Marlboro College
marlboro college sign

Marlboro College agrees to sell Vermont campus to non-profit education group

May 28, 2020
Democracy Builders, which has created charter schools throughout the nation, plans to pursue a new model of higher education at the campus.

Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt., has announced the sale of its 500-acre college campus in anticipation of completing a merger with Emerson College in Boston.

The Brattleboro Reformer reports that Democracy Builders, the group behind the creation of a network of charter schools, plans to use the Marlboro campus for a new model of higher education designed to "dramatically reduce costs and improve outcomes" for low-income and first generation students in particular.

The program, dubbed Degrees of Freedom, is designed to offer a hybrid degree that will bring students to the campus for multiple residencies each year.

The sale follows Marlboro's agreement to become part of Emerson. The academic program will be transfered to Emerson and be named the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College.

"We recognize that all of us would prefer that Marlboro College remain as is on our beautiful campus in the foothills of the Green Mountains," Marlboro's board said in a letter to the Marlboro community. "We are, however, very fortunate to have found a path that both continues our distinctive liberal arts mission at Emerson and offers an opportunity for something new to take root here."

Democracy Builders plans to make full use of Marlboro's campus—17 miles of trails, buildings, arts facilities and extensive library.

Seth Andrew, founder of Democracy Builders, also established Democracy Prep, a network of 20-plus public schools throughout the United States.

The Degrees of Freedom and the Freedom College model planned for the Marlboro campus are born out of their work with 10,000 K-12 students.

Andrew described his new endeavor as "a more nimble, personalized, and career-targeted model of higher education that aims to yield dramatically better outcomes for our students."

Marlboro's alliance with Emerson grew from a two-plus year partnership exploration, started by the Marlboro College Board after a decade of struggle to meet enrollment and financial goals.

Both the Emerson alliance and the sale of the campus are subject to approval by the Vermont Attorney General.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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