The 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-dollar 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/stretching rooms, and transformed varsity gymnasium. In the summer of 2011, major renovations to Bentley Hall, home to JSC's environmental and health sciences programs, were completed, including: 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 newly renovated Visual Arts Center was reopened, featuring rejuvenated studio 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.