University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Plans to Lead by Design

Release Date: 05-15-2007

Contact: University Communications Staff
Phone: (802) 656-2005 FAX: (802) 656-3203

Faculty, staff, students and community and business members crowded the North Lounge of Billings on April 30 to participate in a three-hour, brainstorming session of "Envisioning UVM of the Future: UVM 2020." The event initiated a phase of planning that will culminate in a major grant proposal to the Lewis Foundation, aimed at making UVM a global leader in sustainable design and integrated, environmental problem solving.

President Daniel Mark Fogel opened the session, saying that UVM intends to become “a clarion voice in the crisis our planet finds itself in.” He praised UVM’s “very engaged students and very engaged community.” He was followed by Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, who described Burlington as “an environmental city” that seeks a stable economy and a good working relationship with UVM.

Ben Cohen, of socially conscious Ben and Jerry’s fame, addressed the group, telling students to make their opinions heard and telling all to be aware of “institutional lag. … ‘It can’t be done,’ only means it hasn’t been done before,” he said. Many thought Ben and Jerry’s would fail if it attempted to be profitable and help the community, he said. “We proved it was not true.”

In an open session, participants quickly offered more than two dozen ideas for the small-group discussions that would follow. Many suggestions made connections to the wider community, including issues of growing and distributing food locally; carbon neutrality; zero waste policies; power from renewable resources; and wildlife corridors. Other suggestions, among many more, related to flexibility in faculty assignments and curriculum and additional graduate programs.

Among the ideas surfacing in brief reports at the end of the small groups: Turn food waste into energy; create incentives for students to use their own reusable plates, cups, utensils; UVM should be the organizational center for the local foods movement; shift to zero emissions power products; retrofit buildings (Aiken a model); unleash student resources on sustainable projects and offer academic credit for their work.

The Leading By Design task force (faculty, staff, and graduate students) guiding the planning also is seeking input from the community via a survey posted on the group’s Sustainability website, where you can read more detail about the ideas that emanated from the April 30 conference and from emailed suggestions. Community members can also email the group at