Burlington College, a small Vermont institution once headed by Jane Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential contender Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, will be closing its doors after this school year because of the “crushing weight of the debt” from the purchase Mrs. Sanders made of a new campus in 2010.
Under Mrs. Sanders’ directive, the college purchased 32 acres of land along North Avenue for about $10 million to expand its campus. In a statement quoted by Vermont Public Radio, the college’s dean of operations and advancement, Coralee Holm, said the school had “struggled under the crushing weight of the debt incurred by the purchase of the Archdiocese property on North Avenue.”
The school said it tried to sell off some properties to pay off its debt, but in late April, the college’s lender, People’s United Bank, said it was pulling the institution’s line of credit, Ms. Holm said at a press conference on Monday. The progressive school enrolled 224 students as of the fall of 2014.
“Founded in 1972 as an informal gathering of students, Burlington College grew into a small, regionally accredited liberal arts college,” the Burlington Free Press reported. “But financial strain and academic probation created by an ambitious but ill-fated expansion under then-President Jane Sanders onto a new campus on prime waterfront land led to the school’s demise.”
Mrs. Sanders’ left her post at the school in 2011 after an apparent kerfuffle with the schools’ board. According to reporting by CNN, a loan application that Mrs. Sanders signed while president overstated the amount of pledged donations the college had when she made the land deal.
She was awarded a $200,000 severance package — what some have called a “golden parachute” because the executive pay amounted to more than four times the average annual household income in Vermont.
Critics have speculated the reason why Mr. Sanders has refused to release his tax returns during the period his wife served as the school’s president is because of the cushy income she received while working there.
The irony also is not lost, that Mrs. Sanders’ husband, Mr. Sanders, is also promising big dreams on the campaign trail without a realistic way of paying for them. At the end of the day, someone has to foot the bill for the free public school tuition that he’s proposing, or the universal health care, among others.
Studies published last week by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute concluded that Mr. Sanders’ plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade, yet Mr. Sanders has been short on the details of how he plans to pay for them.
Fiscal responsibility doesn’t seem to be a care in the Sanders’ family, so long as someone else is footing the bill anyway.