The Passing of Reuben Jackson

The Goddard College community mourns the loss of Reuben Jackson (RUP ’78), an accomplished poet, jazz historian, music critic, and educator who died on February 16th at the age of 67.

Reuben came to Vermont in 1975 to study writing at Goddard College, and has often spoke of the profound impact it had upon him.  He went on to serve as the curator of the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2010, he returned to Vermont to teach poetry in the BFA in Creative Writing in Goddard’s Undergraduate Degree Program, and then taught English at Burlington High School.  Many Vermonter’s know Reuben’s gentle, baritone voice and his expansive knowledge of music through his work as the host of VPR’s “Friday Night Jazz” from 2012-2018.  Reuben had worked at Goddard’s WGDR radio station as a student, and always valued the kind of community and intimacy that radio creates. His show was always educational and engaging, pushing at the category of “jazz” in ways that invited meaningful questions about music and culture.

Reuben faced discrimination and prejudice as a Black man living and working in a predominantly white state, and has given voice to his experience and insight through his poetry, most recently published in the volume Scattered Clouds (2019). Even after returning to his home city of Washington D.C. he remained an ardent supporter and valued member of Vermont’s vibrant Black literary community.

Though quiet by nature, Reuben Jackson spoke volumes through his art. We will miss his calm yet firm voice and lyrical ruminations but are grateful for the impact that his generous and perceptive spirit has had on his students, colleagues, comrades, and  community. 

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

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