Another Vermont College Will Close

College of St. Joseph announces that it will cease operations.

March 22, 2019
 
College of St. Joseph

The College of St. Joseph, in Vermont, announced Thursday that it will shut down at the end of the semester.

The college has been struggling for the last year, most recently with demands from its accreditor, the New England Commission on Higher Education, that it show that it has the financial resources to operate effectively.

In May, the college announced that it might close. Then it announced that that it would redouble its efforts to reach its enrollment goal of 235 full-time undergraduates for the next academic year. In December, the college announced new demands from the accreditor on its financial resources.

Most recently, college officials said they hoped that a potential partnership would provide the necessary resources. But a statement Thursday from Jennifer L. Scott, the president, said that possibility fell through.

"It is with heavy heart and great disappointment that I must deliver the news that our potential institutional partner has elected to not move forward with us," said Scott's statement. "Creating and implementing a thoughtful plan for a deep affiliation proved to be too great of a feat given our current accreditation deadline and critical financial condition. Therefore, while we have new evidence for the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) that is material to our financial resources, including the sale of assets and a successful multiyear pledge campaign, the collective impact of this material evidence will not reach NECHE’s threshold of significance."

The statement said that St. Joseph had a teach-out plan for current students already set with Castleton University and with other colleges.

The college is the second small private Vermont college to close this month. Southern Vermont College made such an announcement three weeks ago.

The last two years have been difficult for small New England colleges that do not have much in the way of endowments.

Green Mountain College, also in Vermont, announced in January that it will close at the end of the spring semester. Goddard College, also in Vermont, is in the process of shoring up its finances as part of a probation arrangement with NECHE.

Vermont Law School, a freestanding private law school, has also been facing budget challenges and last year shifted some tenured faculty to nontenured positions.

Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., announced in December that it would close at the end of this academic year. Atlantic Union College, northwest of Boston, announced that it would close later this year.

Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., has said that it won’t admit a freshman class this fall -- it’s looking for a strategic partner to continue operating but has also announced layoffs.

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