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Burlington College announced today that it will close on May 27 after it found itself unable to recover from “the crushing weight of the debt” incurred under Jane O’Meara Sanders, the college’s former president and wife of Bernie Sanders.
As Ms. Sanders pursued financing for the land acquisition, she repeatedly said that Burlington College had received more than $2 million in fundraising commitments and pledges, according to numerous records.
But in fiscal year 2011, Burlington College raised only $279,000—though the college had earlier claimed to have secured $1.2 million in confirmed pledges.
In 2004, Sanders was named President of Burlington College, a private, non-profit liberal arts school founded in 1972 in Vermont. In 2008, some students in the college Student Government Association petitioned for a meeting after a professor Sanders had hired was not reappointed. The college Board of Trustees held a meeting and agreed to review policies and procedures, including adopting a formal grievance policy, but also voted to reaffirm its support of Sanders, "The board is quite confident in Jane’s leadership, and we stand by her." In 2010, Sanders oversaw the purchase of property formerly owned and occupied by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The College based the real estate purchase on projections that enrollment would rapidly grow from fewer than 200 to as many as 750 students, with a corresponding income increase from tuition fees. The college's finances, which have been in a precarious position since 1972, "took a turn for the worse in 2010" when the $10 million lakefront property was purchased. The US Department of Education rated the financial health of the College at 2.3 or higher on a scale of minus 1 to 3.0, for the five fiscal years prior to Sanders' departure in 2011, but by fiscal year 2013 the rating had dropped to 0.4 ("not financially responsible"). With the College unable to collect on some promised pledges after Sanders had resigned, and the enrollment increase plans failing, the Diocese settled the loan debt with the College in 2015 for $996,000 less than the agreed amount, and with $1 million of the repayment made in shares of an unidentified LLC company.
In 2011, the college trustees, while crediting Sanders with acquiring a permanent campus for the 200‑student college, called a meeting for September 2011 and accepted Sanders's resignation. "We reached a decision which I believe is best for both the College and me," Sanders said after the meeting, "The board and I have different visions for the future and that’s perfectly fine." Sanders's salary as President was $160,000, with a contract for the position through 2013; on departure she received the title of President Emeritus and a $200,000 severance. During her tenure as President, Burlington had an endowment of "about $150,000", and fundraising revenue had increased from about $25,000 when Sanders first arrived to $1.25 million (including a $1 million bequest) by 2011.
In 2016, Burlington College announced it was closing its doors effective May 27, 2016 due in part to "the crushing weight of the debt incurred by the purchase of the Archdiocese property" 
Sanders later became a member of the Vermont Economic Development Authority.