Community service counts for this scholarship

Entering its third year, a new UVM scholarship program that rewards students committed to community service is making a significant impact at the university and in the state.

The UVM Community Service Scholarship grew from President Judith Ramaley’s dialogue with Vermont legislators about finding ways to defray tuition costs for in-state students and also reward students for something beyond merit, looking for leadership and a community service ethic. State funding added to UVM’s appropriation got the program off the ground in 1998.

Growing from nine students that first year, there are now fifty-two community service scholars on-campus, says Diane Trono, program coordinator. Students are selected for the program based upon a commitment to community service during their high school years and are expected to continue that at UVM. In addition to maintaining a 2.5 GPA, students need to complete a minimum of eighty hours of community service during the course of the year.

Many go far beyond the requirements, though, logging as many as 150 hours of community service. That added up to more than 2,500 hours of student power at work on campus, in the Greater Burlington community, and in many cases, in students’ hometowns throughout Vermont.

Trono notes, taking that commitment back home over semester breaks is a particular focus of the program. Next spring, the community service scholars will offer up competing proposals to take the entire group of students, more than fifty strong, back to his or her hometown for a day of service.

Students in the program this year hail from towns across the state — Brattleboro, Bennington, Highgate, Barton, Rutland, Sharon, and many more. And their interests for volunteer work are just as varied as their hometowns. Nursery schools, homeless shelters, humane societies, youth centers, rape crisis centers, are just a few of the agencies and organizations that benefit from this group of UVM student volunteers.

Katherine Meyer, a Champlain Valley Union High School graduate from Shelburne, volunteered 140 hours of community service last year, taking a leadership role with the Food Salvage Program of UVM’s Volunteers-in-Action.

“We serve a lot of people each week,” Meyer says, “roughly fifty to seventy each Sunday. Food Salvage is the only warm meal on Sunday night that is offered in Burlington. I feel so lucky that I have had the privilege to understand how much I have and how much our work can make a difference in other peoples’ lives.”

Students hit the ground thinking

Typically, the toughest intellectual question new college students grapple with the day they move into the residence hall is, “To buy the loft bed or not to buy the loft bed?” No doubt many members of UVM’s Class of 2004 took that one on, but they also spent their evening considering a contemporary novel and gaining insight into the writing process from a successful novelist.

Immediately engaging new students in UVM’s academic life is what the University Seminar, now in its third year, is all about. On Friday, Aug. 25, more than 2,500 new students and their parents spent an evening with Vermont author Chris Bohjalian, whose novel Water Witches was assigned reading for the new UVM families. The discussion would continue on Sunday with smaller classes held in the residence halls and led by UVM faculty including President Judith Ramaley, Provost Geoffrey Gamble and many of the university’s top teachers.

In a special projects role with UVM’s Provost’s Office, Jane Kolodinsky, professor of Community Development & Applied Economics, has taken a lead in developing the University Seminar. “Though we have a number of new student programs within individual colleges, we lacked an opportunity for an entire new class to come together,” Kolodinsky says. “We sought to develop a stronger sense of the entire UVM community and also sought to set a proper academic tone right from the outset.”

The first year of the program centered discussions around the film Koyaanisqatsi; student reviews strongly suggested that the university was onto something positive. The next year took a Vermont focus with Howard Frank Mosher’s G’67 novella Where the Rivers Flow North and the film based on the book by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven. And that Vermont focus continued this year with Bohjalian’s book, which is set in Vermont and weaves its narrative from key issues in the state, such as the balance of economic development and land conservation.

The university is considering using Bohjalian’s book as a focus again next year to begin building a common experience across classes of UVM students, says Jane Lawrence, vice provost for undergraduate education. The initiative of including parents was well received and is likely to continue as well. “Many of these parents have been involved with their children’s education since nursery school,” says Lawrence. “This is an opportunity for them to continue that involvement and for the university to spark thought and discussion around a book that raises valuable issues of particular relevance to Vermont.”

Catamount Climbers

That’s "UVM" for those of you who have difficulty reading body language. The group pictured was among ten students who did something truly remarkable with their summer vacation when they headed south to Peru’s Mt. Pisco, a challenging 18,600-foot summit in the Cordillera Blanca region. The high-altitude mountaineering trip was led by John Abbott, UVM’s outdoor program’s coordinator. Six of the mountaineers (notably, all five of the women on the trip) were able to make it to the top on the day of the summit attempt. UVM climbers are (left to right) Carter Scott, Anne Kennedy, Meg Modley, Olivia West Lemaistre, Sasha Swayze, and Matt Kuhnel. Abbott is in the early stages of planning next spring’s trip which will likely target a peak in either Alaska or Bolivia.

Chinese paintings make Fleming stop

Atraveling exhibition of Chinese art now on display at the Fleming Museum offers a rare opportunity to explore the cultural and artistic worlds of China’s Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. “Heritage of the Brush: The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Painting,” an exhibit organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, is on display at UVM through Dec. 10.

Adherence to tradition and reverence for the past were key to Chinese culture of the time and it is reflected in the work at the Fleming. The forty-four works on display illustrate the variety of formats available to the artists, who painted in polychrome ink on silk or paper.

China’s most highly regarded artists were talented amateurs, the “wenren,” who had qualified for posts in the empire’s administrative bu-reaucracy by passing an official examination in all areas of intellectual and moral knowledge. Inspired by ancient texts on painting, these “scholar-artists” revered legendary painting masters of earlier centuries and copied their techniques and subject matter.

UVM’s Asian Studies and the China Outreach programs will present numerous lectures and events on Chinese art and culture in conjunction with the exhibit. For details, contact the museum at (802) 656-0750 or check the Web site at

One Cultured Quilt

The UVM Lane Series has been bringing truth and beauty to Burlington for forty-five years. Yo Yo Ma, Beverly Sills, Bill Cosby, Marcel Marceau, and Roberta Peters are among the many and varied performing artists that have visited, thanks to the series. A one-of-a-kind handcrafted quilt celebrates this legacy to the arts and will help enhance its future. Designed and created by some of Vermont’s most skilled quilters, the quilt features signatures from more than sixty of the outstanding artists who have performed at Lane Series events. A work of art in its own right, the quilt is being raffled off to raise support for the series. To buy a chance — only 1,200 tickets will be sold at $25 each — contact the Lane Series at 802-656-4455 or

Campus, city partner in eco info project

A new website,, offers Burlingtonians the opportunity to check the latest air and water quality statistics and explore ways to get involved in improving their city’s environmental health. (And alumni farther afield who miss the city on Lake Champlain may just want to check out the view on the Waterfront Park webcam.) The site is part of the Burlington Eco Info Project, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded initiative, in which UVM joins with the Lake Champlain Basin Science Center, the city of Burlington, and the Green Mountain Institute for Environmental Democracy to publicize information on environmental issues and projects and enable residents and policymakers to share in discovery and decision-making. Burlington, one of eight cities nationwide to receive funding for the EMPACT program, has pledged by 2005 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent from the 1990 level, one part of a quest to earn a reputation as the nation’s most sustainable city.

UVM docs heroes at Logan Airport

When a newborn infant was abandoned in a toilet at Boston’s Logan Airport on May 26, the horrifying incident made headlines. Two of the heroes on the scene were Dr. Eva Aladjem and Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, physicians on the faculty of UVM’s College of Medicine. Aladjem, Tabin, and Tabin’s brother, a Harvard Medical School faculty member, were waiting for a flight at a nearby gate when they heard cries for help from the maintenance worker who had found the infant. The three doctors acted quickly to warm the newborn, who was in danger of becoming hypothermic, and rushed the boy to a nearby airplane to administer oxygen.

The mother of the child was found and arrested as she waited in line to board a flight to London. In stable condition, the infant was taken to the Boston Medical Center.

Noted & Quoted
UVM names and news in the media

• Mary Watzin, associate professor of natural resources, was quoted in the July 23 Boston Globe regarding her study of zebra mussels in Lake Champlain. Watzin and colleagues found that the invasive mussel species harbor bacteria that corrode the hulls of historic shipwrecks at the bottom of the lake.

• The College of Medicine’s Community Genetics and Ethics Project was featured in a front-page Boston Globe article on July 10. The story focused on the theological and moral questions posed by the human genome project.

• UVM zoologist Bill Kilpatrick was a guest on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” on July 5. Kilpatrick talked about the rising number of opossum sightings in Vermont, a northern migration thought to be caused by global warming.

• National Public Radio also featured the work of UVM Extension agent Rick LeVitre on the “Morning Edition” program on July 25. LeVitre has begun a pilot program to create a temporary labor force to help Vermont farmers.

Helping Vermont medical students stay in Vermont

When the UVM College of Medicine announced a major gift from the Freeman Foundation in late July, it was cause for celebration not only on campus but throughout Vermont. With a pledge of $8 million over the next four years, the Freeman funds will defray medical school tuition and encourage Vermont medical school students to remain in Vermont when they are practicing physicians.

The gift stems from concerns about a shortage of physicians in Vermont’s rural areas. Eleven of the state’s fourteen counties fall below federal standards for the ratio of primary care physicians to area residents. Federal standards consider that an adequate supply of primary care physicians should be eighty to ninety physicians per 100,000 people. The majority of Vermont’s eleven most under-served counties have fewer than sixty-seven physicians per 100,000 people. This problem is compounded by the fact that physician salaries in rural Vermont tend to lag behind those in other states, while UVM medical students tend to graduate after four years with a higher–than–average student-loan debt of $103,000.

“The economic realities of Vermont create a cycle that, frankly, discourages our graduates from practicing here because they have so much debt to pay off,” said John Evans, interim dean of the College of Medicine. “Through this gift, the Freeman Foundation has given us the tools to break the cycle.” Most of the gift — $1.6 million each year — will fund annual scholarships for medical students who are Vermonters, as well as a select group of third- and fourth-year medical students who are not enrolled as Vermont residents, but who have demonstrated special interest in practicing in Vermont’s rural, underserved areas. The Freeman gift will reduce the average student’s debt by $40,000.

More than five thousand people apply for the ninety-three seats in each year’s incoming class at UVM’s College of Medicine. Vermonters who apply are given preference for admission if they are qualified. College officials don’t expect the Freeman Foundation gift to substantially increase the number of Vermonters in the medical school — but instead to increase the number of graduates who stay in Vermont to practice.

“This Freeman Foundation gift will make medical education in Vermont more affordable — which has enormous implications for the health of Vermonters and the economics of the state,” said Evans.

New dean joins College of Medicine

In early August, Dr. Joseph Warshaw joined UVM’s College of Medicine as the new dean. Warshaw, most recently deputy dean for clinical affairs and professor and chair of pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine, is the fifteenth dean to lead the University of Vermont medical school since it was first established in 1822.

Warshaw is internationally recognized as an expert on developmental biology and medical care for newborns. He has more than twenty years experience on the Yale faculty, chaired pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for five years, and began his career with five years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.

“I am truly excited about joining the faculty of this great college of medicine,” said Warshaw. “I have known faculty and alumni from Vermont as friends and colleagues over the years, and I have always been impressed by the quality of the people at UVM and the work they do. I look forward to becoming a part of this rich tradition at the University.”