Lyndon State College takes pride in a history rich in educational tradition. Founded as a one-year normal school housed in rented space in nearby Lyndon Institute, Lyndon has evolved continuously since its establishment in 1911. Consistent with educational tradition of the times, the Lyndon Training Course expanded its curriculum in one-year increments, and the first two-year class graduated in 1923. In 1927, Rita Bole became principal of the school and oversaw the graduation of the first three-year class of nine students in 1934. Ten years later, the state allowed Lyndon to grant four-year degrees so long as it remained a teacher training institution, and the first four-year degrees were granted to 18 students in 1944. It was during these years that the Northeast Kingdom began to depend on Lyndon to address the educational needs of its residents.
Miss Bole, who led the school until 1955, was a driving force in the development of Lyndon State College. She worked to encourage the Vermont State Legislature to establish Lyndon Teachers College, saw the admission of the first male and first out-of-state students during the 1940s, and oversaw the move to the estate of Theodore N. Vail. T. N. Vail, first president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, had been instrumental in the establishment of Lyndon Institute, and Miss Bole recognized his vacant estate as the perfect place to house the growing school. The move to Vail Manor was completed on June 30, 1951, the final day of the school’s lease at Lyndon Institute.
In 1961, the State Legislature established the Vermont State Colleges system, and Lyndon Teachers College became Lyndon State College. This marked the beginning of a period of rapid growth and, in 1964, the campus began to expand: one by one, a library, a dormitory, a dining hall, a science wing, a gymnasium, and a theater appeared. These additions began meeting the needs of a growing student population that also brought a rapid expansion of the Lyndon curriculum. In the 1970s, new majors were developed in business administration, special education, recreation, meteorology, communications, human services, and physical education. It was also during this decade that the original Vail Manor was deemed unsafe and was replaced with the Theodore N. Vail Center that now houses the Vail Museum and preserves the name that has become an integral part of the Lyndon State tradition.
In the late 1970s, Lyndon State recognized the needs of area educators for continued professional development and began a master’s program in education. Today the College has a growing graduate program offering teachers and administrators opportunities for advanced study, master’s degrees in special education, curriculum and instruction, and a master’s of science for teachers.
Growth continued through the 1980s and 1990s with new construction and the development of new academic programs that responded to the evolving needs of the community. A twenty-five meter, six-lane pool was added to the recreational facilities available in the Bole Center, and the completion of the Library Academic Center expanded the space available for both library collections and classrooms.
By the beginning of the 21st century, other changes were taking place. Shifting demographics suggested the need for classes and services to be offered at a wider choice of times - including evenings and weekends - and in different formats. Today a commitment to providing students with a strong foundation in the liberal arts, which had taken hold in the 1960s, continues to lay the foundation for Lyndon’s long tradition of readying students for the workplace. Degree programs designed to prepare students for a wide variety of professions are enhanced by an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning, career counseling, and the acquisition of skills needed for the workplace. In 2005, a new residence hall and community building was constructed. The building was named The Rita L. Bole Complex - a continuing tribute to Miss Bole’s legacy.
Serving a record enrollment of 1,400 students, Lyndon now focuses not only on the academic dimension of student experiences, but on the entire learning process, which includes activities that take place outside of - as well as in - the classroom. The Lyndon of today, which has grown gradually and naturally from its roots as a teacher education institution, is committed to student success, and to helping each student achieve his/her full potential. At the same time, the college continues its commitment to the community at large, striving to respond to the needs of the region and to serve as the educational, intellectual and cultural hub of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.