Scolforo: Castleton University is ready to meet community and workforce needs

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Scolforo: Castleton University is ready to meet community and workforce needs

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 3:16pm -- tim
by Dr Karen M Scolforo You may have seen the recent news coverage regarding the challenges faced by the Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS), many of which were highlighted last summer in the VSCS White Paper, Securing the Future of the Vermont State Colleges, and exacerbated by the novel coronavirus global pandemic this spring.

While Castleton University is not immune to the challenges faced by institutions in the VSCS and around the country, our long-standing reputation as a historic, liberal arts university with a strong commitment to pre-professional studies holds firm. We haven't achieved this status alone. Our educational and community partnerships help to strengthen us, keep us in tune with the needs of employers, and create a strong foundation of mutual benefit that will propel us all into a successful future. This ensures that our graduates have the relevant soft and technical skills to be successful in their chosen careers.

Among the partnerships we are most proud of is with Community College of Vermont. As one of CCV's strongest partners, we offer their graduates the access and affordability they need to continue their studies, stack credentials, and complete a baccalaureate degree. We do this through 2+2 pathway plans, allowing for a seamless transition into more than 20 of our undergraduate programs. We have even more 2+2 pathways in the works. We also help to make the transition to Castleton affordable by waiving application fees and offering a tuition match for CCV graduates. We are proud of the work we do with our sister school to provide a holistic, transformative educational experience, and we are looking ahead to an even stronger partnership as we work to increase Castleton's presence on CCV campuses.

As our region and nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our community partnerships will help us serve our students in ways that matter to them now and in the future. This year, I formed a Rutland Advisory Group to help inform my decisions and further understand how we can best serve the region. This group of strong, notable community leaders has been invaluable in their insight and counsel, and include folks from business and industry, the legislature, education, and economic development, among others. Additionally, we have built a strong partnership with Mike Solimano of Killington Resort and opened a Killington campus to pair with our Resort and Hospitality Management program. This partnership affords our students paid, hands-on work experience at Killington and a strong, residential academic program. Additionally, Tom Dee, President and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, has identified Castleton and its nursing program as SVHC's preferred partner. With this partnership, the medical center has committed to offering employment to students and paying back tuition debt. Our new Bennington campus has already become important to the region.

Castleton is rising to the challenges of the future as we remain committed to affordable, high-quality, and student-centered educational opportunities that are truly transformational. Our success is fueled by nimbleness and adapting to the needs of students and employers. We have seen two years of enrollment growth, and, this past fall, we admitted the largest incoming class in the University's history. We have continued to serve as a stabilizing force in higher education for our region and beyond, and we are committed to being there for students in need, such as those who suffered painful college closings and sought refuge at Castleton. These students received individualized attention, expedited transcript evaluation, and blocks of rooms reserved for those seeking space in a residence hall. We pride ourselves on our culture of respect and compassion, our pursuit of excellence, and our dedication to our Vermont communities. This is The Castleton Way.

In conclusion, Castleton is well-positioned and prepared to serve students in both traditional and evolving ways well into the future. Even through these difficult times of change, trust that Castleton will be here, for the benefit of Vermont and for the benefit of all.

Dr. Karen M. Scolforo is president of Castleton University.