September 3, 2015 • Craftsbury Common, VT • As headlines across the country declare that “small colleges are in trouble” and highlight dire predictions for small, private higher education institutions, Sterling College is once again setting records for enrollment and fundraising.
Enrollment for the environmental stewardship college will be 128 students when the fall semester starts, the College’s largest student body in its history, and up nearly 25% from three years ago. “We believe, and have for more than a half century, that small institutions hold an important place in the landscape of higher education—particularly colleges that have a critical mission for the 21st century,” said President Matthew Derr.
This announcement comes at the same time when new students arrive on campus for orientation. Sterling remains one of a handful of colleges with an enrollment of approximately 180 undergraduate and continuing education students. “The small size of our student body—the community experience—is one of our most important characteristics. It is one of the reasons admitted students select Sterling over larger environmental colleges, and why our faculty choose to teach at the College,” said Tim Patterson, Director of Admission & Financial Aid.
Sterling also starts the second year of “Nourish the Roots,” its $9 million comprehensive campaign, by building upon the most successful year of fundraising in its history. The College raised over $3 million in the last fiscal year; this total includes over $1.7 million for the Fund for Sterling, the College’s annual fund, as well as a $1 million planned gift for the endowment, and over $290,000 for capital giving. The College has raised nearly $4.9 million so far in the campaign.
“We are now starting to see a trend. The past three years have been a time of renewal and advancement for Sterling College; the campus continues to grow and improve, we’ve expanded our academic offerings, and we have been ranked nationally for our sustainability and campus community,” said Jonathan Larsen, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Sterling College. “Donors’ generosity and belief in the college has been both humbling and gratifying. The financial backing of the community supports the inspiring work of our faculty and students.”
Over 550 alumni, parents, employees, students, friends, trustees, foundations, and businesses gave to Sterling College for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Unrestricted gifts to the Fund for Sterling account for 12% of the college’s gross operational budget, and supports endeavors such as financial aid, faculty and staff compensation, and academic resources.
Topher Bordeau, Director for Advancement & Alumni Relations, said, “This level of success in both fundraising and enrollment speaks to Sterling College’s position as the leading voice in higher education for environmental stewardship, and the critical nature of our mission as we address the challenges of humanity’s relationship with the natural world. This is an exciting time at Sterling.”
This year’s fundraising total is a tenfold increase from three years ago, when Sterling College raised $310,000. It is a 74% increase from the 2013-14 fiscal year.