Daily Archives: May 16, 2016

Burlington College and its ex-president

We could have seen this coming, but hope sprang eternal… until it died, poetically, in the snows of mid-May. Burlington College finally gave up the ghost after several years of trying to overcome one of the dumbest decisions ever made by a college president.


I have to agree with Ms. Hallenbeck. For those just joining us, Jane O’Meara Sanders was president of Burlington College from 2004 to 2011. In her antepenultimate year, she engineered a massive land deal that put the college deep into hock: the college agreed to buy 33 acres of land and some buildings for $10 million from the Diocese of Vermont, which was liquidating assets to help pay the consequences of its long-suppressed pedophilia scandal.

Burlington College, with a student body of 200, had to assume millions in debt to acquire the property. But Sanders had a Big Plan. She was going to greatly expand the campus, nearly quadruple the student population, and dramatically increase fundraising.

In the depth of the Great Recession.

When liberal-arts colleges were dropping like flies.

It was a terrible idea on its face.

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A skeleton or two in Ms. Bucknam’s closet (UPDATED)

On Friday afternoon, we learned that Saint Johnsbury-based attorney Deb Bucknam had declared her candidacy for Attorney General on the Republican ticket, thus assuring the VTGOP of at least token representation in the race against Democrat TJ Donovan.

At the time, I noted the trail of online writings that reveal Ms. Bucknam to be a hard-right conservative who doesn’t believe in public education or global warming, wants to privatize Social Security, and thinks Calvin Coolidge was a great president. Among other things.

Well, a VPO commenter has disclosed a potentially disqualifying item in Bucknam’s legal career: back in 1992, her law license was suspended for 30 days* and she served a further one-year probationary period for “a pattern of misconduct” that encompassed “multiople offenses” including “outright lying to clients” and “chang[ing] the fee arrangement” without prior agreement with the clients. (All quotes from the Professional Conduct Board’s Notice of Decision, PCB File 89.53.)

*Note: Bucknam posted a Comment (below) letting us know that her suspension was overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court; she was instead “reprimanded and placed on probation,” she says. My own searches did not uncover any mention of the Supreme Court action. The facts of the case otherwise remain the same.

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