University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Convocation

April 7, 2017

To: UVM Faculty and Staff
From: Tom Sullivan, President

Re: First-Year Summer Reading for Class of 2021

I am pleased to announce that in June we will ask all incoming first-year students to read Matt Richtel’s A Deadly Wandering: A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age.

In A Deadly Wandering, Pulitzer Prize winner Richtel uses a lethal car accident in Utah in 2006 as a starting point to examine the neuroscience of distraction and attention, as well as the ethics of responsibility and accountability. Providing a compelling narrative of the massive human and legal costs of digital distraction, the book invites readers to consider both what technology offers and the sometimes tragic consequences of its use.

A fitting introduction to the kind of inquiry, exploration, and critical analysis we wish for our students at UVM, this book offers opportunities for faculty from a wide range of disciplines to engage first-year students as part of their coursework in the 2017–2018 academic year. And, by announcing this selection at this time, we hope that faculty members will be able to integrate this book into their curriculum and academic events across campus next year.

  • We urge faculty, particularly those teaching first-year students, to use this interdisciplinary book in their Fall 2017 courses, assigning readings from A Deadly Wandering as appropriate, and to incorporate some aspect of its themes into their syllabi for the 2017- 2018 academic year.
  • We invite all campus community members to read A Deadly Wandering with the hope that the experience of sharing this text will generate lively discussions and activities related to the book both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • The author, Matt Richtel, will join us on campus on Monday, September 25th for a public lecture. Specific details, including ticket access, and information regarding additional academic and co-curricular programming associated with this selection will be forthcoming. You can direct questions to the First-Year Read Committee in care of Abby McGowan (
  • Recommendations for the 2018 summer reading are encouraged and may be entered here. Please submit your suggestions to the Committee by March 31 for full consideration.

I would like to thank the First-Year Read Committee for its excellent selection. I look forward to many engaging discussions and events across campus next year, inspired by A Deadly Wandering!

Last modified July 19 2017 07:17 AM