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Controversial consolidations of multiple public institutions in Vermont and Connecticut have earned the key step of initial accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

In statements published Monday, the accrediting agency said it had granted approval for Connecticut’s 12 community colleges to operate as one institution and for three formerly separate public universities to come together as Vermont State University. Both consolidations are due to take effect on July 1, in less than two weeks.

The Vermont State merger was billed as a way to create a hybrid institution that would avoid closing campuses amid steep enrollment declines and shrinking funding. But its rollout has been rocky: plans to eliminate sports teams and significantly shrink physical libraries drew sharp criticism, and the initial choice for president was forced to resign before the institution formally began operating.

“This is a significant step in the launch of Vermont State University and an exciting demonstration that this new institution is prepared to thrive,” said Sophie Zdatny, chancellor of the Vermont State College System, which designed the consolidation. “This accreditation provides assurances to our students, staff, faculty and state partners that we can meet the rigorous standards of higher education and deliver a great education.”

The Connecticut merger has been in the works much longer, dating to 2018, and it has had a longer and more circuitous road to this important landmark of accreditation. Faculty members and community leaders have worried about a loss of identity and employee cutbacks for individual institutions as leaders create a single institution, Connecticut State Community College, with 12 campuses.