I came to Vermont in September of 1982, which was when I first had contact with Richard Bjork, the Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges system. I became General Counsel for the state colleges system. Here I want to write about the relationship between Chancellor Bjork and the Community College of Vermont (CCV).
Prior to my arrival in-state, Myrna Miller, who was the Dean of the College for CCV, had resigned. Having many reservations about the structure and viability of the College, the Chancellor decided to act as president while a search was made for a successor to Dean Miller. His concerns centered especially in the areas of academic quality and the structure of courses, including both lack of standardization of course objectives and course subject matter not being viable for credit-bearing college offerings. He remained acting President for six to eight months.
Over the course of his closer contact with CCV, Chancellor Bjork’s attitude underwent a great change. Starting from a position of skepticism, he moved to a softer doubt regarding its viability. As time passed, he came to a growing recognition of its potential, then to a position of supporting and promoting the College. In other words, from questioning the actual legitimacy of the College he ended up respecting both the institution and the staff and students served.
He wanted to support and advocate for all those Vermonters who did not have opportunities to better themselves and provide them with the accessibility to do so. He saw students as consumers whom the College could help. He was intrigued by the fact that all CCV’s faculty was adjunct and part-time. This allowed the College to be flexible in providing students the chance to meet their needs via the college’s programs.
After these interim months Ken Kalb, the next President of the College, was hired. He was given the mission of streamlining the college’s processes, improving output and delivery of services. A more business oriented outlook was necessary from the previously more social services model. President Kalb was tasked with the necessity to make timely and efficient decisions. Chancellor Bjork concluded that if the College was to survive, it needed to be moved forward to a more standard operating system while retaining its uniqueness.
Now CCV was well on its way to becoming the legitimate institution that it is today offering academic quality in a non-traditional way.
–Stan Carpenter, former VSC General Counsel
Currently Chancellor, Nebraska State Colleges
As told to Maryellen Lowe, Assistant Registrar (ret’d)