Marlboro College

Coordinates: 42°50′20″N 72°43′54″W / 42.838842°N 72.731681°W / 42.838842; -72.731681

Marlboro College was a private college in Marlboro, Vermont. Founded in 1946, it remained intentionally small, operating as a self-governing community with students following self-designed degree plans culminating in a thesis. In 1998 the college added a graduate school.

Marlboro College
Marlboro logo transparent.png
TypePrivate college
Active1946; 77 years ago (1946) –
2020; 3 years ago (2020)
Endowment$40 million (2014)
PresidentKevin F. Quigley
Administrative staff
41 full-time faculty
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural: 360 acres (1.5 km2)

The college closed at the end of the 2019–2020 academic year and gifted its endowment to Emerson College in Boston to create the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College.


Marlboro College was founded in 1946 by Walter Hendricks, who had been inspired by his time as director of English at Biarritz American University.[1] Many of the first students were returning World War II veterans. The campus incorporates the buildings of three farms that were on the site at Potash Hill.[2] The first students were primarily freshmen but included some sophomores and juniors and one senior, who in 1948 became the first Marlboro graduate. The students made "How Are Things At Casserole College?" the first school song in response to the dining hall menu.[3]

The college remained intentionally small;[4] in 2017 it was one of only three liberal arts colleges listed by U.S. News & World Report where all classes had fewer than 20 students.[5]

In 2012 Marlboro instituted the Beautiful Minds Challenge, an essay contest for high school students with full or partial scholarships and other awards as prizes.[6] Essays could take the form of text, images, audio, or video and were judged by Marlboro faculty, staff, and students; finalists were flown to the Marlboro campus for a symposium where they presented their work.[7] The program was discontinued after the 2018 competition. The Renaissance Scholars program, instituted in 2015 with the objective of attracting new students from every state and increasing diversity, caused a rise in enrollment to approximately 200 in fall 2016.[6]


In 2018, Marlboro's small size and dwindling enrollment led the Board of Trustees to begin exploring merging with another college or university. A merger with the University of Bridgeport was announced and then called off in 2019.[8][9]

In late 2019, the college announced that it would merge with Emerson College at the end of the 2019–20 academic year.[10] Under the agreement, finalized on July 23, 2020, Marlboro gave its endowment to Emerson, which created the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies. Marlboro students were guaranteed admission and tenure-track faculty were guaranteed teaching positions at Emerson.[11] At that time, Marlboro had approximately 150 students.[12]




Freshmen were required to meet the "Clear Writing Requirement" by submitting an acceptable portfolio of at least 20 pages (4,000 words) of nonfiction writing to the English Committee.[13]

With the guidance of tutors, juniors and seniors developed and followed an individualized "Plan of Concentration", often interdisciplinary, of which at least 20% was required to consist of an independent project prepared without direct faculty input; most students' plans culminated in a thesis. Students defended their work in an oral examination before one or more Marlboro faculty members and an outside evaluator unconnected to the college but with expertise in the student's field of study.[14]

Marlboro's strengths included Asian studies, religion and theology, and life sciences.[15]

In March 2014, Marlboro and five nearby colleges, Community College of Vermont, Landmark College, the School for International Training, Union Institute, and Vermont Technical College, formed the Windham Higher Education Cooperative, allowing students to take one course a semester at another participating institution.[16]


Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies began in 1998.[17] Primarily aimed at working professionals and focused on techology, in 2010 it shifted to programs focused on socially responsible management[18] and master's studies in teaching (teaching with technology, teaching for social justice, and TESOL).[19] later added an accelerated Master's track open to undergraduates in some programs.[20]

The graduate school was initially located in nearby Brattleboro. It moved to the main college campus in Marlboro in April 2017,[21] and after that offered courses increasingly online[22] and instituted a teach-out. Enrollment was suspended for 2019–20 and graduate programs were not transferred to Emerson under the merger agreement.[23][24]

Rankings and reputationEdit

In The Princeton Review's 2014 annual college guide, Marlboro College received the highest possible academic rating of 99 and was ranked #1 nationally for the quality of its faculty.[25] In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked it #117 among liberal arts colleges in the United States.[5]

In 2006 Loren Pope wrote in Colleges That Change Lives that "the Marlboro adventure" was "far more intense and intellectually demanding than Harvard, any other Ivy, or Ivy clone".[26]

Student life and governanceEdit

Marlboro was founded on an ethos of independence combined with community participation. Students, faculty, and staff made decisions together in weekly "Town Meetings",[6] and there was an elected community court. Students, faculty, and staff served on elected committees that played a role in hiring decisions and steering the curriculum. All campus buildings were open 24/7, and the library used a self-checkout honor system.

During spring and fall, students were encouraged to work regularly on the school farm. Campuswide Work Days took place each semester, with students, faculty, and staff working together on projects as needed, in the spirit of the first class, who built their own dormitories.

The administration published a magazine called Potash Hill. The student newspaper, The Citizen, and the Marlboro College Literary Magazine were edited by students elected at Town Meetings.[27]

Open mic nights at the Campus Center happened several times a semester in addition to events including the Drag Ball, MayFest, and Apple Days, and other events. The night before writing portfolios were due, a "Midnight Breakfast" was held.

The college had few organized sports teams, but the "Outdoor Program" promoted rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, white-water kayaking, caving, canoeing, and hiking, and college was only 15 miles from the Mount Snow ski resort. A broomball tournament was held every February beginning in 1990.[28][29]


Dining hall and Mather Building
Whittemore Theater and Drury Gallery

The Marlboro College campus is located on South Road in the town of Marlboro, Vermont, in the Green Mountains. In the early years of the college, students and faculty worked together to adapt the buildings of three farms on the site,[2] which became the main classroom building, the dining hall, and the admissions and administration buildings.

Through grants from federal, state and private entities, the college improved the energy efficiency of the Dining Hall, Dalrymple classroom building, Mather administration building, and Admissions building since 2008, as well as the student residences. In summer 2011, the half-circle driveway at the campus entrance was converted to green space and walking paths.[citation needed]

The Serkin Performing Arts Center has a 125-seat auditorium, an electronic music lab, practice rooms with baby grand pianos and a 5,000-square foot dance studio. Whittemore Theater, used primarily by the Theater department, was attached to Drury Gallery, which displayed student works.

The Snyder Center for the Visual Arts, housing studios, classrooms, and gallery spaces in 14,000 square feet, opened in May 2016.[6][30]

In the summer, the campus is the location of the Marlboro Music Festival, founded in 1951.[31] A new 99-year lease was signed in February 2019 and a residence hall and the Jerome and Celia Reich Building, containing a music library and chamber music rehearsal spaces, are scheduled for completion in 2021.[32]


The former Marlboro campus was sold in May 2020 to Democracy Builders, founded by Seth Andrew, which intended to use it for a low-residency, low-cost college program for low-income students. The Degrees of Freedom program would last four years, from eleventh grade to the second year of college, and would result in an associate degree.[31][33][34][35][36][37] The program was slated to be largely online, with students only being on campus two weeks out of each trimester.[38]

In February 2021, Andrew announced that Democracy Builders had sold the campus to "Type 1 Civilization Academy" via a quitclaim deed.[39] On March 9, 2021, During an invitation-only community meeting on Zoom, Andrew announced that the Type 1 deal had been cancelled. He called the agreement "an engagement" rather than "a marriage".[40] Andrew filed another quit claim deed which transferred the property back to Democracy Builders. The principal of Type 1, Adrian Stein, said that Type 1 was legitimately in control of the campus and that the issue will likely end up in court unless they can find "some other kind of equitable settlement."[41]

Opening of the Democracy Builders program was deferred in April 2021 after Andrew was charged with financial crimes.[42]

In July 2021, the campus was purchased by the Marlboro Music Festival. [43] The Marlboro Music Festival formed the subsidiary nonprofit organization, Potash Hill, Inc. to manage the property.[44]

Notable peopleEdit




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Marlboro College Through The Years". Marlboro College. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "History". Marlboro College. Marlboro College. Archived from the original on July 30, 2019.
  3. ^ Hugh A. Mulligan (October 14, 1958). "Hal Boyle Writes: Marlboro Class of '48 Holds a Reunion". The Nevada Daily Mail. p. 2.
  4. ^ "Mission". Marlboro College. Archived from the original on July 30, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Marlboro Continues to Rise in U.S. News Ranking". Marlboro College. September 2017. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Chris Mays (September 18, 2016) [September 16, 2016]. "New semester brings big changes on Marlboro College campus". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved May 4, 2021 – via VTDigger.
  7. ^ "Marlboro launches 2017 Beautiful Minds Challenge". Marlboro College. 2017. Archived from the original on August 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Colleen Flaherty (September 16, 2019). "No Deal". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Lola Duffort (September 14, 2019). "Merger between Marlboro College and University of Bridgeport unravels". VTDigger.
  10. ^ Andrew Brinker (November 14, 2019). "A chat with Marlboro College President Kevin Quigley". The Berkeley Beacon. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  11. ^ "What's Next for Marlboro". Marlboro College. July 23, 2020. Archived from the original on December 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Scott Jaschik (November 6, 2019). "Emerson Plans to Absorb Marlboro". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  13. ^ "Clear Writing Program". Marlboro College. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Plan of Concentration". Marlboro College. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Loren Pope (2006). Colleges That Change Lives (2nd ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 77–78. ISBN 9780143037361.
  16. ^ Howard Weiss-Tisman (March 4, 2014). "Six southern Vermont colleges announce collaboration". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved May 4, 2021 – via VTDigger.
  17. ^ "GPS Celebrates 20 Years of Innovative Graduate Education". Marlboro College. December 5, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2021 – via Emerson College.
  18. ^ Marlboro College (May 6, 2016). "Marlboro College Graduate & Professional Studies Announces New Management Degrees". VTDigger (press release). Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  19. ^ "Teaching For Transformation". Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017.
  20. ^ "Marlboro Launches Accelerated Masters Track" (broken link). Marlboro College.
  21. ^ Mike Faher (April 2, 2017). "Marlboro College consolidates campuses". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  22. ^ Caleb Clark (April 17, 2018). "Marlboro College's Teaching with Technology Masters Program is Going Fully Online Beginning in Fall 2018". iBrattleboro. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  23. ^ Andrew Brinker (November 14, 2019). "Marlboro Graduate School facing imminent closure". The Berkeley Beacon. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  24. ^ Andrew Brinker (November 22, 2019). "Marlboro graduate school staff left unaware of closure track". The Berkeley Beacon. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  25. ^ Marlboro College (August 7, 2013). "Marlboro College professors ranked #1 nationally by Princeton Review". VTDigger (press release). Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  26. ^ Pope (2006) p. 76.
  27. ^ "Student Publications". Marlboro College. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017.
  28. ^ "Clean sweep in Marlboro". Brattleboro Reformer. February 9, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  29. ^ Larry Parnass (February 28, 2017). "The Joy of Broomball". UpCountry magazine. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "Community Dedicates Visual Arts Center". Marlboro College. May 2016. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017.
  31. ^ a b Chris Mays (July 30, 2020). "Higher education, music festival to stay at Marlboro after sale". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  32. ^ Richard Henke (February 13, 2019). "Play on! Marlboro Music inks deal to remain at Marlboro College for next century". The Commons. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  33. ^ "What's Next For Marlboro: Update on Marlboro College Campus". Marlboro College. May 28, 2020. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020.
  34. ^ Madeline St. Amour (May 29, 2020). "Marlboro to Become New 2-Year Program". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  35. ^ Ellie French (May 28, 2020). "Marlboro College announces campus sale to Democracy Builders". VTDigger. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  36. ^ Visconti, Ambrogio. "Democracy Builders' Acquisition of Marlboro College". Global Legal Chronicle. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  37. ^ Audette, Bob (May 28, 2020). "New model of higher education could take root in Marlboro". The Bennington Banner. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  38. ^ St. Amour, Madeline (May 29, 2020). "Marlboro to Become New 2-Year Program". Inside Higher Education. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  39. ^ Audette, Bob (2021-02-03). "Marlboro College campus has new owner". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  40. ^ "Deal is off for campus sale". The Commons. 2021-03-10. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  41. ^ Audette, Bob (2021-03-10). "Potash Hill deal not consummated, Democracy Builders says it retains ownership of former Marlboro College campus". Brattleboro Reformer. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  42. ^ Lola Duffort (April 30, 2021). "Degrees of Freedom, the Marlboro-based project founded by Seth Andrew, delays opening". Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  43. ^ Susan Smallheer (July 22, 2021). "Marlboro Music Festival buys Marlboro College campus, ending year of turmoil". Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  44. ^ Hall, C. B. (September 21, 2022). "Atop Marlboro's Potash Hill, new prospects". Retrieved October 4, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External linksEdit