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Bennington Braces For Southern Vermont College Closure

A cascade on the campus of Southern Vermont College. The school announced via press release Monday that it will close at the end of the 2019 spring semester.
Ric Cengeri
VPR File
A cascade on the campus of Southern Vermont College. The school announced via press release Monday that it will close at the end of the 2019 spring semester.

The town manager of Bennington, Vermont, says the closure of Southern Vermont College in his town will be "terrible" for his community. 

Stuart Hurd said that besides the economic impact, the school's closing will take away an educational opportunity for residents of Bennington and the nearby area.

"There were a lot of individuals who lived and worked in Bennington that went there as day students in the past, where they couldn't afford to go [away] to college, and they stayed here and worked," Hurd said. "They might have had a family when they got ready to go to college, and they couldn't afford to go away."

Hurd said he expects the college's employees will be able to find work, given Vermont's low unemployment rate, and a number of Bennington employers with job openings.

"There are industries in Bennington that are dying for workers who have some technological skills," Hurd said. "Someone who's an employee of the college who has some skills — they'll probably find a job, but it may not be the job they really love doing."

The college announced this week it will close in a few months amid mounting debt and sagging enrollment.

As for the Southern Vermont students, those in good standing will be accepted at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts. The same goes for those who were granted admission to SVC for the upcoming fall semester.

"You know, it helps us enroll additional students, which is always a nice thing for small institutions," said MCLA president James Birge. Aside from that benefit for his school, he said they're also just trying to help out.

"I think there's a close relationship among all higher ed intuitions that are small liberal arts schools who want their students to do well," Birge said. "That's certainly our approach here."

Southern Vermont students going to MCLA will pay the same tuition and fees as residents of other New England states. That's considerably less than the price tag at their current school.

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Adam is based at New England Public Radio’'s Berkshire County news bureau in Pittsfield, where he has been since August, 2015. He joined NEPR as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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