Letter From The Campus, Looks Like Dick Will Stay

I have just received the following letter from Vermont College Union Institute. You may have remembered that we were all a bit worried what would happen to College Hall if it were sold, and then what would happen to the Dick Hathaway sculpture. It looks like the MFA is going to purchase the entire property. I assume that this secures the TW Woods Gallery and Dick on the campus. I am thrilled. He should be here.

February 26, 2007

Dear faculty, staff, learners, and alumni,
I’m pleased to announce that this past Friday, February 23, 2007 I signed of a Letter of Intent to transfer the historic Vermont College campus and three MFA programs to the newly formed Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). After a period of due diligence, we project that the sale will be completed by July 1, 2007. UI&U will continue to operate its undergraduate adult degree program, as well as the Master of Education and Master of Arts programs, without interruption, in leased facilities on the campus.

Included in the proposed sale to VCFA are the campus’s 11 buildings and 33.5 acres, as well as the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts program, the Master of Arts in Writing program, and the Master of Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. The Vermont College of Fine Arts, under the leadership of MFA alumnus Tom Greene, a longtime administrator with Vermont College, and William Kaplan, an expert in real estate acquisition and conservation, is committed to a seamless transition for the three MFA programs. According to Tom, the vision of the new non-profit entity is that the “historic campus and renowned academic programs will form the foundation for a new college, one that not only plays a critical role in arts and letters in this country, but also is firmly and forever anchored in central Vermont.”

For the past months, we have made concerted efforts to appropriately staff the Montpelier-based programs in anticipation of this sale. We are pleased that academic and academic support staff associated with the programs retained by UI&U will not lose their positions because of this transfer. Academic support staff and faculty related to the MFA programs will most likely become employees of VCFA. Discussions are still in the very early stages regarding facilities, housekeeping, and security staff, but VCFA officials are quoted as saying that they are committed to operate the campus and the MFA programs without disruption.

In the proposed framework, UI&U will lease office, classroom, dormitory, and meeting space from VCFA and operate its educational offerings as one of UI&U’s five national academic centers. All current programs will continue to operate out of the Stone Science building, including the undergraduate adult degree program; the MA and new MA Online; and the MEd. The Gary Library will also continue to operate under UI&U auspices, serving all UI&U and VCFA students in a shared arrangement. UI&U’s Brattleboro Center will also continue to operate without interruption. UI&U has also recently leased offices in Brattleboro to house its new Psy.D. program which will operate pending approval of the Vermont Department of Education.

Alumni of the three MFA programs, as well as alumni of the historic programs housed on the campus (Montpelier Seminary, Vermont Junior College, etc.) will transfer under the auspices of the VCFA. All alumni who earned UI&U degrees since the 2001 acquisition, including all those who earned degrees from the programs staying with UI&U and alumni of the Adult Degree program, MEd program, and MA program will remain with UI&U.

This Letter of Intent moves us closer to our goals, stated clearly last spring, to divest all real property at its Cincinnati headquarters and Montpelier campus in order to focus resources on our core mission based on our founders’ vision to be “learner-centered” rather than “building-centered.” The decision to sell the historic Montpelier campus as well as other property is part of an institution-wide re-visioning that redirects the university’s assets away from owned real estate to focus on creating innovative programs for adults, investing in our people, enhancing learner services, and providing state-of-the-art technology.

We are proud to have been stewards of the Vermont College campus and its academic programs for the past five years, and gratified that our substantial investments in the buildings, the campus, the programs, and the people have given birth to the new and promising entity of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. We are particularly pleased that VCFA will not only continue to operate but also enhance the nationally renowned MFA programs in Writing, Visual Arts, and Writing for Children. We are also very much looking forward to continuing to operate our undergraduate and master’s programs on the campus without interruption.

UI&U remains wholly committed to learners, staff, faculty, and alumni in Vermont, providing strong and viable educational opportunities. It is our intention and the intention of VCFA that this transfer is contingent upon being a seamless transition similar to when UI&U purchased the campus and programs from Norwich University in 2001. There is no foreseen alteration of the academic experience: the learning model will continue, and even improve; faculty will be retained; and residencies will continue without interruption. While there are still details to work out, officials from both organizations are working diligently with federal, state, and local agencies.

I express my deepest appreciation to all of you for your patience throughout this past months. I know that the uncertainty about the campus and program caused rumors and unrest, but I hope you understand that these are serious negotiations and the level of detail is such that much of the information must remain protected in order to safeguard the eventual outcome. I thank you for allowing us the time to make this transition a reality. We owe it to our learners, alumni, and ourselves to continue to work every day to serve our learners and continue the legacies created by both Union and Vermont College.

I also thank officials in the city of Montpelier and the state of Vermont for their warm hospitality and support throughout the past five years. We all look forward to what promises to be a fruitful and lasting partnership on a beautiful and unique campus.

I’m sure that you will have questions in the coming weeks and months. We will do our best to answer them and to provide as much information as possible to ensure that we are serving our learners, our alumni and friends, our staff, and our faculty. We will continue to stay in touch as we know more.

Warm regards,
Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D.

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