“The town came alive every time the students came back, and you can feel the difference”
College closures can affect an entire community. They grapple with lost jobs, lost revenue, and even a loss of identity.
From the Denver Post:
Former college campuses left to adapt to business loss, redevelopment
As colleges and universities come alive this fall, some campuses sit closed and empty after succumbing to a recent wave of fewer students and financial challenges.
Now communities that long hosted those historic institutions and relied on them for an economic boost — and their very identity — are left to adapt to the vacancy and wondering what comes next.
In Poultney, Vermont, population 3,300, Green Mountain College had occupied a prominent spot at the end of the main street for 185 years. That changed in the spring, when the environmentally minded liberal arts school closed after commencement, citing a drop in enrollment and financial challenges.
The closure “literally changed the entire town of Poultney,” said Mel Kingsley, who runs Mel’s Place Hair Salon, several blocks from campus, and got 30% of her business from students.
“The town came alive every time the students came back, and you can feel the difference,” she said.
Besides the day-to-day loss of students and school employees, communities also lose the graduates who stick around.
Sophia Vincenza Milkowski, of New York City, graduated two years ago and stayed in Poultney because she liked it so much.
“We’re still trying to figure out what Poultney even is now without it there,” she said during a break from work at a taco restaurant.
“We’re all feeling its absence,” she said, “whether we were a part of the college or not.”
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