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Vermont State Colleges System Study


NCHEMS was selected through an RFP process to assist the legislatively created Select Committee on the Future of Higher Education in Vermont, which was charged to “address the urgent needs of the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) and develop an integrated vision and plan for a high-quality, affordable, and workforce-centered future for public higher education in the State.”

Topics Challenges Approach Impacts Resources


The work focused primarily on VSC, the system’s structure and operations, finances and sustainability, program array, and delivery modes. But it was also intended to examine the coordination of all the state’s investments in public postsecondary education, including the University of Vermont and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.


Heavily dependent on tuition revenue and facing unfavorable demographic conditions, the Vermont State College System was facing questions about its long-term financial viability even before the pandemic introduced greater uncertainty. An April 2020 proposal to shutter three of the system’s campuses as a way to right the financial ship was abandoned, but catalyzed action by the legislature to appoint the Select Committee on the Future of Public Higher Education in Vermont. To be successful, NCHEMS needed to manage divergent views of many stakeholders, both represented on the Select Committee and more broadly throughout the state, in order to come to a solution that would best position the VSC for success in spite of the significant demographic, financial, and pandemic-created headwinds it faces.


NCHEMS facilitated a process through which the Steering Committee developed recommendations by conducting analyses, using the results of those analyses to inform discussions with stakeholders developing options for the Committee to consider, and drafting a report.

Over the course of several months, NCHEMS reviewed relevant documents, analyzed data from multiple sources, interviewed leaders and stakeholders, developed and participated in focus groups, helped set the agenda for and facilitated meetings of the Select Committee, and drafted and revised reports to be submitted by the Select Committee to the legislature.


These efforts resulted in a report formally adopted by all members of the Committee, led directly to legislation and investment in a transformation plan for VSC System, and served as the basis for the implementation plan adopted by the VSC board.