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Planned Merger Between Marlboro And Emerson Colleges Would Close Vermont Campus

White buildings on the Marlboro College campus near the road
Amy Kolb Noyes
VPR File
Marlboro College, in southern Vermont, has announced plans to gift its endowment and real estate to Emerson College, in Boston. Emerson would take on Marlboro's students and faculty next fall.

Marlboro College announced Wednesday it plans to close its southern Vermont campus this spring. The school says it is striking a deal with Emerson College, in Boston.

In exchange for Marlboro's $30 million endowment and $10 million in real estate holdings, Emerson plans to take on Marlboro's current students and its tenured and tenure-track faculty.

"Marlboro’s $40M gift to Emerson will endow Emerson’s Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies program where Marlboro students will be enrolled and Marlboro faculty will teach," a joint press release from the schools stated. "The Institute will be renamed the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College."

Marlboro said it will work with students who want to transfer to an institution other than Emerson.

"It's really challenging news for many in our community," Marlboro College President Kevin Quigley acknowledged to VPR Wednesday. "Like a lot of our neighbors, Marlboro has had challenges around finances and enrollment, and we've been working hard on a strategy to find a partner who will help us address those challenges."

Three southern Vermont campuses – Green Mountain College, Southern Vermont College and College of St. Joseph —all closed earlier this year, and previous talks for Marlboro College to merge with the Connecticut-based University of Bridgeport were called off in September.

In the press release about the now-planned merger with Emerson, Quigley stated:

"This remarkable opportunity to develop an alliance with Emerson ensures that the essential elements of Marlboro will endure. It preserves our identity through renaming Emerson’s Institute as the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, continues our pedagogy and commitment to progressive education by bringing our faculty to the Emerson campus, and provides extraordinary educational opportunities for our students with an alliance partner where there is a clear alignment of values, culture and purpose."

In that same press release, Emerson College President Lee Pelton stated: "This is an extraordinary alliance and a quintessential win for both of our commonwealths of learning."

Each school will now form working groups meet through the mid-spring to plot out next steps, and the schools stated a goal of confirming the alliance by July 1, 2020.

Marlboro College was established in 1946, and there are currently 151 undergraduate and around 50 graduate students enrolled. Quigley told VPR that 24 Marlboro facuty will be offered teaching positions at Emerson, though he added there are 60 staff members who are not covered by the agreement as it currently stands.

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Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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