University of Vermont

University Communications

$1 Million Gift from Alumnus Is First Major Private Gift to UVM’s STEM Project

Project will transform UVM's Central Campus in the coming years

STEM building
UVM's STEM Complex will transform its central campus in the coming years. The project has received its first $1 million gift.

A $1 million gift commitment from University of Vermont alumnus Richard W. Barrett, class of 1966, and his wife, Elaine, is the first major private gift to the largest capital project in the university’s history.

Barrett, president and owner of Union Leasing Corporation, based in Boulder, Colo., is a long-time donor to the university’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences through the family’s Barrett Foundation, also based in Boulder.

This latest gift will be allocated to design and construction costs for UVM’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) facility, a state-of-the-art complex of labs, classrooms and research facilities that will transform the central UVM campus and fulfill a promising new academic and economic development vision for UVM.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $104 million, of which $26 million must be raised from non-debt sources.

“We are deeply thankful for the generosity of Richard and Elaine Barrett and the Barrett Foundation for this gift,” said UVM president Tom Sullivan, noting that the mechanical engineering graduate is a successful entrepreneur who has been a committed supporter of UVM for years.

The couple’s prior giving has supported a 10-year-old summer research scholarship for as many as eight engineering students each summer to work with a faculty mentor on a specific research project. The foundation also funds the Barrett Professorship, currently held by College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences dean Luis Garcia, and the Dean's Excellence Fund, a discretionary fund to support CEMS teaching, research and outreach activities.

The STEM project gift will bring the total contributed by the Barrett Foundation to more than $2.5 million over nearly three decades.

“As we look toward the future for CEMS and the central campus, there is great symbolism in this first major gift to the STEM Complex from the Barretts,” said Garcia. “Fittingly, the bridge between Votey Hall and the new STEM building will be named in their honor.” The project includes extensive renovations to Votey Hall, which has been home to UVM’s engineering programs since 1962.

A major fundraising initiative to help pay for the project is under way. “This $1 million gift represents an important first step toward a transformed UVM that the new STEM facility will represent,” said Garcia.

The gift was announced at a reception for the UVM community including members of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the UVM Foundation and the Foundation Leadership Council, on the eve of the university’s annual Reunion, Homecoming & Family Weekend.