News, Plainfield

Teach-in Demands Transparency, Accountability in Goddard College Sale 

Share article
courtesy photo
A teach-in and discussion at Goddard College on Saturday afternoon, June 1, draws a crowd learning about the college’s plans to transfer ownership to a real estate development firm.    Panelists at the event were Michelle Eddleman McCormick from Cooperation Vermont, Abenaki elder Earl Hatley, former Goddard staff member Alisha Raby, Dan Chodorkoff of the Institute for Social Ecology, current Goddard faculty member Otto Muller, and panel moderators Erok and Natascha (who choose to be identified by their first names.)

PLAINFIELD — On Saturday afternoon, June 1, over 100 people came together at Goddard College for a teach-in and discussion about the history and future of the campus’ 117 acres of land.

Speakers at the event contend the Goddard Board of Trustees is currently breaking bylaws by conducting the sale of the entire campus in secret sessions with no community input.

After community groups attempted to make fully-financed financial offers, the Goddard Board of Trustees entered into a contract with real estate development firm Malone Properties.

Organizers or the event demanded transparency from the board of trustees about the future of Goddard campus; an end to the sale of the campus to Malone Properties; a commitment to community involvement in the future of Goddard campus with continued access to the land, library, and student archive collections and the continuation of current leases for WGDR, VCIH, and Maple Hill School.

Teach-in attendees heard from local leaders and former Goddard faculty about the lack of transparency and community consultation in the prospective sale.

Current Goddard faculty member Otto Muller responded to the board of trustees’ recent quotes in area news articles, noting “the trustees have been saying they have to sell to Malone Properties because it’s the only offer that will allow them to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to faculty, staff, and students.

What they haven’t mentioned is their commitment to pay the remaining two years of Dan Hocoy’s salary, despite his failures of leadership, and the amount that they are paying Core Education Services, the for-profit corporation that they outsourced most administrative functions to. So if they’re short on cash, that’s the first place to look.”

Another panelist, Director of Cooperation Vermont, Michelle Edelman McCormick and worker-owner of the Marshfield General Store, commented, “If we continue to allow commercial developers to gobble up space and raise rents in Vermont, it keeps making a few people rich and the rest of us unable to afford the basics of running small, local businesses or other community space.”

Local group Cooperation Vermont quickly raised $3.5 million and made an offer with the vision of transitioning the campus to a community land trust and maintaining access for current lessors such as WGDR Central Vermont Community Radio, Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism and Maple Hill School.

Despite the group’s financing covering the appraised value, the board stopped calling back, saying only that they were now under contract with a different party. It now emerges that that buyer is Malone Properties, a large commercial property developer.

Participants in Saturday’s event vowed to continue resisting the sale and commercial development of the land.

Plainfield community member Natascha Deininger said, “President Dan Hocoy seems to have forgotten that Goddard has been supported by this community for years, paying no local or state taxes. Now that it’s time to sell off its assets, he wants to privatize the campus and give the community nothing, not even the decency of transparency. The Plainfield community deserves to be a part of the decision making process around the future of this historic piece of land.”

Dan Chodorkoff, a Goddard faculty member for over 30 years, and co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology said, “I don’t think we can overemphasize the impact that Goddard has had. For example, we built the first solar buildings in Vermont.”

Comments are closed.