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MARLBORO — Not receiving reassurance that a merger would preserve an "enduring commitment to the Vermont campus," Marlboro College and the University of Bridgeport have suspended negotiations to combine the two schools. As a result, Marlboro College "will pursue partnership options" with other colleges, according to a press release from the small liberal arts college in Marlboro.

In a letter from President Kevin Quigley addressed to the "Marlboro Community," Quigley wrote "insurmountable barriers to developing a sustainable financial model that would ensure Marlboro's mission into the future" led to suspension of the negotiations.

"We were especially determined to protect the integrity of our rigorous, self-directed academic model and self-governed community," he wrote. "Our Board of Trustees will now pursue other partnerships and continue to act in the best interest of students, faculty, and staff to preserve the College's pedagogy and community while adhering to the College's mission."

The two schools had signed a non-binding letter of intent in July and were working for the last few months developing a memorandum of understanding with a goal to finalize the merger by the end of this year. The merger would have resulted in Marlboro College becoming part of the University of Bridgeport as the Marlboro College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Bridgeport and would have offered new opportunities to students at both campuses.

Both institutions "worked diligently and in good faith" on finalizing the merger but "insurmountable barriers to developing a

compelling financial and academic model that supported both institutional missions" were encountered, states the press release.

"As the smaller institution, Marlboro College was especially determined to protect the integrity of its rigorous, self-directed academic model and self-governed community," states the press release. "In addition, Marlboro needed assurances on UB's enduring commitment to the Vermont campus and guarantees that the wishes of Marlboro's generous donors, who established the College's sizeable endowment, would be maintained."

Despite the failure to achieve an agreement, Marlboro College expressed an appreciation to the administrators at the University of Bridgeport for their "vision and willingness to engage in this challenging process."

"Marlboro will continue to keep its community full engaged and informed going forward," wrote Quigley in his letter to the community.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.

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