KILLINGTON— The Killington Resort Hospitality Training Program has a new home.
After Green Mountain College announced two weeks ago that it was closing in May, thereby folding its partnership with Killington, the resort quickly turned to Castleton University as a host.
The new partnership has been given verbal approval from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
“While we’re sad to see our relationship with Green Mountain College end, we’re happy to have Castleton University step up and open their doors to GMC students,” said Killington Resort President Mike Solimano.
Castleton University President Karen Scolforo said Castleton already has a long-standing partnership with Killington. Castleton students receive a free ski pass to the resort for the winter season. The partnership seemed like a good fit.
“Our students are on the mountain all the time,” Scolforo said.
Solimano, who served on Castelton University’s strategic planning and steering committee last year, said in a previous interview that he was anticipating Green Mountain College could close before the announcement.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said.
The Resort Hospitality Program was founded 18 years ago by Frank Pauze.
There are about 26 students in the program, which has a 70-person capacity. Students study and work on the mountain, learning how to make snow and work equipment for grooming and building, for example. Students earn credit in addition to pay, helping them offset tuition costs.
About 35 percent of alumni are now working in management positions at Killington Resort.
Solimano said the program is a large part of the resort’s recruitment strategy.
Though the partnership with Castleton is secure, housing is not.
The current campus, a ski lodge at the foot of the resort is owned by a private landowner and it’s currently in the midst of a lawsuit.
The property owner recently sued Green Mountain College over a state-mandated water upgrade to accommodate the number of people living there.
Scolofo said she and Solimano were working to identify new housing opportunities.
Scolofo hopes to have housing arranged by the end of this semester.
Meanwhile, the new curriculum is also being adjusted.
“I expect that it will be similar but not identical,” Scolofro said.
“We’ll expand the program and ensure students get a robust academic workforce arrangement that prepares them for employment,” Scolofro added.
The Resort Hospitality Program will be part of Castleton’s business college. Similar to the GMC program, students will complete the degree in three years.
“We want students to be able to transfer in seamlessly,” Scolofro said.
Green Mountain College announced it was closing two weeks ago, leaving students and faculty scrambling.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Scolforo said. “We have a lot of Green Mountain College graduates in this region.”
Castleton previously announced a teach-out agreement for all Green Mountain College students. Castleton will accept any Green Mountain College students in good standing and provide a financial aid package similar to their tuition at GMC.
Scolofro said about 30 GMC students have expressed interest in attending Castleton.
Castleton, which currently has about 2,300 students, has reserved housing space for incoming students. Castleton may even hire some of Green Mountain College’s faculty.
“GMC had wonderful, highly-prepared faculty and it would be an honor if we could have a couple of them,” Scolofro said.