The year 2012 marks the beginning of Lyndon State College’s second century. Founded as a one-year “normal” school for teacher training housed at nearby Lyndon Institute, the College has evolved continuously since its establishment in 1911. Consistent with educational practices 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; the first four-year degrees were granted to 18 students in 1944. By this time Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom had come to depend on Lyndon to address the educational needs of its residents.
Miss Bole, who led the school until 1955, figures prominently in the College’s history. 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 College’s move to its current location, the former 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 day school’s lease at Lyndon Institute was set to expire.
In 1961, the State Legislature established the Vermont State Colleges system, and Lyndon Teachers College became Lyndon State College. Degree programs in the liberal arts were added to complement the teacher training programs that had defined the College from day one. This was 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. The growing student population and changing demands ushered in rapid expansion of the Lyndon curriculum. In the 1970s, new programs were added in business administration, special education, recreation, meteorology, communications, human services, and physical education. During this decade the original Vail Manor was deemed unsafe and the Theodore N. Vail Center was built on the site of the old estate. It now houses the Vail Museum, preserving the name that has long been an integral part of the Lyndon tradition.
In the late 1970s, the College 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 and curriculum and instruction.
Steady growth continued in the 1980s and 1990s with more new construction and the development of academic programs in response to the evolving needs of the community. A twenty-five meter, six-lane pool was added to the recreational facilities in the Bole Center, and the completion of the Library Academic Center expanded the space available for both library collections and classrooms.
At the start of the 21st century, other changes were afoot. Shifting demographics suggested that classes and services needed to be offered at different times—including evenings and weekends—and in alternative formats including online courses. Degree programs are designed to prepare students for a wide variety of professions, enhanced by an emphasis on experiential learning in real-world situations, career counseling, and the acquisition of skills critical for success in the workplace. Unchanged is the College’s commitment to providing students with a strong foundation in the liberal arts as a key component of readying them for successful and satisfying careers in a rapidly changing world.
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. In 2009 increasing enrollment lead to the construction of The Academic and Student Activity Center, housing three academic departments, a student event center, and additional computer labs.
Serving a near-record enrollment of 1,450 students, Lyndon now focuses not only on the academic dimension of student experiences, but on the entire learning process, which includes many activities that take place outside 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 or 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 Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.