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After Considering A Rebrand, Vermont State Colleges Will Keep Its Name

Taylor Dobbs
VPR File Photo
Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding, shown here in 2013, says he doesn't think a name change will improve the system's brand, and he thinks the state colleges trustees will agree with him.

Vermont Higher Education System. Vermont State Higher Education System. Vermont State College and University System … On second thought, “Vermont State Colleges” works just fine.

The more things change at the Vermont State Colleges system, the more likely its moniker will stay the same. After briefly considering a name makeover, trustees are expected to vote at their regularly scheduled board meeting in Randolph on Thursday to focus their re-branding efforts in other ways. 

Jerry Diamond, chairman of the long-range planning committee, said none of the alternative names under consideration were compelling. And frankly, there are more important things to work on.

Chancellor Jeb Spaulding agrees. “They are things like increasing the number and percentage of high school graduates that are going on to college, doing a better job of helping the students that come to college actually succeed and get their diploma in as timely a fashion as we can, being more accessible for adult students that want to get back into higher education and might not have completed or gone in the first place," he says.

Spaulding says the name question came up partly because Castleton State College had recently morphed to Castleton University, and some people wondered whether “Vermont State Colleges” still fit the bill.

Also, there’s growing emphasis on collaboration among the state college system’s five institutions, and some people wondered if a new name would better reflect that interconnectedness.

There's growing emphasis on collaboration among the state college system's five institutions, and some people wondered if a new name would better reflect that interconnectedness.

And, Spaulding admits, the state colleges have an image problem. He says too many people see them as “back-up” schools. And they are back-up schools. But, that’s not all they are.

“Half of the students who come to the Vermont State Colleges are the first in their family to go to college,” Spaulding says. “The other half are coming from families where, their family did go to college and they’re expecting a quality academic and worldly experience when they go to college. And we do both.”

Spaulding says he expects the trustees will agree they don’t need to change the system’s name to improve its brand.

But, that’s not to say nothing will change. The long-range planning committee did vote to revise the state colleges’ joint mission and vision statements. There are no drastic changes, but some tweaks to the wording that emphasize collaboration among campuses.

Spaulding says the trustees also will prioritize ways to put that mission and vision, into action.

Hilary is an independent investigative reporter, data journalism consultant and researcher based in Montpelier. She specializes in telling stories of how public policy shapes people's daily lives.
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