PLAINFIELD, Vt. – Goddard College, a tiny Vermont school that thrived on the counterculture of the 1960s, is back, with the highest enrollment in 30 years, says its new president who will be inaugurated on Saturday.

The college, which has turned out famous alums such as playwright, director and screenwriter David Mamet, actor William H. Macy and members of the rock band Phish, was on the brink of closing in 2002. It decided to end its full-time on-campus housing and programs and focus on programs that let students spend short stints on campus but do their studies elsewhere.

Now, the college’s mostly older students spend eight days on the campus each semester and do their studies off campus working closely with faculty. Enrollment has grown from about 100 students in 1981 and 500 in 2002 to 804 this past fall.

“It’s back to take a leadership position at a time when we are in desperate need of thinking differently about education in this country,” said Barbara Vacarr, president since July.

“And Goddard has always done that.”

The school now has 125 faculty — up from 75 in 2002 — and its first 10-year accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in unusual programs like individualized studies, sustainability, health arts and sciences as well as psychology and counseling, creative writing and interdisciplinary arts.

Goddard also offers graduate-level concentrations in consciousness studies, sexual orientation, and transformative language arts as well as environmental studies and school counseling and undergraduate concentrations in community education and teaching licensure.

“I think what’s quite remarkable in my experience is that despite the challenges of the economy and economic downturn right now and also the cut in funding for student aid, that we are seeing interest and we’re seeing a growth in enrollment,” Vacarr said.

Nationally, nonresidency adult programs and online programs are on the rise, said Tony Pals, a spokesman for the Association of American Colleges and Universities.