On November 22, 2023

There’s no Caroline Woodruff to save Castleton now

 

Dear Editor,

When the Old Seminary building of Castleton Normal School burned down over winter break in January 1924, the fate of the school seemed set on a course for closure. This was until the educational and financial prowess of Principal Caroline Woodruff saved the institution. 

Just as it was in 1924, it seems as though the fate of Castleton’s college, now the infamous Vermont State University-Castleton, seems to be on a similar course for disaster — not because of a tragic fire, but rather from the unethical and illogical decisions made at the top of the administrative chain.

The utter lack of confidence in the merger’s success is multifaceted. In just the first three years of the transformation, the Castleton community has experienced the presidential office change between numerous hands; witnessed the board of trustees and senior leadership go back on their word time and time again; suffered heartbreak as beloved staff members — many of whom were invaluable members of the college community — were laid off; rebuffed the attacks made upon Castleton’s library and arts programs; and most recently the apparent withdrawal of a 2021 promise that “legacy institution” students enrolled before fall 2023 would have the option of choosing which institution name their diploma would bear.

As the faculty unions and student government associations have resolved before, there is truly “no confidence” in the VTSU leadership.

Unlike 1924, Castleton does not have a leader like Caroline Woodruff to save us in 2023. Rather, we are plagued by poor leadership and management at the senior level, which has seemingly no situational awareness as to how their decisions are destroying community morale and trust in the administration. 

While Woodruff Hall itself may not be burning, the centuries-old reputation of academic vigor, resilience and integrity it represents is nonetheless going up in smoke.

Joseph E. Kinney
Castleton University
Class of December 2023

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