History & Mission
Johnson State College: A Brief History
The history of Johnson State College dates back to 1828 when John Chesamore, a village cobbler, gave his shoe shop to the village of Johnson for a much-needed elementary and secondary school. Dr. Carpenter, a preacher from Chelsea, Vermont, became the schoolmaster when the school was chartered in 1832 as Johnson Academy.
In 1836, five communities incorporated as the Lamoille County Grammar School Association to support the school. In 1866, the state designated Johnson Academy as one of three new “Normal Schools,” institutions specifically for teacher training. The Johnson Normal School offered one-, two- and three-year teacher-training programs until 1947, when the state approved a four-year teacher-training program and the school became Johnson Teachers College.
By an act of the 1961 Legislature, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees was created to oversee the state college system. This new board assumed control on July 1, 1962, and Johnson Teachers College became Johnson State College. This new name signaled a change in the College’s mission from a single-purpose teacher-training college to a multipurpose liberal arts college.
Since that time, the College’s curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as its enrollment and its facilities, have expanded dramatically to meet its new mission. In recent years new construction and major renovation projects have included he Willey Library & Learning Center, a 39,000 square-foot-library, classroom, digital media and office building; the Stearns Student Center, home to the College’s dining and student activities programs; the SHAPE Center, housing the campus fitness and athetics programs; Bentley Hall, with state-of-the-art science laboratories and classrooms; and the Visual Arts Center, with studios and galleries for fine arts majors.
Johnson State College has come a long way from that first class of 16 students in a converted cobbler’s shop. Our modern, campus spreads over 350 hilltop acres and serves nearly 2,000 students from Vermont and around the world. The College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges and is approved as a degree-granting institution by the Vermont State Board of Education.
The Mission of Johnson State College
Johnson State College believes in the power of higher education to transform lives. We express this commitment through an education that crosses academic and other boundaries wherever possible; creates opportunities for students to extend their classroom learning to the field, the laboratory, the studio, the community and the local and wider world; recognizes the diverse starting points and goals of students; and sustains active participation, high standards, vigorous debate and mutual respect.
The Mission of the Vermont State Colleges
The Vermont State College (VSC) system comprises five state colleges committed to providing accessible, affordable, high-quality, student-centered education, fully integrating professional, liberal arts and career study. This integrated education, in conjunction with applied learning experiences, assures that graduates of VSC programs will:
- Demonstrate competence in communication, research and critical thinking;
- Practice creative problem-solving both individually and collaboratively;
- Be engaged, effective and responsible citizens;
- Bring to the workplace appropriate skills and an appreciation of work quality and ethics;
- Embrace the need for and joy of lifelong learning.
In addition to Johnson, the five VSC colleges are Castleton State College, the Community College of Vermont, Lyndon State College, and Vermont Technical College.