Monday was a very sad day for Burlington College in Vermont: The tiny liberal arts institution announced that it's closing this month under the "crushing weight of debt" of a land deal from Jane Sanders' time in charge, reports the Burlington Free Press. Bernie Sanders' wife, who ran the private college from 2004 to 2011, tried to boost enrollment in 2010 by buying 32 acres of land along Lake Champlain for a new campus. The land, including a 77,000-square-foot main building, was being sold by a Roman Catholic diocese that needed cash after being sued by abuse victims. But the college, which has around 70 students, was unable to attract enough new students to justify the $10 million purchase and ended up in deep financial trouble even after selling all but 8 acres of the land, Politico reports.
"I believe the vision was enrollment would grow, which it did, but not at the level that would have allowed us to manage the financial debt we had incurred," Dean of Operations Coralee Holm told reporters on Monday. "So here we are." Neither Holm nor college President Carol Moore criticized Sanders, who reportedly received a $200,000 severance package, for her role in the college's financial problems. The Wall Street Journal notes that Burlington College, like many small colleges, had serious financial woes long before Sanders took charge. "I thought it was going to happen for some time," says the school's former chair of the film and media department. "It's a very, very, very small college without an endowment."