Petition for an Open Meeting with Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees

Petition for an Open Meeting with Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees

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Kyle Gilrain started this petition to Ira Wagner

PETITIONERS

We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff, community leaders, and friends of Southern Vermont College urge the Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees formally commit to keeping Southern Vermont College open for future generations.   

LEGAL OBLIGATIONS OF THE SVC BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Minimally, it is our belief Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees has a responsibility to hold an open meeting in which members of the SVC community have an opportunity to present alternative solutions to the closure course.   By way of illustration and not exhaustion, the board of any non-profit has a responsibility that requires them to be informed and active participants in corporate governance.   It is the responsibility of the board to steer the organization in a sustainable way with sound ethical, legal, and financial management practices and policies. 

We, the undersigned, are concerned the board is neither informed nor active.  We are concerned the SVC Board of Trustees has been excluded from discussions about keeping the college open.  Moreover, we believe the Board of Trustees at Southern Vermont College share responsibility to steer the organization in a sustainable way or to responsibly manage the financial resources of the college.   

Over the past two years, however, multiple individuals have come forward to offer assistance to the college.   These individuals offered financial resources, time, and talent.  It is our understanding that these offers and ideas were ignored or were unceremoniously rejected by the current administration.  The people who have reached out to SVC to help could have collectively made a difference, but all speak of a lack of follow up or interest from President Evans and his administration. This lost opportunity is something that can also be improved with new leadership.

Similarly, on March 28, 2019 multiple people participated in a conference call and meeting with a focus on coming together to save Southern Vermont College.   These people include:  Jim Carroll (Vermont House of Representatives, Bennington District 2-2 and Bennington Selectman), Karen Gross (former President of SVC), Polly Major (Representative from the office of US Senator Patrick Leahy), John Tracey (Liaison for US Senator Leahy), Chris Carrington (VP of Business Development, VT Chamber of Commerce), Jean O’Sullivan (Vice Chair of Commerce and Economic Development, State of Vermont), Eli Harrington (Hemp and Cannabis Lobby), and Kyle Gilrain (SVC ’93).

The March 28, 2019 meeting included the discussion of a bold vision for new academic programs that would truly serve to put Southern Vermont College on the cutting edge of budding fields and industries. Southern Vermont College already offers top notch programs that serve to meet the needs of local communities. As such, we could not be more pleased that Southern Vermont College can serve as a potential catalyst for new industries and businesses for the region.

All of the participants in the March 28, 2019 meeting recognize the forthcoming hurdles to implementing the plans that were discussed. In addition to the substantive changes to enhance programs at SVC, they also broached both legal and policy strategies to cutting a path forward.

THE SOUTHERN VERMONT COLLEGE DIFFERENCE

There are several meaningful reasons that Southern Vermont College is a college worth saving.  Chief among the reasons is the mission of Southern Vermont College.   When Southern Vermont College sticks to the mission and fosters a deep belief in the potential of every individual, the college does well.  

Southern Vermont College caters to first generation students, students who did not reach their full potential in high school, PELL grant students, and students who otherwise would have no other option for college.    This distinguishes SVC from other small private colleges who cater to students of other characteristics and try to exist in that saturated market.  

Some other salient factors that are favorable for keeping Southern Vermont College open include:

  • The college recently brought back the Environmental Studies degree program.   
  • In January 2014, Southern Vermont College established the Veterans' Scholar Program (VSP).
  • In Fall 2013, Southern Vermont College partnered with the College Steps Program for students with cognitive impairments.  
  • In Fall 2018, US News and World Report recently ranked Southern Vermont College #25 in regional colleges in the North.
  • In the summer of 2018, SVC signed an innovative partnership agreement with Southwestern Vermont Health Care to support nursing education for our students and help fill a workforce gap for SVHC
  • Nursing program gained CCNE accreditation in October, 2014.

CURRENT RELIEF SOUGHT

If the current President and Board of Trustees do not wish to keep Southern Vermont College open and/or explore options to keep Southern Vermont College open, they should step aside and allow people with a more positive vision for SVC to move the college forward. 

It is our steadfast belief that the Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees should meet with the people referenced above in an effort to explore viable options for moving Southern Vermont College forward and to fulfill their responsibilities to the Southern Vermont College community. 

We look forward to opening the lines of communication between the board and community to work collaboratively on solutions for keeping Southern Vermont College open.  We ask that the board hold an open meeting, and widely publicize that meeting, as soon as possible so that ideas can be presented to keep Southern Vermont College open.  

Respectfully,

 

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