University of Vermont

University Communications

'Intelligence Plus Character'

UVM community strives to answer King’s call

UVM staff with hats, scarves, mittens, food donations
The campus "shares the warmth" with a clothing and food drive to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., January 21-25. (Photo: Sally McCay)

“The goal of true education,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., is bigger than the most ambitious intellectual pursuits. Intelligence, he believed, must be built alongside character. It is a principle the university aims to live by through “Our Common Ground” values statement, notes chief diversity officer Wanda Heading-Grant, “not just around holidays and birthdays.” Even so, honoring the legacy of the great civil rights leader is an annual rite affirming the vibrancy of his message on this campus.

Inspiration will come this year from a keynote address by renowned Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, director of their W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. But it will also come from the campus at large, from students and from the recycling team, from Human Resources and from the individuals who will contribute to the weeklong “Share the Warmth” campaign, people who respond to an often repeated quote of King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

While Human Resources has used the occasion over the years to sponsor a food drive, the Department of Student Life will join them this year (always with the support of the Chief Diversity Office) in a clothing drive, asking for donations of new hats, mittens, gloves, scarves and socks, along with nonperishable edibles. Five drop-off locations (see below) make giving convenient -- and UVM’s recycling team has volunteered to collect and bring items to the Martin Luther King Lounge and later help distribute them to the Sara Holbrook Community Center, the Milton Family Community Center and the Salvation Army.

Rodman Cory, communications strategist in Human Resources, is thoughtful in considering why, as a group, HR has stayed committed to this project: “We believe that the MLK service projects are congruent with the vision and values of the university,” he says, “and we have a heart to model that vision and those values whenever possible. Developing community and bringing others on board to do the same gets at our core values as a department.”

Competitive giving

To get students charged up for the drive, Cornell Woodson, a graduate student in Higher Education and Student Affairs who has been working closely with Heading-Grant, explains that student groups, from athletic team club sports to Greek Life to SGA-sponsored clubs are being challenged to gather the most donations – which will be counted and weighed at the end of the week. The winner, Woodson says, will be awarded $250 for their group, along with playful trophies (shaped like a mitten?) for winners and runners up.

It’s an opportunity to inject a competitive spirit into the project, but SGA President Connor Daley admits he was a little surprised by the incentive. “The undergraduates I know,” he says, “have such a strong and passionate history of public service and engagement I think most students will get involved because it’s what they do. It’s a chance to reach out – it’s really powerful.”

These are words to make all of those at UVM who work to foster King’s spirit here know they are doing a lot of things right.

As Heading-Grant relates one of her favorite quotes from King, “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve…. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King Celebration, Education and Learning Week Schedule

  • “Share the Warmth” campaign, Monday, Jan. 21 to Friday, Jan. 25. Donations may be dropped off throughout the week at the Davis Center Atrium, Given/Rowell Brickyard, Waterman Building (College St. entrance), Patrick Gym lobby and the Fireplace Lounge area in the Living/Learning Center.
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. keynote speech, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Ira Allen Chapel. Free and open to the public, though tickets are required and available as follows: Starting Monday, Jan. 14, tickets will be offered to UVM students, faculty and staff (one per UVM ID); starting Friday, Jan. 18, tickets are open to the general public (one per person). Tickets will be available at the Davis Center, 3rd floor information desk; Patrick Gym, athletics ticket office (top level lobby); and Waterman Building, Registrar’s office 3rd floor student services kiosk. (Please note that the athletics and Waterman locations will be closed Monday, Jan. 21.)
  • Commemorative ceremony, “Voices of Many: Our Community,” featuring Rev. James Forbes, senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City and president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, and a special performance by the SUNY Plattsburgh Gospel Choir, Thursday, Jan. 24, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Ira Allen Chapel. Free and open to the pubic.
  • In partnership with the Flynn, performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Friday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m. at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $10 per person with UVM ID (one discounted ticket per student and two discounted tickets per faculty/staff member) at the FlynnTix regional box office lobby window at 153 Main St. in Burlington. Tickets for those outside of the UVM community are $15 to $42.