University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

UVM Breaks Ground for STEM Complex, Largest Capital Project in University History

The May 15 event included a groundbreaking befitting the new STEM facility: a demonstration of a thermite reaction demolished a small model of the Cook building.

The University of Vermont officially broke ground May 15 on its $104 million STEM project, the largest capital project in UVM history.

Speakers at the event included Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has urged the university to produce more STEM graduates to meet the needs of Vermont’s high-tech sector, as well as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, UVM Board of Trustees chair Deborah McAneny, President Tom Sullivan, doctoral student Lane Manning, and Richard Bundy, president and CEO of the University of Vermont Foundation.

Shumlin thanked UVM President Tom Sullivan for making the STEM project a strategic priority and stressed its importance to the state’s economic future. “I literally had an employer say to me recently, if you can find us the right STEM graduates, we are hiring right now in the state of Vermont -- 90 people who we will pay starting at $90,000 a year plus benefits,” Shumlin said. “You know, when I was growing up in this state, there were not opportunities like that.”

Weinberger focused on the City of Burlington’s efforts to accelerate the city’s movement toward being a great tech city. “It is I think without doubt where the city’s economic future lies,” he said. “And when we look across the strategies that we might be able to accomplish to proactively move in that direction, I don’t think there is any greater, more significant step that can be taken than the one that UVM is announcing here today.”

Trustees chair Deborah McAneny said, “Simply put, this is the right facility at the right time and in the right place – for the university, for the state and for the nation.”

Sullivan called the occasion “a transformative day for the university, for Burlington, for the state of Vermont and well beyond our borders.” The STEM complex, he said, “signals Vermont’s arrival at the beginning of a new future, one where research, and teaching, and discovery, and creativity and innovation in the STEM disciplines will define the progress of qualitative knowledge for the 21st century.”

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am super geeked,” said Lane Manning, president of the Graduate Student Senate. Manning is set to receive a Ph.D. in materials science in a few months. “I’m excited. Let’s do it.”

The 266,000-square-foot STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) complex will include two new buildings for classrooms, science labs and meeting space.

Of the $104 million total project cost, $26 million will come from non-debt sources, including private gifts. To date, $4.6 million has been raised in private gifts.

Architects for the project are Freeman French Freeman of Burlington, Vt., with Ellenzweig of Cambridge, Mass.

The new laboratory and teaching spaces will allow UVM to continue to attract high-achieving students and faculty and to create new interdisciplinary STEM curricula that will engage and inspire the entire campus. With the White House calling for an additional one million STEM graduates over the next decade, UVM will increase the number of its STEM majors by 50 percent.

Aging facilities housing UVM programs in chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics and statistics and computer science require upgrades to meet current needs. The university will construct a modern complex of laboratories, classrooms and meeting space to accommodate teaching and research and to create new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

The construction will be accomplished in three different phases over a four-year period. The first phase includes construction of the Discovery Building, a state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratory facility, while the second phase will construct the Innovation Building, which consists of classrooms and meeting space. Phase three will include renovations to Votey Hall, the existing engineering building.

Construction starts in summer 2015 and will be completed by May 2019, anchoring a larger redevelopment of the Central Campus. This includes renovation of the Billings Library, construction of a new $57 million residence hall and dining facility, demolition of “The Shoeboxes” residence halls, construction of a new inpatient facility for the UVM Medical Center and a $10 million renovation of Kalkin Hall.

In accordance with the University of Vermont's "Environmental Design in New and Renovated Buildings" policy, the STEM Complex project is being designed, at minimum, to meet LEED Silver Level criteria.