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Emerson, Marlboro College Look to Combine Creative Forces

Emerson and Marlboro Colleges are exploring an alliance that will involve Marlboro moving its academic programs to Emerson beginning in Fall 2020, at which time Marlboro undergraduates will be invited to matriculate and tenure-track faculty may choose to teach at Emerson.

Marlboro, a small liberal arts college located in Southern Vermont, will gift its endowment, valued at more than $30 million, to Emerson, along with its real estate holdings appraised at more than $10 million.

The gift will endow Emerson’s liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies program, which will be renamed the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College. Under the plan, Marlboro undergraduates will complete their degrees and Marlboro tenured and tenure-track faculty will continue to teach at Emerson. Marlboro will close its Vermont campus at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

“This is an extraordinary alliance and a quintessential win for both of our commonwealths of learning,” Emerson President Lee Pelton said.

“One way to understand this transaction is to think of an individual making a $40 million gift to endow an existing college program. For Emerson, the gift will permanently fund Emerson’s Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies program,” Pelton said. “For Marlboro, their legacy will live on, their students will benefit from enhanced educational programs, and their tenured and tenure-track faculty will continue to teach in an environment that supports intellectual creativity, innovation, and experiential learning.”

Emerson is internationally recognized as the nation’s premier institution of higher learning devoted to liberal arts, communication, and the arts, with campuses in Boston, Los Angeles, and The Netherlands, and degree-granting programs in Paris, Barcelona, and, beginning Fall 2020, Lugano, Switzerland.

Established in 1946, Marlboro is a tight-knit community of scholars dedicated to independent learning and academic excellence. Marlboro’s 150 undergraduates design their own course of study, much like Emerson students enrolled in the self-directed program housed in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Emerson President Lee Pelton and Marlboro President Kevin Quigley announced the alliance to their respective campus communities in Town Hall meetings held Wednesday morning, November 6.

“This remarkable opportunity to develop an alliance with Emerson ensures that the essential elements of Marlboro will endure,” Quigley said. “It preserves our identity through renaming Emerson’s Institute as the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, continues our pedagogy and commitment to progressive education by bringing our faculty to the Emerson campus, and provides extraordinary opportunities for our students with an alliance partner where there is a clear alignment of values, culture, and purpose.”

In the coming months, Emerson and Marlboro each will form working groups on the essential elements of the alliance. The groups will meet separately and jointly to propose various aspects of the implementation of the alliance, including but not limited to, academic affairs, student life, administration, human resources, fiduciary matters, and governance.

The work is to be completed in mid-spring, with the goal of confirming the alliance by July 1, 2020.

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