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Trustees find ‘right person at right time’ in presidential pick

Throughout UVM’s presidential search, Trustee and Search Committee Chair Bruce Lisman ’69 stressed the need for strong leadership, repeating the priority like a mantra.

With the January appointment of Daniel Mark Fogel, executive vice chancellor and provost at Louisiana State University, Lisman and colleagues made it clear they had found the skill foremost on the list of job requirements. The trustees also found a higher education leader who impressed with a career built on strong scholarly credentials, high-ranking administrative experience, deep knowledge of the machinery of a state flagship university, and a track record on many of the challenges the University of Vermont faces.

“He is the right person at the right time for our university,” said Lisman.

Fogel, his anticipation of the job ahead obvious in both words and bearing, beamed as Lisman introduced him at a welcoming reception in the Billings Apse. His resonant voice didn’t need a microphone to carry up to the students standing in the balcony. “It’s difficult to convey adequately the excitement I feel about joining the Vermont community to work and live in such an extraordinary environment,” he said.

Though Daniel Fogel has built his career as a professor and academic administrator in the Deep South, his personal and higher education roots are firmly planted not so far from Vermont — on the other side of the Adirondacks, in Ithaca, New York and at Cornell University.

The son of a Cornell professor, Fogel earned three academic degrees from the university before leaving the Northeast in 1976 to begin pursuit of his academic career as an assistant professor at Louisiana State.

Fogel quickly moved up the tenure ladder at LSU as he dedicated himself to teaching and scholarship. A published poet, Fogel’s critical writing has been centered upon late 19th and early 20th century writers such as Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf. His most extensive work has focused on Henry James, and Fogel is founding editor of the Henry James Review.

In the early 1990s, Fogel began to move toward academic administration, first as dean of LSU’s graduate college, then as vice provost for academic affairs. His administrative experience, Fogel says, has shown him that the visionary aspect of leadership and the more mundane matters of management are closely linked. “I’m convinced a person must master the operations of the university in order to pursue the vision effectively,” Fogel says.

A number of his leadership achievements at LSU could serve as a roadmap for the tasks ahead as Fogel travels north.

As LSU’s provost, he led an extensive strategic planning effort which targeted priority programs and backed them up with significant funding. Fogel was also active in LSU’s drive to increase both public and private support, including a $22 million increase in the university’s restricted state operating budget in the current fiscal year, and LSU’s highly successful first capital campaign. In addition, he led a wide-ranging effort to enhance the intellectual climate for undergraduate education at Louisiana State.

Nearly four months before he’ll arrive in Burlington to assume office on July 1, Fogel says he is taking the first steps of “listening, learning, and quiet reflection” in preparation for the presidency. In that work, he builds upon a clear sense of UVM’s strengths.

“The University of Vermont is unique in marrying its public character and its long tradition of civic engagement to the high excellence and human scale characteristic of the nation’s elite, small, student-centered research universities, among which only UVM is public,” Fogel says. He stresses that this vision, aligning UVM with universities such as Brown, Tufts, and Princeton, “must be at the center of our understanding of the identity, character, and mission of UVM whenever and wherever the university presents itself…”

To achieve that aspiration will require the ability to gather the perspectives of many and rally the support of more. The former is a skill that Fogel picked up not only in the administrative wing, but in the library as well.

“From my studies of Henry James I’ve derived a deep sense of the value of seeing all sides of any issue or set of relationships and of relishing a variety of viewpoints — an orientation that has been of great practical use to me as a university leader,” he says.

James and Fogel see eye to eye on the latter’s new home, as well. The well-traveled American novelist once opined that a sunset viewed from Burlington rivaled any in the world. For his part, UVM’s new president says, “I’m an Ithaca chauvinist, but this is more beautiful.”

UVM’s 25th President
Daniel Mark Fogel
Birth: January 21, 1948 in Columbus, Ohio.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, English, Cornell University, 1969; master’s of fine arts, poetry, Cornell, 1974; doctoral degree, Cornell, 1976.
Experience: Executive vice chancellor and provost at Louisiana State University, 1997-2002; Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, LSU, 1992-1997; Dean of the Graduate School, LSU, 1992-1997; faculty member in English, LSU, 1976-2002.
Scholarly Highlights: Editor/Founder of the Henry James Review,
1979-1995. Covert Relations: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Henry James, and other books, including A Trick of Resilience, a poetry volume.
Family: Wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel, artist and former teacher, (the couple met
as seventh graders in their junior high home room in Ithaca, N.Y.); daughter Rosemary Kimlat Luttrell, 23, teaches seventh grade English in Baton Rouge; son Nicholas Alden Kahn-Fogel, 26, first-year law student at Stanford.
For fun: Playing the electric guitar: “It ain’t high art,” he laughs, “but it feels good.” Cooking, films, backpacking.

Rebecca Aborn, Class of 2002
Tater Tots in the oven, pasta on the stove, and the work of a dozen UVM student volunteers heats up the small kitchen of Burlington’s King Street Youth Center. Outside, a hallway fills with those who have come for the weekly Food Salvage Program dinner. Created ten years ago by UVM students and staffed ever since by their successors at the university, Food Salvage is the lone charitable meal served in Burlington on Sunday nights.

Dinner’s on in twenty minutes and the line in the hall is fifty-some and counting, but there’s no panic in the kitchen. Everything is on-schedule, under-control — no small thanks to program coordinator Rebecca Aborn ’02. The senior psychology major from Scarsdale, N.Y., lugs 20-pound bags of bread, pours a legion of milk glasses, asks a friend to grease the pan for the Tater Tots, and fields questions from the whereabouts of the ladle to the ever-popular, “Do these noodles seem done to you?”

If Aborn handles work and leadership with ease, it is because, at age twenty-one, she is an old-hand here. She’s volunteered with Food Salvage since her first year at the university. Recently, that commitment earned her the Vermont Student Citizen Award, a new honor recognizing outstanding volunteerism. Sponsored by The Vermont Teddy Bear Company, the award brought $1,000 to UVM, $1,000 to the Food Salvage Program, and $1,000 (and a cap-and-gown clad Vermont Teddy Bear) to Aborn. CEO Elisabeth Robert cited Aborn’s ability to organize and lead others, as well as “her understanding of the ties that bond us with community.”

Back at the kitchen, the Food Salvage vet offers some gentle guidance to the volunteer team as they make final preparations to serve the meal. Aborn notes that at the end of the dinner, extras will be wrapped and clients will be encouraged to take them. “Be careful not to say, do you want to take some home with you, because you’ll likely get the response ‘What home? I don’t have a home,’” Aborn says.

She admits to the same mistake. The response is both jolt and reminder of why she has given nearly every Sunday evening of her college years to the Food Salvage Program. “Someone less fortunate needs an extra hand,” Aborn says, “and who am I to walk by and pretend that I don’t notice?”

Noted & Quoted
The New York Times December 26 edition featured a page-one story on UVM’s successful partnership with Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, N.Y. Thirteen students from the school enrolled in UVM this academic year, making Columbus the university’s largest out-of-state feeder school — and building greater diversity on campus.

USA Today and the Boston Globe were among the media covering a week-long basketball workshop at UVM that brought together coaches from Israel and Palestine. The event, a project of Israel’s Peres Center for Peace, began to take shape when Assistant Athletic Director Jeff Schulman ’89 attended a Peres Center conference during a professional leave in Israel last year.

Grabbing the Ring
Michael Stanton ’68 built his academic career on teaching prowess, not publishing productivity, so it is fitting that his first and last book — the coda to thirty years spent as a UVM English professor — grew out of decades of classroom questions. Sweeter still for an academic who loves both weighty British novels and pulpy science fiction is that the book is the culmination of his long love affair with The Lord of the Rings.

Stanton began writing his critical companion to the trilogy during a 1997 medical leave. When he started, he had no intention of writing a book. But when he compiled the notes and observations that he gathered while teaching the books to some 1,800 students over three decades, the mass of material far exceeded the boundaries of the study guide he had originally envisioned. The project grew, and grew some more — “I had so many questions from students over the years that got me thinking,” he says — and by 1998 Stanton began looking for an agent and writing a book proposal.

“At that point, I still had no idea that the movies were coming out," Stanton says.
His agent, and his eventual publisher, St. Martin’s Press, were better informed of the progress of the $250-million film trilogy, and arranged for Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards to come out on Nov. 19, 2001, a month before the first Rings film. The fortunate timing launched Stanton’s book into Harry Potter-esque pride of place in glitzy chain bookstore displays and made him an in-demand media guest. The sudden, late-career success has left Stanton slightly bewildered — and thoroughly delighted. “It’s been a wonderful fifteen minutes,” he says.

Stanton’s time in the spotlight may prove fleeting, but he’s certain that
the popularity of Tolkien’s epic will continue for generations. The size of its fictional universe, the richness and exuberance of its language, and the elemental power of its story, he thinks, will always attract readers.

David McCullough, acclaimed historian, will deliver UVM’s 2002 Commencement address on May 19. The author’s work includes his recent John Adams and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Truman. McCullough is also host of “The American Experience” on public television. For details, see www. uvm.edu/commencement

A 20 percent increase in undergraduate applications marks the biggest single-year jump since 1985, the first year of UVM’s Public Ivy era. The numbers won’t mean a bigger class, says Admissions Director Don Honeman, but raises the bar for those waiting on that acceptance letter.

Bob Pepperman Taylor, associate professor of political science, has received a prestigious research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH funding will support Taylor’s work on his next book, an examination of the Progressive Era (late 1800s to World War I) in the United States.

“ I was devastated and so depressed by it that I went and sat under a weeping willow tree and wept.”
Author/Actor Spalding Gray recalling the day in 1965 when his UVM Shakespeare Festival auditions earned him rather small roles.

Return of a Native Son
When Tom Vogelmann ’74 recently returned to Vermont after twenty years on the faculty at the University of Wyoming, his belongings included a box of rocks and fossils treasured since childhood. The trip would be a return to native soil for both Vogelmann, new chair of the Department of Botany and Agricultural Chemistry, and his collection of trilobites and crinoids.

Vogelmann, UVM Botany. If that seems to echo, it’s with good reason. Tom Vogelmann is the eldest son of Hubert Vogelmann, professor emeritus and former chair of Botany at the university. When Hub Vogelmann retired in 1991, he closed a 36-year UVM career that included landmark research sounding one of the first alarms on acid rain’s effect on forests.

Via nature or nurture, there was little chance Tom Vogelmann would reach adulthood without a strong interest in the natural sciences. “He was always good for opening up your eyes to things,” Tom Vogelmann says of his father. The son admits, though, that in the early part of his childhood, “I didn’t want to hear too much about plants.” Those fossils found underfoot on family hikes were another matter.

“One thing leads to another — geology, anthropology, archaeology. Ours was a family where we had a lot of discussions about science,” Vogelmann says. His brother Jim ’78 also has a doctorate in botany, and brother Andy ’84 is the family maverick with his doctorate in meteorology and atmospheric sciences.
For Tom Vogelmann’s part, it took five or six changes of major as a UVM undergrad to find his way to plant physiology. Passion found, he would go on to build his own career and reputation as a leader in the field. Vogelmann’s particular area of research is plant adaptations. He uses biophysical techniques to study photosynthesis and how plant growth and development is affected by the environment. With a smile, he suggests that his particular interest in plants’ interaction with light may have been inspired by growing up in a corner of New England where that light can be scarce.

When Vogelmann initially explored his recent career move, location was a bonus but the position would have been a strong draw if it were in Ohio, Georgia, or Utah.

“I look at the quality of this department, how we can grow and see some very exciting things on the horizon,” Vogelmann says. “The university has made a commitment to build the plant sciences — new faculty positions, early planning for a new building. It is a whole new world and a very rare opportunity.”

No small bonus for a botanist, Vogelmann finds plenty of inspiration in returning to the Vermont landscape — bare trees against a winter sky, spring peeper frogs, lightning bugs. “This place is just throbbing with life,” he says. “The West has spectacular scene-ry, but I’ve missed this incredible diversity of flora and fauna that we have here.”

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has shown signs of considering a presidential run. What would need to happen in the early stages of the campaign to create an opportunity to place the first Vermonter in the White House since Calvin Coolidge?

Political Science Professor John Burke:
Dean clearly faces an uphill challenge, one that is even more daunting than that of two other less well-known governors with presidential ambitions — Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

In 1992, Clinton benefitted from Bush Sr.’s seeming invincibility after the Gulf War. It discouraged a number of more prominent Democrats from running. Dean would need the same advantage going into 2004: no Gore, Lieberman, Kerry, or Gephardt to contend with.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter was the first candidate to really take advantage of the Iowa caucuses as a way of building momentum that then propelled him to victory in New Hampshire. Now most presidential aspirants campaign for one or two (if not three) years in Iowa. At a minimum, Dean would need a very strong showing in Iowa and a victory or near victory in New Hampshire to remain even competitive.

But two challenges still remain. One is money: it will take about $20 million to mount even a credible effort. The second is the schedule of primaries and caucuses in 2004. The Democratic Party recently approved changes that will allow states to hold them in the days and weeks right after New Hampshire. That calendar favors a front-runner not a dark horse. Dean would really need to take the country by storm coming out of New Hampshire victorious, and his opponents would need to falter in the media’s “expectations game.” Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. But so were Carter and Clinton’s quests for the presidency.

Professor Hartnett goes to Washington
As welfare reform and special education funding issues come before the United States Congress this session, the interests of the disabled will find voice on Capitol Hill through UVM faculty member and alumna Johnette Hartnett G’96 ’99.

An assistant research professor in the College of Education and Social Services, Hartnett is in Washington, D.C. through the support of a Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Fellowship in Public Policy. She’s at work in the offices of Sen. John D. Rockefeller of West Virginia, where she continues her writing and research into public policy impacts on the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Professor Susan Hasazi, who was a Kennedy Fellow in 1983 and received the foundation’s International Award in Education in 1995, has been a mentor for Hartnett since her years as a UVM graduate student. The two have joined talents to study such issues as the effect of Vermont’s Act 60 school funding law on special education or the impact of welfare reform on adults with disabilities.

That Vermont view guides Hartnett as she, in turn, helps legislators make informed decisions for the nation. “With welfare reform and the Individuals with Disabilities Act coming up for reauthorization, this is an exciting time to be in Washington,” Hartnett says. “Our legislative policy needs to be informed by practice and research. I can bring a current perspective of what’s going on at the grass roots level.”

Student team lends a hand at Ground Zero
Eleven UVM students spent a week of their winter break in New York City, where they volunteered their time and energy in support of crews working at Ground Zero. The students, participants in the first-ever Alternative Winter Break at the university, cooked and delivered breakfast and lunch to the thousands involved
in the Manhattan effort.

University offers tuition support to children of alumni victims
UVM will provide four years of free undergraduate tuition to each of the ten children of alumni who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. “I realize that this is a small gesture, but it is an important one to us here at the University of Vermont because we very much want to be of assistance in some way,” wrote Interim President Edwin Colodny in letters to the victims’ families.

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