RANDOLPH CENTER — The president of Vermont Technical College will be on a paid leave of absence until he retires in November, according to Chancellor Timothy Donovan.
In a brief statement Tuesday when asked about the departure, Donovan said President Philip Conroy will retire effective Nov. 15 and confirmed that Conroy would continue to be paid according to the terms of his contract until that time. Donovan did not elaborate.
“Because this involves personnel, there will be no further comment from the Vermont State Colleges or Vermont Technical College,” he wrote.
Donovan didn’t waver from that position when asked about Conroy’s extended leave during a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.
“The statement is going to have to speak for itself,” he said.
Donovan did confirm that he had appointed Daniel Smith, VSC director of community relations and public policy, to serve as acting president. He said Smith, who has been on “assignment” at the college since last summer, would continue to serve as acting president until the board of trustees appoints an interim replacement for Conroy.
Asked when that would happen, Donovan said it would be premature for him to speculate.
Donovan said he was grateful to Conroy and his wife, Jan, for their service to the students of Vermont Technical College over the past two years. Conroy arrived at VTC from Mount Ida College in Massachusetts in early April 2011, he said.
Though Donovan said there was little he could add about Conroy’s looming retirement, he said Smith was a logical choice as acting president given his familiarity with the college and its administrative team.
“He has been on assignment from me working closely with Vermont Tech since last July,” he said.
According to Donovan, Smith’s goal was “to bring some additional perspective, resources and skills into that leadership mix.”
Donovan said VTC — Vermont’s only technical college — is a vital part of the state college system.
“Vermont Tech has a very key role to play in economic and workforce development in this state given its particular mission and its particular program suite,” he said. “We want to keep that strong. We want to keep it serving Vermont and adapt to changing environments.”
Donovan reiterated that point in a separate email announcing Conroy’s retirement that was sent to VTC faculty and other members of the college community.
“These are challenging times for higher education as a whole, and for public institutions in the state of Vermont in particular,” Donovan wrote. “As I have stated before, I believe Vermont Tech is, and will continue to be, a unique and vital institution for the state of Vermont.”
In the email, Donovan thanked the VTC faculty for their efforts and suggested they would be well-served in the near term by Smith.
“I am confident that (Smith) will bring a level of communication, collaboration, and support of innovation that, in time, positions the college to continue benefiting Vermont’s economic and workforce development in a manner that enhances VTC’s sustainability,” he wrote.
Smith also reached out to faculty and staff with an email of his own Tuesday.
“My goal is to ensure a smooth transition and to help get the college onto solid financial footing,” Smith wrote, noting he had been working closely with administrators since last summer to address challenges the college faces.
“Those challenges, both financial and operational, are significant,” he wrote. “Nonetheless, I have confidence in the willingness of people to work together to sustain our commitment to the success of our students, to bring our finances under control and to build a healthy academic strategy in a changing environment.”
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