Marlboro College

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Coordinates: 42°50′20″N 72°43′54″W / 42.838842°N 72.731681°W / 42.838842; -72.731681

Marlboro College
Marlboro logo transparent.png
Endowment$40 million (2014)
PresidentKevin F. F. Quigley
Administrative staff
41 full-time faculty
Location, ,
CampusRural: 360 acres (1.5 km2)
MascotThe Fighting Dead Tree

Marlboro College is a small, private liberal-arts college in Marlboro, Vermont. Students at Marlboro create an individualized course of study in collaboration with faculty members and participate in a self-governed (self-run) community. Students pursue a self-designed, often inter-disciplinary thesis, the Plan of Concentration, based on their academic interests that culminates in a major body of scholarship. Students can use the college's organic farm, solar greenhouse, nature forestland preserve, and aviary. Weekly "town meetings" are held to vote for and change the college's bylaws.


Marlboro College was founded in 1946 by Walter Hendricks on Potash Hill in Marlboro, Vermont, and many of the first students were returning World War II veterans. The school's operation was initially financed using money received from the GI Bill, as well as loans from Brattleboro Savings and Loan. The campus incorporates the buildings of three old farms that once operated on the college site, along with more modern buildings. Marlboro has grown steadily since its inception, and 150 students currently attend, with an average enrollment of 250 students. The College, however, is kept "intentionally small."

In 1997 Marlboro College founded the Marlboro College Graduate School to apply the same educational principles of Marlboro College to advance the careers of working professionals. The Graduate School also offers an accelerated Master's track to undergraduates in select programs.[1] While the Graduate School was initially located in nearby Brattleboro, it moved to the main college campus in Marlboro in April 2017.[2]

The Marlboro College campus has also been the summer home for more than 50 years to the Marlboro Music Festival.



The Marlboro College campus is located on South Road in the small town of Marlboro, Vermont, in the wooded Green Mountains. Marlboro is just off Route 9, which runs east-west across southern Vermont, ten miles from Brattleboro to the east with Wilmington and Bennington further to the west. Boston is two and a half hours to the east, Burlington is two and a half hours to the north, Hartford, CT is one and a half hours to the south, and New York City is four hours to the south.

The closest major town is Brattleboro, and students frequently make the 20-minute drive along Route 9 to hang out there at night and on weekends. Brattleboro, like Marlboro College, is liberal in its social life and politics. The town features a well-preserved historic main street with a strong gallery scene, boutiques, ethnic and health food, and a historic arthouse movie theater. The similar but much larger AmherstNorthampton area of western Massachusetts, easily accessible via Interstate 91, is also a favorite hangout.


The dining hall and Mather building at Marlboro College

Marlboro's facilities are relatively small because of its size. Many of the buildings—including the main classroom building, the dining hall, the admissions building and the administration building—are converted farm buildings that predate the college. Students and faculty worked together to convert these historic buildings for use by the college.[3] Through grants from federal, state and private entities, the college improved the energy-efficiency of the Dining Hall, Dalrymple classroom building, Mather administration building, and the Admissions building since 2008, as well as the student residences. In the summer of 2011, the half-circle driveway at the campus entrance was converted to green space and walking paths.

Marlboro College Library

Recently, the school has added a new performing arts center with a 125-seat auditorium, an electronic music lab, practice rooms with baby grand pianos and a 5,000-square foot dance studio, as well as a new dormitory called Out-of-the-Way. The college also expanded the library, the sculpture studio, and added a new Total Health Center (or THC) and exercise facility to the campus center. These additions made room for the world studies program in the old music building, a new student residence in the old health center, an expansion of the outdoor program into the old exercise room, and athletic space in the old dance studio.

The school recently completed an addition to the Outdoor Programs Building, to centralize the equipment that the OP maintains and loans out, as well as a new Greenhouse designed by a recent graduate and built by the community on the school farm (Marlboro Victory Garden).

The Snyder Center for the Visual Arts, a $3.5-million dollar, 14,000-square-foot visual arts center that houses studios, classrooms, and gallery spaces, opened in May 2016.[4]


Marlboro is only 1 of 3 national liberal arts colleges in which 100% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.[5] Three quarters of Marlboro College alumni attend graduate school.[6]

The Clear Writing Requirement[edit]

Freshman students usually take one or more classes designed to boost their writing skills to an acceptable undergraduate level. All freshmen must submit 20 pages (4,000 words) of nonfiction writing to the English Committee by the end of their second semester. If the committee decides that a student's writing skills need more work, they recommend a class to help, and the student must prepare another portfolio, at least 10 pages of which must be new, at the end of the next semester for re-evaluation. In the event that a student fails the writing requirement for three consecutive semesters, the school will ask the student to leave with the caveat that they can return after receiving high marks from an English class at another school. However, virtually all students pass the writing requirement within two semesters.[7]

The Plan of Concentration[edit]

Juniors and seniors focus on developing an individualized Plan of Concentration rather than on heavy coursework. "Plan" is a large, self-designed project often involving a combination of disciplines. Juniors and seniors focus on independent work and increasingly take tutorial classes (one or two students and a faculty member). For most students Plan culminates in a written thesis, although art and science students may pursue other projects. All Plans must include a written portion constituting at least 20 percent of the total plan work. In addition, all Plans must include an independent project prepared without direct faculty input, also constituting at least 20 percent of the total plan. Plans that consist entirely of academic writing usually range from one hundred to two hundred pages, double-spaced.

The results of this work are defended in an oral examination before two Marlboro professors, and one outside evaluator who has expertise in the student's field of study but is not connected with the college. The presence of the outside evaluator is meant to ensure that the grading process is fair and objective. The final plan is then put on permanent file as a reference work in the college library.[8]

Academic honors[edit]

Loren Pope, original author of the Colleges that Change Lives college guide and former education editor for The New York Times, writes about Marlboro, "You will find the Marlboro adventure far more intense and intellectually demanding than Harvard, any other Ivy, or Ivy clone. There simply is no comparison."[9]

Marlboro College received a perfect academics rating of 99 and was also ranked #1 nationally for its quality of professors ("Professors Get High Marks") in The Princeton Review's 2014 annual college guide.[10]

Beautiful Minds Challenge[edit]

Since 2012 the college has offered the Beautiful Minds Challenge, an essay contest for high school students that rewards winners with 12 full or partial scholarships and other prizes. Essays may take the form of text, images, audio, or video. Submissions are judged by Marlboro faculty, staff, and students. Finalists are flown to the Marlboro campus for a Symposium where they present their work.[11]


Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable staff[edit]

Student life[edit]

Open mic nights at the Campus Center happen several times a semester in addition to events like President's Ball, Gender Bender, Queer Homecoming and other events. A "Farm to Fork" community dinner is held every September. During the Spring and Fall, students are encouraged to "plant, weed, landscape, and harvest on a regular basis" on the school farm. They also participate in other events, such as the harvesting of pine trees in the College's own forestland. "Midnight Breakfast" is an event celebrated each semester during the eve before writing portfolios are due.

The school was founded on and continues to encourage a tradition of community participation and values. A bi-monthly "town meeting" allows all community members to gather and vote to change the college bylaws. An elected community court dispenses justice when necessary. Different elected committees, consisting of students, faculty and staff, help to hire faculty (or even college presidents) and steer the curriculum, among many other responsibilities.

The school's security measures are designed to cultivate attitudes of trust and responsibility on campus. The library is also open all night and uses a self-checkout honor system to keep track of borrowed materials.

Athletics are also shaped by Marlboro's location, and by Vermont's long winters – the coldest weather coincides with the academic year. Though few organized sports teams exist, the school's "Outdoor Program" promotes activities such as rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, white-water kayaking, caving, canoeing, hiking, and the annual February broomball tournament, played on a frozen pond, a collegiate tradition maintained since 1998. In addition, the College is just 15 miles from the Mount Snow ski resort.

Student publications[edit]

Editors-in-chief of the College's different magazines are elected during town meetings. The administration of the school publishes a biannual magazine, Potash Hill. A student newspaper, The Citizen, is published biweekly on campus. "Articles in The Citizen vary from serious editorials to tongue-in-cheek campus news, from oblique photo-essays to “Horrorscopes” like “Sagittarius: Money from strangers can be expected. Red is your color. Watch where you put your thumb.”[14] A student literary magazine composed of selected essays, poetry, and short stories, is published once per semester. The magazine "reflect[s] the strong and adventurous writing skills of Marlboro community members."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Marlboro Launches Accelerated Master's Track". Marlboro College website.
  2. ^ "Marlboro College consolidates campuses". Brattleboro Reformer. April 2, 2017.
  3. ^ "OUR HISTORY". Marlboro College website.
  4. ^ "Community Dedicates Visual Arts Center". Marlboro College website. May 2016.
  5. ^ "Marlboro Continues to Rise in U.S. News Ranking". Marlboro College website.
  6. ^ "Alumni Survey Substantiates Positive Image". 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ Marlboro College. "Clear Writing Program". Marlboro College. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  8. ^ Marlboro College. "PLAN OF CONCENTRATION". Marlboro College. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  9. ^ Pope, Loren. Colleges That Change Lives, 3rd edition, 2006, p. 10.
  10. ^ "Marlboro College professors ranked #1 nationally by Princeton Review". 7 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Marlboro launches 2017 Beautiful Minds Challenge". Marlboro College website.
  12. ^ Pyle, Richard (5 December 2008). "Hugh Mulligan, reporter known for travels, wit" – via The Boston Globe.
  13. ^ "MARLBORO COLLEGE THROUGH THE YEARS". Marlboro College website.
  14. ^ "Student Publications - Marlboro College".

External links[edit]