to save the school and met with potential partners in and outside of Vermont. But he said they were unable to find a satisfactory partnership.
“Efforts were redoubled to find a solution, but we have reached the point that continued pursuit of these strategies is narrowing the options available for all students, faculty, and staff,” Allen said.
News of Green Mountain’s financial troubles followed similar announcements by other New England colleges in recent months. Last week, Hampshire College in Amherst announced its desire to merge with another educational institution and said it was evaluating whether to admit a freshman class for the fall. In December, Newbury College in Brookline announced it would shut down after the spring semester. Last spring, Mount Ida College’s sudden shutdown created a fury among students, faculty, and state officials.
The Green Mountain announcement was made Wednesday at an all-college meeting after a vote by the school’s trustees, according to the press release, which was sent by a spokeswoman for the law firm Holland and Knight, which is working for the school during its shutdown.
The school also announced that it has an agreement with Prescott College in Arizona, which will hire some Green Mountain faculty, maintain student records, and allow students to complete their degrees there. It will also create a center that carries on the Green Mountain name, the school said. Both colleges specialize in the environment.
Green Mountain has about 450 undergraduates, 250 graduate students, and 40 full-time faculty. Its endowment is $3.6 million. Tuition is $35,600, and room and board is another $12,000, plus $1,750 in fees.
The school was founded in 1833 as part of the Methodist Church and for many years was a junior college for women. In 1975, it began offering four-year bachelor’s degrees and became coeducational. In 1995, it adopted a focus on environmental studies. In 2006, the school began to offer online master’s degrees and MBAs.
The campus sits on 155 acres between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains. It has a farm, hiking trails, and a swimming hole. The school prides itself on its sustainable practices, has a recycling crew, and composts the dining hall waste.
Thirty-eight percent of undergraduate students at Green Mountain finish their degrees within six years, the standard length of time used to measure a college’s effectiveness. About 40 percent of students are low-income. Its retention rate, or the number of freshmen who continue as sophomores, is 74 percent.