By Peter D’Auria/VTDigger
Jonathan Spiro, interim president of Castleton University, will retire next month, the Vermont State Colleges announced Monday, Dec. 6, but he’ll stay in the position until Jan. 3. Thomas Maughs-Hugh, Castleton’s provost, will take over as interim president at that point.
“I offer my sincerest thanks to President Spiro for his many years of service to Castleton University and the Vermont State Colleges system,” Lynn Dickinson, chair of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees, said in a press release sent out by the college earlier this month. “As interim president, Dr. Spiro led Castleton through a tremendously challenging time as it navigated the challenges of the pandemic and the resulting impacts on students and employees,” she added.
The announcement of Spiro’s departure comes amid a tumultuous consolidation of the Vermont State Colleges system.
Three of the four Vermont State Colleges — Castleton, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College — are in the process of merging into one entity, Vermont State University. (The Community College of Vermont, which is also in the Vermont State Colleges system, is not part of the merger.)
At Castleton, which recently underwent a rebrand of its own, plans for the merger have drawn concern from faculty, alumni and community members.
Administrators are currently seeking to hire the first-ever president of Vermont State University, who will oversee all three schools. That person will, in theory, replace the presidents of all three colleges by July 1, 2022.
Of the three Vermont state colleges that are set to merge, only Vermont Technical College currently has a permanent president, Patricia Moulton, who has served in the position since 2017.
Already, Castleton and NVU are being run by interim presidents. Spiro became Castleton’s interim president in May 2020, when Karen Scolforo resigned abruptly amid controversy over merger plans.
Northern Vermont University president Elaine Collins stepped down in August, to be replaced by interim president John Mills.
Vermont State University is officially set to launch on July 1, 2023.
Spiro was not available for an interview, but according to a press release, during his tenure, Spiro oversaw Castleton’s once-a-decade accreditation process and improved student retention.
According to an online biography, he has worked at Castleton University since 2002 and has taught courses on “history, politics, race, slavery, immigration, the conservation movement, the ancient Maya, and the nature-nurture debate.”