First-year students arrive at newly minted Vermont State University

LYNDON, Vt. (WCAX) – Friday was move-in day for first-year students at the newly named Vermont State University. It’s a fresh start for the five campuses of the state college system, with hopes of reversing declining enrollment and financial shortfalls.First-year student Wyatt Cardoza was quick to set up his dorm room.“Moving in, first day here– pretty exciting,” Cardoza said.The Vermont native is excited to call the Lyndon campus his new home.“Just got to find my right place in all of this puzzle, gotta find my spot,” he said.Outside in the rain, everything from minifridges to bins full of belongings were being unloaded.“I’m a little bit nervous but it’s nice to get away from home a little bit,” Tavarius Vance said.Vance says he picked Lyndon because of the programs they offer and because it’s close to home. His mom, Erin Jalbert, says it’s his first time away from home.“A little bit of everything, like… very emotional,” she said. “I’m going to miss him.”This is the first move-in day for the newly unified Vermont State University with 1,400 new students across all the campuses. But it comes amid continued enrollment challenges, with new students down 19%.“We have got work to do but we are going to do that work,” said Mike Smith, the interim president of Vermont State University.Smith says the drop in enrollment is in the review mirror and blames it on Vermont’s demographic issues, still feeling the impact of COVID, distractions like the proposed and canceled plans to close the libraries and athletics, and giving the brand change time to settle in.“I think it’s a blip this year,” he said. “I think we will be back up.”Smith, who will leave his interim post in November, says the school needs to be strategic in addressing issues like enrollment.“How our systems can be adjusted in order to attract more people, how we can optimize our presence,” he said.The school is still working out of a deficit that currently sits at $17 million. Smith says the path forward is targeting the 45% of Vermont high school grads who don’t go to college, being more available for nontraditional students and investing in programs that each campus is known for.“We’ve got to build on those strengths and we will continue to build on those strengths,” he said.Students say they are trusting the university.“There’s no other place I would rather be,” Cardoza said. “Only school I looked at.”Others are aware of the recent changes and the future which isn’t clear.“I’m a little concerned maybe for like my junior year because that’s when I feel like something actually might happen, but I don’t know, it doesn’t concern me that much this year,” Vance said.Classes at all the Vermont State University campuses start on Monday.Related Stories:Trouble ahead? Enrollment declining at newly branded Vermont State UniversityVermont State University celebrates unified openingVermont State University officially opens its doorsWhat will affirmative action ruling mean for local college admissions?You Can Quote Me: May 28, 2023Newsmaker Interview: Mike Smith to steer Vt. State University launchLast graduating class under Vermont Technical College nameReprieve for libraries, athletics at Vermont State UniversityWill VSU rebranding effort make a difference?Newsmaker Interview: Mike Smith to steer Vt. State University launchLast graduating class under Vermont Technical College nameReprieve for libraries, athletics at Vermont State UniversityWill VSU rebranding effort make a difference?Vermont State University president resigns following library kerfuffleLawmakers look to close the book on cutting Vermont State University librariesVt. State Colleges says campus libraries will keep some books after allState employees union files unfair labor practice against Vt. State CollegesVermont State Colleges leaders say financial problems persistVSU staff, students share concerns at StatehouseVSU leaders hear from students, faculty after no-confidence voteCastleton University students protest plans for library to go digitalVSU campus libraries turning to digital collectionsVt. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith to retireWhat will become of Vermont’s cash-strapped college system?VSC supporters protest potential campus closuresVermont State Colleges System likely to close 3 campusesWill region’s small college closure crisis continue?Copyright 2023 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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