By Lola Duffort/VTDigger
Another small liberal arts college in Vermont will close its doors for good this summer.
Southern Vermont College president David Evans announced Monday, March 4, that the school would shut down at the end of the year. He cited declining enrollments, financial pressures, and a recent decision by the New England Commission of Higher Education, the school’s regional accreditor.
“We have done as much as we feel we could have done to turn things around in terms of enrollment and to turn things around in terms of philanthropy,” Evans said. “But we’ve just sort of run out of runway.”
In late January, NECHE notified the school that it was worried about the school’s financial viability, and that SVC would need to show accreditors why it shouldn’t be placed on probation or have its accreditation withdrawn entirely.
After a hearing with accreditors on Thursday, Feb. 28, the board voted Friday to close, and on Saturday, NECHE called with its verdict: it had decided to withdraw the school’s accreditation.
NECHE has agreed to continue the school’s accreditation until Aug. 31, so that any seniors who need to take summer courses in order to finish on time can do so and graduate with a fully accredited degree, Evans said.
Nationwide, but particularly in the Northeast, small colleges with meagre endowments are struggling to survive, merging, or shuttering entirely as they compete for a shrinking pool of applicants as the population in certain regions both dwindles and ages. SVC is the second school in the state to make such an announcement this year. In January, officials at Green Mountain College in Poultney decided to close after commencement, also because of financial pressures tied to declining enrollments.
It likely won’t be the last: NECHE has decided to withdraw the accreditation of the College of St. Joseph in Rutland at the end of the year, although officials there have made one final appeal to save the school.