For the past year, Goddard College, in Plainfield, has been operating under accreditation probation for not meeting financial standards and other problems. In that time, Goddard has brought on a new president, cut staff and focused on fundraising.
Recently, about three dozen former students came to campus for an alumni weekend residency. The school’s troubles were a big part of the conversation according to Justin Kagan, of Orlando, Florida. He graduated in 2016 with a master’s degree in consciousness studies.
"It's bringing everyone out to show how much they love the college," Kagan said. "And we just sat in there and did our opening ceremony, and it seems like almost every single person used the word 'magical,' right? They had a 'magical' or 'impactful' experience at Goddard."
While on campus, the alumni launched a $16,000 fundraising challenge, which they quickly met according to the school's advancement office. They raised $32,000, including the alumni matching funds.
Kagan said Goddard graduates are determined to see the school succeed.
"To see a place that we connect so deeply with sort of facing some kind of struggle – in any way – we all rally behind it and are doing our best to ensure it’s ongoing," he said.
Three Vermont colleges in similar financial situations closed earlier this year. College of St. Joseph, Green Mountain College and Southern Vermont College all held their final commencement ceremonies last spring.