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Winter 2002


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President's Perspective

Restructuring, building support key priorities ahead

The first months of my interim presidency have been an active, challenging period for the University of Vermont, and for me personally. As we look back over the fall semester and forward to spring, there are a number of issues that continue to be a focus for the university’s leadership team.

In August, Interim Provost John Bramley and I issued a “Proposal for Enhancing Academic Quality Through Restructuring.” I am pleased that this proposal, with some modification after further consultation with our faculty, was endorsed by the Board of Trustees in October. Provost Bramley deserves much credit for his leadership on this effort. Such change is essential as we focus and enhance the university’s academic offerings, bringing them into better alignment with key strategic priorities.

A major slice of my time has been devoted to communicating with our many constituencies about the important role the University of Vermont plays in the life of the state of Vermont. I have visited with alumni, legislators, and civic leaders in Jay, Newport, St. Johnsbury, Middlebury, Rutland, Bennington, Brattleboro, and Springfield. The dialogue in these communities has given me an opportunity to tout our university’s contributions, lay the groundwork for increased private support, and generate increased support for essential state appropriations. Also, importantly, I’ve had the chance to listen and learn from the many Vermont citizens who are deeply interested in the university’s well-being.

The University of Vermont is a key economic driver in our state, a fact that is frequently overlooked. Well aware that the economic downturn is affecting our state revenues, the university leadership is being very conservative in our request for the state appropriation to be determined in the upcoming legislative session. Nevertheless, it is essential that higher education in Vermont not be allowed to lose ground during this period.

In closing, I’d like to mention my pride in the way our university has responded to the events of September 11. For our students, a generation that has never experienced a national crisis of such proportion, the impact has been deeply felt. Our faculty have responded with events that have brought meaningful debate and dialogue at a time when such discourse is essential. Our staff have been outstanding in their support of students touched by the loss of family and friends. In my comments at a September 12 observance at Ira Allen Chapel, I told those gathered that it is time to do what we do best. Truly, our community has risen to the challenge.

On behalf of all of us at the University of Vermont, my best wishes as we enter a new year.

Edwin Colodny, interim president

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