Former President Daniel Mark Fogel
August 21, 2007
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
Welcome to UVM for the new academic year! Please join the first-year undergraduate class at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday the 26th of August for Convocation at the Patrick Gym: music, an academic procession, a brief film on the things we love about UVM, ceremonial greetings, a talk by Ishmael Beah (author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which our new students and many of the rest of us will have read), a parade paced by taiko drummers to the University Green, the Twilight Induction for the Class of 2011, and the Green Carpet Opening of the Davis Center (it would be a red carpet opening if UVM weren’t launching the nation’s greenest, most environmentally responsible student union). To see how to get tickets to the free but capacity-limited Convocation, please go to http://www.uvm.edu/president/ceremonies/convocation/. Ours is a vital community, and the triptych of Convocation, Induction, and the Davis Center opening should be a smashing kick-off for an academic year that is unusually rich with promise.
Ours is also a community that thinks—and cares—and acts. Seeking to lead by designing our University community as a model of sustainability, we must first and foremost be guided in our actions by thoughtful care for each other and for ourselves. Last fall we were shaken by the brutal murder of one of our own, reminding us that even here we are not exempt from the horrors of our world, and last spring we saw from afar, at Virginia Tech, an appalling tragedy in a community that must have had no thought that anything like that could happen there. In the spring of 2006, we issued a President’s Anti-Violence Initiative, with links to UVM’s many resources for community safety (see http://www.uvm.edu/president/?Page=antiviolence_initiative.html). This fall, we have appointed a President’s Commission on Social Change to intensify our work together on campus health and safety with the focus on gender violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and bias incidents. We can all work together to reduce these unacceptable behaviors in our community if we simply follow the call you will hear and see throughout the coming year around the campus: think, care, act. To our new students, especially, we send with our heartfelt welcome an urgent call to be active in taking good care of yourselves and of each other, just as we expect you to be active in pursuing your own intellectual and personal development here at UVM.
I want to take this opportunity to report on several actions we have taken, and milestones UVM has passed, since the end of the spring semester. In June, UVM joined 284 colleges and universities in announcing adherence to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment goal of achieving carbon neutrality for all of the subscribing campuses. For UVM, with our commitment to leadership in sustainable practices as well as in environmental education, research, and service, this effort is grounded in institutional core values and will require activities that can only reinforce and enrich our educational and research programs (see http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/ for details on the Climate Commitment.) We will soon be announcing important measures that I believe will greatly advance our practices at UVM as a model of sustainability far beyond what we have already achieved in a number of areas (for example, our Green Building Policy, which continues to produce solid outcomes, including the Gold LEED Certification—for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—awarded this summer to the new University Heights residence halls by the United States Green Building Council). More recently, I joined 286 college and university presidents and chancellors who have committed to applying to their campuses a statement by President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University that decries the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and scholars by college faculty in England (please see the link above the welcome message at http://www.uvm.edu/president/).
Among the milestones UVM has passed over the course of the summer, the close of the University’s second fund-raising campaign on June 30th at more than $20 million above the $250 million goal stands out as a powerful affirmation of the confidence some 60,000 donors have in the qualities and values that make our University so special. Last fall, we laid out on behalf of the UVM community a vision of the next stage in advancing those values, centered on our mission in preparing students to be accountable leaders dedicated to the global community and premised on a belief that being liberally educated means being able to draw on many different departments of knowledge to understand and solve complex problems (see Signatures of Excellence at http://www.uvm.edu/president/?Page=signatures/default.html&SM=submenu6.html). In the spring five groups of faculty and students will pilot the problem-based learning communities that we suggested might become one of UVM’s signatures of excellence. We are very grateful for the creativity, initiative, and hard work that our colleagues have invested in developing the following learning communities, each one comprising faculty and students who will pursue together, through the students’ concurrent registration in two or three courses in different fields of study, answers to challenging questions and approaches to solving important problems:
- Globalization, Gender and Violence: The Women of Juarez, Mexico. Faculty: William McDowell, Art and Art History; Adriana Katzew, Art and Art History; Caroline Beer, Political Science; John Waldron, Romance Languages
- The Obesity Pandemic: A National Problem with a Local Solution. Faculty: Rachel Johnson, Nutrition and Food Science; Jane Kolodinsky, Community Development and Applied Economics; and Jean Harvey-Berino, Nutrition and Food Science
- Identity and Reconstruction of the Southern Sudan. Faculty: Robert Gordon, Anthropology; David Shiman, Education; Peter von Doepp, Political Science
- Communicative Competence in a Multi-literate World. Faculty: Jennifer Dickenson, Anthropology; Julie Roberts, Communication Science; Nancy Welch, English
- Health Challenges in the 21st Century. Faculty: Eileen Burgin, Political Science; Jeanne Shea, Anthropology; Sara Solnick, Economics
We urge interested students to consider participating in these learning communities when registration for the spring semester becomes available in November.
This fall sees the arrival of the largest first-year undergraduate and largest Graduate College classes in UVM’s history, the continuing expansion of our Residential Learning Community (RLC) program with the addition of the Health and Wellness RLC, and an exciting array of lectures and of cultural and athletic events: don’t miss, for example, the Aiken Lecture on October 1 by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff, “The Promise and Price of Modernization in China”; the launch of the UVM Theatre season in late September with the production of the provocative coming-of-age drama Found a Peanut; world-class performers in UVM’s concert program, the Lane Series, from blue grass to viola (for the complete list see http://www.uvm.edu/Lane); and the kick-off of another round of winning seasons for UVM’s academically talented student-athletes (cheer them on at home openers for field hockey [August 30], men’s and women’s soccer [September 7 and August 31, respectively], women’s swimming [October 21], men’s and women’s basketball [November 24 and 17, respectively], and men’s and women’s hockey [October 7 and October 6, respectively]. Homecoming and Parents Weekend on October 5-7 will be the biggest ever, highlighted by the formal dedication of the Davis Center, the celebration of the success of The Campaign for the University of Vermont, lectures, panels on marketing and public relations to which students in all majors are invited, the traditional concert by UVM’s terrific a cappella groups, athletic contests, and much, much more. Already the year’s activities of UVM’s more than 150 student organizations are under way, and we urge all students—and above all the newcomers to UVM—to get involved.
For students coming to UVM to undertake new courses of study, whether as first-year undergraduates or as graduate or professional students, this fall semester marks a new phase full of high promise. To them we offer encouragement to make the most of every opportunity to fulfill that promise. We say the same thing to continuing students. And to our colleagues on the faculty and staff of The University of Vermont, we extend the warmest thanks for all you are doing to fulfill UVM’s promise as a truly exceptional place for learning and discovery.
Daniel Mark Fogel
Last modified August 26 2007 09:14 AM