Former President Daniel Mark Fogel
To: University of Vermont Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President
Date: May 1, 2006
Re: Late Spring Semester Updates on Various Topics
As the semester draws to a close, I would like to bring you up to date on several important developments and issues.
New Six-Credit Diversity Requirement: On April 10 the Faculty Senate overwhelmingly approved a six-credit diversity requirement for all undergraduate students, and we fully expect that the Board of Trustees will endorse the requirement in May. The requirement will apply to students entering in the fall of 2007 and thereafter. I am deeply appreciative of the hard work of many people who worked on the proposal for this new baccalaureate completion requirement, including members of the President’s Commission on Racial Diversity, led by Professor Robert Lawson; the members of the Curricular Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate, chaired by Professor Jim Bergmeier; and, especially, Vice Provost Willi Coleman for her unwavering advocacy of this important step in pursuit of the University’s strategic goal of creating a diverse community, including the strengthening of multicultural curricula.
Union Institute and University: In the fall of 2005, Union Institute and University (UI) approached UVM to ask whether UVM would have any interest in purchasing the historic Vermont College campus in Montpelier, owned by UI since 2001. As with other opportunities that are presented to the University, administration officials began evaluation of a possible purchase, and, at the request of Union Institute officials, this evaluation remained confidential until last month, when the UI board directed their administration to sell the campus. Recently, several communications from UI have implied that UVM-UI discussions are further along than is in fact the case, incorrectly suggesting that a decision by UVM would be forthcoming in May. In the wake of this publicity, members of the UVM community have expressed thoughtful concerns and have raised pertinent questions. To be clear, UVM is in the preliminary stages of considering this opportunity. We have yet to decide whether or not to recommend purchase to the Board of Trustees. We recognize the need for a thorough and comprehensive review and, where appropriate and required, for review and approval by groups such as the Faculty Senate. We will keep you apprised as our exploration of this potential acquisition unfolds.
UVM’s Lower-Paid Employees, Measures Under Way and Demonstrations: In order to advance discussions within the campus community about policies and practices with respect to compensation and other opportunities for UVM’s lower-paid employees, I have appointed an ad hoc Task Force on Basic Needs and Equitable Compensation, calling for its recommendations no later than September 30, 2006. The charge to the Task Force has been posted at http://www.uvm.edu/president/?Page=basicneeds/taskforce.html. The Task Force, chaired by Associate Professor Jane Knodell (Economics), comprises faculty, staff, and students, including leaders of the labor unions that represent UVM employees, of the Student Government Association, and of the demonstrators who erected a tent city on the University Green in order to press the issue of higher pay for some UVM employees.
While the tent city was not allowed to remain on the Green for more than a few hours beyond the expiration of its permitted time-limit (under a long-standing University policy on symbolic structures), at no point were citations issued to demonstrators: no students were arrested, and there are no criminal charges pending. Additionally, there are no UVM student disciplinary charges pending or planned. Eight students did receive administrative trespass notices, which were immediately suspended. The suspension means that the noticed students will have full access to the Green (and University premises) as long as they abide by permitted uses for all UVM students. The notices will be voided at the end of the semester if there are no additional infractions. If there are other infractions, the trespass notices will be considered along with any new evidence of infraction.
We have great admiration for the passion and commitment of the demonstrators, and the University has an unwavering commitment to open inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, which must take place within the framework of policies that allowed not only for the tent city on livable wages and related issues but also for the permitted demonstrations that followed soon thereafter on the same plot of ground: two displays of flags, one set representing the dead in the European Holocaust and the other representing people murdered in the course of the ongoing genocide in Sudan.
Divesting from Sudan: At a recent meeting of the Committee on Socially Responsible Investing of the Board of Trustees, the Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the University divest any equities UVM retains from international corporations supporting the Sudanese government responsible for the genocide in Darfur. Final action will occur at the May meeting of the Board of Trustees. Jeff Skoldberg, Class of 2006, and other members of Students Take Action Now: Darfur (STAND) were responsible for championing this issue and bringing it to the attention of the Board. We are grateful for the leadership and commitment of Mr. Skoldberg and his fellow advocates for this action.
Undergraduate Admissions, Fall 2006: A record of nearly 18,000 applications for undergraduate admission was received this winter (up from last year’s record of 13,000), so that the admit rate fell by more than 15 percentage points, to about 66% for Vermont residents and about 64% for non-residents. It will take a week or so from today’s post-mark deadline for the enrollment deposit count to stabilize, but it is not too soon to say that we should come very close to our enrollment goals for the Class of 2010, with a significant increase in the academic credentials of the incoming class. Credit for these advances goes to our very hard-working admissions team and to faculty, staff, and students across the University who have put enormous effort into enhancing quality and value at UVM as measured in student achievement and success (expressed, for instance, in last fall’s record high level of first-to-second-year student retention).
Project Updates and Campus Master Plan: It is exciting to watch the Davis Center taking shape before our eyes, creating a new central gathering place for the UVM community and guests. The Center is on schedule to be fully open a year from this fall, with some sections, such as the new UVM Bookstore, opening by this time next year. Meanwhile, work is rapidly drawing to a close on the south buildings of University Heights, where two new living/learning communities, Global Village and GreenHouse, will open in the fall. This past Friday, we formally dedicated the Carrigan Annex, the new wing of the Marsh Life Science Building housing the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Renovations to 438 College Street, just downhill from the Waterman Building, will be completed in June and will house the Dean’s offices for the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to these projects, several renovations and upgrades to campus facilities are planned for this summer, including the ongoing program of classroom refurbishment.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many members of the University community, including, among others, Linda Seavey (Director of Campus Planning) and Robert Vaughan (Director of Capital Planning and Management), the Campus Facilities Master Plan will go to the Board of Trustees for approval later this month. The Master Plan, which should be a living, evolving document, has emerged through an inclusive process entailing some forty-five public meetings and forums both on campus and in surrounding communities. It will be the key to guiding University decisions for at least the next decade as we continue to develop the physical campus to support a diverse, creative community of scholars.
Leadership Transitions: We will welcome two new members of the University’s senior leadership in the next few weeks. Dr. William Neidt, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning at the University of Colorado Foundation, will be joining the University in mid-May as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations. In July, Dr. John Hughes, Associate Provost at Miami University (Ohio), will assume the role of Provost and Senior Vice President, succeeding Dr. John Bramley, who will be returning to the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Please join Rachel and me on May 11, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. in Billings Student Center to recognize Dr. Bramley for his remarkable service and dedication to UVM.
Best wishes to all members of the UVM community for a successful end to what we hope will have been a productive and rewarding semester for each of you. Together we have enjoyed another year of remarkable success and accomplishment, and our gratitude goes out to the thousands of UVM faculty, staff, and students who have had a hand in the advance of this wonderful University.
Last modified September 05 2006 07:23 PM