BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — Southern Vermont College announced they would be closing their doors at the end of the semester, citing financial challenges. NEWS10 ABC has learned their monetary misfortune is worse than many first thought. The College President and Board of Trustees are not commenting, but the faculty is speaking out.
One year ago, Kirk Robinson left a tenured job in Chicago to take a position at beautiful Southern Vermont College. He was under the impression the school was in a good place.
“We had been hearing our enrollment was better than those around us, each freshman year was better, we were in fact growing,” he said.
But he would eventually learn, “[The college] was living above our means and on deaths door.”
He and his colleague, Lynda Sinkiewich, told NEWS10, it undoubtedly comes down to mismanagement and a lack of transparency.
“The worst thing they could tell us is why this happened because that opens them up to litigation,” said Sinkiewich.
As of last week, the school didn’t have enough money to finish out the semester. Thanks to a last-minute loan approval and a generous gift, faculty has been promised pay through May.
After that, they’ve been told the remainder will only come once the college has liquidated their assets, a process that could take years. They have to sell it for enough to pay off $6 million to banks and creditors.
“So, they have to sell it for I think at least $8 million for staff and faculty to see any of our money,” said Sinkiewich.
The faculty will be out about 25 percent to 30 percent of their salary. As it is, the professors said most of them already live paycheck to paycheck.
“I’ve heard from some of my colleagues that it’s absolutely the money they need to feed their children,” said Robinson.
The professors said the last thing they would do is leave their students high and dry. They’re committed to see them through for final grades and degrees.
“I feel terrible for the students; I feel terrible for alumni. I think everyone will find their way, but this wasn’t the right way to wind down a college. It’s a sad story all around,” said Robinson.
NEWS10 reached out to David Newell with the Board of Trustees, who forwarded us to President David Evans. Evans directed us to reach out to Charles Goldstein, who has been appointed by the College’s Board of Trustees as the Chief Restructuring Officer, with responsibility for all financial, operational and administrative aspects of the College and the wind down of the College’s operations. Goldstein has not responded to our request for comment.