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 Chelsea, Vermont preacher 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 multi-purpose liberal arts college. Since that time, the College’s curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences, its enrollment and its facilities have expanded dramatically to meet this new mission. In recent years, the College has embarked on an ambitious plan to transform the campus to enhance teaching, learning and community gathering spaces. In 2008, a $7 million renovation of Stearns Student Center was completed. This renovation transformed the building into a true student union with community gathering spaces, a performance space, a cinema and excellent dining facilities. In 2009, the College completed a major renovation of its athletics facility with the creation of a new fitness center, spinning studio, yoga/exercise rooms and a transformed varsity gymnasium. In the summer of 2011, major renovations to Bentley Hall, home to JSC’s environmental and health sciences programs, were completed, resulting in a new molecular lab, a fully renovated and expanded Earth sciences lab and a dedicated research lab for upper-level students conducting their senior-level thesis projects. And in the winter of 2012, the fully renovated Visual Arts Center was reopened, featuring rejuvenated studios classrooms, dedicated work spaces for BFA students, updated classrooms and offices, a new gallery and a Mac lab.
The College has come a long way from that first class of 16 students in a converted cobbler’s shop. Johnson State’s modern, dozen-building campus spreads over 330 hilltop acres and serves nearly 1900 students from Vermont and around the country. The College is accredited as a multi-purpose public institution by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is approved as a degree-granting institution by the Vermont State Board of Education.
The Johnson State College Mission
The Johnson State College community 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
For the benefit of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges provide affordable, high-quality, student-centered and accessible 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 necessity and joy of lifelong learning.
The Vermont State Colleges also offer numerous opportunities for others to engage in continuous learning to meet their specific goals.