There is a lot of tension regarding the planned name change from Castleton University to Vermont State University, but Dean of Enrollment Maurice Ouimet says that the merger will actually give the school a new opportunity.
The merger and name change, which would combine Northern Vermont University, Vermont Technical College & Castleton University into a combined entity to be called, “Vermont State University,” was originally met with heavy backlash, both from alumni, current students and faculty. But Ouimet, has consistently stressed the positives of the plan.
“There are some people that are concerned about that right now, along with our students, who are concerned that they’re going to lose something that’s special about Castleton,” Ouimet said. “I would be here to say that that’s not the case.”
In late September, the name change was confirmed by President Jonathan Spiro in an email to the campus.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to model what should be happening in the political world: although we may disagree with the decision, we can respect the process and move forward in a positive and constructive direction,” Spiro wrote.
Olivia Depatie, an early college student attending Castleton University, has been coming to the campus for years for a variety of extra-curricular activities.
“It just seems like it’s taking away our identity as Castleton particularly, and grouping us with everybody in Vermont rather than keeping us our own, which I don’t like, because we’re Castleton,” said Depatie, also mentioning how she was around for the name change of “Castleton State College” to Castleton University, which she “didn’t mind, because we still kept Castleton.”
Ouimet understands her sentiment, but wants to assure students that the everything will be fine.
“We’re preserving this process – we’re preserving everything that makes Castleton such a special place,” Ouimet said.
He said he is very enthusiastic about helping students succeed, and strives to allow each individual a chance at attending Castleton, no matter their background. This is why he is so adamant on bettering the college as a whole.
“There will be more opportunities and access in academic programs and other institutions; it’s a real win-win for students,” said Ouimet.
He said he realizes people in the community are concerned, but believes they will soon come to “see there will be tremendous benefits” in the merger and name change.
Depatie is not convinced though, saying Castleton’s campus has its own personal dynamic, which makes it different from other schools.
“It seems wrong to encompass us with Vermont, rather than just keeping us as Castleton,” Depatie said. “It’s definitely something we’re going to have to get used to.”
Ouimet understands both the frustration and how acceptance will be a gradual process. However, his point on how bettering the school should look, still stands.
“We’ll still be Castleton. We’ll still be the technical college: Vermont Tech, we’ll still have Lyndon and Johnson. None of that is going away, it’s bringing us all together,” he said.