University of Vermont

UVM Foundation Announces $5M Gift to Transform Visual & Performing Arts

Elihu B. Taft School
Elihu B. Taft School (Photo: Burlington School District)

Michele Resnick Cohen, UVM ’72, and her husband Martin Cohen have donated $5 million to renovate and transform the Elihu B. Taft School – located at the corner of South Williams and Pearl streets on the edge of campus – to become UVM’s first integrated center for the creative arts.

Work already has commenced on the former elementary school, which served Burlington students from 1938 until 1980, to create a nexus for arts on campus that brings together multiple disciplines and fosters creative collaboration. Designed as a center for the arts, the space will include galleries, studios, classrooms, and exhibition and performance spaces that will encompass the disciplines of art, art history, dance, theatre, music, film and television studies, and more.

Michele Cohen is a member of the UVM Foundation board of directors, and she also is active in various education, nonprofit and arts-related boards in New York City where she and Marty reside. She is a long-time trustee at Alfred University, and currently serves as the chair of the board of trustees at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

“We are so grateful to Michele and Marty for continuing our more than 225-year tradition of liberal arts education, integrating the humanities, the fine arts, business and the sciences to promote broad and deep learning for our students,” said UVM President Tom Sullivan. “When we put heads, hearts and hands together to study the arts, creativity is unleashed in all aspects of the education process.”

“As a friend and colleague of Michele, who serves her alma mater with such great distinction as a member of the UVM Foundation board of directors, I am honored to share in this momentous announcement that clearly demonstrates how highly we value the arts at UVM,” noted John Hilton, chairman of the UVM Board of Directors.

“This transformative gift will not only create a hub of collaboration and creativity; it will give us the opportunity we have been longing for, to rightly place the Arts at the forefront of the College, as a public face of UVM commensurate with the quality of the scholarship and teaching, and mirroring one of the essential qualities of Vermont, a commitment to and strength in the arts,” said Bill Falls, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The College of Arts and Sciences has hired a renowned architectural consulting firm that specializes in multi-arts buildings on university campuses,” added Kelley Di Dio, professor of art and art history and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Not only will we have a collaborative space for interdisciplinary teaching and programming, the new center for the arts will become a critical space for faculty and students to display and perform their work. We are so thankful to the Cohens for making this long-held dream possible.”