Former President Daniel Mark Fogel
September 11 , 2009
To The UVM Community:
The academic year is off to an excellent start, and I extend my sincere thanks to all who have helped to get us under way in good form this fall. As we begin our work together this year, I would like to share a few brief updates and perspectives about where we are and where we are headed as an institution.
Let me first highlight our enrollment situation, which continues to be a genuine success story here at UVM. Our first-year undergraduate class is the largest and most diverse in the University’s 218-year history—students of color make up 11.9% of the class, up from the previous record of 7.9%. The class of 2013 is also one of the most academically talented we have ever seen, with Green and Gold Scholars (our top Vermont students) and National Merit Scholars both enrolling in record numbers. We will continue this year to build on our tradition of a superb academic and student experience for undergraduates even as we also work to enhance opportunities for faculty and students to take part in a select group of strong and distinctive research and graduate programs (indeed, we believe the latter project will reinforce the former).
Our competitive metabolism is racing. As a result we continue to receive recognition from various sources across the country. Just last month, US News & World Report ranked UVM 8th in the nation among national universities in an article on “Top Up-and-Coming Schools,” and Sierra Magazine ranked us near the top of the nation’s more than 2,300 four-year colleges for our environmental programs and practices: UVM was 4th on Sierra’s list of the “10 Coolest Schools.” Meanwhile, the fiscal year that ended on June 30th marked a record in external awards to UVM for research, education, and public service—over $133 million—and the scientific, scholarly, and creative power of our academic community continues to be recognized in a rising number of national awards and recognitions for individual members of the faculty.
Our financial situation is stable, and remarkably healthy within the context of higher education nationwide. We have had to make some difficult decisions over the past year, but overall, through the hard work of so many members of the community, we are in a sound, strong, and even enviable position. Make no mistake: we have challenges ahead in the 2011 fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2010), including addressing the remaining portion of the structural gap in our budget that we talked about so often last academic year. But, again, I am confident that the challenges are manageable and that we will solve problems together in a rational, constructive, and collaborative fashion: we will begin the process of working with academic, governance, and administrative leaders on the 2011 budget within a matter of weeks.
This academic year will be one of working collectively to intensify our focus on academic quality that sets UVM apart as one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher education. The strategy of fueling investments in academic quality with enrollment growth has run its course. From here on we must rely on our ability to manage strategically, to allocate resources effectively, and to adapt to changing conditions and opportunities, especially given the economic challenges that define these times.
A rebalancing effort based on renewed commitment to building on our academic strengths, our high potential, and our distinctive culture is necessary if we are to excel. We have come a long way in recent years, and in my view we are well positioned to do the work we need to do to continue on this successful road toward realizing our vision of UVM as one of the nation’s leading small research universities. I believe the foundation of success must be excellence in undergraduate education. And I also believe that we can secure that foundation only by raising upon it spires of excellence in a few, selected areas of graduate education and research. There will be much more information to come with respect to our efforts to focus and excel throughout the course of this academic year.
It is my hope that this will be a productive, enlightening, successful academic year for every member of the UVM family. I look forward to working with you not only to address the challenges ahead, but also to celebrate with you the many joys and special gifts that this exceptional academic community offers.
With every good wish to one and all,
Daniel Mark Fogel
Last modified September 13 2009 08:19 AM