Marlboro Alumni, Friends Discuss State of College

In September, a number of local alumni and friends of Marlboro College gathered at the home of alumni Sara Coffey and Dave Snyder to talk with President Kevin regarding the current state and plans to shape a strong future for the college. Many of them had been associated with Marlboro for years, and they all shared an abiding loyalty to the college’s unique mission and a concern for its sustainability in the challenging current economic climate for small, liberal arts colleges.

“The open and frank conversation about Marlboro College was important, and I hope it helped clarify the state of the college with accurate information,” said Kevin. “The group’s concerns and ideas were incredibly helpful for me to hear, and I think our time together provided insight and inspiration to help us move forward together.”

Chief among the group’s concerns was the low level of enrollment, at 181 in September, and how best to help the college gain more traction in today’s competitive market. Demographic shifts—with fewer traditional-aged students applying in the region and the rising costs of higher education generally—as well as Marlboro’s rural environment, small size, and liberal arts focus are clear challenges for enrollment.

Attendees were heartened by news about the community action planning over the summer, as well as the imminent unveiling of an Alumni Tool Kit providing helpful links and ideas for how alumni can support enrollment goals, from being a social media ambassador to referring promising high school students. They also learned about a new alumni/student engagement platform being developed this year, which will link current students with relevant alumni for job leads, internships, or advice.

Like many other small liberal arts colleges, Marlboro depends on tuition and the generosity of their donors to support the true cost of educating our students. The college is very fortunate to have a robust donor pool, and last year more than 700 supporters donated to the Annual Fund, helping Marlboro raise $2 million for the second year in a row. But Kevin was clear, and attendees recognized, that their support in enrollment and retention in the coming years will be key to Marlboro’s future. 

“It is always encouraging to me to hear how much this special place on Potash Hill has meant, and continues to mean, to generations of alumni and faculty,” said Kevin. “They are the college’s best ambassadors, and I am very grateful for their dedication and their willingness to help create a bright future for Marlboro College.” 

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