Chancellor Beth Mauch sits down with The Spartan for a Q&A

VTSU chancellor Elizabeth Mauch

 Elizabeth “Beth” Mauch has been chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System since Jan. 1. She sat down with The Spartan for an interview during her recent visit to the Castleton campus. 

Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself and life before you came here? 

A. My name is Elizabeth Mauch and I’m the new chancellor for the Vermont State Colleges System. I started in January, but I’ve been in higher ed. for a quarter of a century. I was originally a math professor at a public institution in Pennsylvania…Most recently, I was at a small private college in Kansas. When I heard about this job, I just leapt at it. I was so excited because of the fact this is a system where a student can enter at any point in their life…I think that’s so important because we are ensuring that all Vermonters can participate in the higher ed experience. 

Q. What do you think is the biggest difference between where you’ve worked and the VSCS?

A. I’ve always worked in areas where there was a high percentage of Pell-eligible students and first-gen students, and certainly our students here meet that. So, I would say there are more similarities than differences…Our students [at my last job] really did struggle to pay, and I see this system is really trying to ensure that everyone can participate in higher education. That’s been exciting for me. 

Q. What’s been the biggest surprise in working here? 

A. I’ve been happily surprised by just how excited everyone is to work on the future of this system, and just how dedicated everyone is. The level of care for our students and for this system, in ensuring that we’re doing what’s right has been really heartwarming to me. 

Q. What has been the biggest challenge in where you’ve come into the transformation process? 

A. Transformation here in Vermont has been occurring certainly for the last four years, but for some of the institutions, even longer than that, when we think of Northern Vermont University. Some of the challenges are just this constant notion of change and just a question of where and when the next change is, has certainly been a challenge. We’re trying to make change with more collaboration and communication for everyone. 

Q. What’s your primary goal or project at the moment? 

A. My next goal is to really look at the objectives of this institution, which are affordability, accessibility, quality relevance, and financial stability, and adding funding for our students. I believe we share a great interest with the legislature in ensuring that every Vermonter can be educated. I look forward to following each one of our students, whether they come in and take one class or many, and then looking at how we can ensure a frictionless transfer from either CCV to VTSU. I’m working with my leadership team, the leadership team of the Vermont State University, and leadership team of the Community College of Vermont to really come up with some actionable items to ensure that we are not just surviving through this [transformation], but how we’re going to thrive and become better in the next bunch of years.

Q. Where are we in the transformation process? 

A. We’re still moving. I would say we’re more done than not done. The VTSU came officially into being on July 1, 2023, and this year we’ll graduate our first class. We have almost a unified curriculum. But transformation is not just about VTSU, it was really about the whole system. We’re working as close collaborators with the Community College of Vermont and Vermont State University to see how we can further the institution as a whole. Some of the funding requirements, we’re well on our ways towards…We’re on our way to transformation, but it’s something that will occur forever, so we will have to continue to look at things like facilities and curriculum, community partnerships and ensure that we are educating students in the 21st century. 

Q. What is your response to the financial critique of the chancellor’s office? 

A. One of things I will be doing is looking at all our offices to make sure that we’re spending every dollar in the wisest fashion. Not for me specifically at VTSU and CCV, but certainly very specifically at the chancellor’s level to see if the organization makes sense. 

Q. Do you have any advice for graduating seniors? 

A. I’m sitting in front of you right now because I said yes to an awful lot of things that at the time I would have never thought I could piece together. If our graduating seniors have opportunities for jobs or have their first job and are asked to do something out of their norm, I always tell everybody to do that. For the students here now, pick up an extra internship, do a minor, or get a certificate because you never know where life’s going to take you. Just say yes to opportunities. 

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