The president of the soon-to-be Vermont State University, Parwinder Grewal, ruffled some feathers and rattled some bones last week when he announced, with no advance warning, that the system’s libraries would close by July 1. That’s bad enough. What makes it worse is that I can’t figure out why he’s doing this. His public pronouncements don’t add up.
You might think this is a cost-saving move. After all, the VSU merger is being driven largely by costs. The member institutions have been underfunded by the state for decades, to the point where then-Vermont State Colleges chancellor Jeb Spaulding felt compelled in 2020 to suddenly announce the closure of three VSCS campuses. Predictably, the plan was killed. Predictably, he lost his job.
And less than a year later, his successor went before the Legislature and testified that preserving the colleges and campuses would require $203 million over five years — on top of the system’s base appropriation, which at the time was $30.5 million.
So it’d be understandable if Grewal engaged in a little belt-tightening. Or a lot.
But he has not even suggested that closing the libraries will save any money.Continue reading