University of Vermont

A Note from University President Tom Sullivan

November 2012

President Tom Sullivan
President Tom Sullivan. Photo by Sally McCay

In my installation address on October 5th, I asked everyone in our university community to aspire to yet unconsidered greatness.  Together, we can all raise our expectations and aspirations to create an academic experience of the highest quality.  We will collaborate with a broad spectrum of people from across campus to advance our goals.  Often, however, we achieve progress, innovation, and impact because one individual initiates changes that benefits all of us.

One example of a staff member who took the initiative and made a significant contribution, is Greg Matthews, who recently has retired from Custodial Services after 38 years of service to the University.  When Greg was setting up chairs on the green for Commencement, he had a great idea for a new seating plan.  He realized that by shifting from the traditional long rows of seats to angled rows arranged between the walkways, he could improve the spectator’s view of the events and create an additional aisle for graduates approaching the stage.  Greg’s theatrical-style layout not only allows for greater efficiency and cost saving, but also highlights the attractive design of the green.  His idea will transform the most important ceremonial event on campus in 2013, and our graduates and their families will benefit from his vision for years to come.


Although individual initiative is key to our success as an institution, we also build strength and reach ever more ambitious goals by listening to each other and supporting each other.  It took some time for Greg to persuade others to consider his plan, but ultimately his colleagues listened and embraced his idea.  Their support made implementing his vision possible.  At UVM we are extremely fortunate to have so many talented and dedicated staff members.  I know that together we can all dream the big dream as we move forward together.