Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, alumni, community members and friends of Marlboro College,
Last year, we began the process of “Reimagining Marlboro” in the midst of significant revenue challenges resulting from a rapid and accelerating decline in the number of college-aged students in New England and beyond. The most promising strategy identified by the Marlboro Board of Trustees was to pursue a partnership that could maintain Marlboro’s mission and curricular priorities while creating a financially secure future. Now, after months of considerable thought and effort, we are excited to announce that Marlboro College is planning to merge with the University of Bridgeport.
This unique partnership aims to maintain Marlboro’s intimate, self-directed liberal arts education within the context of Bridgeport’s STEM focus and extensive professional studies programs. The planned merger would retain Marlboro’s faculty, students, and campus as part of the new Marlboro College of Arts and Sciences within the University of Bridgeport, while significantly increasing educational opportunities for students on both campuses. There are many things to appreciate in a potential Marlboro/UB merger, in particular the way the two institutions together bridge big and small, rural and urban, liberal arts and professional studies, all the while representing an enduring commitment to Marlboro’s educational mission and further solidifying Bridgeport’s long history of excellence in career preparedness and serving first-generation students. Complementing Marlboro’s rural Vermont location, the Bridgeport campus sits on 60 acres of shoreline on Long Island Sound, offering another community and ecosystem for students to explore while also providing professional training opportunities in more than 25 fields.
We understand this news will stir varying emotions in our community, as it did for us when we first considered this option. Like many small private liberal arts colleges, Marlboro has experienced significant challenges around enrollment and finances in recent years. To address these issues, we are proud that Marlboro has been proactive in developing a participatory, transparent, and deliberate process that has led to a solution that would provide our students with increased opportunities while retaining the collaborative, close-knit, student-driven education essential to the Marlboro experience. Students, faculty, and staff have all been involved in identifying both the assets we could bring to a potential partnership and how we could benefit most. In our search for a complementary institution, we sent out a request for partnership vision to more than 70 colleges and universities and have had dozens of conversations with potential partners over the last several months. After this comprehensive search, we believe we’ve found the right match in UB. Our learning community will benefit from the diverse student body and expanded professional opportunities that come from an urban setting while Bridgeport students will get to experience community life and independent learning among Marlboro’s hills.
Bridgeport President Laura Trombley—who spent 13 years as the president of Pitzer College and two years as president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens—recognizes what makes Marlboro so special and is an admirer of our educational tradition, believing the exposure to Marlboro would add an important dimension to the Bridgeport curriculum. She appreciates our focus on the liberal arts, the opportunities that come with our beautiful rural campus, and Marlboro’s egalitarian approach to governance and study. Our initial agreement with UB demonstrates Laura’s commitment to protecting Marlboro’s campus and academic mission while giving Marlboro students access to the focused disciplinary and professional education offerings that distinguish UB.
As we begin this exciting transition, we anticipate there will be questions and concerns. We’ll do our best to respond as completely as possible, but because this merger is in its early stages, there are still many details being worked out. We will keep you informed as this process continues. Please see our FAQ document for additional information, and check the website often for future updates, milestones, and next steps. It is our sincere hope that you’ll be as excited as we are for the next chapter in Marlboro’s distinctive history.
We would like to extend our gratitude to members of the Strategic Options Task Force, a group that included Board, faculty, and student representation, as well as members of Marlboro’s senior administration, whose thoughtful dedication has been essential to this outcome. Students, faculty, and staff are and will always be our top priority, and we genuinely believe this partnership allows the unique educational experience that defines Marlboro College not only to survive but to thrive through a merger with the dynamic, mission-driven University of Bridgeport as our partner.
With warmest summer regards from Potash Hill,
Kevin F. F. Quigley Richard H. Saudek
President Chair of the Board of Trustees