University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

A Campus in Bloom

President Tom Sullivan
Photograph by Sally McCay


A Campus in Bloom

The familiar rhythm of the academic year with the graduation of our Class of 2017 now past provides us with a natural time to reflect on what has been a truly auspicious year for the University of Vermont. In multiple dimensions, our Public Ivy is on the rise. 

A quick walk around campus will offer a glimpse of our future with the opening of the Discovery Hall in May, phase one of our STEM Complex; the stately new residence halls on central campus, which will welcome the Class of 2021 when they arrive in August; and early work on the Ifshin Hall addition to the Grossman School of Business, to name a few. In addition, this summer our iconic Billings Library will be closed for major interior redesign and refurbishing to better support important intellectual centers grounded in the humanities on campus, including the Humanities Center, Library Special Collections, the Miller Holocaust Center, and the Center for Research on Vermont.

You also will note some more subtle changes to the look of our campus. Together with Fleming Museum Director Janie Cohen, I’m leading an initiative to feature public art across UVM’s landscape. Intriguing, diverse works by alumni sculptors Christopher Curtis ’74 , Kat Clear ’01, Lars Fisk ’93, and UVM parent Gordon Gund have been installed in several locations across central campus. We anticipate a fabulous piece, “Blue Arete” by Richard Erdman ’75, gracing the west entrance of the Davis Center soon. You’ll read more about this effort to enhance the aesthetics of our campus with important public art in an upcoming issue of Vermont Quarterly. 

It has been a landmark year for philanthropy at the University of Vermont. Last fall, of course, we celebrated the $100 million historic, cumulative gift from Dr. Robert Larner, an alumnus, a transformative gift that puts our renamed Larner College of Medicine at the forefront of experiential-based medical education. In this issue of Vermont Quarterly, we share the news of generous support from the Gund family to create the Gund Institute for Environment, facilitating innovative, multi-disciplinary research across the campus on critical issues faced by humankind. Michele Resnick Cohen ’72, and her husband, Martin Cohen, recently donated $5 million to renovate and transform the Taft School, located at the corner of South Williams and Pearl streets, to become UVM’s first integrated center for the creative arts. 

With more than two years remaining in our Move Mountains Campaign, we already have received commitments of more than $418 million toward the goal of $500 million. Our thanks to all of the alumni, parents, and friends of the University behind this great success!

You also will read in this issue of one of the many ways our academic programs and curriculum continue to evolve to better serve our students, our state, and our nation. Biomedical engineering undergraduate and graduate degrees are among our newest fields of study, providing education in a STEM field that is ripe with promise. And it’s particularly well-suited to the talents of our faculty and the interdisciplinary opportunities facilitated by having academic units in engineering and medicine and an outstanding medical center on campus in close proximity. Our curriculum and student learning will be enhanced further by the recent adoption of quantitative reasoning and analysis as a new addition to our General Education requirement.

Our Class of 2021 that will arrive this fall is joining us at a wonderful time in UVM’s history. We are proud to have them! Our incoming students are the most academically talented and diverse class in the history of the University. Many of them join us with support from our new Catamount Commitment program, that guarantees that all limited-income Vermonters receiving federal Pell grants will pay no tuition and no comprehensive fee to attend the University. Financial access and affordability are bedrock principles of our mission as a land grant university; Catamount Commitment is another measure of living up to that ideal. 

I hope you will have the opportunity to revisit Burlington this summer or for the Alumni and Parent’s Weekend, October 6-8.  

Leslie and I wish you all the best for a restful and fun summer. 

—Tom Sullivan

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