On most college campuses, December marks the end of the semester, but for the first time in 185 years there was no fall semester at Green Mountain College in southwestern Vermont. The closing of the liberal arts college last spring has hurt the local economy in the tiny town of Poultney — population 3,339.
Colleges in the Northeast and Midwest have been experiencing an enrollment crunch as the numbers of high school graduates in both regions are declining. Green Mountain had 427 students when it closed in May, down from more than 800 a decade ago.
“Increasingly students want to go to schools in cities and not rural areas,” said Bob Allen, the college’s former president.
Of the 10 nonprofit private colleges to close or merge across the country this year, three were within a 100-mile radius in southwestern Vermont: Green Mountain, College of Saint Joseph in Rutland and Southern Vermont College in Bennington. Last month, Marlboro College, 70 miles south of Green Mountain, announced it would be absorbed into Emerson College in Boston by next fall.