Scolforo resigns as president of Castleton University

Jeb Spaulding's statement can be found at about the 3:25 mark on this video taped Wednesday night (about 10:30 pm). Dr Karen Scolforo's statement follows at about the 3:30 mark. Those statements followed a prolonged executive session.

Vermont Business Magazine Dr Karen M Scolforo will step down as president of Castleton University on May 31 following nearly three academic years of success. She made the unexpected announcement at the Vermont State Colleges System Trustees meeting late Wednesday night. The meeting had been called to discuss the resignation of Chancellor Jeb Spaulding. Spaulding resigned after his proposal to close the state college campuses at Johnson, Lyndon and Randolph Center met with withering opposition. He rescinded his proposal and then announced his resignation late last week.

Churchill Hindes, chair of the Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees, said Dr Scolforo exceeded his expectations in her role as president.

"I want to express my thanks for you. The transition that you began, a lot of people said 'how in the world is this ever going to happen?' We had a president in Castleton that was almost bigger than Castleton, and we knew it would take a remarkably talented individual to move in and establish a new presidency, a new spirit at Castleton while honoring the past and still becoming, in short order, the new face of the university," Hindes said. "And, you pulled that off better than I ever could have imagined. And then you transitioned into tackling the very difficult work of balancing a budget, of doing it in a way that Castleton didn't lose its pride and its momentum. And, again, I don't know what we would have done if you had not done that as well."

The VSCS Board of Trustees will appoint an interim president to serve Castleton until a permanent replacement is found.

The Trustees have named VSC general counsel Sophie Zdatny as interim chancellor to take over from Spaulding.

Dr Karen Scolforo, President of Castleton University

Scolforo's public announcement came just after Spaulding read his prepared remarks, about three-and-a-half hours into the four-hour meeting. She also choked up in the middle of her brief statement.

“It’s certainly been an honor to serve as president of Castleton University and it’s definitely with a heavy heart that I share my decision that my last day will be May 31. I think the most important thing right now is that we remain focused on our students, which is why we’re all here. They must remain the focus of our work every single day. We cannot lose sight of it for even a moment. And I know that as Castleton moves into the future and offers expertise and sound judgement in terms of reconfiguration and innovation to help the system move forward, one thing is for certain, and that is that Castleton will succeed.”

"I inherited a great team with exceptional skills and insightful perspectives. It has truly been an honor to work with them. Our faculty inspired me to be a better leader. They held me accountable, while holding themselves to the highest standards on behalf of our students. Our staff has provided -- sorry (chokes up) -- guidance and support to our students. This has been the most dedicated team of professionals I've ever worked with. It's just been an honor. I have full confidence our team will be able to move the university forward. And to ensure that our Spartans will enjoy the legacy for decades to come, because this is the Castleton way. I'm so grateful for your faith in me. The faculty, staff, students, alumni community, all the people that came out when I initially interviewed and to the Board of Trustees who unanimously appointed me. In the span of three academic years we strengthened our financial position, developed new programs, formed new partnerships, opened two new locations, launched a fundraising campaign and welcomed a record-breaking class to campus this past fall. We truly have positioned Castleton for a bright future and I'm grateful to have been a part of it. I, like Jeb, will remain passionate about the mission of the Vermont State Colleges and I will always have a special place in my heart for our Spartans. Go Spartans!"

Spaulding said in response: "As a former chancellor, I just want to thank you very much, Karen, and I'm sorry for the way things turned out. You've been a wonderful president. And we can see the passion that you have."

"Thank you, Jeb."

Under Dr. Scolforo's leadership, Castleton University enjoyed numerous successes and achievements, including:

  • Four consecutive semesters of enrollment growth, culminating in the largest incoming class in the University's history in fall of 2019.
  • The establishment of a Killington campus to deliver the new three-year Resort & Hospitality Management degree in partnership with Killington Resort.
  • The expanded delivery of Castleton's Nursing program at its new Bennington campus. With this expansion, Castleton was named the preferred nursing partner of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.
  • Strategic partnerships and articulation agreements with community colleges, including Adirondack Community College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, SUNY Schenectady, Doshisha Women's College, and Greenfield Community College, to create a smooth transition to Castleton following the completion of an associate's degree.
  • The launch of more than 20 new academic programs, including three-year tracks in several majors, and a fully online MBA program.
  • More than $8 million in grants in 2019-20 alone, including a highly competitive $2.25 million Title III grant, under the Strengthening Institutions Program.
  • Reaching teachout agreements with several closing Vermont institutions of higher education. These agreements created a smooth transition that kept more than 100 students in Vermont and on track to achieve their academic goals.

Chairman Hindes praised Dr. Scolforo for the character and humanity she brought to Castleton.

"And, you also bring to us something that I think is rare in a leader and that is your willingness to show your humanity, and especially your relationship with your family. I don't know how many times I've told people that if you know Karen, you know the family, you know her kids. You can see it in her face. You walk into her office and you see it on the walls, and that speaks so much about your profound fundamental character that we find so attractive. I personally wish you very, very well, and, thank you," Hindes said.

Dr. Scolforo joined Castleton after four successful years as president of Central Penn College in Summerdale and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

About Castleton University
Castleton University is small enough to be a community where every student matters, yet large enough to offer more than 75 programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students, 28 varsity sports, and over 50 clubs and organizations. The university stresses experiential learning through internships, community service and research opportunities provided by more than 400 community partnerships. For more information, visit

Source: CASTLETON (04/30/2020)