The Latest From Burlington
Shedding Light on Watersheds
Where land use meets resource management
photograph by Sally McCay
A place where the strip malls of Shelburne Road bustle less than a half-mile
from the calm of Lake Champlain, Chittenden County, Vermont, circa 2003,
would seem to present a unique subject for a scientist focused on the
myriad dimensions of watershed management.Yes and no, says Breck Bowden,
who joined the School of Natural Resources faculty in August as the first
professor appointed to the Patrick Chair in Watershed Planning and Science.
Yes, Vermont is ripe with the opportunity and the need to explore how
development trends impact the values we associate with watersheds. But
no, the problems certainly arent unique, says Bowden, who brings
an international perspective to his work. Most recently, he headed up
a watershed research program for a government institute in New Zealand,
which focused on developing practical approaches to integrated management
of water resources. Many communities here at home and overseas
are struggling to balance economic prosperity, community values,
and environmental resources, he notes. Vermont can learn plenty
from the failures and successes of other places, just as the collaborative
work of UVM researchers, resource managers, and community activists will
find application in other far-flung landscapes.
When Bowdens appointment was announced in February 2002, it was
the second coup in a matter of months for the universitys School
of Natural Resources. December 2001 marked the announcement that a team
of University of Maryland research scientists led by Professor Robert
Costanza would relocate to the University of Vermont as the Gund Institute
for Ecological Economics. Bowden, the Gund scientists, and other faculty
in the School of Natural Resources share a broad-based, cross-disciplinary
approach to tackling the complex environmental challenges ahead.
My research point of view has developed from having studied the
impact of individual land uses on individual resources for instance,
the impact of plantation forestry on water quantity, Bowden says.
That type of research is absolutely necessary and provides a firm
foundation for a new research and management perspective that focuses
on better understanding the integrated impact of multiple land uses on
multiple resources. He continues, Immediately when we start
thinking about multiple and interacting land uses, we have to bring in
the human dimension how do these interactions affect people and
how are they affected by people.
a multi-faceted approach requires collaboration, of course, and the possibilities
at the university and in Vermont were among the draws that brought Bowden
back to the United States and to the new Patrick Professorship at UVM.
He and the Gund scientists found each other quickly, and have a proposal
on the table to produce what Bowden describes as a planning and
management crystal ball. He says, Weve proposed to develop
a toolkit that will allow resource managers, policy makers, and community
members to gaze into the future to see what you might expect to happen
environmentally, economically, maybe even socially if you follow different
development pathways defined by specific policies and regulations.
Bowden notes that while it is notoriously difficult to predict what people
or ecosystems will do in the future, the effort to do so is worthwhile
if it creates essential dialogue. We could have a picture of a possible
future fifty years down the road, so people could look at it and say Gee,
I dont want my world to look like that. What could I do to change
the likelihood that things will turn out that way?
Beyond future partnerships with the Gund scientists, Bowden sees opportunity
to work collaboratively within the School of Natural Resources, across
the university, and with state agencies and groups focused on Lake Champlain
UVM students are an important part of the community Bowden is eager to
meet. Honored as an outstanding teacher during a decade on the University
of New Hampshire faculty, Bowden hasnt been in the classroom lately
as his New Zealand focus was on research. I hope I havent
lost my touch, he says, smiling. Ive missed the involvement
with students, the one-on-one mentoring and working with students in research.
If I wasnt fully engaged as a teacher, I wouldnt be fully
engaged with my work at the university.
Chairs Help Faculty Excel
The $9 million bequest received by the university from the Genevieve Patrick
estate in 2000 marked the largest private gift in UVM history. The universitys
ability to bring Professor Breck Bowden to the faculty is due to one aspect
of that gift, $1.5 million designated to create the Patrick Chair in Watershed
Planning and Science, the first endowed chair in the School of Natural
The creation of endowed chairs is a key way a university deepens the quality
of its faculty, particularly by targeting academic areas that match institutional
priorities and societal needs. As UVM continues to build its reputation
as a first-rank institution for study of the environment, the endowed
chair focused on watersheds fits well with current strengths and future
Significantly boosting the number of endowed chairs will be a priority
as the university gears up for a comprehensive fund-raising campaign.
No one knows what that can mean for faculty better than Bowden, the universitys
newest endowed chair. Its a tremendous honor, he says.
It gives me the freedom to think about the issues that Ive
been charged to think about and a level of visibility that helps to get
the work done.
Green and Growing
UVM is a leader among eco-aware campuses
by Jeff Wakefield
art by Suzy Legault
The living room of student John Orrs Burlington apartment is crowded
with the stuff of an environmentalist. A natural waste- water treatment
system called a living machine perks away quietly in one corner, its plumes
of vegetation streaming into the middle of the room. A large solar panel
leans against the wall.
But the junior civil engineering majors pride and joy is parked
outside on Handy Court a 1985 diesel Mercedes 300. Its not
that Orr covets power symbols from the greed-is-good decade; its
the diesel engine hes interested in.
With the help of Scott Gordon, an assistant professor of chemistry, Orr
and several friends worked through the fall semester to launch a bio-diesel
business that they hope will supply fuel for UVMs fleet of bio-diesel
buses and, eventually, the community.
Orr is one of a growing number of students, faculty, and staff at UVM
and across the country interested in turning colleges and
universities into showcases of green technology. UVM is a leader in the
national trend; several of its demonstration projects, including the bio-diesel
buses and the solar array on the roof of the heating plant are featured
prominently on the National Wildlife Federations Campus Ecology
Two new projects solidify the universitys position at the forefront
of the campus green-up trend a just completed inventory of UVMs
greenhouse gas emissions comparing emissions in 1990 and 2000 and a wide-ranging
assessment, called Tracking UVM, of the universitys environmental
impact across a spectrum of categories.
While demonstration projects like the bio-diesel car and buses are important
undertakings because they model whats possible its
just as important to take on the tough assignment of measuring environmental
impacts, according to Stephanie Kaza, associate professor of natural resources
and co-chair of UVMs Environmental Council. Only a few colleges
and universities have had the gumption to put together comprehensive report
cards like UVMs, Kaza says.
You have to do these kinds of baseline audits to see whats
really happening, she says. Then you can begin to transform
The universitys grades are mixed, an outcome that was surprising
in some ways but ultimately constructive, says Gioia Thompson, coordinator
of the Environmental Council, who managed data collection for both reports
and wrote Tracking UVM.
Thanks to efficient new technologies and cleaner sources of electricity,
greenhouse gas emissions at UVM increased only 2 percent over the 1990s,
a relatively positive outcome compared with other institutions and communities.
Burlington, for example, saw a more than 20 percent increase over the
But the Tracking UVM report showed UVMs environmental footprint
has grown heavier in a number of areas, including where the university
takes pride in its eco-friendly programs. Despite a model recycling program,
for example, the university is producing more trash today than it did
in 1996. And electricity use has grown significantly since 1990
by 23 percent in spite of intensive efforts to install efficient
Thompson notes that these numbers mirror national trends, emphasizing
the fact that the university is not an island. We operate within
the culture and standard of living of the U.S.
Laughter in the Halls of Academe?
Amid the neon collage of hooded Mexican wrestlers, Zapatas, and the Virgin
of Guadeloupe decorating anthropology Assistant Professor Luis Vivancos
door, there is a cartoon that he thinks neatly summarizes one of his disciplines
Its a Far Side and you just see these long-legged giants
from the knees down, and there are these little tiny anthropologists in
the foreground, and they say, Maybe they will worship us as gods.
Thats my little jab at the arrogance of anthropology, he says.
Welcome to the world of UVMs faculty doors, where political slogans
coexist with paper abstracts, and Calvin and Hobbes and the Far
Side keep right on going, even if their creators didnt. Aimed
at waiting students, passing colleagues or no one in particular, the clips
and cartoons bedecking their doorways both celebrate and satirize academic
life, serving as the ivory towers sardonic wallpaper.
Take Margo Thompson, professor of art history. Her door, thanks to some
enterprising students, comments on her work with a pair of Calvin and
Hobbes strips. In one of them, Calvin proposes to sign and then sell
Hobbes a snowy landscape as a work of conceptual art. The tiger declines,
citing a conflict with his furniture. Calvin rejoins, The problem
with being avant-garde is knowing who is putting on who.
Thompson, though a fan of the strip, usually decorates her door with exhibition
postcards. But she has enjoyed making an exception. I believe my
first-year honors students may feel that I may take art history a little,
well, seriously, so I told them I would put up the cartoons and I did,
Gregory Gause, associate professor of political science, also displays
a sketch that lampoons one of his fields of interest. In a photocopied
frame labeled Pitfalls of Near Eastern Studies, Part I he
presents a clipping from The New Yorker.
A schlumpy guy and a rather fetching woman are standing in front
of an apartment door, Gause explains, and the woman tells
him, I would say you should come up, but I need time to digest what
youve told me about the Ottoman Empire.
Other faculty dont go in for satire, preferring strips that embrace
what they do. Malcolm Sanders, lecturer in physics, decorates his door
with an old clipping from For Better or For Worse, a family strip.
A child is asking his mother for help with a complex word problem that
involves a package heaved over the bridge. She refuses to tackle it, and
instead wonders aloud why the person would throw a box off the bridge
in the first place. Perhaps frustrated by a challenge left unsolved, Sanders
drew a neat speech balloon with a trio of equations answering the problem.
Back at Williams Hall, Vivanco says he hopes the professorial postings
do more than while away time for students waiting to see him. I
want to decenter people with some of these clippings, he says. Thats
what we as anthropologists do, we upset the fancy table at the party.
Davisons Lasting Imprint
Standing in the center of the Coburn Gallery, with harsh winter light
pouring in through the corner windows and shadowing five walls containing
160 student prints collected over decades of teaching, retiring art Professor
Bill Davison is asked to reflect on the artwork and his career.
Well, Im not getting all teary-eyed about it, growls
the famously hard-nosed printmaker. He pauses. But theres
a certain kind of wonderful nostalgia that standing in here looking around
brings. Im very proud.
Davison will teach a course this summer, but this is his 35th and last
spring semester at the university. He is retiring in May, he says, to
devote myself to having uninterrupted time to make art. Last fall,
the Fleming devoted gallery space to his work (another show of Davisons
work opens at Burlingtons Firehouse Gallery in late April); this
semester he wanted to show off his students. So he spent three or four
days vetting the 1,100 or so pieces he has collected over the years as
he reviewed his printmaking students final projects.
Compiled together in the gallery, they are a testimonial to the variability
of major printing techniques, decades of student interests, changing art
fashions, and a teacher with an appreciation for wit and verve.
The thing to know about teaching printmaking is this: The equipment is
expensive and fragile, the chemicals potentially dangerous. Making a decent
print really, any print at all requires a reasonably high
level of technical facility as well as some kind of artistic vision. So
when Davison instructs his students, hes often demonstrating a subtle
technique with his hands while simultaneously explaining the process.
Its like Julia Child on TV youre talking and
using your hands, he says. Except I cant throw around
and spill stuff like she did. Ive got to handle dangerous chemicals
and try to be entertaining with 18 people staring at me.
theater of teaching, the improvisation of it, similar in its mysteries
and thousands of tiny adjustments to the process of making art, is something
Davison says he will miss when he is no longer teaching.
Its the first week of classes, and Ive already taught
six times already, he says. Id say four of those classes
were pretty good, one was brilliant, and one was just awful.
Fellow faculty and former students cut the professor a little more slack
than hes willing to give himself. Ed Owre, an art professor who
started at UVM the same year as Davison and will also retire this summer,
respects his colleagues ability to change his approach to fit the
needs of a particular class or a particular student. Bill teaches
a lot of technique, and hes very direct about it. He calls it as
he sees it, he says. But teaching art is a kind of psychology,
and he has a great feeling for the individual.
Tim Grannis 75, a Burlington jewelry artisan, praises Davisons
ability to describe what he sees to students. He has such a good
eye, Grannis says. He can just look at a piece, pick something
out, and nail it.
Students Strut Their Stuff
Juggling studies, jobs, and, for some, family needs, last fall five MBA
students in Professor Bill Averyts business policy class became
living proof of the maxim: If you want something done, give it to a busy
They received no extra credit for the months of preparation that culminated
in seven days of grueling competition against the best of their peers,
but Team UVM members say they would gladly do it again. Competing in the
Concordia University John Molson School of Business MBA International
Case competition in Montreal the oldest and largest challenge of
its kind left them exhausted yet exhilarated. It wears a
bit on personal life, says Thad Omand, who is the controller at
Hallam Associates, but it was a phenomenal experience.
Four students formed the team that faced top MBA students from 29 other
competing universities from around the world: Neil Chartier, a full-time
student working three jobs; Teresa Montemayor, a marketing manager at
IBM; Philipp von Schickfus, a full-time scholarship student from Germany;
and Omand. A fifth, Agam Sheth, a project engineer with the pharmaceutical
firm Mylan Technologies, was the alternate with the full-time job of coaching
the group during the Jan. 6-11 business bout.
For five preliminary rounds of case presentations, the UVM team impressed
judges with its abilities and team work and came out first each time,
topping fine teams from Sweden, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada.
The biggest challenge, Sheth says, was probably overcoming
the fear of the unknown.
We did not realize our potential going
into the competition, (but) after winning the first three rounds unanimously
we knew we could win the whole thing.
By the end of semi-finals, it looked like they might. UVMs was the
only American team in the final round, where contest rankings become meaningless.
You might enter as the Serena Williams of MBA-land, but you could well
be surprised by spoiler Jennifer Capriati on a very good day. UVM placed
third, behind the University of Laval and York University, both in Canada.
The point of the competition, according to Molsons dean Jerry Tomberlin,
is to bridge the gap between corporate and academic worlds,
benefiting both students and executives. Senior business execs judge each
round, assessing teams on creativity, insight, and real work applicability
of their presentations. The final case study was real an
Irish bank that had too quickly expanded globally and then retreated was
seeking to define its competitive advantage and position in a global market.
The intensity of the contest may be artificial, Chartier says,
but it mirrors the fast-paced atmosphere in most of the business
world. He adds, that it also allows the students to connect
the dots from all of their classroom experiences into a coherent solution
to the cases presented.
Rural Trauma Patients
Research by doctors at the UVM College of Medicine and Fletcher Allen
Health Care has shown that trauma victims in rural areas are nearly twice
as likely to die from their injuries as people in more urban areas. Hope
to reduce that grim statistic has driven funding for new research that
will put telemedicine technology in a Vermont ambulance on a trial basis.
A $250,000 U.S. Department of Transportation appropriation obtained by
Sen. Patrick Leahy will fund the installation and testing of mobile telemedicine
in an ambulance that services the academic medical center. This technology
allows for one-way, full-motion video and two-way audio communication
between a command center, located at Fletcher Allen, and an emergency
medical services crew inside an ambulance. It has the potential to virtually
place the trauma surgeon in the ambulance with the crew and the injured
patient en route to the medical center.
Thanks to Senator Leahys support, we have the privilege of
testing this mobile technology in Vermont, where long rides and difficult
weather conditions can complicate patient transport, says surgeon
Dr. Michael Ricci, whose roles at UVM and the hospital include serving
as clinical director of telemedicine at Fletcher Allen. Using mobile
telemedicine in trauma situations is, in fact, the tip of the iceberg.
Imagine that we virtually place a high-risk obstetrician in the back of
the ambulance with a difficult birth or a neonatologist with a sick premature
infant. Suddenly our ambulance crews will have more support when unexpected
and difficult situations arise.
a Tastier Hot Rod
Rutland fourth-grader Troy Davine unwraps a piece of Bazooka Joe, pops
the chunk of pink goodness into his mouth, chews, and asks his buddy Ryan
Browne, Hey, do you want this gum?
Gross at first glance, but the moment nicely illustrates something that
is important to know about the Edible Car Competition during UVMs
Engineers Week the vehicles may be constructed of food, but
theyre built with ingenuity and teamwork.
Ryan, in fact, doesnt want the gum and Troy is just as happy to
chew rather than give it up for adhesive. Together with their teammate
Emily Davine (Troys cousin), the boys are into the thick of building
a car that they hope will roll farther, roll faster, or at least appear
tastier than the works of 83 other teams clustered around tables that
fill the whole first floor of Billings North Lounge to Apse to
The edible car contest leads off a day full of activities that will bring
more than 500 Vermont elementary through high school kids to campus. The
occasion, of course, is the annual Engineers Week with activities
sponsored by the College of Engineering and Mathematics that work from
a spirit of fun to offer a window on the field.
Ryan, clad in a t-shirt celebrating skateboarder Tony Hawk, is clearly
a kid who likes things that roll, preferably fast. I ask him why his team
has decided to run a pair of marshmallow wheels up front and bagels in
back. Aerodynamics, he says, pointing out how the shape is
like a dragster. Right now were trying to fix the bottom.
It needs support so it will roll better. Troy has gone off in search
of another sheet of lasagna noodle.
At the other end of the table, their Rutland classmates teams #40
Samantha Cohen and Dana Nelson, and #41 Caitlin Bliss and Alexis Taylor
are hard at work on their own vehicles. Samantha takes a break
to tell me how they prepared for the competition with prototypes. Our
teachers said they wanted us to make sure we were serious if we were going
to miss a day of school to do this, she says. Alexis notes that
such preparation gave them a jump-start today. They learned that donut
wheels dont work, and this morning theyve quickly rejected
that option in favor of rice cakes.
Teachers Wendie McLaughlin G79 and Martha Welch 72 stand by,
but leave the kids to their own devices. They say that the lessons their
students take home from this day teamwork, problem-solving, and
thinking quickly are ones that apply to any career or life endeavor,
engineering or otherwise.
The university has posted its second straight year with a very significant
rise in applications to join next falls freshman class. The 10,300
applications received by the Admissions Office is up 7 percent from last
year, making for the greatest interest shown by prospective students since
the mid-1980s. The increase comes on top of the 18 percent rise in applications
the university saw last year. Admissions Director Don Honeman reports
that the applicant pool boasts quality as well as quantity. SAT scores
increased 17 points overall, with out-of-state scores rising an average
14 points and in-state scores jumping an average 29 points. More good
news: initiatives to build diversity are promising, with a 13 percent
increase in applicants from students of color.
Marion Pritchard, who saved the lives of more than 100 Jews during the
Holocaust, has been honored by Yad Vashem in Israel and by the U.S. Holocaust
Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for her heroism. UVM will present
an honorary degree to Pritchard at the 2003 Commencement on Sunday, May
18. Jon Kilik, a highly regarded film producer and alumnus of the class
of 1978, will also receive an honorary degree and will be the featured
speaker at the graduation ceremony. Throughout his successful career in
film, Kilik has been involved with projects guided by a strong social
conscience and distinguished by artistic achievement. He has worked extensively
with director Spike Lee since 1989s Do the Right Thing, and has
also been producer on films by directors such as Robert Altman, Tim Robbins,
and Julian Schnabel.
Young professors verse draws attention
photograph by Sally McCay
When youre smart, young, and brooding, the series of self-assertions
necessary to become a poet can start with plucking two books off the long
shelves upstairs at your grandparents house in Philadelphia.
They just have to be the right books. For Major Jackson, an assistant
professor of English whose first book, Leaving Saturn, is reaping accolades
and awards, they were collections of Robert Frost and Langston Hughes
that he carried in his backpack all through high school.
years later, Jacksons poems are rich in allusions to everything
from Cezanne to dancing the Cabbage Patch but return again and again to
personal themes: the streets of his hometown, gritty and otherwise; family;
jazz. And love, again and again gritty and otherwise.
They say that a poets first book is an announcement of who
you are, says Jackson, who is in his first year teaching at UVM.
Then your gaze widens.
These days, Jacksons eyes are swiveling in all directions. He was
nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award along with four other
older and better-known poets (inspiring him to say, I feel like
a bonsai in a forest of redwood), and won a prestigious fellowship
given by United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
His work, also, is turning and drawing less overtly on his life and hometown.
His current project concerns historical figures like Paul Robeson, Thurgood
Marshall, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
The attention, awards, and pieces in The New Yorker raise the stakes
over the tiny journals for which he wrote just a few years ago. Theres
a certain responsibility that comes with a wider audience, Jackson
says. People make unexpected connections. A group therapist told
me that he starts sessions with my poem How to Listen. That
poem, which finds something spiritual in a dirty patch of sidewalk, is
typical of Jacksons humanity and preferred material. It ends with
the speaker vowing to hear and identify with a street person who endlessly
combs his matted hair outside a bar:
once, I am going to ignore the
the dancing and the jukebox so I
can hear his head crackle
beneath the skys stretch of faint
Hear Major Jackson read "How to Listen at www.uvm.edu/vtquaterly/majorj.html