Elaine Collins will remain president of Johnson- and Lyndon-based Northern Vermont University.

Collins had announced last month that she was a finalist for a college presidency in Michigan. Tuesday, she said she’s staying.

That lends some stability to the Vermont State Colleges System after a sordid campus closure proposal led to the ouster of the system’s chancellor and the resignation of the Castleton University president.

“It became clear that my heart, passion, and commitment are at NVU — in Johnson and Lyndon — and not in Michigan,” Collins said Tuesday in a letter. “Here, at NVU, is where I will continue to advocate strongly for our two campuses and our students. I am lifted by your support and your belief in and love of NVU. I ask that you continue to make it known to legislators and the governor that Northern Vermont University is critical to the higher education landscape in Vermont and serves as an economic driver for the northern tier.”

Chancellor Jeb Spaulding caused an uproar last month when he proposed closing the Johnson and Lyndon campuses, as well as the Vermont Technical College campus in Randolph. Less than a week after making his proposal, he withdrew it. A week after that, he withdrew himself and resigned, saying his “ability to be an effective chancellor has eroded and I don’t believe that can be repaired quickly, if ever.”

The state colleges’ former legal counsel, Sophie Zdatny, was named interim chancellor as the colleges’ trustees work to find a new one.

Collins’s announcement that she was a finalist for the presidency of Lansing Community College came right in the middle of the imbroglio, and was tinged with undertones of sorrow. Tuesday’s announcement that she’s staying in Vermont was considerably more upbeat.

“We have much to do,” Collins wrote. “Go forth. Take some time to enjoy the sunshine as the trees leaf out. Vermont’s beauty in spring (and summer, and fall, and winter) make my heart sing.”

Grads exit quietly

Did you miss last Saturday’s virtual graduation at Northern Vermont University?

You weren’t alone. The event wasn’t announced to the public until Friday — although details were promoted to the graduates and college staff members for several weeks beforehand.

The virtual celebration watch parties premiered Saturday at 11 a.m. for NVU-Johnson and NVU Online, and Sunday for NVU-Lyndon. People can see the celebrations at northernvermont.edu/celebrate.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, there could be no conventional commencement.

“Though we are saddened we cannot celebrate the Class of 2020 in person this year, it is vitally important to recognize each student’s accomplishments this spring,” Collins said.

The online celebrations included video messages from Collins and Provost Nolan Atkins, and best wishes from alumni, faculty and staff. Each graduate was individually recognized with a slide during the YouTube stream and on a personalized webpage.

The Johnson celebration includes the alma mater, sung by a choir of 59 people — the number of years since the Vermont State Colleges System was founded in 1961. The Lyndon celebration included the alma mater sung by student Autumn Chamberlain.

The virtual celebrations and an accompanying website with personalized social media graphics and a reading of the names area also at northernvermont.edu/celebrate.

On-campus commencement ceremonies for the 2020 graduates are planned in May 2021.

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