Shelly Holt Allen ’81 Retires from 41-year Trail-blazing Career as Videographer at WCAX

A woman with a headset microphone holder a giant video camera on her shoulder.

Shelly Holt Allen ’81 has documented many significant events in the state during her nearly 42 years as a videographer with WCAX. She’s covered crime scenes, weather events, press conferences, judges being sworn in, governors signing new laws, and features of all kinds, working long days, nights, weekends, early mornings, and many holidays to cover the stories that impact Vermonters.

On Friday, November 17, the Lyndon State College (now Vermont State Lyndon) alum will enjoy her final day behind the camera in her role as Assistant Chief News Photographer at WCAX. Shelly will retire from a trail-blazing career that includes induction into the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2021.

A pioneer in this male-dominated profession, Shelly was the first female videographer and only the second female photographer at the Burlington-based station. Joe Carroll, Chief News Photographer at WCAX, a colleague of Shelly’s for 38 years, and also a Lyndon alum, believes she’s enjoyed the longest career of a female news photographer in the country. “Shelly came to this career at a time when not many women did, and she’s been at it ever since!” he said.

Shelly was always interested in photography, but chose to study History when she began at Lyndon State College in 1977. However, when her roommate’s homework looked a lot more interesting than hers, she switched to communications. “I picked up a video camera and that was it!”

At the start, her classes focused on still photography and visual literacy and they were shooting on a black-and-white reel-to-reel videotape. News Center 2 (the precursor to News7) was limited, and students taped news and took it to St. Johnsbury Cable to broadcast. Between her third and fourth year, the program received a grant to build a new television studio in the back of the Alexander Twilight Theatre to send broadcasts from campus directly via microwave signal. Students earned credits for building the TV station and they broadcast news programs at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., rerunning taped versions later on the same day.

“I loved working in the TV station,” Shelly said, “and because of that experience, I knew what to do when I started at WCAX after graduation.”

Beyond travelling most roads through most towns in the state and covering every governor since 1980, Shelly was a witness to some particularly interesting stories over the years. Some were challenging, like the bank robber shot in Montpelier, and some a lot of fun, such as WCAX’s in-depth coverage of five towns a week over fourteen months in 1990-1991 in celebration of Vermont’s Bicentennial.

The 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway marked a career highlight. There were so many athletes on the U.S. Team with ties to Vermont, she said, that the station covered athlete stories for months in the lead up. Before the games opened, they shipped all of their equipment to Lillehammer. Since they didn’t have Olympic Village entrance privileges, they arranged a way to meet with local athletes on the street for interviews and used the CBS satellite to send those stories to Vermont, live!

The job of a news photographer certainly has exciting moments, but it comes with unique experiences, too. “The news camera is a passport that takes you places the average person can’t go,” Carroll said. “But it’s also a very unusual job. In the morning, you might be loved for shooting a feature story, but then you’re shooting a crime scene and are told ‘get that camera out of my face.’” The news team spends a lot of time together covering stories while traveling the state, he said, and you become very close to each other. Shelly has become a mentor to the younger photographers at the station, he added.

“I’ve met some absolutely fantastic people along the way,” Shelly said. “It’s been fun, and stressful at times, and there’s been a lot of change in the industry. I never thought I’d stay this long!”

“There aren’t many female photographers in the news landscape who have accomplished what Shelly has accomplished, or who have stayed with a station nearly as long,” said Meaghan Meachem, Professor and Chair, Journalism & Communications at Vermont State Lyndon. “I’ve really appreciated her willingness to sweep our students under her wing when she runs into them in the field, offering tips and even mentoring News7 photographers and reporters during busy election seasons at political headquarters in Burlington over the years. Shelly has left her mark on the budding photojournalists of the next generation, and the journalism program at Lyndon is beyond happy for her as she embarks upon new adventures in retirement.”

The physical demands of this career are great, and after just six days shy of 42 years of shooting with a heavy camera on one shoulder in every kind of weather, carrying all of her gear even through two pregnancies, she’s ready to put that camera down and travel with her husband (and fellow alum) Doug Allen ‘81.

Tune into Channel 3/WCAX Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. for the “Look Back” segment and hear from Shelly Holt Allen in her own words about her professional journey as we celebrate her contributions to news journalism!

Vermont State University Awarded Over $3 Million To Study Arctic Microbes

Vermont Undergraduates and High School Students Will Assist in Research That Will Guide U.S. Decisions Amid Climate Change

Vermont State University announced that Associate Professor Ross Lieblappen will lead students in a ground-breaking study about microbes in the Arctic through a nearly $3.3 million dollar contract from a collection of federal funding sources, including the US Army Corps of Engineering. Lieblappen submitted a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) proposal to fund, among other things, the purchase of x-ray imaging equipment that will allow him to study the effects of climate change on microbial environments and further U.S. leadership in knowledge of Arctic terrain.

“We’re trying to understand microbe communities in the Arctic, particularly as the Arctic is warming,” Lieblappen, who will serve as principal investigator on the project, said. “There are unanswered questions. We don’t know where each of these microbes are located, what their biological functions are or whether there is a difference in the environments in Greenland vs. Alaska vs. Canada. And with more melted permafrost, what is that going to do to those communities?” he posed.

He said the thing that excites him most about the funding he secured was the opportunities it provides for students. As the project continues, it will involve mostly undergraduate college students, but also some high school students, through a partnership with Lyndon Institute under the guidance of co-principal investigator (Co-Pi) Jill Nichols. Vermont State University Associate Professor Michelle Sama is also a Co-PI on the project, and will lead efforts in identifying particular microbes and ensuring the microbes are visible under X-ray imaging.

“Undergrads will be doing important parts of every step of this project—going into the field, going to Greenland, Alaska and Canada to collect permafrost and sea ice samples, transporting them back to the lab at a cold room facility at VTSU Randolph,” Lieblappen noted. “While the high school students won’t be making the trek to the Arctic, they will participate in the work here in Vermont—laboratory experiments to examine the effects of freeze-thaw cycles on the microstructure and location of microbial communities.

“Permafrost, winter sea ice and seasonal snow occupies an enormous amount of Earth’s land mass,” he explained. “These environments house a vast array of microbes, which we are going to study. Understanding them can help drive decisions like transport logistics, forecasts of ecosystem stability and the ability to respond to various threats. Also, we know that the most significant risks of climate change to North America include risks of degradation of marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems; reduced surface water available for agriculture and other human use; and risk to food and nutritional security through changes in agriculture, livestock, hunting, fisheries and aquaculture productivity. Arctic and sub-Arctic environments are at the forefront of these changes, as these environments are already experiencing warming at two to three times the global annual average,” he continued.

“We are incredibly proud of this award and the work that Professor Lieblappen and his students are leading in the arctic,” shared Nolan Atkins, Acting President of Vermont State University. “This work helps us better understand the impacts of climate change on the natural environment, including weather patterns and gives our students the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of groundbreaking global research.”

One key purchase with the funding will be what Lieblappen calls an Xray microscope, which can be used for multi-dimensional (3-D and 4-D) imaging. He stated that measuring devices he and his students previously had access to were not small enough for the “nano” scale needed for this research.

“Recent advances in imaging capabilities now allow for 3D imaging of individual microbes, but no one has yet used these advanced tools in the Arctic environments,” he related.

“Many people may be familiar with CT scans done on humans—sometimes referred to as CAT scans. This is a similar kind of measuring device, but for microbes” he noted. In the case of the machine used on humans, a narrow beam of rays surrounds the patient, who is motionless inside a unit that houses the device.

Lieblappen started work on the project in September. He hopes to be in the field during the summer of 2024.

The professor shared that the arctic is his favorite ecosystem and he is excited to do field work up there.

“It brings me back to my own time as a student, learning field teamwork skills within high winds and freezing temperatures,” he said.  “It’s not just learning to pull samples, but to do it when you feel like a mumbling, stumbling idiot in the freezing cold. I’m psyched to do that again with students. Then they will have time in the lab to extract microbes and learn about identifying microbes with state-of-the-art equipment.

“I’m also looking forward to taking students to national scientific conferences to present our results,” he added. “Providing students with hands-on, high-level scientific research experience is so valuable,” he stressed, “and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Lieblappen is a member of the Science Department, teaching physics, chemistry, and environmental science. You can learn more about his work here. You can learn more about this particular study here.

Vermont State University Celebrates its First-Generation Students

Nearly half of VTSU students are first in their families to attend college.

November 8th is First Generation College Celebration day (FGCC), celebrated annually to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act (“HEA”) of 1965by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act created federal financial aid programs to fund students’ educations and made key investments in colleges and universities. Many of the HEA’s programs promote postsecondary access, retention and completion for today’s first-generation college students. For Vermont State University, this is a particularly important movement because nearly half of the students are the first in their families to attend college. These nurses, teachers, artists, mental health counselors and scientists are changing the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come.

“While students who are the first in their families to go to college are often highly motivated and eager to excel in a college setting, they may face additional challenges and Vermont State University is very focused on supporting our students to overcome those barriers,” said Nolan Atkins, acting president of Vermont State University. “Navigating financial aid to pay for school can be tricky, and many families of first-generation students lack experience to support the students on their college path—for example to help them choose coursework to meet standards for admission. Our approach is to always meet these students where they are and support them every step on their journey,” he explained.

Nearly half (47 percent) or 1,566 of VTSU’s undergraduate student population are first-generation, with 64 percent of online students being first-generation.

“This year, we are proud to have launched our new holistic advising model, where each new student works with both a faculty and staff advisor,” Atkins added. “Advising at VTSU is student-centered and relationship-based. The new approach takes each individuals needs, whether they opt to study in-person, online, or both, and whether they are arriving from a high school setting, transferring from another university, returning to higher education after a break or seeking a career change. This can be particularly important to first-generation students, as an advisor serves as each student’s ‘go-to’ person for academics, co-curricular experiences, and personal challenges throughout their time at VTSU.”

Atkins shared that VTSU has several celebrations planned on its campuses on November 8th to recognize first-generation students.

Vermont State Celebrates its First-Generation College Students

A person standing at the top of a mountain at dawn with his arms raised in triumph.

Vermont State University recognizes the vision and determination of our students who are the first in their families to attend college — a full 47% of the Vermont State student population this academic year.

As one student shared, “Being a first-generation student shows strength, resilience, and drive. Here, I’ve been able to find mentorship through staff and faculty to learn my strengths and create my own path to success.”

In celebration of their efforts, we’re joining in the National First-Generation College Celebration and offering a series of workshops leading up to events on each campus as part of the November 8 national celebration day.

Workshops! November 1-7 we’re offering a series of workshops for First-Gen students. Take part for a chance to win a gift card, too! Workshops can be joined in person on the VTSU Castleton campus or via Zoom link from Academic Success Resources on the Portal. See

Celebration! On November 8, each VTSU campus will feature its own First-Generation Celebration event. Look for posters on each campus with details, and all information at Academic Support Resources on the Portal:

VTSU Announces Extraordinarily High National Nursing Licensure Exam Pass Rate for New Nurses

A close-up of a patch on a blue uniform that says Vermont State University Nursing.

Vermont State University (VTSU) Announces Extraordinarily High National Nursing Licensure Exam Pass Rates for New Nurses

Percentage of VTSU students passing significantly higher than the national average

The Vermont State University (VTSU) recently announced the percentages of its graduates who passed their National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX®) on the first attempt. Aspiring nurses must pass the applicable exam to earn licensure and legally practice nursing in the United States. The licensure exams assess a graduate’s critical thinking abilities, knowledge, and skills in nursing content areas studied while in school to ensure that they can make quality nursing clinical judgments and provide safe care. Graduates of practical nursing programs take the NCLEX-PN® and become licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Associate and bachelor’s degree graduates take the NCLEX-RN® to become registered nurses.

“This is a testament to the excellent nursing faculty and staff we have at all our VTSU locations, and we are very proud of these scores,” said Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, Sarah Billings-Berg. “It’s also a measure of the support the leaders of Vermont State University have shown for our program. Our students receive a high-quality education that meets them where they are to make certain they have every opportunity to become licensed and work in this very fulfilling career field.”

The 2023 VTSU NCLEX-PN® and NCLEX-RN® pass rates are as follows:

  • VTSU Practical Nursing Certificate Graduates, NCLEX-PN® First Time Test Takers:
    • 100% passed
    • The national average is 83.62%
  • VTSU Associate of Science in Nursing Graduates, NCLEX-RN® First Time Test Takers:
    • 94.8% passed
    • The national average is 86.82%
  • VTSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing Graduates, NCLEX-RN® First Time Test Takers:
    • 92.98% passed
    • The national average is 89.52%

“At VTSU, we believe strongly in our mission of developing quality programs that offer our students affordable and relevant degrees and certificates that build the workforce here in Vermont,” expressed Mike Smith, Interim President of the University. “This is a perfect example of the fruits of that work. Our state and our nation desperately need nurses and VTSU is growing our programs significantly to meet this demand and doing so with great success. I congratulate the faculty and staff in the nursing program, along with the hard-working students who achieved these great results.”

Vermont State University Announces Major Expansion to Its Nursing Programs

New facilities, equipment will help address nursing workforce shortage by increasing enrollment by nearly 50 percent

Vermont State University (VTSU) recently announced that it will expand its nursing program and facilities to enroll more students. The Williston and Johnson campuses of VTSU will undergo substantial renovation to expand the nursing education center at Williston and create a new nursing education center at Johnson. The Castleton campus will gain a telepresence classroom; the Lyndon classroom will receive updates to its lab; other nursing education locations will see improvements such as human patient simulators and additional lab equipment.

“We are so excited to be able to make these advancements for our in-demand nursing programs across the university,” said Sarah Billings-Berg, dean of the school of nursing and health sciences at VTSU. “We strive to do everything possible to meet the workforce needs of our state and this expansion is big step forward towards graduating more nurses who are ready for every level practice. We will now be better positioned to increase nursing student enrollment here in Vermont—up from 676 last year to nearly 1000 once we’ve finished these changes.”

The expansion was made possible through a variety of partnerships and funding. More than $6 million in Congressionally directed spending funds secured by Senator Patrick Leahy is allocated to building more classroom and lab space. Vermont legislative funding in the amount of $800,000 made acquisition of new simulation equipment possible (and was among several other legislative initiatives to expand the health care workforce.). The University also draws funding through partnerships with employers, such as hospitals.

“Vermont’s hospitals are working closely with higher education to create learning experiences for nursing students to grow our workforce as quickly and efficiently as we can,” said Michael Del Trecco, president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “I’m proud to say that in Vermont, we know working together on problem areas like the nursing workforce shortage is essential. We are proud of VTSU for their focus on expanding their nursing programs because we know these are great jobs that in desperate need.”

Chief People Officer Jerald Novak at the University of Vermont Health Network explained that when hospitals that aren’t able to hire enough nurses, they are forced to rely on “travelers” to supplement staff. “This process is burdensome and expensive; with more nurses graduating and staying here in Vermont, we can reduce our reliance on temporary labor—just one reason why we engage in important partnerships with VTSU and other institutions of higher-learning to help build our workforce.”

“To address the nursing shortage in Vermont, education needs to be accessible” states Jodi Stack, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. “It’s exciting to hear that VTSU will be expanding all of its programs from certificates in practical nursing up to training nurse-educators at a master’s level.”

VTSU has options for aspiring nurses that meet them where they are and support their individual professional goals and personal lives including a four-year pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and  a 1+1+2 career ladder approach to the BSN which allows students to start with a Practical Nursing Certificate, followed by an Associate of Science in Nursing leading to eligibility for RN licensure, and then gives students a pathway for the post-licensure bachelor’s degree. VTSU also now has an online MSN program that focuses on nursing education and clinical leadership. VTSU works with hospitals to support students to “earn while they learn” supporting nursing students with a flexible schedule, education release time, and financial support while they earn their certificates or degree.

Billings-Berg stressed that new capacity for higher degrees will also result from expansion. “Our post-licensure bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, which are largely online, will benefit from the planned program growth,” she explained. She noted that the expansion of the nursing program has already begun, and the school expects to welcome students to expanded sites in 2024.

Condemning Acts of Terror

A Message from Interim President Michael K. Smith

Dear Vermont State Community,

In the wake of an emotional week for our community, we grapple with the violence in Israel and Palestine. Hamas’s actions have brought tragedy and loss to both sides, including to innocent civilians, children, and U.S. citizens, resulting in thousands of casualties with more than 123,000 displaced. This number will continue to rise and broaden. We condemn these acts of violence and terror unequivocally.

During times like these, let’s look to one another to ensure that each of us has the support needed to navigate the distress of such events. And let’s make sure we don’t cause more harm when talking about these complicated situations with one another. These violent acts of terrorism were an act of Hamas and need to be condemned not only by us, but broadly. We also recognize that there are those in Palestine that reject these acts and are not associated with Hamas, and they are hurting, too.

In unequivocally rejecting terrorism, we will not tolerate any form of discrimination, including acts of antisemitism or Islamophobia. Vermont State University vehemently opposes harassment, bias, and hate targeting someone’s religion. Such behavior goes against our university culture, violates VSC policies, and is illegal. If you encounter or witness any discriminatory acts, please report them promptly so that appropriate action can be taken to

If you need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend or a member of our staff or faculty. Additionally, take advantage of the resources available to help you navigate these challenges.

  • Students:
    • Counseling Services: Stop by your campus Wellness Center or email
      • Randolph Campus: Conant Hall
      • Lyndon Campus: Rita Bole Complex
      • Johnson Campus: Martinetti Hall
      • Castleton Campus: Campus Center
  • Employees:
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Services: You can reach the EAP at 1.800.554.6931 or visit (Use employer ID: vsc for first registration). For additional information about the EAP, please go to the Employee Services tile on the VTSU portal.
  • All:
    • 24/7 Crisis Phone Line: Call 988 for anonymous conversations with trained counselors.
    • Crisis Text Line: Text VT to 741741 to connect anonymously with a Crisis Counselor. They respond within 5 minutes through a secure platform and work with you until you feel calm and have a positive plan for the next steps.
    • 24/7 Support and Service Connection: Vermont 211 Can be accessed online and by dialing 211. Can also be accessed via text (text your zip code to 898211) and email ( M-F 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Together, as a compassionate community, we can face these challenges, support one another, and strive to build a world that embraces diversity and understanding and respect for all.



Michael K. Smith
Interim President

Vermont State University Meets Targeted Enrollment Projections for New and Returning Students as it Welcomes the Class of 2027

VTSU budgeted for an overall dip in enrollment of 6% and a new student enrollment dip of 15% and has met its targets. Incoming class includes 52% first-generation college students, 53% Pell-eligible, 70% Vermonters, with 19% identifying as BIPOC.

Vermont State University (VTSU) welcomes more than 1,400 new undergraduate students to campus for the Fall 2023 semester and is pleased to report it has met its enrollment projections for its first post-unification academic year. The incoming class of 2027 is diverse with 52% of students identifying as first-generation college students and 53% being Pell-eligible. Nineteen percent of incoming first-year students identify as BIPOC and 70% of the incoming class is from Vermont. Vermont State University anticipated a dip in enrollment among new students of approximately 15% and returning students at just 6%. The new university has hit its targets and is optimistic for the future. 

“We are thrilled to welcome such a talented and diverse group of students to Vermont State University for our inaugural year,” said Mike Smith, interim president. “Our university is committed to providing an affordable, accessible, and high-quality education to all Vermonters, regardless of education path or background. Further, we are proud to share that we have in fact met our enrollment targets for the year. Reductions in student size were anticipated and budgeted for given the work required to unify, our state’s demographics, recent media attention, and ongoing COVID impacts on higher education. The incredible profile of this class and that of our returning students, we know this is a strong foundation on which to build future classes who will grow in numbers and skill each year.”

The incoming class is also geographically diverse, with students representing 47 out of 50 states and 19 countries outside of the United States, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the Bahamas, the Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. All students will benefit from a new hands-on advising model to support their growth and success. 

“We are proud to have launched our new holistic advising model where each new student works with both a faculty and staff advisor,” said Kelley Beckwith, VP of Student Success at Vermont State University. “Advising at VTSU is student-centered and relationship-based. The new approach meets today’s students where they are whether they opt to study in-person, online, or both, and whether they are arriving from a high school setting, transferring from another university, or returning to higher education after a break or seeking a career change. Advisors serve as students’ ‘go-to’ person for academics, co-curricular experiences, and personal challenges throughout their time at VTSU.”

The Class of 2027 is excited to begin their college careers at VTSU. They are eager to learn, to grow, and to make a difference in the world.

“VTSU has been a spectacular experience so far,” said Jack Holley, an exercise science student and member of the Class of 2027. It seems like everyone has your back and because of that I feel like I am a part of the VTSU family. I am looking forward to growing not just as a student but also as a person here at VTSU.

“In the few weeks I have been at VTSU Lyndon, the faculty and students have provided a welcoming community full of experiences that truly make me feel at home,” said Lorenzo Pepe, a transfer student. “Every day is a new adventure, and I am learning just as much as I am enjoying my stay.”

VTSU leadership is optimistic about the future and will look to build on the success of this year’s growing class sizes in future years. The Class of 2027 is ready to make their mark on VTSU and on the world. They are the future, and they are VTSU.

In total, Vermont State University enrolls more than 5,200 students and learners of all ages, including more than 4,000 undergraduates and more than 500 graduate students and more than 700 in apprenticeship programs.

“There is critically important work ahead to expand programs where demand exceeds capacity today and right-size classes and campuses to meet student needs,” added Smith. “That work cannot wait and must be done through careful planning and collaboration. If we center our students in the work, I know we’ll get it right and VTSU will thrive.”

Vermont State University Hosts First Homecoming Weekends

A group of people smiling at each other and the camera.

Vermont State University Celebrates Inaugural Homecoming & Family Weekends Across Multiple Campuses

Events taking place across all Vermont State campuses, September 15-17 and September 22-24.

Athletic Hall of Fame events planned for Castleton, Johnson, and Lyndon campuses. 

Vermont State University announces its inaugural Homecoming & Family Weekend celebrations that bring together students, alumni, families, friends, and our local communities for a vibrant and memorable experience across its campuses – Castleton, Johnson, Lyndon, and Randolph. Vermont State welcomes alumni from its previous institutions, Castleton University, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College. Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will also be held on the Castleton, Johnson, and Lyndon campuses. 

“We are thrilled to launch our very first Homecoming & Family Weekend, creating an occasion for students, alumni, families, and friends to come together and celebrate the spirit of Vermont State University,” said Mike Smith, interim president at Vermont State University. “This event underscores our commitment to fostering lifelong connections, sharing experiences, and building a strong sense of community among all members of the Vermont State family.”

Set to take place over two weekends in September, the Homecoming & Family Weekends mark a significant milestone in the university’s history, uniting the diverse Vermont State community for a weekend filled with festivities, connections and reminiscences. Specifically, campus celebrations will take place on the following dates:

Castleton campus: 

  • Homecoming & Family Weekend, September 15-17, 2023
  • Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, September 16, 9:30 a.m. Reservations are required, $25 per person. Breakfast will be served.
    • •2023 Inductees: Richard Reilly ’08, Jamie Lemieux Durkee ’10, Stuart Stefan ’11, and Ryan Zielinski ’13

Johnson campus: 

  • Homecoming & Family Weekend, September 15-17, 2023
  • Johnson Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, September 16, 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required, $25 per person. Dinner will be served.
    • 2023 Inductees: Claudia Martineau Burnham ’12, Kylie Aither Hadfield ’18, Brittany Robertson ’15, Breanna Laughlin Turco ’16, Andrea Williams ’16

Lyndon campus: 

  • Homecoming & Family Weekend, September 22-24, 2023
  • Lyndon Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet, September 22, 6 p.m.
    • 2023 Inductees: Chris Gobeille ’95, Patrick Hilton ’13, Robert Dickerman ’86 (honorary, posthumously), Timothy Hagerty ’04 (honorary). Special Team Recognition: 1977 and 1978 Men’s Ski Teams, Reservations are required, $40 per person.
  • Lyndon 2023 Alumni Awards and Reunion Brunch, Saturday, September 23, 10 a.m. Reservations are required, $25 per person.
    • Distinguished Alumni Award: Catherine Beattie Toll ’81
    • Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Taylor Young ’15
    • Faculty and Staff Recognition Award:  Michaela Stone
    • Award of Special Merit: Rick Williams ’00

Randolph campus: 

  • Homecoming & Family Weekend, September 23, 2023

The events promise an array of engaging activities, including campus tours, alumni awards and reunions, alumni and varsity athletic events, family activities, live performances, and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet President Smith, engage in discussions about the university’s progress and future plans, and celebrate the collective achievements of its alumni.

The Homecoming & Family Weekends showcase the distinctive character of each campus – Castleton, Johnson, Lyndon and Randolph — with attendees able to experience the unique essence of each campus.

“This celebration is not only a homecoming for our alumni, but also a warm welcome for families and friends into our extended Vermont State family,” added Smith. “We look forward to creating lasting memories, strengthening bonds, and laying the foundation for a tradition that will carry forward for years to come.”

Lauren Philie, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement added, “While we recognize that our alumni are most connected to the campus from which they graduated, all are welcome on any of our campuses, so if you are not able to attend Homecoming at your alma mater due to distance or other conflicts, please join us at another campus for a day of fun!”

Vermont State University’s Homecoming & Family Weekends embody the university’s dedication to fostering a sense of belonging, pride, and camaraderie among its community members. As attendees come together to celebrate their shared journey and the university’s achievements, they contribute to the ongoing success and legacy of Vermont State.

Learn more about Vermont State’s 2023 Homecoming & Family Weekends. 

UVM Health Network, Vermont State University, Community College of Vermont Welcome Students to Revitalized Respiratory Therapy Training Program

A group of people standing against a Vermont State University backdrop.

Two-year program to address a shortage of critical inpatient and outpatient care team members

With the start of Vermont’s 2023-24 academic year just around the corner, leaders from UVM Health Network, Vermont State University and Community College of Vermont (CCV) on Wednesday welcomed more than a dozen students who will enter the University’s revitalized Respiratory Therapy Training program this year.

The students – 14 of whom will begin classes this fall, as part of the program’s first two cohorts of learners – hail from communities across Vermont and organizations throughout UVM Health Network. They heard messages of welcome and encouragement from health system and academic leaders, who gathered at the University’s Williston Campus, where the program’s classroom and hands-on clinical training spaces are located, to celebrate the revitalization of a program that had been in danger of being shuttered due to financial challenges and waning student interest.

“Earn-while-you-learn programs like this are critical to solving Vermont’s workforce challenges, particularly in healthcare,” said Joyce Judy, president of the Community College of Vermont. “This is an example of combining the resources of three institutions to accomplish far more together than any of us could on our own. We’re giving hard-working Vermonters the opportunity and the support to grow their knowledge and skills while continuing to earn a paycheck. It’s a win for students, hospitals and Vermont.”

In May, UVM Health Network, Vermont State University and Community College of Vermont announced a partnership designed to reinvigorate the program by focusing on reducing barriers to entry and supporting non-traditional learners. The Network invested $1.4 million in the two-year training pipeline, which is the only program of its kind in Vermont, providing tuition support and scholarships for students and operational funding for the program. As part of the partnership, CCV is providing support and resources for students who need to complete course prerequisites prior to enrolling, and Vermont State University has expanded the number of students the program accepts in each cohort.

“Today we are celebrating students whose desire to care for their communities embodies the mission of UVM Health Network,” said Jerald Novak, Chief People Officer of UVM Health Network. “Every one of them is here in pursuit of the knowledge and skills that will enable them to support and care for patients in careers that play critical roles on clinical teams across the healthcare continuum. I am proud to welcome them as the newest generation of aspiring healthcare professionals, and excited to see the positive impacts they will make on the lives around them.”

Respiratory therapists are highly-trained medical specialists whose focus is caring for patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders that can stem from a wide variety of conditions and events, including acute respiratory distress syndrome – a serious condition that can occur following injuries or an illness like COVID-19. They work in a variety of clinical settings, from emergency rooms and intensive care units, to outpatient clinics; and with a variety of patients, from newborns to senior citizens.

“In Vermont – and at Vermont State University – we identify a problem and we get to work solving it,” said Vermont State University Interim President Mike Smith. “The pandemic proved how critically important respiratory therapists are, and Vermont State, in partnership with the UVM Health Network, put together a low-cost to no-cost way that Vermonters can earn the credentials for this well-paying, in-demand career. Congratulations to these students. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish!”

Vermont State University’s program, which is based at the system’s Williston campus, is the only Vermont-based respiratory therapy education program. The program provides students opportunities to train at multiple hospitals in Vermont and New York State, in addition to helping them secure clinical internships as part of their preparation for the National Board Respiratory Care credentialing exam to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Visit for more information.

UVM Health Network’s investment in the Respiratory Therapy Training Program is part of its transformative work to address national healthcare workforce shortages and patient access to care. To learn more about the Network’s growing suite of workforce development programs and initiatives, visit

Vermont State’s Outdoor Education, Leadership, & Tourism Program Achieves Accreditation From American Mountain Guides Association

Vermont State becomes the only university in the nation with AMGA status

Vermont State University announces that the Outdoor Education, Leadership & Tourism (OELT) program based at its Lyndon campus has received accreditation from the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) for a four-year term that started on May 16, 2023, making it the only university program in the country to currently be accredited by the AMGA. The accreditation applies to the OELT program’s training in alpine, ice, and rock climbing ,as well as backcountry skiing. 

“Now students who come to Vermont State University’s Lyndon campus can know that, in addition to being taught by academics who are versed in the theory behind adventure education, leadership, and tourism, they will be taught by individuals trained and certified by the American Mountain Guides Association,” said Ben Mirkin, associate professor at Vermont State University’s  Lyndon campus. “They can know that we are doing everything we can to manage risk well – and teach them how to do the same.”

All faculty members and adjunct instructors working in these skill areas  will be required to be trained within the AMGA scope of practice, and in most cases will also be certified in the discipline they teach. 

AMGA accreditation results in new risk management protocols for the OELT program, specifically in the case of emergencies encountered in the field. Accreditation also means the addition of a medical advisor to the program – Dr. Brian Irwin, a family medicine physician with a speciality in wilderness medicine will serve in that role. Irwin is currently an adjunct faculty member at Dartmouth. 

Graduates of Vermont State’s OELT program who go on to work in the mountain guide industry will be trained at the AMGA standard, positioning them to be workforce-ready. OELT students already graduate with several instructor certifications. Currently, the OELT program has a 100% job placement rate with alumni serving in roles globally and in Vermont. 

There has been incredible growth in adventure and experiential tourism within the past few years. The global adventure tourism market size is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2% from 2022 to 2030 (Source: Grand View Research). Programs such as Vermont State’s OELT course of study equip students for an array of roles within the tourism industry. 

Learn more about the Outdoor Education, Leadership & Tourism Program at Vermont State University.

Vermont State University Celebrates Official Launch

Four mascots stand side-by-side. A knight, badger, hornet, and spartan.

Vermont State University Celebrates its Official Launch and Looks to Strong Future for Rural, Public Higher Education in Vermont

The unification of campuses is part of a multi-year and multi-phased transformation set to ensure affordable, accessible, relevant and high-quality education programs for students for generations to come.

See photos from event here.

Vermont State University (VTSU) marked its official launch today as the culmination of more than three years of transformation work by Vermont State College System (VSC) leaders, Governor Scott and lawmakers. Bringing together the best of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College, the unification will enhance education offerings, including online degree and training programs, for students across Vermont. It will also stabilize the system’s finances into the future.

State officials joined VSC and Vermont State University leaders to mark the occasion and reinforce Vermont State University’s critical role in our rural economy, serving as a catalyst for change for students seeking any one of its 105 affordable degrees, certificates and training programs in relevant and well-paying careers. VTSU is on track to welcome more than 1,330 new students this fall.

As Chancellor of the Vermont State College System, Sophie Zdatny worked closely with state leaders as the Vermont State Colleges system undertook the transformation work. “This is an incredible day of celebration and I thank all the state officials whose financial support and words of encouragement have made this possible,” she shared. “I also want to thank our faculty, staff and leaders who did the very hard work necessary to launch this new state university. We are well-positioned for the future because we came together as a state to tackle the immense challenge before us to shore up the state college system. It has been a tremendous honor to be part of this work.”

For its Inaugural year, Vermont State University is poised to bring together a class that represents diversity of culture and experience including 1,330 students and growing from 30 states and 21 countries.

“We are excited to welcome our inaugural freshman Vermont State University class and welcome back our returning students who will change our state for the better and that is what is important about this moment,” said Interim Vermont State President Mike Smith. “Over the next several years, we will graduate thousands of nurses, engineers, plumbers, computer programmers, hospitality leaders, climate scientists, educators, counselors and entrepreneurs. These bright and dedicated people will serve on our selectboards, volunteer in our fire departments, coach our youth sports and bring so much to our economy and the fabric of our communities. That’s what rural, public higher education is all about and Vermont State is well positioned to deliver on this promise.”

Of course, transformation would not have been possible without steadfast support from Governor Scott and his administration officials, along with legislative leaders including Speaker of the House, Jill Krowinski, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth the chairs and members of the Education and Appropriations Committees. Together, they have provided more than $200 million in one-time and bridge funding to enable the system to transform and create this new state-wide public university. In return, the state has asked the system to increase its financial stability by reducing its structural deficit by $25 million over five years. That work is underway with plans to both reduce expenses and grow revenue.

“Every learner, regardless of age or income, should have an affordable option to learn a skill, trade or earn a degree and that’s what this unification is about,” added Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski. “The faculty and staff made this possible through their dedication to providing rural higher education and I want to thank them for their trust and patience as this important and challenging work has taken place.” 

“I was a member of the Select Committee that developed the initial plans for unification of the Vermont State Colleges, and throughout that process we dreamed about a university combining all the best of the individual campuses and providing access to all of those resources from anywhere in the state,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth. “I’m incredibly proud of the administrators and faculty and students who have worked and pulled together to make that dream a reality. And I want them all to know that the state will continue to partner with them, to make sure that the new Vermont State University has the resources it needs to thrive.

Vermont State University prides itself on a structure that meets students where they are, across its five campuses, online and with flexible programs and degrees that allow students to achieve their academic goals at a pace and schedule that fits their unique circumstance.

Professors Awarded U.S. Department of Education Grant

Vermont State University Professors Awarded U.S. Department of Education Grant to Address Shortage of K-12 School-Based Mental Health Providers

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $820,000 grant to two Vermont State University faculty to help address the shortage of K-12 school-based mental health providers.

Dr. Maureen Stewart, director of the Johnson-based school counseling graduate program, and Dr. Lacy Skinner, faculty in the school psychology graduate program based at Castleton, worked together with Lamoille North and Addison Northwest School Districts to develop and submit a proposal for a Mental Health Service Professional (MHSP) Demonstration Grant. The funding from the Department of Education will provide financial support for eligible graduate students who will then work as school psychologists or school counselors in high-need school districts in Vermont after graduation.

“There is a significant shortage of school counselors in Vermont and nationwide,” Dr. Stewart said, “so we are thrilled to get this funding. It will enable us to better support graduate students who will then go on to work in Vermont schools.”

This financial support is available to graduate students beginning fall 2023; the grant runs through calendar year 2027.

“Currently, there aren’t enough students in our program to fill all the gaps in Vermont K-12 schools,” Dr. Skinner added. “Expanding the opportunities we can provide will really benefit our students and the communities where they will work.”

The funding will allow Vermont State to significantly increase the number of paid internships it offers, as well as provide tuition assistance and even pay for childcare for students who might need it to allow them to intern full time. “Very few school districts pay for interns,” Dr. Skinner explained, “and now we can provide more full-time, paid internships across all Vermont districts. It will help us recruit more students and will make our graduate program more accessible.”

The grant stipulates that students who receive funding will commit to working in a Vermont district for a period of time, at least as long as the period of their support. That means a student who receives support for two years will work for two years or more in a high-need Vermont district.

“That’s an important part of the grant,” Dr. Stewart said. “We want more students to come to Vermont State and we want them to stay in Vermont. We also want more students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds who understand and can address the needs of students and families in the underserved communities that need counselors.”

In addition to making its graduate program more affordable, Vermont State is making its classes more widely available through a variety of delivery modalities. “Our partnership,” said Dr. Skinner, “has allowed both of our students to take classes on both campuses through our in-person plus options. A student in northern Vermont who can’t drive to Castleton three times a week can still take classes there.”

Dr. Stewart added, “It’s been great working with Dr. Skinner. We’ve been able to collaborate on this grant living in different parts of the state, and it has energized both our campuses and proved that we really are better together. And now we’re going to be able to provide so many more opportunities for our students and really benefit the state.”

Vermont State University Receives NECHE Accreditation

Vermont State University Reaches Critical Milestone: Accreditation from New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as it Prepares to Launch on July 1

NECHE found that Vermont State University met all of its nine standards

Vermont State University (VTSU) announced today that it received accreditation from its governing body, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) at its June 16 meeting held in York Harbor, Maine. NECHE found that VTSU met all nine accreditation standards, which range from academic programming to integrity and transparency. 

“This is a significant step in the launch of Vermont State University and an exciting demonstration that this new institution is prepared to thrive,” said Sophie Zdatny, Chancellor, Vermont State College System. “This accreditation provides assurances to our students, staff, faculty and state partners that we can meet the rigorous standards of higher education and deliver a great education.”

NECHE is among the many regional higher education accrediting organizations across the country. Through its evaluation processes and accreditation of institutions across New England, it can certify for the public that quality, academic and organizational standards have been met. Prior to unification, all individual institutions—Castleton University, Northern Vermont University and Vermont Technical College—were accredited separately by NECHE. Across Vermont, nearly all colleges and universities are accredited through NECHE, including the University of Vermont, Saint Michael’s College, and Champlain College. 

“Vermont State University is ready to unify on July 1, and this announcement validates the hard work and determination of our leaders to get us to this moment,” added Mike Smith, Interim President for Vermont State University. “Our sights are now firmly set on the fall semester and welcoming our inaugural class of nearly 1,200 students and thousands of returning students. We are enrolling more students every day as more students of all ages are learning about and coming to know and trust Vermont State University. I am very pleased with our progress to date, and know that if we continue this trajectory, VTSU will be a great success.”

NECHE will continue to monitor the new VTSU in its first years as is standard practice. More information can be found at and .

Higher Education Opportunities were Highlighted for Veterans and Service Members at 11th Annual Veterans Summit

A group of people standing in a crowd talking with each other.

Vermont State University, Vermont National Guard, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) Highlight Higher Education Opportunities for Veterans and Service Members at 11th Annual Veterans Summit

Vermont National Guard Scholarships and Tuition Benefit Program available to active members.

The 11th Annual Veterans Summit was held on Vermont State University’s Lyndon Campus on Wednesday, June 14. Veterans, military families, and all who care about veteran’s issues. Two-hundred-and thirty people were in attendance. 

“Great things happen at the Summit because veterans, their family members, and stakeholders get together to share valuable information and to support one another,” said Thom Anderson, Vermont State Registrar, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and Veterans Summit organizer. “The exhibitors provide a wide array of services and resources. The speakers and presenters bring fresh insights, expertise, and inspiration. There is something of value for everyone.”

The event featured keynote speaker Robert Bellows, founder of The Warrior StoryField, a collaborative sculpture project with a core mission of exploring what it takes for warriors to come home from war. Bellows is a metal sculptor who has worked as an artist in Longmont, Colorado for more than 45 years. Bellows was accompanied by videographer and U.S. Army veteran John P. Golden. Heather Lafont, a U.S. Navy veteran and alum of Northern Vermont University was the event emcee. Lafont joined the Navy out of high school and served four years on active duty in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Virginia, before transitioning to the Department of the Navy as a manpower and management analyst for ten years. Lafont is currently pursuing a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with Vermont State.

Breakout sessions explored a variety of topics including a state legislative update on veterans affairs, a Q & A session with a Veterans Affairs representative, best practices for employers looking to hire and work with veterans, and a fun session on tying flies for fly fishing. More than 50 veteran service organizations staffed information tables at this event, offering a one-stop shop for services, clubs, and resources. A complimentary dinner was provided along with a beer tasting by 14th Star Brewing Company.

“As Vermont’s rural public higher education system, we have a strong connection with the National Guard and with service opportunities,” said Mike Smith, interim president of Vermont State University. “On behalf of Vermont State University, we express our profound appreciation to our Veterans and service members,” he continued. Smith served the United States as a member of SEAL Team Two.

Vermont State University joins the State of Vermont in supporting Vermont National Guard Tuition Benefit Program scholarships, which are administered by Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC). The Vermont National Guard Tuition Benefit Program covers tuition at Vermont State University, or up to the in-state tuition rate at UVM or other institutions. Active members of the Vermont National Guard who agree to complete the service requirements of the program may access an interest-free forgivable loan.

“In the 2022-2023 academic year, twenty-one Vermont State University students received this tuition benefit to further their education in fields essential to Vermont’s workforce needs, including nursing, paramedicine, construction management, education, dental hygiene, and criminal justice. These students are entering the Vermont workforce with essential skills and training from their time in the service and are filling critical workforce shortages across the state,” added President Smith.

“We are very proud of our 20 plus year partnership with the Vermont National Guard. The Vermont National Guard Tuition Benefit Program helps individuals access an excellent college education, while simultaneously training to learn critical skills and support our communities. Through our partnership, we are able to support students to achieve higher education while helping create a vibrant, strong, and skilled workforce,” added Scott Giles, President and CEO of Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

“Service in the Vermont National Guard can provide a service member with a tuition free college experience,” said Col. Tracey Poirier, director of the joint staff, Vermont National Guard. “This benefit can’t be overstated. I hope our Veterans, those currently serving, and future members take advantage of this benefit,” said Poirier.

The Veterans Summit is made possible by the generosity of sponsors, including the Vermont Veterans Fund, Vermont Community Foundation; Keynote Sponsor Casella Waste Systems; Hospitality Sponsor Twin State Ford; Breakout Session Sponsors – New England Air Systems, Northern Counties Health Care, and Vermont Electric Cooperative Community Fund; and additional contributors.

For more information, see