University of Vermont

Back to the Future: State of the College 2008

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This year, we also had impressive benchmarks in our faculty and administration:

  • Robert Jenkins, former Dean of the College and Director of the School of Engineering, was appointed to the UVM Flint Professorship of Mathematics, Natural, and Technic Science.
  • Dr. Kenneth Golden was appointed to the Williams Professorship of Mathematics.
  • Drs. Foote, Snapp and Marshall, and Dan Harvey are working hard to lead a successful updating of our College By-Laws.
  • Our CEMS budget and administrative teams are working smoothly and innovatively with the Offices of the President, Provost, and Vice Presidents across campus.
  • We have continued to invest in student recruitment, updating our student recruitment video, improving our website, improving the program for Admitted Student Visitation Days, updating our postcard, outreach, and email campaigns to highlight the Vermont advantage, and began to exploit the YouTube venue.
  • Our College-wide Board of Advisors continues to be extremely supportive of our growth and change.
  • We continued our Deans Distinguished Lecture series. This past year, we hosted:
    • David Pensak, former chief computer scientist at DuPont, Founder of multiple AI/complex systems companies, and professor emeritus at Wharton
    • Dr. Chris Wood, VP of the Santa Fe Institute
    • Dr. Brian Wells, Senior Principal Engineering Fellow at Raytheon
    • Dr. Joseph Sussman, Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Systems at MIT
    • Dr. Ken McLeod, Chair of Bioengineering at Binghamton University
  • We sponsored a thought-provoking art show at the Fleming Museum and at Burlington City Arts and underwrote STEM programming at Vermont Public Television (VPT).
  • We began to create new partnerships with the ECHO Science Museum at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
  • CEMS faculty were featured in Emerging Science, an EPSCoR-funded VPT series.

These are remarkable accomplishments and I am sure I did not list them all.

And it is with this strength that we will also face challenges. An infusion of base funds from the Provost over the past several years, coupled with well-considered spending throughout our Schools and Departments, gives us a solvent College in strong financial standing today.

However, we are part of a larger community and economy and — along with every other unit on campus — we were asked earlier this summer to make a 1% rescission to our expected FY09 budget. I am pleased to say we pressed the Administration about the need for quality student services and education — and the importance of our ABET accreditation — so were able to negotiate rescissions that kept all staff and services to support students and the faculty, as well as fund all new faculty positions with reasonable startups.

Yet: Looking ahead to the FY10 budget process, I want everyone to know university finances will not get easier. Our hope is to leverage our excellent, increasing student recruitment as well as success and innovation in research productivity, continued State outreach, and new partnerships into an even more robust budget for the College next year. However, because of a 5% rescission in the State appropriation to the University, we may be facing up to a 2% rescission this coming year.

I — and all of your senior leadership in the College — will do all that we can to again ensure those budget rescissions do not affect the quality of our teaching, research, and innovation College-wide.


Turning to our core mission of educating undergraduates, we have continued accomplishments on this front as well. These include:

  • ABET Assessment Process: We are in our ABET self-study year. Dr. Jeff Marshall with many years of experience negotiating the ABET will lead our effort over the coming months. I ask everyone to please do all that you can to help make this a positive experience for all involved.
  • New Degrees: We are in the final stages of approval for the BA degree in engineering. The president, provost and members of the Board of Trustees have all indicated strong support for this degree. We also continue to move forward on many other curriculum reform efforts to better prepare our students for the 21st century.
  • Student Experience in Engineering Design (SEED): The new capstone design program that debuted last year in the school of engineering is continuing with exciting new projects, sponsors, and with sustained enthusiasm.
  • A Center for Student Success has been designed and will be opening soon. It will feature a dedicated venue for tutoring, career counseling, and academic advising and will be reporting directly to Dean Jordan.


  • Compared to last year, our applicant pool is up another 16% — to over 1800 applications — for 200 openings. This is up from 790 applications four years ago.
  • Our total enrollment is 734 undergrads up from 537 just four years ago. The entering students claimed a combined average verbal and math SAT of 1217, which is 30 points above the University average.
  • The latest figures on our College-wide student/faculty ratio is 13.9:1 with a goal of 15:1 and an overall University goal of 16:1.
  • Last year we awarded 139 BS degrees, 38 MS degrees. and 10 PhDs.

Research & Strategic Initiatives

Research Grant Activity

Fiscal Year Proposals Awarded $ (in millions)
2007 33 $4.1
2008 35 $5.1


As a College, we published 119 journal articles, up 17% over last year.

Graduate Students

At the graduate level, we have 143 total graduate students of which 77 are Masters students and 66 are Doctoral students.

Technology Transfer

CEMS faculty were responsible for 8 disclosures and 1 patent last year, with the ideas valuable enough for a $61,000 investment by the UVM Office of Technology Transfer. CEMS is also now served by a new technology licensing officer focused on the physical sciences.

Outreach / Public Relations

  • We have adopted a strongly proactive approach under the leadership of Dawn Densmore, moving news stories out weekly, if not several each week.
  • Our Design TASC (Technology and Society Connection) and GIV Engineering Summer Institute are flourishing.
  • The GIV Engineering Summer Institute was connected with the NSF-sponsored Global Challenge and, in 2008, several of the Global Challenge international student participants are applying to UVM. These are outstanding students who could attend school virtually anywhere.
  • We supported PROJECT PORCHLIGHT where high school students distributed approximately 2800 free compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to households in Burlington and Winooski during the Institute.
  • A new organization was formed — UN-PAC — composed of engineering sustainability students who worked on product packaging.
  • UVM CEMS led major articles showcasing our programs in PE magazine and IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, and provided the keynote address at a Mellon Foundation–sponsored Symposium on Engineering and the Liberal Arts held at Union College.


As you may know, with the hire of VP Marc Diamond, the office of Development and Alumni Relations has been re-structured. None of the Colleges or Schools will have specifically assigned development officers. The intent is that this new structure will be more efficient and provide all academic units with the potential to access gifts from donors across disciplines.

Our CEMS development metrics are very good and getting better every year:

Fiscal Year Donor Gifts
2006 $246,000
2007 $413,000
2008 $908,000

Additional Strategic Initiatives

  • We have two upcoming visits to the IBM Hawthorne site to discuss major collaborations.
  • We co-sponsored, with Lt. Governor Dubie, a visit from MITRE Corporation senior leadership to discuss collaboration on complex systems and cybersecurity topics.
  • Vermont Advanced Computing Center (VACC) will be moving to CEMS under my leadership. We welcome Andrea Elledge, Roger Aspinall, and Bob Devins as members of our community from the VACC and look forward to working with you and others across campus on this important initiative.
  • The Vermont Environmental Engineering Advisory Council — chaired and staffed by UVM CEMS leadership — issued its preliminary report and visits are scheduled with Vermont’s Secretary of Commerce and Community Development to major environmental engineering firms across the nation to discuss Vermont opportunities
  • Partnership with EPSCoR and the Transportation Research Center continue to support significant work in CEMS with much of it focused on complex systems.
  • CEMS is working with UVM’s Office of Sponsored Programs to ensure CEMS activity on interdisciplinary grants — some of which is not adequately recognized in current UVM-wide metrics for research productivity — truly showcase and reward your innovative and collaborative efforts, providing even more incentive for cross-disciplinary work.

We have completed approximately $750,000 in renovations in Votey to accommodate new research labs. I would also like to note a remarkable trend in interdisciplinary research proposals, and a growing willingness by the faculty to share research lab space. It is this approach that will help us all succeed.

CEMS is in the second tier of UVM priorities for a new building and we have already begun space discussions and planning with UVM’s plan management consultants. Initiatives surrounding fundraising for the building are the priority of our CEMS Board of Advisors Executive Committee and I’m looking forward to these discussions — and a new vision for a Science and Engineering Complex at UVM — progressing as rapidly as possible.

New Faculty Searches

Last year, you all took on the added challenge of several faculty searches. I know this stretched your time thin and I truly appreciate the effort, especially as it brought in such excellent candidates as Bomblies, Warrington, and Dunlop.

This year, we will again be searching for the very best in new faculty to serve our students, grow our College, and invest in our Spire of Excellence in complex systems research. Knowing the challenge, I have asked for additional administrative support for the searches and am working to streamline and coordinate the process, combining search teams and outreach.

Our searches this year include five in the School of Engineering:

  • Director SoE
  • Intelligent Infrastructure
  • Bioengineering
  • Transportation & Energy Systems
  • Biofuels (non-tenure track, shared with Extension)

We also will have one in Mathematics and Statistics, focused on Statistics. And one in Computer Science, specifically in Intelligent Systems.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to those faculty members who have already consented to serve on or chair various committees. You will be instrumental in our continued quest to hire the best and brightest!

Next page: Concluding Remarks
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See also: 2007 State of the College | 2006 State of the College