Two private New England school are taking steps to join forces next year. Marlboro College in southern Vermont plans to merge with the University of Bridgeport, based in Connecticut, the schools announced Thursday.
Marlboro College president Kevin Quigley told VPR the merger will bolster the small, rural college, which currently has about 140 students.
"I think for most people, here in Marlboro, here in Vermont, it shouldn't look very different," Quigley said. "Actually, it should look better. Because we'll have more students on our campus, more people coming to Vermont."
Quigley said Marlboro would become known as Marlboro College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Bridgeport. He said he expects Bridgeport students could enroll in semester or yearlong programs at the Vermont campus.
Marlboro College has faced enrollment and financial challenges in recent years, Quigley said, "so we set up a process last fall to try and find a partner who would be a good fit with Marlboro."
In Thursday's news release, University of Bridgeport president Laura Skandera Trombley praised the developing partnership:
"In strategically combining the shared values, strengths, and resources of the University of Bridgeport and Marlboro College, we are proactively ensuring an extraordinarily enriched academic experience for current and future generations of students."
Quigley said the two schools will likely reach a final merger agreement by the end of this year, with the merger officially implemented by July 1, 2020.
The announcement comes after other recent changes in Vermont's higher education landscape. Three other small, liberal arts schools in the Green Mountain State shut their doors earlier this year.