On June 29, Johnson State College was accepted as the 30th member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
“We were interested in finding a network of like-minded thinkers. We respect the institutions that are a part of COPLAC. We respect the mission of COPLAC, and we want to be a part of it. I think that for us, it reaffirmed a long time support of the liberal arts,” said President Elaine Collins of Johnson State College of Vermont.
The COPLAC Board of presidents and chancellors met at the 2016 COPLAC Annual Meeting hosted by Southern Utah University. The Board meets twice a year to advance COPLAC’s work and vote on consortium decisions.
“It was a unanimous vote. I should say that it was a voice vote, but it was a unanimous vote,” said President Kate Foster of University of Maine at Farmington, who also serves on COPLAC’s Membership Committee.
Johnson State College applied to be a member of COPLAC in March 2016. Their application was recognized as one of the most thorough applications for membership, according to President Foster.
“The application showed me that Johnson State had a sense of self. It was confident in its mission. It clearly brought along the whole campus. I mean students, faculty, staff and community members — they wanted [to be a part of] COPLAC. They saw themselves as a public liberal arts college. They were ready to be a part of this organization, and they were committed to being an active member in this organization,” said President Foster.
Johnson State College was founded in 1828 as an elementary and secondary school and has gone through several transitions over the years. The college recently updated its mission statement to better communicate its long history in the liberal arts and sciences.
“I think that over time because we’re such an old institution in Vermont, we kind of fell away from really being identified as the public liberal arts college. I really wanted to get real estate in higher education and to identify us as the college in Vermont that is still moving in this direction and still very supportive of the liberal arts and sciences,” said President Collins.
Prospective COPLAC members go through an application process that can take up to a year to complete. Following a preliminary paper application, representatives from the COPLAC Membership Committee visit the prospective campus.
“We were welcomed so warmly. The job of doing a site visit is the old trust but verify — affirm what has been written on paper and make sure what we’re seeing in practice really aligns [with COPLAC]. We saw that from the moment we walked on the campus. They had set up a very detailed schedule for us. We met with eight different groups. It was very clear from both the open sessions and private sessions that people knew COPLAC was good for Johnson State,” said President Foster.
After the Board voted to accept Johnson State College into the consortium, President Collins was invited to join the meeting and learn more about what COPLAC has to offer her campus.
“I really want our students to start taking advantage of the digital humanities opportunities. I want them to have another venue in which to publish their undergraduate research. I want them to look at Metamorphosis as a means to publish their work. There are many ways that I want to participate. I can’t wait to get started. I’m just thoroughly excited that we were admitted,” said President Collins.
Learn more about becoming a COPLAC member here.
*Photos courtesy COPLAC office and Johnson State College website.