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Castleton University President Resigns, Green Mountain College Goes To Auction

Castleton University President Karen Scolforo sits in the office she took over in December. Scolforo says she's optomistic the univeristy will be able to correct a budget deficit of $1.5 million the university is currently facing.
Nina Keck
/
VPR
Castleton College President Karen Scolforo submitted her resignation Wednesday evening.

The president of Castleton University submitted her resignation on Wednesday, at the same meeting where trustees formally accepted the resignation of Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding.

Castleton University President Karen Scolforo announced that she will step down at the end of May after two and a half years of leading the university.

The 57-year old told VPR she felt she had lost the support of state college officials.

Scolforo said at the meeting, “The circumstances that have occurred over the past couple of weeks have put me in a position where I feel like I can’t lead at the same level."

Among a lot of the state’s smaller colleges and universities, Castleton is something of a success story. Its enrollment has actually gone up — in part because of recent closures of schools like Green Mountain College and Rutland’s College of St. Josephs.

But Scolforo had also launched a number of innovative collaborations with community colleges in Vermont and New York and created partnership programs in Bennington and Killington. Her resignation left many people scratching their heads.

Reached Thursday, Scolforo said she herself was still reeling. “My phone has crashed twice with all the letters, and texts and calls.“

Scolforo said she knew earlier this month that former state college system chancellor Jeb Spaulding was trying to address huge budget shortfalls in the system.

His plan included closing Northern Vermont University, which would fold into Castleton. She said she and her staff had immediately began troubleshooting how they’d house and help students from Northern Vermont University stay on track academically.

"Ultimately, if the leadership doesn't support you, then it makes it very difficult to move forward." — Karen Scolforo, President of Castleton College

“And I was gearing up with the team here to welcome students from those closing institutions as we have done multiple times before,“ Scolforo said.

She said she felt blindsided when, on April 14, Spaulding called to tell her she’d be replaced by Northern Vermont University President Elaine Collins.

“I did not see it coming, I didn’t understand it and I still don’t. I have far more experience and for the situation we were about to step into, I had recent experience as the leader of Castleton,“ Scolforo said.

Her replacement was part of the state college restructuring plan that fizzled shortly after it was announced.

More from VPR: Vermont State Colleges Propose Closing Northern Vermont University, Randolph Campus

Scolforo said Spaulding changed his mind and asked her to stay after that plan was withdrawn.

“Ultimately, if the leadership doesn’t support you, then it makes it very difficult to move forward,” Scolforo said. “And Castleton University deserves to move forward in really strong powerful ways. Whatever that takes that will be worth it.”

The Board of Trustees is expected to vote in the coming weeks to name an acting president for Castleton University.

At Wednesday’s meeting, trustees appointed general counsel Sophie Zdatny as the Vermont State Colleges System’s interim chancellor.

Green Mountain College’s campus goes to auction

Green Mountain College's Poultney campus is going up on the auction block.

A New York-based auction company said it is seeking a first round of  bids on the 155-acre college campus.

The sale includes 22 buildings, built between 1855 and 1969.

The auction site suggests several potential uses for the property, including as a religious compound, an assisted living facility, a summer camp, or an addiction treatment retreat.

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