In a statement quoted by Vermont Public Radio, the college’s dean of operations and advancement, Coralee A. Holm, said the institution had “struggled under the crushing weight of the debt incurred by the purchase of the Archdiocese property on North Avenue.” That purchase was arranged in 2010 by the Vermont college’s president at the time, Jane Sanders, the wife of the U.S. senator and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders.
In late April, the college’s lender, People’s United Bank, notified the college that it was pulling Burlington’s line of credit, Ms. Holm said during a news conference on Monday.
The institution has been rife with discontent in recent years over the handling of its finances. Opposition became so great in 2014 that the college’s then president suddenly resigned after her car was surrounded by protesting students. The college’s accreditor, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had put it on probation.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to shut down the college, said the president, Carol A. Moore.
As of the fall of 2014, the college enrolled just over 200 students. Ms. Holm told the Free Press that current students could finish their studies at nearby institutions.
About 30 students have paid deposits to enroll at the college this fall, Ms. Moore said.
Following is the full text of the college’s statement:
In recent years, Burlington College has struggled under the crushing weight of the debt incurred by the purchase of the Archdiocese property on North Avenue. Through sales of property, the College has worked to reduce this debt to a manageable level.
Since July 2014, the College has been on probation with its accrediting agency, The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) due to not meeting its financial resources standard. The Federal Department of Education allows a college only two years of probation. Hence, we anticipate notice from NEASC that we have not met the Commission’s financial standard, and, therefore, our accreditation will be lifted as of January 2017, and the College will not be able to award academic credit after this time.
These hurdles are insurmountable at this time.
On May 13, 2016, the Burlington College Board of Trustees voted unanimously decided to close the College’s programs effective May 27, 2016.
The higher education community has extended their support to the College and all of our current students will be able to continue their education at a neighboring college and graduate as scheduled. Newly deposited students for fall 2016 will also be welcomed by colleges within Vermont, of their choosing.
It is with a great sense of loss to the educational community that Burlington College’s progressive and unique educational model will no longer be available to students.