Moulton Take Helm at Vermont Tech

29 Sep 2016

Interim President Looks To Link Education with Good Jobs.

New students arriving this fall at Vermont Technical College found they weren’t the only new faces on campus.

[Read the origial article featured in the Randolph Herald.]

Also arriving the same week was the college’s new interim president, Patricia Moulton.

The 2016-17 year will be the 150th year of what used to be the state “Aggie School” but now offers dozens of programs of various lengths, offering certificates as well as associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and one master’s degree program.

“It’s 150 years of being in Randolph,” Moulton said, in a nod to the importance of the institution to this town.

In fact, however, the Randolph Center campus, though still the headquarters of the college, is now one of more than a dozen VTC locations, including 10 nursing programs and a substantial campus in Williston. Moulton comes to VTC after Dan Smith’s two-year tenure, who has moved on to become the president and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation.

Smith’s presidency followed the short but stormy presidency of Phil Conroy, who was forced out after just three years during which the enrollment fell sharply while the school’s debt increased.

During Smith’s short tenure, enrollment increased from a low point of 1400 to about 1535 and is now climbing.

Impressive Resume

“Pat” Moulton may be new on campus, but she brings an almost unprecedented resume of work in the public sector, having been appointed to top state government positions by four governors.

Most recently, she was secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, in which position she helped create Vermont’s first comprehensive development strategy. Before that she was commissioner of economic development and, prior to that, commissioner of the Department of Labor.

She also served as the first executive director of the Green Mountain Community Development Agency, which serves towns in Orange and Windsor Counties. Her father, Al Moulton, was an almost legendary figure in heading the Vermont Department of Development.

Economic development has been the thread connecting her various positions, and she said it is crucial to what she can bring to her job at VTC.

“Both my father and I understood that economic development and workforce development and education are so tightly linked,” she told The Herald. “We need an educated workforce to build an economy, and much of my career has been education oriented.”

She noted she has had “close relations with Vermont Tech during much of my career,” and she’s optimistic that the college can increase enrollments back to the earlier 1600 level.

“We are such a good solution” to the needs of young people, she explained. “We still maintain the 95% placement rate.” She noted that VTC recently moved up 12 notches in the College Scorecard. Among Vermont colleges, it ranks second only to UVM in the average earnings of its graduates, while being the second-lowest in the state in average debt upon graduation.

Put those two categories together, and “We’re number one in the return on student’s investment,” she said.

Making the Connection

Vermont businesses need the sort of education that VTC provides, Moulton said, and she thinks she can help make the connection.

“When I’ve toured the state over the years, I couldn’t find any employer who didn’t need more employees,” she said. She pointed to the close relationship with GW Plastics in Bethel, that includes special scholarships.

“That’s what I hope to cultivate— because I do know the players.”

What VTC offers now, she pointed out, is a mix of educational experiences running to certificate programs all the way to the new master’s degree in software engineering (begun this year with about eight students).

The certificate programs are relatively new, and are directed at workers who could use a “re-tooling.” More of these programs are being added, including a new certificate in forestry this year.

The point, she said, is for VTC “to be open to all who want a path to higher re-education and better jobs.”

Her message: “In this economy, a high school degree is not going to cut it.”

Hopes To Stay

In her interview with The Herald this week, Patricia Moulton made no secret of the fact that she hopes to remove the “Interim” from her title as Interim President.

The college is kicking off a formal search for a new president, and “It is my intent to apply,” she confirmed.

“My first week here solidified that desire,” she added. “I hope they will hire me.”