History

History

Our History

Northern Vermont University

Northern Vermont University officially “opened its doors” on July 1, 2018. The unification of Johnson State College and Lyndon State College into Northern Vermont University was initiated by the Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees in September 2016 to expand opportunities for current students and leverage the histories and strengths of each campus to best serve future students and the region.

The new institution offers students more options for academic programs, research and hands-on experiences, extracurricular activities, and the high-impact education that prepares graduates with career-ready skills for a changing world.

While NVU is a single institution, Johnson and Lyndon retain their distinct identities, based in their long histories and deep roots in their regions. Each campus has kept its own mascot, athletic teams — which still compete against each other — alumni association, and unique culture.

Northern Vermont University–Johnson

Johnson State College dates to 1828 with the establishment of an elementary and secondary school in the village of Johnson. The school was chartered in 1832 as Johnson Academy, soon afterward supported by the Lamoille County Grammar School Association. In 1866, the Vermont Legislature designated Johnson Academy as a teacher-training school called the Johnson Normal School. The school offered one-, two-, and three-year training programs until 1947, when the state approved a four-year teacher-training program, and the school became Johnson Teachers College.

In 1962, Johnson Teachers College became Johnson State College, a year after the state Legislature created the Vermont State Colleges System. With the name change, the college broadened its focus to be a multi-purpose liberal arts college, with the addition of many facilities and academic programs over the years. Graduate programs were added in counseling, education, and studio arts.

In 2008, renovation of Stearns Student Center was completed, with a new performance space, a cinema and dining facilities. In 2009, a major renovation of the athletics facility with a new fitness center was finished. Renovations to Bentley Hall, home to the environmental and health sciences programs, were completed two years later, with new and refurbished labs. In 2012, the renovated Visual Arts Center reopened, with a new gallery, a Mac lab, and other features. As the only Vermont institution in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, NVU-Johnson now serves about 1,500 undergraduate, graduate, and distance-learning students and occupies 330 hilltop acres.

Northern Vermont University–Lyndon

Founded in 1911 as a one-year teacher-training school housed at nearby Lyndon Institute, the Lyndon Training Course gradually expanded its curriculum and graduated its first four-year class, with 18 students, in 1944. The first male and out-of-state students were admitted in the ’40s. In 1951, the college opened at its current location, the former estate of Theodore N. Vail, American Telephone and Telegraph Company’s first president, who was instrumental in establishing Lyndon Institute.

The Vermont Legislature established the Vermont State Colleges System in 1961, and Lyndon Teachers College became Lyndon State College. Liberal-arts degree programs were added to complement the teacher-training programs. In the ’60s and ’70s, the campus grew significantly with a new library, dining hall, and other buildings. The curriculum expanded rapidly, too, with new programs in business, meteorology, and other disciplines. In the ’70s, the college launched a master’s program in education. Now NVU-Lyndon also offers master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and liberal studies.

Growth in the ’80s and ’90s was followed by more construction and academic programs. In 2005, a new residence hall and community building, the Rita L. Bole Complex, opened, named for the longtime principal of the original teacher-training school. In 2009, the Academic and Student Activity Center opened to house three academic departments, a student event center, and additional computer labs. With about 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students today, from its base on a 175-acre hilltop in Caledonia County, NVU-Lyndon continues its commitment to the region as the educational and cultural hub of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.