Castleton is coming back to Rutland.
Castleton University and Community and Economic Development of the Rutland Region (CEDRR) announced Tuesday they would open a remote co-working space for Castleton students working in internships. Representatives of CEDRR and the school made the announcement in the space, a section of The Opera House that previously held the Castleton Polling Institute.
“We’re not replicating what was,” CEDRR Executive Director Lyle Jepson said. “We’re moving into the future. ... Castleton is back.”
In addition to the polling center, Castleton operated two dormitories downtown, and there were talks of classroom space in Rutland, but as enrollment declined, the polling center and one of the dorms closed, leaving only the first of the downtown residence buildings, Foley Hall.
“We made a full campaign to invade downtown Rutland, and then we had to retrench,” CU President Jonathan Spiro said. “Closing that second dorm was part of that retrenchment. Now we are taking a first step toward coming back.”
Spiro said the new space — called the “Intern Hub” — was conceived out of students’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the college interns found themselves working remotely.
“A lot of students were doing internships from their dorm room which, you may remember from college, may not be the best place to have a professional conversation with your employer,” said Jessica Duncan, Castleton’s director of experiential learning and workplace readiness.
The facility includes seven “COVID-friendly” work spaces, a front lobby-type area, a conference table and a kitchen as well as headsets and laptops that can be checked out by interns. Jepson said MFK Properties provided the space in an arrangement that guarantees the college has it for at least a year. Spiro said Castleton and CEDRR will staff the facility as needed.
Spiro said facilitating remote working helps local employers who might want to take on interns but can’t provide COVID-safe workspace for one more staffer and also extends the reach of the internship program by widening the geographic area in which students might find internships. Jepson said it also brings more workers to downtown.
“There’s a huge opportunity for growth,” Duncan said. “Kim (Rupe, CEDRR’s community engagement director) and I have a lot of ideas for opportunities with different departments.”