Vermont college faculty vote no confidence in administration

February 17, 2023 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Faculty from three Vermont state colleges have voted no confidence in the board of trustees that oversees the separate institutions after the board voted to have the school libraries go all-digital and restructure athletics, the faculty announced Friday.

The vote by the faculty of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University and Vermont Technical College came in response to what they called the “reckless decisions.”

The schools that are part of the Vermont State Colleges system will be consolidated this summer into the Vermont State University, but the individual schools will still maintain separate campuses. The state colleges have been struggling for years with declining student numbers due in large part to Vermont’s well-known demographic challenges and increasing costs.

The no confidence motion was in the Vermont State College Board of Trustees, Chancellor Sophie Zdatny, Chief Academic Officer Yasmine Ziesler, and President Parwinder Grewal. The motion specifically excludes the student representative on the board, the faculty said in a news release.


“We need to see the larger picture in order to help make (Vermont State University) successful,” the faculty said in announcing the vote. “Any decisions made moving forward need to be made transparently, driven by data and cost benefit analysis, and need to be communicated with wisdom and compassion.”

Also Friday, the Vermont School Library Association called on the state college system to reverse the decision to eliminate print libraries, repurpose physical spaces and lay off librarians.

The state colleges announced the changes last week.

When asked for a reaction on Friday, the administration of the state colleges sent a message from last week from Grewal, the incoming Vermont State University president, apologizing for the way the initial announcements were made.

He said the libraries will not be closed, but they will be transformed to serve “not only campus-based learners, but all learners. The digital generation is coming through the door, and we need to be prepared to serve them well — with full access for everyone.“

Grewal said they must make strategic decisions. “And sometimes those decisions may mean a change in one area that will feel like loss to invest in another area,” he said.

They claimed the shift to an all-digital library format was a “data driven decision” that would give users unlimited access to resources. The changes to athletics include moving some of the sports offerings on some of the campuses to club teams rather than intercollegiate sports.