As I write, our students are finalizing their terminal papers and projects and beginning to take their finals. It has been a productive semester. The endeavors we undertook at the beginning of the semester are all well underway and taking substantive shape. In brief, at the university level, committees continue to define the implementation of a new budgeting model called Incentive-based Budgeting, or “IBB” for short. The purpose of the new budget is to increase transparency and better align responsibility with authority and accountability. I am optimistic IBB will allow us to maintain and enhance our high standards and expectations as we remain resolved to contain costs and increase the affordability of a college degree. We have also made considerable progress toward our plan to build a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) building complex that will give UVM students the luxury of learning with the support of the most recent technological advances and pedagogical innovations. The architects are busy at work meeting with our faculty and learning about their visions and concerns. We are hopeful that toward the end of February we will have integrated all our programmatic needs within a state-of-the-art plan that will allow us to do more to advance knowledge and educate our students.
At the college level we continue to be immersed in drafting our strategic action plan. We have three committees studying ways to enhance student learning, the professional success of our faculty, and our diversity and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff. Recently I made a call for applications for the position of Director of the Humanities Center. The director will be charged with leading the new vision for the Center, which is to become a national model for increasing awareness about the manifold contributions of the arts and humanities toward the betterment of the human condition, society, and the natural world. The Humanities Center will accomplish its vision by supporting the educational, discovery, and outreach missions of UVM through interdisciplinary collaborations within CAS and across all UVM colleges and schools.
The accomplishments of our faculty and students highlighted in this e-news issue provide just a glimpse of the many academic and scholarly activities that take place at CAS. For instance, a few weeks ago, I decided to attend the Fall Concert of the UVM Symphony Orchestra. The Recital Hall was packed with students, faculty, a few parents, and quite a few visitors from Burlington and its surroundings. The ambience was festive and the eagerness and playful anticipation of the crowd was palpable. I scurried in unannounced and sat inconspicuously among the audience. For the first time in many days I truly relaxed. Worries and concerns were forgotten as I listened and admired with pride a wonderful recital masterfully directed by Professor Yutaka Kono. The highlight of the night was Professor Patricia Julien's premier, Among the Hidden—which got the audience on its feet, myself included. Knowing that the orchestra is comprised of 48 non-music majors, 3 community members, and only 11 music majors, I found what they accomplished on stage quite remarkable, especially considering that they played pieces by Rossini, Mussorgsky, and Wagner using the same edition employed by professional orchestras. You can listen to a recording of the concert here.
In closing, it is my pleasure to introduce Sam Ankerson, the College’s new Major Gift Officer. Sam joined the UVM Foundation in late October and will help me with gifts and development for the College. He comes to UVM after 13 years at Shelburne Museum, where he was Director of Development. Prior to that, Sam was in the music business, co-managing the UVM-born jamming band Strangefolk. Sam graduated from Yale University in 1995 with a B.A. in American Studies; he lives in downtown Burlington with his wife and two daughters. I think you might enjoy a very nice interview he gave a few years back.
Thank you for all you do for Arts and Sciences and UVM—and Happy Holidays.