KILLINGTON — Castleton University will take over the Killington School of Resort Management this fall, according to a Friday announcement.
For the past 18 years, Green Mountain College has worked with Killington and Pico to cultivate a three-year bachelor’s degree program in the fields of hospitality and business.
The program was started in 2001 and directed by GMC professor of business and economics Frank Pauzé, but GMC President Bob Allen announced last month that the Poultney college would close at the end of the spring semester, so Castleton decided to take up the mantle and keep the program alive.
“While we’re sad to see our relationship with Green Mountain College end, we’re happy to have Castleton University step up and open their doors to GMC students,” said Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain. “We’re thrilled to have Castleton as a partner in our new version of our innovative and truly unique B.S. degree in Resort and Hospitality Management.
Solimano said, “Like GMC’s program, Castleton plans to incorporate practical experience in the resort industry. Currently, 35 alumni of the GMC program work at Killington, and we hope to see that number grow with the inception of CU’s new program.”
More than 90 percent of the participants complete their bachelor’s degree in hotel and resort management and 99 percent of the students who graduate end up working in the hospitality industry, according to a statement released by the Killington school.
“It seemed to make sense from our end,” said Courtney DiFiore, communications and public relations specialist for Killington Resort. “We’ve had a good relationship with them in the past, they’re close by ... it made sense to align with them.”
The new partnership will bring some changes, DiFiore said, but any alterations are still being finalized and though Killington is not planning to create any new programs, the school would consider expanding if participation grows.
“We would like it to grow, if that’s something that can happen,” DiFiore said. “Overall the idea and the way it’s designed will be similar ... hands-on learning.”
“Castleton University and Killington have a long-standing and strong partnership,” said Castleton University President Dr. Karen Scolforo.
Scolforo said the school has submitted a request for approval from the New England Commission on Higher Education to offer a 3-year bachelor of science degree in resort and hospitality management.
“That program is delivered in a cooperative learning model,” Scolforo said.
Students will be able to take classes at Killington and have the opportunity to interview for positions there while earning their degree, serving in salaried positions while gaining workplace experience, Scolforo said.
“We’re anticipating that approximately 20 students will transfer into our program in the fall,” Scolforo said. “The capacity is around 70.”
Scolforo said the school will continue to seek student housing on the mountain, so students don’t have to travel from the Castleton campus to take part in the new program.
And that’s not the only housing developments Castleton has made: In anticipation of GMC students from other programs transferring to Castleton University, Scolforo said, the school has set aside housing especially for them.
“We’ve heard from approximately 25 students who have expressed an interest in transferring so far,” Scolforo said.
The university is meeting as well with program and department heads at GMC to work out pathways for GMC students to transfer.
“We are anticipating being beyond capacity in the fall,” Scolforo said. “We have a lot of partners in the community that are willing to work with us.”
Scolforo said Castleton never intended to merge with GMC or use the campus as a satellite program, but there are a number of faculty members on the campus that Castleton is “very interested in speaking with.”
“In this environment in higher education, we’re limited to some of the things we can do,” Scolforo said. “I do think we’ll be able to serve a large number of students at Green Mountain.”
Scolforo said overall student body growth is up 3 percent at Castleton.
“We have 48 full-time equivalents more than we had last spring,” Scolforo said. “That’s exciting.”
The growth is attributed to the development of new programs, initiatives and partnerships in and out of state, she said.
“We’ve done a lot of work with spotlighting our students and our faculty,” Scolforo said. “And how special the student experience is at Castleton University ... (My prediction is) we’ll be becoming more of a destination school.”