President of Champlain College to Step Down | Off Message

President of Champlain College to Step Down


  • Champlain College
  • Donald Laackman
Updated 3:40 p.m.

Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman will step down June 28, he announced Wednesday.

“I am deeply grateful for the privilege of leading Champlain College and will forever hold this community close to my heart,” Laackman said in a press release. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished together over the last five years.”

Laackman wrote a campus email to students and faculty announcing his departure and followed that with a press release to the broader community shortly after 2 p.m.

Provost and senior vice president Laurie Quinn will serve as interim president beginning in July. A national search is planned for the upcoming year.

The school is a nonprofit, so its tax returns are public. In the fiscal year that ended in June 2017,  Laackman earned a salary and benefits package worth $551,511, Champlain College reported on its Internal Revenue Service Form 990.

  • Champlain College
  • Laurie Quinn
Laackman started at Champlain in 2014. He is the school's eighth president. During  his tenure, the competition for students increased markedly as the number of high school graduates in Vermont and the Northeast declined.

The demographic challenge has been felt across Vermont's higher ed landscape. Three Vermont colleges have closed so far this year.

Champlain officials acknowledged to the campus community and others that numbers for first-year students in the fall of 2018 were below targets.

Last year, the college announced that it would slash tuition by half for online undergraduate degrees and certifications in an effort to boost digital enrollment.

Laackman made no mention of budget or enrollment problems in a press release sent out by his public relations team at the college. But he did allude in his farewell email to the college community to having restructured the school's debt to avoid "a potentially crippling series of balloon payments."

"As a Presidential transition begins, Champlain is financially strong and sustainable," Laackman said in his email to the campus. "The College has achieved the vast majority of the ambitious goals set forth in its 2020 plan, and as our community looks ahead to implementation of the College’s next strategic plan, I decided it was a good time to step aside."

Correction June 12, 2019: An earlier version of this story misstated the contents of an email to the college community.

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