Opinion: Scolforo deserves better

All right, well I guess I’m going to be the one to say it since no one else will speak up about it.


Is no one actually looking at the proposal Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding made?! First off, yes, his proposal to close three campuses would have put 100s of students, faculty, and staff in limbo and force tough decisions.

But no one is really looking into the fact he was going to replace Scolforo with a closing college’s president.

Flat out, the plan seems flawed, doesn’t it to you?

Spaulding’s plan to fire Scolforo just doesn’t add up – and let me tell you why.

When Scolforo stepped up to the plate three years ago, she was basically taking on a sinking ship. Maybe Dave Wolk embodied ‘The Castleton Way,’ but the university was facing devastating financial hardships. Castleton knows some of the pain. The school was facing a $1.5 million budget shortfall when Scolforo stepped in.

But she took that challenge and made it look easy to fix.

Karen Scolforo, image curtesy of Castleton University

In a matter of just three years, she took a sinking ship and made it sail again.

Our enrollment is up.

Finances have finally stabilized.

Campus is thriving.

Castleton University became a model in the Vermont State College system.

To be honest, she’s a hero.

In an article by Seven Days, it states that Spaulding’s plan was also to replace Scolforo with NVU’s Elaine Collins. Though he praised Scolforo’s performance, he said Collins was the right choice because she had seniority and experience overseeing a campus in transition.

But here’s the thing, Scolforo obviously just led a college in a tough transition, right?

And who knows if Castleton would have gotten Collins as a president even with his plan, because she’s also a finalist to lead a college in Lansing, Michigan?

So why was Spaulding putting all his faith into Collins to replace Scolforo?

Let me put it straight forward, Scolforo is good at her job.

She knows what works and what doesn’t.

Putting Collins in for Scolforo in such troubled times could be disastrous for Castleton – and it just doesn’t make sense.

I just want to know where in Spaulding’s mind this plan made sense? What made him think that a failing college’s president would be a good replacement at a college that’s thriving?

Again, Scolforo deserves to be treated better than this.

It’s a shame she’s leaving because Castleton has so much potential to continue growing stronger and stronger with her as president.

In the state of Vermont, only 2% of the general fund revenues go toward higher education and we are now ranked 48 of 50 states in terms of legislative support for higher education spending per capita, according to the VTDigger. That’s what needs to be addressed by Vermont legislators.

If Vermont legislators would give just a little more money to the VSCS, maybe we wouldn’t have such a big problem.

Scolforo has dedicated her life to this campus and I hate to see her in the position she’s in. Not only that, but it’s a shame that she wasn’t able to announce her plans on her own terms.

It shouldn’t end like this. She shouldn’t have to deal with the pain of leaving a place she calls home. I can’t stress enough how she has changed this campus.

She’s brought in dozens of international students.

She’s implemented new programs located in Killington and Bennington.

She created articulation agreements with schools in neighboring states.

She handled the transition of students from Green Mountain College, College of St. Joseph, and Southern Vermont University.

She gave up her home to better the Early Childhood Education Program. It’s now being turned into a daycare center for students to get hands-on experience.

She says hello to students and shows she cares for the students.

She’s changed Castleton forever. And I am certainly glad I was able to be here while she called the shots.

The last thing I want to bring up is a small message from me to President Scolforo.

Dear President Scolforo,

Thank you for everything that you have done for Castleton University. I will forever appreciate your kindness, caring nature, and love for Castleton. I’m thankful for you showing me how to be a leader and keep my head high when people are trying to bring you down. It’s a shame that it has come to this and I am sorry for how you didn’t get to be the one to deliver the news to students. You’ve helped this campus do a full 180 and I’m glad I got to hear your stories and see you work so hard to make this campus what it is now. I hope whatever is next for you brings you just as much joy that Castleton has. You’ve changed the lives of many through keeping Castleton afloat, and I hope you know one of those lives is mine.