UVM Honored for Peace Corps Program With Plaque and Ice Cream
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
The Peace Corps brought the plaque. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield brought the ice cream.
The occasion was a ceremony held May 14 in Morrill Hall honoring the University of Vermont for 10 years of participation in the Peace Corps' Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Coverdell Fellows attend graduate school at any of the Peace Corps' 137 partner schools. They receive an in-state tuition waiver, six credits for Peace Corps service and engage in 120 hours of community service in underserved communities.
To commemorate UVM’s accomplishment, Alicia Barerra, program specialist in the Peace Corps' University and Domestic Partnerships Office in Washington, D.C., presented a plaque to UVM provost David Rosowsky.
“I’d like to thank the University of Vermont on behalf of the Peace Corps for 10 years of a valued partnership,” Barerra said. “Thank you for helping the Peace Corps achieve its mission to promote better understanding of other people on the part of Americans,” she said.
“We’re thrilled and deeply honored to receive this recognition today, and we look forward to decades more participation in this program,” Rosowsky said.
Since UVM launched its program in 2005, 21 Coverdell Fellows, who served in 17 different countries as Peace Corps volunteers, have enrolled at UVM, performing community service at organizations ranging from Vermont Meals on Wheels and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to the Snelling Center and the Intervale. The program helps fellows build their skills, brings needed support to communities in need, and helps the Peace Corps achieve one of its key goals: enabling Americans to learn more about and better understand the cultures of other countries around the world.
After the ceremony, Greenfield -- never a volunteer himself but a longtime admirer of the Peace Corps -- dished out ice cream to a crowd that included several Coverdell Fellows and many former Peace Corps volunteers, including Fred Schmidt, former Center for Rural Studies director, who served for two years only a year after the Peace Corps was created in 1961.
Also attending were Brian Melman, manager of the Peace Corps' Northeast Regional Office and a former UVM Coverdell Fellow; Tom Vogelmann, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Jane Kolodinsky, chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics and current director of the Center for Rural Studies.
In opening remarks, Ned McMahon, a faculty member in Community Development and Applied Economics and director of UVM's Coverdell Fellows program, noted the shared ethos between UVM and the Peace Corps.
“We felt the connection between UVM and the Peace Corps was a totally natural one,” he said. “Here in Community Development and Applied Economics, and UVM in general, there is a focus on community and making the world better place and on grass roots involvement and organizing, so many things that Peace Corps volunteers embody as well. That’s been a big connection here.”
For three years in a row, the University of Vermont has ranked fifth among medium-sized colleges and universities for the number of its graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps. It currently has 29 undergraduate alumni volunteering worldwide.
In his remarks, Melman -- who called UVM's fellows program "as good a program as you're going to find anywhere nationwide" -- ticked off the countries in which UVM graduates are currently serving: Botswana, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Kenya, the Kyrgyz Republic, Madagascar, Mexico, Micronesia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Since 1961, 839 University of Vermont graduates have served in the Peace Corps.