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Methodist Heritage at GMC

Green Mountain College prepares students for productive, caring, and fulfilling lives by taking the environment as the unifying theme underlying its academic and co-curricular programs. This innovative interdisciplinary approach to liberal arts education is grounded in the institution's strong tradition of effective teaching and mentoring, and is complemented by a diversity of community-oriented campus life opportunities.

Through a wide range of liberal arts and career-focused majors, the college fosters the ideals of environmental responsibility, public service, global understanding, and lifelong intellectual, physical, and spiritual development.

Much like the seven principles within the Methodist Church, our Environmental Liberal Arts Curriculum (ELA) challenges students to make connections across disciplines, to explore problems from multiple viewpoints, and to become leaders. The environment - encompassing its social, cultural, economic and natural components - unifies our ELA curriculum.

Green Mountain College's mission of life long learning, environmental stewardship, global citizenship, and service as a means to personal and spiritual development clearly echoes John Wesley's original vision.

During the early 1830s, disjointed preaching circuits throughout the region consolidated to establish the Troy Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Naturally, the Conference sought to commission a vibrant literary institution to serve its constituency. In August of 1834, the Conference voted in favor of launching the Troy Conference Academy (TCA) in West Poultney, VT. Participants selected the location for the town's hospitable and industrious citizens. Ten years later, Marion Hooker received the Academy's first diploma.

The decades following the Troy Conference Academy's inception were fraught with uncertainty. During the ante bellum, the Academy's finances remained unstable as the institution, conference and town attempted to strike a balance of shared financial responsibility. Later, the nation faced an arduous Civil War and TCA was no exception; many male students and faculty left to serve and as a result, the administration suspended operations in 1863. To avoid cessation, John Newman and William Ripley, long-time supporters of the Troy Conference Academy, assumed ownership of the Academy and renamed the school the Ripley Female College. In 1866, the College awarded the first baccalaureate degrees to women in the state of Vermont.

The Reconstruction years proved more favorable for the school and in 1874, the United Methodist Church repurchased Ripley Female College. The school became, once again, the Troy Conference Academy. With its original mission still intact, the Academy continued to expand educational opportunity for young people, especially women, throughout the region.

Between the late 1800s and early 1900s the Third Great Awakening and Temperance Movement highlighted the passionate activist work of Methodist women on a national scale. Simultaneously, the United Methodist Church embarked on a series of revisions which allowed women greater leadership and freedom within the church. For example, by 1921, the Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference granted women the right to become ordained local deacons and local elders. Reverberating contemporary priorities of the church, the TCA created additional opportunities for women. During the height of the Great Depression in 1932, the Academy added a two year junior college program- Green Mountain Junior College.

For several years leading up to World War II, Green Mountain Junior College became co-educational before returning to an all female institution at the dawn of the War. Over the course of the next several decades, the College continued to strengthen by offering new academic programs and building infrastructure. In 1957, the name officially changed to the current- Green Mountain College.

In 1970, monetary considerations for both parties lead to the official separation of Green Mountain College and the United Methodist Church. The contemporary economic downturn transpired into fears of state funding cut backs for religiously affiliated educational institutions. After much deliberation, the Troy Conference and Green Mountain College decided it best for all concerned to sever ties after 136 years.

Though Green Mountain College and the United Methodist Church were no longer formally affiliated, the Methodist tradition remained palpable on campus throughout the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, the Troy Conference established an official archive in the Griswold Library and the campus routinely hosted the Conference's annual meetings and other gatherings. This comfortable friendship between the Conference and College continued until 1996, when President Thomas Benson and Bishop William Boyd Grove announced the re-affiliation with much enthusiasm.

Since the re-affiliation, the relationship between the United Methodist Church and Green Mountain College has continued to flourish. United Methodists continuously serve on the Board of Trustees. Two former trustees have gone on to serve on the United Methodist Foundation for Higher Education, a testimony to the quality of the board and the respect the larger church has for Green Mountain College. True to Wesley's original charge of making education accessible, the Foundation funds scholarships for Methodist students. Finally, the recently refurbished chapel and outdoor labyrinth provide students with peaceful spaces to explore their spirituality. The College has also established a permanent Chaplain position on campus.


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