Mook: Vision and mission first | Commentary | rutlandherald.com – Rutland Herald

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to continue reading.
Please log in, or sign up for a new account to continue reading.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Welcome! We hope that you enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! On your next view you will be asked to log in or create an account to continue reading.
Thank you for reading! On your next view you will be asked to log in to your subscriber account or create an account and subscribepurchase a subscription to continue reading.
Thank you for signing in! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Checking back? Since you viewed this item previously you can read it again.
Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to continue reading.
Please purchase a subscription to continue reading.
Your current subscription does not provide access to this content.
Sorry, no promotional deals were found matching that code.
Promotional Rates were found for your code.
Sorry, an error occurred.

do not remove
Snow showers. Low 28F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 50%..
Snow showers. Low 28F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 50%.
Updated: November 30, 2021 @ 4:47 pm

The full-time Castleton University faculty are right to ask for a “pause” in the ongoing Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) Transformation Plan, an austerity-driven plan launched a year ago without an approved vision or mission.
Sadly, in order to promote a system-wide consolidation, VSCS has been mislabeled as “broken.” In fact, the individual institutions within the VSCS have a track record of successfully delivering high-quality education to Vermonters. Vermont Technical College boasts a 97% job placement rate for graduates. Castleton University has a 234-year history of success and currently attracts students from 26 states and 34 countries to Vermont. Northern Vermont University (Johnson and Lyndon) has its own record of successfully serving the educational needs of Vermonters. The proposed austerity-driven unification of the VSCS will negatively impact the ability of these institutions to continue their unique and successful identities.
While this new plan does not propose to close campuses in the near term, it is still an austerity-driven plan, and austerity is a downward spiral with no good end. The real problem is decades of underfunding. Vermont ranks 50th, dead last, in funding higher education. In fact, the family share of the cost at VSCS is 87% while the state share is only 13%. In no other state do students shoulder 87% of the cost burden.
Despite Vermont’s robust high school graduation rates, “demographics” are often blamed for declining enrollments at VSCS. A recent article written by Lola Duffort, education writer for VTDigger, provides clear evidence that the problem is not a “demographic challenge” at all but rather, it is a cost problem. Duffort reports that free-tuition programs made possible by the COVID funding have been “maxed out” with Vermont students being put on “wait lists.” Chancellor Zdatny admitted that “Student interest far exceeded our expectations.” A single program turned a “demographic problem” into “wait lists” of Vermonters desiring a VSCS education! What more proof do we need that the real solution is investment in affordability — not wasting millions on rebranding?
VSCS was a vehicle forced to run on fumes for decades, and it finally ran out of gas in a blizzard called COVID. This “Transformation Plan” will spend $25 million of taxpayer money on unneeded repairs: an engine overhaul, costly new paint job and a few new “State University” bumper stickers. Highly paid out-of-state consultants have been hired to oversee the repairs. For example, a marketing firm was paid $261,000 to recommend a new name — Vermont State University. Many voiced concern that losing the names, brand recognition, reputations and mascots of the individual institutions will undermine all of their hard-won success. After approving the new name, a board member noted it was the “common sense choice” and had been “suggested by Gov. Jim Douglas years ago.” If it was known to have been suggested by Douglas, where is the common sense in spending $261,000 of taxpayer money for an out-of-state consultant to make the same suggestion? That, alone, should be cause for pause.
Another out-of-state consulting firm was hired to evaluate academic programs using “workforce development” as criteria and to make recommendations long before a meaningful vision and mission had been crafted and approved. While it is important, “workforce development” is a woefully inadequate vision and mission for any institution of higher learning, let alone an entire state university system. Jane Goodall, the eminent primatologist and anthropologist, believes the goal of education is the development of “our true human potential.”
Students tell me over and over they want to “make a difference,” “help others” and “change the world.” The stated VSCS goal “to prepare students to enter the world of work” sets an embarrassingly low bar for a university education. Empowering students to create the lives they desire and the future they deserve, just might be more inspiring!
At the Chancellor’s Castleton University Town Hall Meeting, it was admitted that the vision and mission “should have come first. But we can go back and fix things later.” Fixing things later is redundant and expensive, and mistakes like ill-advised name changes cannot be “fixed later.” The Legislature has finally recognized higher education as a public good worthy of robust investment. If only the Chancellor and BOT would have the courage to press the “pause” button, this plan could be reimagined with a meaningful vision and mission that more broadly serves the needs of people and the planet. It’s never too late to do the right thing.
David A. Mook lives in Poultney.

Your comment has been submitted.

Reported
There was a problem reporting this.
Log In
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

source