Jane Sanders and the Messy Demise of a Vermont College

She courted donors whose pledges could help secure the loan. David Dunn, a college trustee at the time, said the board had concerns by 2011 that contributions weren’t materializing. He said trustees began a review after learning that a major donor, Corrine Bove Maietta, who was supposed to donate $1 million over time, actually committed to give the funds when she died.

“That was the catalyst that started a more thorough analysis,” said Mr. Dunn, who later learned that his own initials were listed among trustees having pledged donations, which he said he had not done.

Ms. Maietta didn’t respond to requests for comment, but her longtime accountant, Richard Moss, said that “as I remember it, she didn’t commit to give anything before death.”

Mr. Dunn said additional factors also led to Ms. Sanders’s dismissal, including concerns that she had lost faculty support, and a heated argument she had with a student. (The student downplayed the argument in a letter to the board that was reviewed by The Times.)

Ms. Sanders said she had made no misrepresentations about donations: “I gave the most complete and accurate information I knew to all the people that required it.” In a final letter to the board, she laid out a number of strategic suggestions.

“While some of you have clearly perceived my entrepreneurial approach and community perspective to be too expansive for our small college, I think it is extremely important that the next president have those broad skills,” she wrote, adding that she felt she was “leaving the school far stronger than it has ever been.”

Three years after her departure, in 2014, a local Republican donor and gas station operator named Rodolphe M. Vallee, who goes by “Skip,” financed a commercial attacking Ms. Sanders’s $200,000 severance, mocking the Wall Street-flogging couple for taking “a golden parachute of their own.” (Ms. Sanders said she took only “my earned sabbatical and deferred bonus.”) Mr. Vallee and Mr. Sanders were already engaged in a long-running dispute over fuel pricing that continues to this day.

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