UVM In Brief
McCullough to grads: You are American history.
Historian David McCullough, two-time winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, looked across a sea of faces at Centennial Field on May 19. Graduates and faculty were assembled on the field in caps and gowns, thousands of family and friends sat in the bleachers behind them, bundled on a chilly morning.
its true that were judged by the company we keep, then today
we are all over the moon, McCullough said, opening his commencement
Class of 2002 numbered 2,200 graduates representing thirty-eight states
and twenty countries. The company they kept included an impressive group
receiving honorary degrees: Jennifer Berger Stanley 68, environmental
protection advocate and philanthropist; Victor Swenson, longtime director
of the Vermont Council on the Humanities; W.C. Heinz, journalist and novelist;
and Edward J. Feidner, UVMs first professor and director of Theatre.
who received an honorary doctor of laws degree, told the graduates, No
one is self-made. It is the help, guidance, and inspiration of others,
or that book someone puts in your hand that can change your life.
a talk that centered on the myriad choices in our society, McCullough
said, You can choose to give back to society, to do your part, to
be a good citizen, to work for the good of society. Lets not forget,
please lets not forget, that were at war. And were at
war with an enemy who is violently opposed to anything like freedom of
thought, freedom of religion, freedom of choice who believes and
will fight to the death for enforced ignorance.
As his speech drew to a close, the author who has chronicled American lives from Harry Truman to John Adams to the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge, reminded the graduates, You, you are American history. And the world needs you. Make no mistake.
not content to be caretaker interim
down at a bright gaggle of knee-high tulips in the Engelsby House gardens
a few days before commencement, Interim President Edwin I. Colodny reflects
on a year spent leading the university.
been wonderful, he says. Even more exciting than I thought.
a lawyer and former CEO of USAirways, took the job convinced that the
university could not afford a caretaker president as it sought its permanent
leader. Higher education, he believes, is too competitive for even a year
of stasis. The most dramatic example of Colodnys efforts to push
the university aggressively forward came May 10, when trustees approved
a $120 million bond issue, UVMs largest ever. The borrowing will
pay for a total expansion and rehabilitation of an aging residence hall
system. It also will help to renovate Perkins Geology Building and fund
the initial planning of a new student activity center.
university is starting to feel more positive about itself and its future,
he says. Theres certainly a far better sense of stability,
and a sense that the university is taking the initiative to improve across
also worked with Interim Provost John Bramley to simplify a tangled web
of colleges, schools, and departments to better focus academic offerings
and strengthen key departments. And he brought his diplomatic savvy to
lobbying Vermonts legislature to protect UVMs budget appropriation,
winning an increase at a time when many state programs were cut. The 75-year-old
even served as an unlikely executive concert promoter, helping to facilitate
a student-led, substance-free Spring Fest.
After a fast-paced year of meetings, speeches, and chatting with students on the Green, Colodny still appears ready for more. He says he has relished the opportunity to assist an institution he admires and become reacquainted with Burlington, his hometown. I want to stay involved in Vermont, he says. When I go back to Washington now, I cant wait to leave and come back here.
The School of Natural Resources has received a $1 million federal appropriation to spur research in forest management and land stewardship in the 26-million-acre Northern Forest. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D. Vt.), who was instrumental in securing the appropriation, called the forest one of the countrys great regions and noted, We need to have the basic research in hand to develop sound policy to balance what are often competing interests.
New trustees joining the UVM board this year include alumni Robert Cioffi 90, Carl Lisman 67, Raymond Pecor Jr. 61, and medical student Seth Podolsky 95. Bruce Lisman 69 has been reappointed to the board to fill the vacancy left by Karen Meyer 70, who resigned as a trustee upon accepting the post of executive assistant to the president at UVM. Dean Maglaris 67 succeeds Lisman as board chair for the next year, and Martha Heath, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives, will serve as vice chair.
student Marisa Debowskys calculus class was on to her. Word
on the street is youre nineteen years old, one of the undergrads
said, mock serious as a Hollywood private eye. Partial credit. Shes
eighteen to be precise, as mathematicians generally are about matters
Truth be told, Debowsky would rather not talk much about her age. If you sat next to her on an airplane, shed probably give you her thirty-second spiel. Began college at age 13 in an early admission program at Virginias Mary Baldwin College. Collected her bachelors when her peers were lining up at the DMV for learners permits, and began to work on graduate level research and coursework at UVM as a 17-year-old. Or you might just get a white lie that makes years and education jibe with expectation.
admits that it was fun for about six months when she started college and
everyone wanted to do a story on the littlest freshman. Shes relieved
that, with the exception of the occasional campus journalist bent on a
catchy lead, most people at UVM have quickly gotten over her youth and
gone on to more important matters. The shock is short, she
has always been it, Debowsky says, but she recalls a teacher,
Mrs. Benjamin, and a challenge, dividing by zero, that stoked her passion
for the intellectual gymnastics of theoretical mathematics. Unwilling
to believe that one cant divide by zero, Debowsky set out to prove
it possible. Finally accepting that it wasnt going to work, she
turned her attention to proving it impossible. That took up all
of third grade, Debowsky says.
recommendation of a Mary Baldwin College faculty member brought Debowsky
to UVM for her graduate study, in particular to work with Professor Dan
Archdeacon in the field of graph theory and combinatorics. Shes
already submitted two papers for publication.
also excels at music. Growing up in Manhattan, she studied classical voice
and piano, then carried a dual major in math and music theory, minor in
piano, at Mary Baldwin. At UVM, she recently won out in the highly competitive
auditions to make the Cats Meow a cappella group.
After receiving her masters this spring and shifting to doctoral work at UVM, Debowsky looks forward to the fine day when she has been the youngest grad student, youngest post-doc, youngest professor, and discovers herself to be the senior member of the faculty. O, to be old.
the clutter of books and houseplants in Leonard Perrys Hills Building
office, a world map bristles with push-pins. Thirty-eight pins for thirty-eight
countries denote e-mails the Extension professor has received from fans
of his Perrys Perennials website. An Australian horticulture
student praises the plant identification accuracy and thoroughness, an
urban forester from Illinois applauds his mixed media approach, a Massachusetts
teacher vows to use the site as a course resource, a woman from Cape Cod
exclaims, Its things like this that make UVM seem even more
Indeed. In the years since Perry launched his site in 1995, it has grown in both content and fame with a vigor that only a gardener can truly appreciate. And even the technologically challenged can appreciate the professors vision in jumping on the web early, one of the first UVM faculty members to do so.
expertise parlaying course work, research, and international garden tours
into accurate and lively web content is key to his sites success.
And theres also the sheer depth of the beast created by a man who
collects gardening website URLs like Vermont gardeners collect daylilies.
There were more than 250 links on the site at last count. I have
no space limitations its almost out of hand now, he
says, grinning widely and peering into his computer screen.
years ago the London Financial Times named Perrys Perennial
Pages one of top Internet gardening sites. In 2001 Good Web Guide
to Gardening in the United Kingdom listed the site as one of the hundred
best available for gardeners. The March 2001 issue of the French e-zine
ijardin.com called Perrys website un de grands monuments dinternet.
And several other sites such as the Duke of URL, 50+ Friends Club and
Infography Superlative Site have made it among their top picks.
many who visit Perrys site typically search deeply into the wealth
of information, which includes everything from online profiles of 198
perennials to the lark of home-grown crossword puzzles in the Perennial
get hits from really high-end growers who love to play the games and see
how much they know, says Perry. Its fun, its educational.
Some people like doing crosswords. I like writing them. While Im
on vacation, I get out my garden catalogs and I make up games.
van Berkum, owner of Van Berkum Nurseries in Deerfield, New Hampshire
is among the converted. I do enjoy the puzzles. I just love the
interaction. I rarely get time to just browse the web, but in winter I
go to Leonards website. I dont always know the answers, but
I learn so much trying, says van Berkum.
And about the man behind it all, she adds, Face it, Leonards a techno-nerd, and hes just great.
To surf: http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/ perry/index.html
grant boosts neuroscience work
the Given Building, a pharmacologists research could lead to new
cancer-fighting drugs. Over at Dewey Hall, a psychologist works to further
understanding and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And in
her Marsh Life Science Building lab, a biologist explores the biophysics
behind our sense of smell. All of these diverse endeavors scattered across
the UVM campus fall under the umbrella of neuroscience, the study of things
neural or brain-related, which for years has been an area of research
focus at the university.
that focus will be even sharper. A recent $11 million, five-year grant
from the National Institutes of Health promises to unite, promote, and
coordinate the neural and brain-related work by creating a Center
has been a strength on campus for a long time but it has been a very diffuse
strength across the campus, says Rodney Parsons, co-director of
the new COBRE program and chair of anatomy and neurobiology. This
grant has allowed us to form an infrastructure that ties neuroscience
across the campus by bringing together the different areas that neuroscience
Forehand, co-director of the program and professor of anatomy and neurobiology,
adds, To have physicians who understand how research operates and
basic scientists who understand the important questions in clinical neuroscience
increases the infrastructure to improve human health.
also means things like a fully-equipped cellular and molecular biology
lab and a state-of-the-art microscope that allows scientists to study
live cells at extremely high resolution. The grant will also boost communication
among scientists with programs such as a neuroscience seminar series,
and funding to facilitate medical students research opportunities
in the field.
aspect of the centers work is bringing together neuroscience researchers
from across the university by funding five independent projects for junior
investigators, currently three from the College of Medicine and two from
the College of Arts and Sciences.
The promise of their work earned funding support from the center for George Wellman, assistant professor of pharmacology; Anthony Morielli, assistant professor of pharmacology; Matthew Rand, research assistant professor of anatomy and biology; Rona Delay, assistant professor of biology; and William Falls, assistant professor of psychology.
The novel is not my natural form. What I have a natural aptitude for is writing short stories; a novel for me is a kind of unnatural act. But Ive found a way to make it happen.
Huddle, professor of English, author of the novel
Ag and Life Sciences celebrates alums achievement
In May, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences honored a diverse circle of alumni from one of the nations top golf course architects to a best-selling author to leaders in the academic ranks.
Miriam Nelson 83 and George Osol G78 81 received the colleges 2002 Outstanding Alumni Awards. Nelson, director of the Tufts University Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition, is internationally known for books such as Strong Women Stay Young and the newly released Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis. Osol is a professor and research director of UVMs Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology where he has earned an outstanding reputation as both teacher and researcher.
Michael Hurdzan G69 74, winner of the 2001 Outstanding Alumni Award, was also on hand to belatedly collect his honor in person. It has been a big year for Hurdzan, who was selected as 2002 Golf Course Architect of the Year by Boardroom Magazine. For a past Vermont Quarterly profile of Hurdzan: http://uvmce.uvm.edu:443/vtqtr/vqsp/ Featsprng3.htm
The College of Ags 2002 New Achiever Alumni Award went to Carol Rudd Lauzon G91, a Department of Biological Sciences faculty member at California State University-Hayward. Lauzon has built an international reputation for her pioneering work in microbiological entymology and is at the forefront of research to eradicate pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly.
Spring Fest 02 blossoms
ushered in a new April tradition with Spring Fest 2002 three days
of music, lectures, and special events designed to bring the student community
together. It was no accident that the new initiative coincided with and
countered the annual 4/20 Day, a smoke-in/pro-marijuana demonstration
staged at UVM and other U.S. colleges and universities.
fest began to take form at the Student Government Associations September
retreat, according to student senator Katie Elmore. We were motivated
to provide a positive alternative to 4/20 Day and continue our work building
community on campus, she said.
student groups contributed to making the weekend happen. Highlights included
a lecture at Ira Allen Chapel by film director Spike Lee. Funding for
the campus appearance by Lee, creator of films such as Do the Right Thing
and Malcolm X, was a gift of the Class of 2002.
The next day Vida Blue, a band featuring Phish keyboardist Page McConnell, headlined the Spring Fest concert on the Bailey/Howe Green. Event organizers made it clear that the show was substance-free with a strong security presence to back it up. All went smoothly with the approximately 1,500 who took in the show on the chilly Saturday afternoon, showing promise that next April will bring Spring Fest 2003.