University of Vermont

UVM to Host National Symposium on Future of Public Research Universities Oct. 10-12

Free public keynote addresses on Wednesday and Thursday

The University of Vermont will host a three-day symposium on a timely and important national issue Oct. 10-12 called "Precipice or Crossroads: The Future of Public Research Universities."

The symposium brings together some of the nation’s most respected higher education leaders, scholars and commentators to sharpen understanding of the challenges and potential solutions before the nation’s public research universities.

While registration is required for the symposium’s six panel discussions and luncheon address, two keynote addresses are free and open to the public:

  • Jim Leach, chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will give an address titled “Humanities and the Role of Public Universities” on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 5:30 p.m. in the Billings/Ira Allen Lecture Hall.
  • Robert Zemsky, chair of the Learning Alliance for Higher Education and a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, will give a lecture titled “Between a New Rock and a Bad Hard Place: Public Research Universities at Risk” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Davis Center's Silver Maple Ballroom.

Panel discussions will take place in the Davis Center's Livak Ballroom throughout the day on Thursday and on Friday morning. Topics include: "Changing Institutional and Instructional Models," "The Role of Public Research Universities in the Total Education System," "Costs, Strategic Resource Investment, Finance and Governance," "Student Opportunity: Tuition, Access, Affordability and Diversity," "Sustaining Excellence in Research, Scholarship and the Arts," and a summary panel bringing closure to earlier panels with the same title as the symposium. 

A luncheon address on Thursday, a report on the National Academies' Research Universities and the Future of America, will be given by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan, in the Sugar Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center.  

The symposium has attracted some of the leading lights in the higher education firmament. In addition to Duderstadt, they include Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University; Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities; and Jane Wellman, president of the National Association of System Heads and founder of the  Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability.

Key figures from Vermont’s higher education community and from UVM will also participate, including UVM President Tom Sullivan and Dave Wolk, president of Castleton State College,

Moderators for the discussion include Goldie Blumenstyk, senior writer at the Chronicle of Higher EducationScott Jaschik, co-editor and co-founder of Inside Higher EdTamar Lewin, national higher education writer at The New York Times, and Jon Marcus, a contributing editor to The Hechinger Report and U.S. higher-education correspondent for the Times (U.K.) Higher Education magazine.

The symposium builds on the year-long focus on the history, role and future of public research universities promoted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in observation of the sesquicentennial of the Morrill Land-grant Act. The meeting will be hosted in the home state of the act’s author, Justin Smith Morrill, and at the university where Morrill served as a trustee.

The symposium is loosely based on an book of essays edited by former UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel and Elizabeth Malson-Huddle with the same title as the symposium. The book was published by SUNY Press in the summer of 2012. 

Learn more about the symposium on its website.