Castleton University President Spiro to retire

Vermont Business Magazine Castleton University interim president Dr. Jonathan Spiro announced his plans to retire at Monday's Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees meeting.

"Serving as president of Castleton has been the greatest honor of my life," Spiro said. "I've been blessed to work with so many bright students, brilliant faculty, and talented staff. I can retire knowing that Castleton will be in good hands to flourish in the years to come."

Spiro successfully led Castleton through the most difficult period in the University's modern history as the pandemic forced classes online, canceled cherished events and traditions, and created pressures on nearly every aspect of the University.

Despite those unprecedented challenges, Castleton saw many successes Under Spiro's leadership, including:

  • Navigating the institution to stabilized enrollment and balanced the University budget through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The establishment of a Master of Science in Nursing program.
  • A significant increase in total donors and fundraising.
  • The establishment of an internship hub in partnership with the Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region. The internship hub provides Castleton students with greater access and opportunities for experiential learning with employers throughout the region and beyond.
  • A collaborative agreement with Vermont Police Academy to encourage law enforcement professionals who complete the VPA Level III Basic Training course to continue their education through an associate or bachelor's degree program.
  • Re-accreditation of campus sites at Bennington and Killington.
  • A historic increase in the University's retention rate.
  • Cultivating excellent relations with regional civic leaders and the business community.

Board Chair Lynn Dickinson stated, “I offer my sincerest thanks to President Spiro for his many years of service to Castleton University and the Vermont State Colleges system. As Interim President, Dr. Spiro led Castleton though a tremendously challenging time as it navigated the challenges of the pandemic and the resulting impacts on students and employees. Most recently, he established the Center for Teaching and Learning at Castleton, fostered a rise in student retention, and steered Castleton through their ten-year accreditation visit from the New England Commission on Higher Education, among many other accomplishments. When I reflect on President Spiro’s long career at Castleton, his time in the classroom as a professor of history, his notable research on eugenics, race, and American history, and his many successful endeavors as an academic dean and department chair particularly stand out. While we will certainly feel the loss of President Spiro at Castleton, we wish him the best in his retirement.”

Chancellor Sophie Zdatny added, “President Spiro is known for his collaborative approach, his thoughtfulness, and his sense of humor. We are very proud of his good work as Interim President, particularly his focus on creating a welcoming, inclusive campus with strong employee and student morale and pride in the University. His success in expanding Castleton’s programming to Bennington and Killington, his tremendous accomplishments in increasing alumni giving and engagement, and his good work leading the community through the first two years of the pandemic are particularly notable. President Spiro dedicated the majority of his professional career to Castleton as a faculty member, administrator, and leader. We are grateful for his service, professional expertise and contributions, and his community engagement, and we wish him well in his very deserved retirement.”

The Board of Trustees also announced today that Castleton University’s Provost, Dr. Thomas Mauhs-Pugh, has accepted the position of interim President, effective January 3, 2022.

Dr. Mauhs-Pugh has served as Castleton’s Provost and chief academic officer since 2019. Prior to coming to Castleton, he spent twenty-two years at Green Mountain College, where he served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Interim President, Dean of the Faculty, Education Department Chair, and as a Professor of Education.

Dr. Mauhs-Pugh received his Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Education, with Distinction, from Syracuse University, his M.A.T. in English from Brown University, and his B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In addition to his time as a professor and administrator at Green Mountain College, he brings a wealth of experience from previous positions at the University of Vermont, Dartmouth College, and Rocky Mountain College. While Dr. Mauhs-Pugh has distinguished himself in academia, he also is embedded in the local community with previous service on the Poultney School Board and as a Justice of the Peace.

VSCS Board Chair Lynn Dickinson noted, “the Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Thomas Mauhs-Pugh as Interim President of Castleton University. Dr. Mauhs-Pugh is an experienced administrator and committed member of the Castleton community. He brings a wealth of knowledge both from his tenure at Castleton and his time at Green Mountain College to this role and we are confident he will continue his strong track record as Interim President. Dr. Mauhs-Pugh will be an excellent leader for Castleton during this period of transition and we look forward to working with him as he settles into his new role in January.”

Chancellor Zdatny added, “Dr. Mauhs-Pugh has been a tremendous asset to Castleton University as Provost and has been instrumental in the work to unify the academic programs of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College as we continue the transition to Vermont State University in 2023. With his strong academic background, commitment to the Rutland County community, and innovative and strategic leadership style, we are confident Dr. Mauhs-Pugh will be a tremendously successful Interim President at Castleton.”

Dr. Thomas Mauhs-Pugh offered congratulations to President Jonathan Spiro on his coming retirement and stated, “I am honored to serve Castleton University and its outstanding students. Our campus is positioned to thrive well into the future with strong enrollment, immense gains in first- to second-year student retention, and many new initiatives on the horizon. Adding its strengths to the proposed Vermont State University will expand access to Castleton’s programs and open new opportunities to our students from our sister institutions."

With his retirement, Spiro concludes a nearly 20-year run at Castleton.

During his time at the University, he also served as interim provost, academic dean, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Chair of the Department of History, Geography, Economics, & Political Science. Spiro was also the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award for his courses on history, politics, race, slavery, immigration, the ancient Maya, and the nature-nurture debate.

Dr. Thomas Mauhs-Pugh will succeed Spiro as interim president, beginning Jan. 3.

Mauhs-Pugh offers a wealth of academic and administrative experience. He has served as Castleton's provost since 2019, when he joined the University after more than 20 years at Green Mountain College. There, he served as provost and vice president of academic affairs and a variety of administrative and faculty positions, including dean of faculty.

"I am honored to be able to serve Castleton University and its superb record of student success. With a 6% increase in first- to second-year retention this past year, continued strong enrollment, and many new initiatives, Castleton has a bright future. Adding its strengths to the proposed Vermont State University will expand access to Castleton's programs while giving students access to the faculty, courses, facilities, and partnerships of its sister institutions," Mauhs-Pugh said.

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 castleton.edu.

For the benefit of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges system provides affordable, high quality, student-centered, and accessible education, fully integrating professional, liberal, and career study, consistent with student aspirations and regional and state needs. The Vermont State Colleges system includes Castleton University, the Community College of Vermont, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College. Learn more at www.vsc.edu.

Source: Castleton University. VSCS 12.6.2021