A TO Z
so you know where The Boulder came from, why Old Mill is called Old Mill,
and which Allen brother gets credit for founding the University of Vermont.
do you know what James Dean was doing with mathematical equations at UVM?
Which one of our presidents helped Emerson, Thoreau, and friends get transcendental?
Or where the university owns acres of alpine arctic tundra? Time to find
Alternative pep talk Jim Cross, hockey head coach from 1965 to
1984, led the Cats to three Division II national titles, the step up to
Division I, and filled bleachers at the once-lonely Gut. Just as memorable,
Crosss quirks his love of classical music, chess, a spirited
discussion of U.S. foreign policy, and a seventies-appropriate tolerance
for hockey players with long hair and fu manchus. In his book A Guy Named
Cross, A Place Called Vermont,
former Catamount William Koch 75 describes one of the coachs
off-beat pep talks. During a particularly critical game last season
Cross must have sensed a particular mood. The team was provided with a
ten-minute dissertation on plants as the Zamboni cleaned the ice between
periods. We learned how plants seem to respond to sympathetic people and
environments and were told about the
experiments being conducted in this connection. Not a word about hockey
all about plants.
Better Farming Special All aboard! University of Vermont agriculture
faculty took to the rails in April of 1906 to ride the Better Farming
Special, a sort of scholarly whistle-stop to get the latest knowledge
and farming techniques out to the states citizens. The four-car
train covered the Connecticut and Passumpsic valleys from Newport to South
Vernon. Seven thousand Vermonters met the professors for this visionary
venture into distance education.
Candles Nearly 1,600 candles alight in the windows of Old Mill welcomed
Professor Joseph Torrey as his boat steamed into Burlington Harbor in
1836. The students who lit them were gutsy, given that the newish Old
Mill replaced the former College Edifice, destroyed by fire
a dozen years earlier. Their relative recklessness was inspired not so
much by the joy of seeing Torrey, but rather the books and philosophical
apparatus he had in tow. Sent by university President John Wheeler
on a year-long mission to Europe, Torrey brought back a librarys
worth of books. As an instructional collection, UVMs was said to
rival Harvards at the time. And those volumes would add another
task, faculty librarian, to Torreys UVM duties, padding his paycheck
by $25 per year.
Dean Kidder A gimme. How could you catalog this place A to Z and not
find a letter for George Kidder? He was an alumnus, Class of 1922; professor,
Greek and Latin; and 20-year dean, Arts and Sciences. A lecture hall in
the Old Mill complex is named in Dean Kidders honor, and a memorial
in the hall outside the door says it best: For all of his life,
George Kidder demonstrated the values of a liberal education, a love of
learning, a critical mind and a gentle concern for people. No one has
better served his college and his university.
Exposé Eric Lipton 87 was just five years out of UVM
when he and fellow Hartford Courant reporter Robert Capers received the
1992 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism. They earned the honor
with their series about the flawed Hubble Space Telescope, illustrating
many of the problems plaguing Americas space program at the time.
But Lipton wasnt the first UVM alum to earn a journalism Pulitzer
for breaking a big story. S. Burton Heath, Class of 1926, took the 1940
reporting prize for his New York World-Telegram exposé of the frauds
perpetrated by Federal Judge Martin T. Manton, who did prison time for
Fiction Speaking of Pulitzers, you dont think were going
to pass up a chance to evoke the name of Annie Proulx, UVM Class of 1969,
who earned both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award
for her 1994 novel, The Shipping News. Yes, the movies good, but
the books better.
Gallery While painters of the Hudson River School were creating many
of their works on the other side of Lake Champlain, a number were selling
them at UVMs Park Gallery, the universitys first fine arts
museum, which was located on the third floor of what is now Torrey Hall.
Works on exhibit and for sale in 1877 and 1878 included Alfred Bierstadts
View of the Sierras, $750; Joseph Francis Cropseys Greenwood
Lake, $200; and George Inness Twilight, a real
steal at $125.
Hike The student body was much smaller, but Mt. Mansfield was just
as big when UVM students used to head to the hills en masse for the annual
Mountain Day, circa 1950s.
Inquisition Charles Lincoln Goss, an 1878 grad from Brandon, Vermont,
left behind a series of letters that document college life of his era
in a way that trustees minutes somehow cant match. Goss speculates
that one of his professors is afflicted with the belly ache which
makes him so snuffy. He laments the loss of his houseplants: The
last cold snap froze the dirt in the pots, and froze the pots to the window
sill, and came very near freezing us up besides. And he tells the
tale of campus unrest inspired by students desire to have a holiday
when city elections were held in March. Things turned nasty when students
snatched a cadaver from the medical college and set it up in the gymnasium,
leading to a presidential inquisition.
James Dean More good scholar than bad boy, UVMs James Dean was
the first person to hold the title of professor at the university, appointed
in 1809. Somewhat rebellious in his own right, Dean was enmeshed in a
salary dispute from the get-go; he refused for a number of years to accept
any pay at all. He did get busy with publishing as well as teaching, earning
the honor for first UVM faculty publication with his Alphabetical Atlas
or Gazetteer of Vermont.
Krummholz Thats the term for those weather-stunted trees you
find near the top of Vermonts mountains. Theres no shortage
of the stuff along the 400-acres of Mount Mansfield summit ridge, which
the university purchased in 1859 and now numbers among the UVM Natural
Areas. Beyond the krummholz, youll encounter the largest expanse
of arctic-alpine vegetation in the state. So, keep to the rock when hiking
this campus outpost; give the Bigelows sedge, alpine bilberry, highland
rush, and the other rare stuff a chance. Its a tough life at 4,000
Lola and George Or it could be Living/Learning. Either way, the story
of recently-retired U.S. Senator George Aiken and his wife, Lola, setting
up housekeeping in a UVM residence hall is a lively chapter in university
history. Senator (or Governor as he preferred to be called)
Aiken accepted a distinguished professorship at UVM after his 1975 retirement
from a long career in state and national politics. The Aikens came to
campus for multi-day stints of teaching and meeting with small seminar
groups. Home was a faculty apartment at L & L, and the retired couple
fit smoothly into the routines of college dorm life, standing in the cafeteria
food line with sleepy undergrads at breakfast. The Aikens liked a chocolate-chip
ice cream cone at Walters Snack Bar along with a chat about international
relations, world food production, Vermont geography, or higher education.
Mrs. Aiken said, Students were surprised that a U.S. Senator and
his wife could be approachable. I got more zip out of being among them.
They gave me their point of view and I argued with a lot of them about
Making Noise Passion, creativity, and a heady sense of freedom have
driven UVM students to protest and, in many cases, push change forward.
The university archives are full of stories of student activism
the shanty town on the Green in 1985 calling attention to South African
apartheid and urging UVM divestment; the post-Kent State mock funeral
procession of May 1970; the twenty-day occupation of the Presidents
Office in spring 1991 calling for more aggressive university efforts to
build diversity, to name a few. The stakes were more personal than political,
though, when students of the 1800s used to kick footballs through the
glass windows of Old Mill in protest of having to parade in military formation
on Memorial Day.
Nothing but Net Warming up for a January game against Northeastern
this season, sophomore guard T.J. Sorrentines shot was off. A teammate
chided him that hed better get it together there was an 11-game
win streak on the line and a full house in Patrick Gym. Clearly, T.J.
got the message and then some, throwing in 45 points, including eleven
three-pointers. The threes notched a school record and are the third most
by any player in the nation this year. Moral: a little teasing goes a
Ouch UVM freshmen and sophomores used to test their mettle in three
class vs. class scraps the fountain fight, cane rush,
and hose fight. The festivities, detailed in the 1944 UVM Freshman Handbook,
traditionally began on the Thursday before classes, when sophomores would
wait in ambush for the freshmen at the fountain. Object of the game: toss
the most guys from the other class into the water. The handbook advises,
Old clothes and rubber-soled shoes or moccasins must be worn and
it is urged that care be used. Next up, the Cane Rush held at half-time
of the first home football game. Freshman and sophomores would line-up
at the twenty yard-line at either end of the field, then sprint for a
pile of canes at midfield, seize one and try to keep possession for the
duration of the seven-minute contest. Partial points were awarded for
partial canes and, again, those rubber-soled shoes or moccasins were advised.
Finally, the battles closed with the annual hose fight. First team to
wash the other away won. Old clothes should be worn, says
the handbook. Guess the footwear was optional on this one.
Purple Prose Sure, he didnt have to endure airline food like
todays development staff, but consider the quest of a 1909 UVM endowment
officer who put in a five-month, 16,000 mile journey on behalf of
the Old U. His commitment, seemingly of near Biblical proportion, is recorded
in UVM Notes, an alumni publication of the era: Our U.V.M. is in
all the nooks and corners of our great land on its mountains, and
in its valleys; in the heart of great cities, and in the hamlets; far
out on the prairies and far away in great forests; and a voice said, Go,
find my sons and daughters, and tell them of my need, and ask for their
prayers, and some of their silver and gold. Tough man to tell no.
Quartzite Monkton Quartzite, that is. Think Billings or Redstone Campus
to picture this reddish brown stone used to construct a good deal of Burlington
and UVMs buildings in the nineteenth century. Extra credit: Visit
Redstone Quarry, a UVM Natural Area located just off Shelburne Road in
Burlington. The three-acre site boasts exposed rock faces aplenty for
your inner-geology student and a small wetland. Bonus: There is a Dunkin
Donuts just around the corner.
Roadtrip Dr. H. Nelson Jackson, a UVM alumnus, is credited with making
the first cross-country trip in a motor car. Inspired by a bet, Jackson
and a co-driver set out in May of 1903 from San Francisco bound for New
York City. In a Winton car, christened The Vermont, the pair
completed their journey in two months and nine days. Apparently Jackson
had a taste for speed as well as endurance. An October 3, 1903 news dispatch
reported: Dr. H. N. Jackson, first man to cross the continent in
an automobile, was arrested in Burlington, Vermont and fined for driving
the machine more than six miles an hour.
Seabird A negative student course review may not be as distasteful
as the dead seabird that haunted Coleridges Ancient Mariner, still
it isnt something youd want hanging around your neck. No doubt,
some wit and a recent course in the English Romantic period were behind
the naming of a UVM Student Association course evaluation that popped
up in the fall of 1970 under the title of The Albatross. Students
weighed in on a range of issues, including whether the professor under
consideration had distracting mannerisms. We wont name
Transcendental The American Transcendental movement of the 1830s and
1840s was centered around Concord, Massachusetts and flowered in the thought
and writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and their pals. But
a key inspiration for the movement came from further north in New England
in the person of James Marsh, a UVM professor who served as president
of the university from 1826 to 1833. Marsh wrote the introduction to the
American edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridges Aids to Reflection,
an essay and a volume that would have a profound impact on the Concord
Unsung Statue on the green, name on the chapel, Ira Allen gets all
the perks that come with founding a university. Poor Samuel Williams (1743-1817)
deserves just as much credit, though. A former Harvard professor, Williams
voice was as powerful as Allens when it came to convincing Vermont
citizens and the legislature of the need for a college in the new state,
yet he is largely forgotten. And, no, Williams Hall isnt named after
Samuel Williams. Where is the love?
VSTEP Youve got to love a group of students equally comfortable
picking through a dumpster on a trash audit or lobbying the
president of the university. Welcome to the way of VSTEP (the Vermont
Student Environmental Program), an initiative of the late 1980s. The VSTEPers
pushed hard for stronger recycling programs and practically institutionalized
the CUPPS (Cant Use Paper Plastic or Styrofoam) cup hooked to student
backpacks with a caribiner clip. VSTEPers have always been committed,
facile with an acronym, and armed with a sense of humor that kept stridency
at bay. Latest campaign: signs on campus bulletin boards to encourage
smokers to be careful when ditching that cigarette: Wheres
War of 1812 When the United States declared war on Britain June 18,
1812, Burlington became a center for military operations, and the fledgling
universitys building (on the present site of Old Mill) became an
arsenal and a barracks. By 1814, the powers overseeing the university
decided to suspend instruction. X
X-students At least a couple of near-miss alumni wed like to call
our own were among the students forced to transfer because of UVMs
shutting down operations in 1814. During his years at the state university,
young Thaddeus Stevens of Danville, Vermont, wrote a play that included
Wilbur Fisk among the student actors. Fisk continued his education at
Brown and later went on to serve as Wesleyan Universitys first president.
Stevens went down the road to Dartmouth to finish his degree. Elected
to the U.S. Congress in 1848, he was a powerful voice against slavery.
Yogurt If not Vermont, where? The first union of yogurt and maple
syrup, now a staple in your grocers dairy case, happened here in
the 1980s with university food scientists leading the way.
Zoo If youve negotiated the e-mail networks at UVM, youre
familiar with the virtual ark-load of animal names (moose, gnu, elk, bison,
buffalo, yak, okapi) which have described the various system hosts over
the years. Back about 1990 when the campus computing folks were pondering
what to call the new Unix system, they began with the working name critter.
When it was time to get serious, they went down the same path with moose
in honor of that critters recent return to Vermont. Other animals
followed (dont forget warthog and hamster), and eventually the whole
cluster became zoo, chosen to reflect a pleasant, friendly,
and easy-to-visit place. Well go along with that. VQ