Vision & Strategic Plan
To be a global leader in undergraduate liberal arts higher education through promotion of an educational philosophy and community values that emphasize ecological sustainability. By design we aspire to be a small college that embraces its vibrant rural location as one of its most prized characteristics.
In the decades since Sterling joined the world of higher education, the College has grown and evolved with the aid of a strongly held vision for the future and with periodic strategic planning initiatives.
Today, Sterling has embarked upon a renewed strategic path to promote and sustain an exemplary approach to liberal education with a collaboratively developed plan through which the College will:
1. Affirm its mission and articulate its vision for the future;
2. Reinforce the relationship between mission and curriculum;
3. Strengthen long-term financial health;
4. Further the community's aspirations for ecological sustainability; and,
5. Improve the campus and facilities to serve the community of faculty and students.
Sterling College's president, Matthew Derr, and the Board of Trustees initiated the planning process with the understanding that the community was eager to embark upon such a process, a point made evident through the presidential search process in the spring of 2012. The Strategic Planning Committe is co-chaired by trustees Catherine Donnelly and Jonathan Larsen, and its membership includes: trustees, faculty, alumni, administrators, and students. In addition to this over-arching committee, various subcommitees, working teams, and individuals are consulting with many other members of the community throughout the process.
Sterling College is organized as a 501(c) (3) Corporation, paying property taxes of 24,847.00 per year to the Town of Craftsbury. In 2012, Sterling College employed 38 fulltime people and had a total payroll of $1,509,049. Payroll Taxes totaled $132,837. Investment in employee benefits was $261,137.
In other operational costs, such as utilities, fuel and maintenance, Sterling College paid a total of $975,872 to regional vendors, with local towns and villages realizing $179,616. $117,868 was paid to vendors in the Town of Craftsbury.
Using a conservative multiplier of 4.0, the total Economic Impact of Sterling College in 2012 was $11,737,434. This figure shows that Sterling College makes a significant monetary contribution to the Northeast Kingdom. However, when the work college component is added, Sterling’s contribution to the community rises in a manner disproportionate to the actual monetary figure.
Work and Service Impact
As one of the seven colleges in the Work College Consortium, community work is an intrinsic piece of the educational experience at Sterling, and as such, is a requisite for graduation. Sterling students are required to work a minimum of 80 hours per semester, earning $800 per semester in tuition credit.
Although the Sterling College student body is small, the social impact of being a Work College in the most rural part of Vermont is huge, both for students and for the greater community. The Work College model works well as a conduit for the economic development of the area in that Sterling College serves as a vehicle for supplying local entrepreneurs, businesses and farms with an educated and motivated source of employees. Our work programs save local businesses time, effort and money that they can then better use to grow their organizations.
Students may secure internships in either non-profit or for-profit organizations. In 2012, the breakdown between non-profit and for-profit internships was as follows:
Non-Profit Internships in Vermont: 1786.25 hours
Outside Vermont: 1454 hours
For-Profit Internships in Vermont: 872.5 hours
Outside Vermont: 794 hours
Work Program hours serving the Craftsbury community: 1381.25 hours
All College Work Day projects serving the local community: 440 hours
If this work component were to be calculated only at the minimum wage, leaving out the multiplier effect, the gross value of these hours is $53,128.
Sterling College and Tourism
Vermont’s towns and villages occupy a distinct place in the tourism industry. Over 2,500 visitors come to the Town of Craftsbury every year, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy. Sterling College helps contribute to tourism in the Northeast Kingdom in the following ways:
Hosting over 100 perspective students and their families yearly;
Scheduling on-campus public events such as guest lectures and art shows;
Hosting the 40 writers who yearly attend the Wildbranch Writing Workshop;
Providing the scenic beauty of our white clapboard buildings, including the President’s home; and
Participating in regional food and agricultural tours.
True to mission, Sterling College educates stewards of the environment who improve the quality of each of our lives through a life-long commitment to protection of the environment, the ethical production of healthy food, and the advocacy for both in civil society.
An independent study of educational outcomes, conducted by a team at a major research university in 2012, underscores our belief that Sterling alumni are important contributors to our collective wellbeing. The underlying story of the study was summed up best by an alumnus who offered:
“If you want a life changing and life shaping experience, this is it. If you really want to figure out who you are and what your motivations are, and how you want to make the world a better place you should choose Sterling.”
Although only 24 percent of Sterling students are from Vermont, over 40 percent of Sterling alumni live and work in Vermont, many in rural areas. Sterling plays an important role in reversing the Vermont brain-drain, and invigorating rural communities.
Welcome to Sterling College
Sterling is a small college that thinks big, and acts on its convictions. Ours was among the first curricula in the United States to combine liberal arts study and practical training in an effort to prepare environmental stewards. Eating local, protecting our natural world, and generally being “green” have never been fads for us; they have been hallmarks of a Sterling College experience for three decades.
Recently a high school guidance counselor shared with one of my colleagues that when she advises students about applying, she wants them to know that there are many colleges that now “have” farms, Sterling, from her perspective, “is” a farm. Of course, Sterling is much more than its nationally known Sustainable Agriculture program, it is a liberal arts college that looks at the world through the lens of ecology, but, regardless of your academic passion, Sterling is a thoroughly authentic place.
Part of being a student at Sterling College is the joy of living in such a beautiful place. Craftsbury Common, Vermont is like no other college setting in America. The hills, forests, trails, and dirt roads that surround us are our laboratories. Whether your passion is climbing, skiing, winter camping, or observing and studying the flora and fauna, Sterling is among the last colleges in New England that can still provide such a vibrant rural and natural experience to its students.
Sterling also strives to be an educational community in which people of all backgrounds and identities feel at home, where our differences are embraced, and where individuals take responsibility for furthering the dignity of all. Our students come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and experiences and the College is proud to offer a robust financial aid program.
Among the other significant distinctions you will find at Sterling College is its commitment to work. "Working Hands, Working Minds" is much more than a marketing tag line or motto for us, it describes who we are as a community. One of only seven federal recognized work colleges, and the only one in New England, Sterling receives funding for its work program and 100% of its students have jobs on campus.
We welcome you to learn more about this special place. In doing so, I think you will find something out about yourself as well. Sterling is not for everyone, perhaps no college is, but this college is different. It won’t take you long to see why, and we invite you to find out for yourself.
Warm greetings from a snow covered Craftsbury Common, Vermont,
Matthew Allen Derr
About the President
Following the retirement of William Wootton, after six years of service to Sterling College, Matthew Allen Derr was chosen to become the 11th President of the College by the Board of Trustees.
Prior to taking up his new role at Sterling, President Derr served as visiting fellow with the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), an alliance of 13 selective, independent, colleges that works to strengthen learning in the tradition of the liberal arts.
President Derr came to the GLCA from his post as Interim President of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, having led an alumni effort to revitalize and reopen the college, an effort that raised more than $20 million in giving and transferred assets of over $50 million.
In 2011 President Derr was awarded the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Chief Executive of the Year award for the Midwest for his work on behalf of Antioch and the GLCA.
Earlier in his career, President Derr served in fundraising and enrollment roles at Earlham College, Connecticut College, The Boston Conservatory, and for twelve years at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. The Sterling College Board of Trustees appointed Mr. Derr from a large pool of highly qualified applicants because of his demonstrated expertise in institutional advancement, enrollment planning, and most significantly his background in institutional planning at similar institutions.
President Derr holds a Bachelor of Art in History from Antioch College, an M.S.W. in Community Organizing from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and has further studies at the George Heyman Center for Philanthropy at New York University.
Matthew and his partner Julian Sharp moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Craftsbury Common in August 2012.
Facts & Figures
Founded in 1958 in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, USA, Sterling College is a degree-granting, non-sectarian, co-educational, residential, undergraduate institution of higher learning. Sterling College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association for Experiential Education.
Fovete Stirpes (Nourish the Roots)
Sterling College strives to be an educational community in which people of all backgrounds and identities feel at home, where our differences are embraced, and where individuals take responsibility for furthering the dignity of all.
Typical Class Size —10
Student to Faculty Ratio — 6.5 to 1
Enrolled Students— maximum of 120
Male-Female Ratio — 5 to 4
Student Body — 24% Vermont, 56% New England, 44% Outside New England
Scholarships— $500 to Full Tuition
Need Based Grants— Up to $15,000
130 —acres of Sterling campus.
300 — acres of our boreal research forest.
33 — years the Sterling Farm has been in operation.
20 — countries students have visited through our internship program.
16 — buildings on campus.
14 — years Sterling has been a four-year baccalaureate college.
5 — countries you can visit through our Global Field Studies program.
4 — ski areas within 45 minutes of the College.
Sustainable Sterling Campaign
There is Opportunity Now...
The Final Year of the four-year Sustainable Sterling Campaign is upon us, and the College must raise $660,000 by June 30th, 2012 to reach the total Campaign Goal of $2.3 million. So far, the campaign has enabled Sterling to invest in significant improvements to the physical plant, including the purchase of the former Inn on the Common and the environmental renovations of Hamilton and Jefferson. Implementation of the year-round curriculum was also achieved with Campaign funds, as was the completion of the College's new writing center and its electronic infrastructure that reaches across all the academic buildings.
There is opportunity now. That's what the first three years of the Sustainable Sterling Campaign proved. Now it is time to engage the broader Sterling community of friends and neighbors new and old, in order to finish strong, and set the foundation for a sustainable future.
Giving to Sterling on-line is easy and secure—simply use the donation button below.
For more information or to find out how you can contribute to the Sustainable Sterling Campaign, contact Michele Martin:
Tel: 802.586.7711 ext. 101