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Burlington College Records

Identifier: mss-217

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the history of Burlington College. It includes Board of Trustee minutes, audit reports, accreditation records, course catalogues, publications, and presidential correspondence. Formats present include papers, meeting minutes, audio cassettes, video cassettes, photographs, and a large textile.

Material from Association of Vermont Independent Colleges documents the relationship between the independent colleges in Vermont (1981-1994). Board of Trustees minutes provide information about the college's direction at various times. Material from Vermont Higher Education Council, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Vermont State Board of Education pertain to Burlington College's accreditation efforts. Publications include community-oriented information about events, school newspapers, and student life. Various audiovisual media is also present.

The collection is arranged chronologically.


  • 1972-2016



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Historical Note

In 1972, Steward LaCasce, formerly an assistant professor of English at Boston University, moved to Burlington to found an unconventional "college without walls." Because of a quirk in Vermont’s certification law, he could not use "College" in its title, so he called it “Vermont Institute of Community Involvement," or "VICI." He and others liked the acronym, from Julius Caesar's famous quotation, "Veni, vedi, vici": "I came, I saw, I conquered." The concept of conquering obstacles was appealing, not only for those helping to start the new college, but also for the students they hoped to serve. A few years later, after growing tired of always having to explain what VICI was, people at the fledging institution changed its name to the self-evident Burlington College.

Although VICI operated at first "without walls" by using donated space throughout the community, it did have an office in the President’s apartment on Dorset Street in South Burlington. After two years, it had grown enough to afford a small suite of offices on Main Street in Burlington across from Courthouse Plaza. Then it moved to a larger set of offices on the corner of Main and Pine Streets. In 1982, it purchased its own building, formerly Colodny's Market, on North Avenue and North Street.

Enrollment grew from fourteen students when the college opened to around two hundred in 1984. In the beginning, LaCasce and a friend who worked part-time were the only regular employees. Faculty were hired on an adjunct basis and paid only for the number of students enrolled in their classes. This direct relationship between tuition income and the expenditure for instruction combined with low administrative overhead and no cost for campus or classroom made it financially possible for the college to establish a foothold without private or public funding. Perhaps the most difficult obstacle the college had to conquer in its early years, aside from staying open, was achieving recognition for its academic programs. This entailed certification by the Vermont State Board of Education to operate and grant degrees, and regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Because of the unconventional nature of the institution, this recognition came only after a ten-year struggle and the timely intervention of a few open-minded individuals.

From the outset, a cornerstone of the college's academic program was written evaluation of all learning activities. This helped students break the master/servant relationship that grades tend to foster, and free them to become independent lifelong learners. Also, the college emphasized community involvement to encourage students to use their learning to serve others, and thereby become enriched by that experience. LaCasce saw this concept as a secular version of the one that is deeply rooted in Western, Judeo-Christian culture. [Presumably wrote by Steward LaCasce, circa 1995]

Burlington College graduated their final class and was closed in 2016 due to financial pressures.


13.875 Linear Feet (8 cartons, 3 oversize boxes, 1 document box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Burlington College was a small private college in Burlington, Vermont founded in 1972 with alternative methods of higher education. The collection includes Board of Trustee minutes, audit reports, accreditation records, course catalogues, and presidential correspondence.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Burlington College Records
2016 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)