University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Dedicates Major New Academic Facility to Senator James M. Jeffords

Release Date: 05-25-2010

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Phone: 802/656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Jeffords Hall

A crowd gathers in front of newly completed Jeffords Hall for a dedication in honor of Senator James M. Jeffords on May 22. (Photo: Sally McCay)

One of the largest academic and research facilities in UVM history -- 97,000 square foot James M. Jeffords Hall -- officially opened its doors on May 22 at a special dedication ceremony attended by university leaders, faculty and students, state and federal officials, and members of the Jeffords family. The $55.7 million building is the largest non-medical academic building to be constructed on campus since Cook Physical Science Building in 1969.

The three-story, state-of-the art research, laboratory, and classroom complex houses seven cutting-edge teaching labs and three classrooms on the first floor for undergraduate and graduate students in the life sciences. The upper two floors contain research laboratories and offices for two academic departments: Plant Biology and Plant and Soil Science, both in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

"Jeffords Hall offers students in the life sciences from across the university the opportunity to learn in state-of-the-art teaching labs and classrooms that are second-to none," said UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel. "It also significantly enhances research and teaching in both the Plant Biology and Plant and Soil Science departments, bolstering our efforts to address the most pressing agricultural and environmental issues facing Vermont and the rest of the nation."

Located east of the oval in front of the Dudley H. Davis Center along Main Street, Jeffords Hall has modern laboratory facilities that will provide high-quality experiential learning opportunities in molecular, ecological and environmental research that touch on a wide range of disciplines. Research topics that could benefit the state and region include sustainable agriculture techniques and food systems; photosynthesis and plant productivity; biological nitrogen fixation; global climate change and plant physiological responses; invasive species ecology and control; soil microbiology and chemistry; and cell wall biosynthesis and plant development.

"Jim (Jeffords) accomplished so much during his years serving the public on both state and federal levels," said Roger Allbee, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Foods and Markets. "He was a champion of the environment, education, agriculture and the dairy industry. He had passion, excitement and vision for the future, not only for Vermont but the country. This building symbolizes Jim in so many ways -- a solid foundation that cannot be easily swayed, a building that overlooks and protects the Green Mountains and open working landscape of Vermont and an example for future generations to build upon."

Supporting the new building are $10 million in state funds, $3 million in federal funds secured by Senator Patrick J. Leahy after Senator Jeffords' retirement from the U.S. Senate, and private donations that include $1 million from Vermont's Lintilhac Foundation. More than $5 million of the cost of the building went towards the expansion of the underground central steam and chilled water system, completing a loop around Jeffords Hall and connecting into the mechanical room of the Health Science Research Facility. The expanded system is part of a number of energy saving measures that has Jeffords Hall on track to receive Gold LEED certification -- a rarity among energy intensive research facilities.

"Jeffords Hall is a long-term investment that makes it possible to continue a long tradition of excellence in teaching and research in the life sciences and will benefit Vermont students and the citizens of this state," said Tom Vogelmann, professor of plant biology and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The building is expected to be a significant recruiting tool for attracting high school students interested in studying the life sciences in a state-of-the-art facility under the guidance of top researchers, he said.

Designed by architects Ellenszweig Associates of Cambridge, Mass. and Freeman French Freeman of Burlington, Jeffords Hall offers a panoramic view of much of the Green Mountain range including Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump. It also serves as a first impression of campus for those entering along Main Street who will immediately see the building's Vermont brick facade and teaching gardens.

The two largest academic buildings constructed over the past 40 years prior to the opening of Jeffords Hall were the $25 million Health Science Research Facility (2001) and Stafford Hall (1991), which now connects to Jeffords Hall so plants and materials can be transported to and from greenhouses. Additionally, UVM added an 810-bed residence hall and the 186,000 square foot student center in the past four years as part of the university's recent building expansion that has produced 1.3 million square feet of new construction and acquisition over the past decade, bringing the campus total to more than five million square feet.

"Commencement weekend is an occasion that represents a conclusion, but also celebrates new beginnings," said Sen. Jeffords' daughter Laura Jeffords, who attended the dedication. "This fantastic new academic building will lead to so many new beginnings: new research, new discoveries, new thinking, and new successes -- for students, for Vermont and for the nation. I am so pleased to join you in honoring my dad in such an important and meaningful way. I know he would tell you this building represents Vermont's past, and more importantly, its future."