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Northern Vermont University president talks merger details

July 18, 2017

JOHNSON, Vt. -

The transition has begun for Northern Vermont University.

Elaine Collins is the first president of the new school that will combine Lyndon and Johnson State Colleges.

“We have two different cultural identities but one thing that we both agree on is kind of the joint celebration of where we are. We love northern Vermont,” said Collins.

The merger will be official in July 2018, but administrators have spent the summer preparing for the changes.

“This coming year we’re really spending a lot of time getting our creditors on board... After that, then we move to get the appropriate financial aid packaging,” explained Collins.

Collins expects the school will be able to give the same financial aid. She tells us the price tag for the transition is $2 million but hopes that long term, the switch will save money and create more academic programs.

“I believe it’s going to open up more opportunities,” said Joey Moye, a sophomore at Johnson. “Different classes in general.”

WCAX News spoke with Johnson students, faculty and alumni about the merger. The reviews were mostly positive.

“I’m pretty excited about it actually,” said Miles Smith, Johnson’s assistant athletic director. “Two great universities... now Northern Vermont University next year. I think it’s a good thing.”

“I actually got to go to Europe in spring with Lyndon,” explained Johnson alumni Courtney Begins. “I got to do that because we’re merging. I think it’s a really good opportunity for kids to take more classes that both schools offer.”

Still, there are also community members from both colleges who aren’t excited, since they don’t want to let go of their school’s history.

“I don’t want Johnson to lose its identity,” said Caleb Locke, a senior at Johnson. “I like the small campus.”

“Honestly, 50/50. Some like it. Some don’t like it,” said Moye.

Collins admits there will be challenges, as the colleges have been operating independently for more than 100 years. She says the university will plan events to blend life between campuses, and the benefits will last long after graduation.

“An outcome of this ultimately are networks of expanded alumni that will help students get into their career tracks hopefully easier,” said Collins.

Northern Vermont University will launch its new brand design and logos next month.