University of Vermont

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees, Chair's Report

Deborah H. McAneny
Board of Trustees, Chair’s Report
October 2, 2015

Good morning everyone and welcome to what promises to be a busy and action packed weekend.   As you are all aware, in addition to our Board of Trustees Meeting, the Board and Leadership Council of the UVM Foundation are meeting on campus. In addition, it is Homecoming and Campaign Kick-off weekend.  So what does all this mean to us?  First, we have a somewhat condensed Board agenda ahead of us.  We wanted to free up time for the members of this Board to participate in the many events of the weekend so we elected to defer less time sensitive items until our February meeting.  Second, we have some rare and important opportunities over the next couple of days to meet and get to know members of the Board of the UVMMC and members of its Foundation as well as the UVM Foundation and its Leadership Council.  These organizations are very important sister entities and I urge you to attend as many of the scheduled events as you can and to meet the talented governance leaders of these groups.  Third, please remember to take a moment to enjoy the festivities, celebrate the generous and vital spirit of the UVM community, breathe in the energy and excitement of students, families and alumnae on campus and be optimistic about the future of this great university.

I also wanted to thank you all for your time, participation, and engagement in our annual retreat two weeks ago.  As you are all aware, we use the retreat to enhance Board effectiveness especially around long-range issues, and I hope we would all agree, to that end, it was a great success.  I would also like to thank President Sullivan, Provost Rosowsky and the many members of the leadership team for their time and effort in both planning for and presenting to the Board.  We are grateful for your clarity, wisdom, and insights and we look forward to revisiting some of these issues in the months ahead.   As always a special thank you also goes to Corinne and Erin for all the logistics planning that goes into a gathering like this and for all they do to support this Board on a day to day basis. 

The President’s Annual Performance Review was recently completed, and I am pleased to report that President Sullivan received an excellent review.  On behalf of the Annual Review Subcommittee, I want to thank this Board for the input we received in May, which informed the President’s review.  And on behalf of the Board, Tom, I want to once again express our gratitude for your leadership and all you do to advance this great university. 

One other quick update.  Over the summer, as a result of a recommendation included in the final report of the Career Services Workgroup of this Board, Trustee Carolyn Dwyer was asked to serve as a Trustee Representative on the Career Advisory Board.  The Board will continue to receive an annual progress report on the Career Success Action Plan at each fall Board meeting and Carolyn will have the opportunity to periodically report to EPIR on the activity of the Advisory Board.

Lastly and most importantly, at this meeting we will further discuss a proposed liquidity policy, which I view as the minimum amount of funds necessary to maintain solvency.  I feel compelled to remind all of us that we operate with a budget we often struggle to balance.  We have no excess dollars in the budget.  We have maxed out our established debt limits.  Our state appropriation is among the lowest in the country and while it has been fairly stable over the last few years, we have experienced declines on a real dollar basis. We cannot run this university so thin that we will risk insolvency.  If it were not for the generous private philanthropic support that we will celebrate over this weekend and continuously throughout the year, Vermont would not be blessed with this fine institution and UVM would not be the university it is today.   

To that end, I want to thank you all for your demonstrated leadership, thoughtful consideration, and generous giving to the Campaign we are about to launch.  I am delighted, proud and grateful to report to you today that we have 100% participation by this Board of Trustees in the Campaign.   As you may also recall, I challenged the other University Governance Leaders who attend our regular meetings to establish a goal of 100% participation by their respective leadership teams as well.   I know I speak for the entire Board when I say we are incredibly grateful to each of these leaders for their tireless efforts to achieve this goal.   I won’t steal their thunder but I will say I think the leadership and generosity that abounds on this campus will overwhelm you.  This weekend is all about celebrating that generosity.

As an aside, for obvious reasons, the student associations were not included in that challenge, but yesterday I was surprised and thrilled to learn that the leaders of the SGA have all participated.  I also know that both our student led organizations have led significant fund raising initiatives throughout the year for the benefit of our students and are dedicated to community service participation.  With this kind of leadership by example you will not be surprised to learn that in the last year nearly 900 current students at all levels (undergrad, grad and medical students) have made gifts to the University.  Suffice it to say, we are grateful to all the leaders in this room for the depth of your generosity, both in time and treasure. 

Last modified October 03 2015 02:08 PM