Southern Vermont College President to Return to Washington, D.C., in October
May 19, 2014
President Karen Gross has announced that she will step down after eight years as President of Southern Vermont College effective October 1, 2014, to return to Washington, D.C., where she spent 2012 working at the U.S. Department of Education. The Board of Trustees will announce a search firm and search committee within the next month, ensuring a smooth transition. A new president is expected to be named this fall.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Wiley said, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire SVC community, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Karen for her passionate leadership. She leaves the College in excellent fiscal shape, with innovative programs in place, remarkable faculty and staff and growing student success in terms of retention and graduation rates.”
President Gross said, “Southern Vermont College is proof positive that small in size does not equate to small in vision or accomplishments. I am proud of all that SVC has achieved over the past eight years. I am proud to have been the leader of a thriving institution that is so student centered and deeply committed to student success.”
“I will miss the SVC community as I return to Washington to serve our nation and improve educational opportunity for all students across the educational pipeline, continuing the work I did previously at the Department of Education,” she added. “SVC will always be with me and our work together will inform all that I do in the future.”
During President Gross’s presidency, the College has revitalized its mission and purpose, enabling the College to focus on a transformational educational experience for students through high touch, project-based engagement and preparation for the workplace of the future. Over the past eight years, the College expanded enrollment, improved retention and increased diversity. In 2011, the College established the Pipelines into Partnership Mountaineer Scholars program, a prize-winning initiative that supports access to and success in college for vulnerable students, many of whom are first generation and Pell eligible. Last year, the College announced the formation of a Veterans’ Scholar Program to welcome Veterans as SVC students, a program that is launching in September 2014.
SVC has introduced new and expanded its existing healthcare programs that include Nursing and Radiologic Sciences and Healthcare Management. The College launched a new, four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to educate nursing professionals and has developed a four-year Radiologic Sciences program, all designed to ensure students are prepared for the complexities of healthcare in the 21st-century. The new Nursing BSN degree program is provisionally approved by the Vermont State Board of Nursing and expects full accreditation this fall. The Radiologic Sciences program is JRCERT accredited.
In addition, healthcare students are taught in state-of-the-art simulation and radiology labs housed in the Healthcare Education Center that opened in 2012. During President Gross’s tenure at the College, Hunter Hall—home to 110 students with open space for student activities, offices and a café—was constructed. The library, student dining hall, and campus store were all renovated. More recently, the College acquired the Gatehouse at the base of the College’s roadway; this building, part of the original Everett Estate, is being developed into a Welcome Center and Admissions Office, enhancing the College’s presence in the Town of Bennington.
The faculty and staff have grown during President Gross’s term, including the hiring of many doctorally prepared faculty members across the disciplines. The Center for Teaching and Learning was improved to provide counseling, tutoring and advising for students as well as reflecting on the study and sharing of teaching and learning best practices. The College’s award-winning, first-year program, Quest for Success, was established to provide civic learning programs for new SVC students in community projects, consistent with the growth of the College’s commitment to community engagement that led to its being awarded the Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation, one of only several such campuses in Vermont.
Under her leadership, NCAA DIII athletics has grown and flourished on campus. The College was one of the original members of the New England Collegiate Conference, and many of the College’s now 11 teams have made it into the conference playoffs each season, and several teams have garnered regional and national rankings, including entry into NCAA and other regional post-season tournaments. Many of the College’s athletes have won conference and NCAA individual awards. The athletic success at SVC has fostered increased student and community engagement, and cheering the SVC teams on has become a campus and community-wide practice.
President Gross has also been a tireless and successful fundraiser. The College received the largest gifts in its history during her presidency, and the endowment has grown considerably. Importantly, the College has remained fiscally buoyant over the last seven years, a tribute to her work and that of her team, particularly in challenging financial times.
President Gross is also a prolific writer with opinion pieces in “Inside Higher Ed,” “The Hechinger Report” and “National Journal,” among other publications. She has her own blog on “Huffington Post” where she comments on issues affecting higher education. She is a frequent speaker at educational forums, most recently addressing ways to improve student financial aid to facilitate access to and success in college for vulnerable students.
Michelle Deal, Assistant Professor, The Hunter Division of Humanities