University of Vermont

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees, Chair's Report

David A. Daigle
Board of Trustees Chair’s Report
October 21, 2016

Good morning everyone.  I would like to extend a warm welcome to our October board meeting and offer sincere thanks to all of you for your engagement and everything that you do for UVM and our students.  The collective contributions you make to this great, historic University each day have brought us to an undeniably positive inflection point in our 225-year history.

You have obviously heard by now that we have a very special guest on our campus today to discuss the White House Cancer Moonshot project and UVM’s research contributions.  We are delighted to have Vice President Biden with us today to discuss an initiative of such profound importance to so many of us.

A lot has happened at UVM since we last convened in May, and I would like to share a few updates with you.

After many, many years of planning, we opened our spectacular new alumni house.  If you have not been in the alumni house, please visit – it is extraordinary, and on behalf of the entire board we extend our gratitude to all who made it happen.  I was privileged to attend the dedication and the first UVM Foundation board meeting in the alumni house, and the events were brimming with passion and enthusiasm for UVM.  The efforts to broaden and deepen of our alumni connections have driven new fundraising records; you will hear some very positive news in an update from our partners at the UVM Foundation.

We have a new name for our College of Medicine, in honor of a native Vermonter who, at age 98, still aspires to change the world for the better.  Once again, we offer our profound gratitude to Dr. Larner for a gift that will fundamentally transform the way our college of medicine students learn.

Over the summer we completed the annual presidential review, which offers us both an opportunity to provide feedback, but also to shape our shared objectives for the future.  I am pleased to report that President Sullivan received an excellent performance review, and that he retains the board’s full and enthusiastic support. 

I would like to thank all trustees, but especially the annual review subcommittee members, for their input.  As this is President Sullivan’s fifth year in the role, we will soon be initiating a five-year comprehensive review, consistent with our board’s Presidential Performance Review Policy.  This review will be extensive, and will include input from a very broad range of University and community leaders who have worked closely with President Sullivan.

A few weeks ago trustees and senior leaders gathered for our annual board retreat.  We spent a considerable amount of time on the broad topic of academic excellence, what it means, how we measure it, and how we celebrate it.  As you know, President Sullivan and Provost Rosowsky set forth several academic excellence goals in the strategic plan that was endorsed by our board in 2013.  We commend the faculty, the academic deans, and Provost Rosowsky for your dedication to improving the academic experience of our students, encompassing teaching, research, and advising.

As a community, we are learning to celebrate the achievements of our faculty in new ways, such as UVM Inquiry and the new faculty achievement display in Waterman.  Our board is looking forward to continuing to seek appropriate and informative means of measuring and improving academic progress and outcomes.

In August, UVM welcomed to campus the class of 2020, which, in the words of Provost Rosowsky, is “the highest achieving, and most academically talented class in UVM’s history.”  In 2016, a record 39 Vermont high school students who earned Green and Gold scholarships for being at the top of their class have chosen to attend UVM.

UVM is becoming more selective; in an increasingly competitive world of higher education, that is a profoundly positive development.  We can become more selective while preserving the values and culture of our University, and protecting our commitment to Vermont students; these are not mutually exclusive goals.  By strengthening the academic standing of this University, we can in fact deliver more value to those Vermonter students who choose to attend UVM.

Over the last twenty years, the number of UVM undergraduate students who are from Vermont has declined relative to the overall number of students at UVM, from slightly in excess of 40% to slightly below 30%.  There are two principal reasons for this change.  The first is that UVM’s student body has increased by approximately one third during this time. In contrast, there has been little growth in the number of Vermont high school graduates, a population that in fact has been declining for nearly a decade.  This increase in overall enrollment was a strategic decision and has provided greater financial resources for the benefit of all students.  The second factor is that the percentage of admitted Vermont students who choose to attend UVM has declined slightly over time.

Importantly, UVM’s commitment to admitting all qualified Vermont students has remained steadfast.  On average over the last twenty years, UVM admitted 21% of all Vermont high school graduates.  This rate varied from a low of 17% in 2000 to a high of 24% in each of 2012, 2013, and 2014.  I know firsthand the benefits that UVM can provide to Vermont students, and I can assure you that our commitment to Vermont students remains strong.

Finally, I would like to extend congratulations to a UVM employee who reached a special milestone over the summer.  Corinne Thompson, who does an outstanding job managing our board, celebrated her 30th anniversary with UVM.  Corinne, on behalf of the entire board, congratulations and well done.

This concludes my chair’s report.

Last modified October 21 2016 02:54 PM