Ringing in the Year
Campus gathers for opening
From the interweaving of diversity and excellence
in academic communities to the lines of a Russian poet raging against
the sun, speakers at the University of Vermont convocation ceremony
on September 8 at Ira Allen Chapel chose diverse themes to capture the
moment and mission of the beginning of a new academic year.
This marked the third opening convocation since Edwin Colodny revived
the tradition during his interim presidency at UVM. With a address by
Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University and a leading voice
in defense of affirmative action in higher education, at the center
of the ceremony, a large crowd filled the chapel to near capacity.
In his previous role as president of the University of Michigan, Bollinger
was a party to two precedent-making Supreme Court decisions widely regarded
as victories for affirmative action. Bollingers address traced
both why and how his university sought to defend race as a consideration
in college admissions.
Before Bollinger argued how the contemporary drive to maintain diversity
within higher education is part of a modern American legacy that began
with Brown v. Board of Education,
the 1954 Supreme Court decision holding that school segregation violates
the 14th Amendment, UVM President Daniel Mark Fogels remarks expounded
on the idea that lives at the heart of the agenda we have set
for the University of Vermont: quality. Academic quality of life,
Fogel said, requires vitality, passion, intellectual liberty, civility,
and open communication. Quality, he said, is accompanied by a commitment
Inquiry lives upon discussion, on debate, on variety of points
of view, life experiences, backgrounds, and traditions, Fogel
said. The very air of the academy should be electric with difference.
He closed his remarks by introducing Bollinger, a staunch defender of
Taking his audience of UVM faculty, staff, trustees, and students through
the six-year trajectory of the affirmative action suits from their filing
in 1997 to the Supreme Court decisions this summer, Bollinger spoke
in a relaxed, conversational style, offering a glimpse of the law school
professor he once was.
Bollinger said that the suits were filed at a moment when affirmative
action was under fire nationwide, so he and his colleagues first had
to decide whether or not to fight the suit, and then what tactics to
use. The University of Michigan, of course, elected to fight.
I believe I will never again have another chance to be engaged
in work as important to society, Bollinger said of the period
where he and his colleagues mustered a defense of the role of diversity
in educational policy and marshaled allies from other institutions,
corporations, and the military.
Bollinger said that he advocated for vigorous public discussion (it
is unusual for a defendant in a suit to publicly discuss the matter)
as well as a broader defense that, while based on the admonition in
the Courts 1978 Bakke decision that non-quota racial considerations
are acceptable for educational purposes and not as a redress for past
ills, also included context on the countrys continuing legacy
of slavery and segregation. We needed a sense of history,
The Columbia president closed his talk by urging the audience to discuss
and debate affirmative action and equal opportunity anew with each class,
each generation, of students, so that they can maintain (or reject)
the role of diversity in education, and the role of racial consideration
in augmenting diversity.
After Bollinger left the podium to a standing ovation, English Professor
Huck Gutman delivered his closing reflection, reading with gusto a poem
by Vladimir Mayakovsky in which the 1920s-era Russian poet, maddened
by heat and repetitive work, confronts and ultimately reconciles with
Gutman ended with an echo of the poems final stanza that served
as advice and admonition to faculty, students and staff as they prepared
for another new semester of work: Always to shine, Gutman
said. To shine.
"Obviously Im proud of having received
the Nobel Peace Prize,
and its made my parents finally recognize that I actually
can do something meaningful on this planet. All this
anti-war stuff, helping the poor, they didnt kind of get it
Jody Williams, UVM Class of 1972, speaking at
Wesleyan Universitys commencement ceremony on May 25, 2003.
Truth, Beauty, Exit
When it came to the quarter centurys
worth of discarded student drawings he had salvaged and saved, Ed Owre
didnt have a lot of good options. The landfill was unthinkable;
cabinets in his already art-crammed house were improbable. And besides,
he wanted the work to have a life, to be seen.
So the recent emeritus professor and art guerrilla decided to create
a gallery or, rather, galleries, in the dingy corridors of the Waterman
sub-basement. The product of months of after-hour efforts huge
wall friezes composed of hundreds of student drawings affixed to the
walls with wallpaper glue opened this summer.
Starting with the basement stairs adjacent to the Waterman Café,
and continuing into the hallways near the Computer and Informational
Technology offices, the collages of drawings form three distinct gallery
spaces. Though the lighting is far from professional, a fuzzy 40-watt
fluorescent tube is one spaces only illumination, it suits the
The student drawings, Owre says, work well in a transitory hallway setting,
perhaps because most of them do not demand (or command) the attention
of a painted canvas. As the professor surveys his handiwork, he cant
resist pointing out that many museums have taken to displaying drawings
in hallways. But Owre says the basement setting is no reflection on
the quality of the artwork, which includes everything from awkward exercises
to confidently visualized pieces.
These are all good drawings, provocative drawings, he says.
The beauty of student art is that there are always more questions
Close Encounters of the Academic Kind
Research is a team effort, particularly at
a university where a lead investigator often draws on students for help
with the heavy-lifting of data management or lab work. Those students,
in turn, gain invaluable experience and opportunity that can lead to
amazing places. Look no further than the case of Jocelyn Bell, who was
a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1967 when she took a major
role in one of astronomys great moments. Bell was the first to
detect the existence of pulsars, a discovery that would earn a Nobel
Prize for Professor Anthony Hewish, who headed the investigation.
UVM Physics Professor Joanna Rankin was a graduate student herself in
the 1960s when the Cambridge discovery happened. Pulsars fascinated
the astronomical community, she says. The surprise was not
that neutron stars existed, but that they were the source of radio emissions.
She estimates that a full thousand of the ten-thousand astronomers in
the world shifted their research focus to pulsars. Rankin was among
them and still is, but her colleagues numbers have thinned. She
now counts herself as the residue of the truly fixated,
continuing to investigate the source of pulsars radio emission,
a mystery that the Cambridge scientists first speculated might be extra-terrestrial
Though the numbers of astronomers studying pulsars worldwide has slipped,
they are going strong on the fifth floor of the Cook Science Building,
where Rankin has spent the summer working with a circle of undergraduate
astrophysicists who boast a potent combination of brain power and commitment
to their pursuit. Its been a long time since Ive had
a coterie of students this passionate about astronomy, says Rankin.
The group includes Zuzana Srostlik, Stephen Redman, and Kirsten Bonson.
Last spring, Srostlik and Redman accompanied Rankin to Arecibo Observatory
in Puerto Rico, site of a gargantuan radio telescope, and a mecca to
those studying pulsars. For the students, it was a chance to gain a
deeper understanding of a research scientists life and all of
the patience, attention to detail, and focus it requires.
A little sleep deprivation in the name of science is well worth it for
Redman, a Vermont Scholar from Milton. He says that the mystery of the
skies intrigued him from a young age; less mysterious is the pull pulsars
have on him now. Its impossible to talk with Professor Rankin
and not get excited about this subject, Redman says. Pulsars
are so exotic, fascinating objects. The biggest revelation for me has
been that there are so many questions that branch off, theres
so much left to discover.
Rembrandt Etchings Make Fleming Stop
The Fleming Museums Andy Warhol exhibit
had barely closed this June when Rembrandt van Rijn, packing three centuries
of fame and counting, moved in. Rembrandt and the Art of Etching
is the latest in a string of big name shows at the Fleming featuring
artists that are going to get nods from the collector, the dilettante,
or even the guy on the bus reading The Sporting News.
The Vermont stop is the lone North American visit for this Rembrandt
House Museum traveling show, which has primarily been displayed in South
America. After it closed in Brazil, it had nowhere to go, hence, the
early stop at the Fleming, where the rare works went into dark storage
for a couple of months as the museum staff prepped for the September
opening. After the Burlington show, which runs through December 14,
its back to Amsterdam.
The heart of the show consists of 84 Rembrandt etchings and also includes
31 prints by his predecessors and followers. Fleming Museum Director
Janie Cohen says that Rembrandts name generally evokes thoughts
of his paintings a vast canvas like The Nightwatch,
the mastery of light and shadow but theres much to be said
for the humbler mediums. The works on paper are always close to
my heart because of the intimacy, Cohen says. Theres
a formality that is a part of painting, but in these sketches you can
see the artist thinking and working things out.
Rembrandts highly realistic works offer a window on 17th-century
Dutch life, often a highly personal window. Cohen smiles as she describes
one of her favorite prints. As with many of his works, Rembrandts
wife, Saskia, was the model who posed nude to depict the mythological
Susanna at her bath. Look closely, Cohen advises, and youll see
the imprint of Saskia/ Susannas sock on her ankle. The reality
of the person and his relationship comes through with Rembrandt. He
didnt idealize, Cohen says.
Sharpening the Cats' Claws
Chris McCabe, its safe to say, is the
only administrator at the University of Vermont who can casually drop
a sentence like this into conversation: Listen to your audience,
key thing I learned from Vince McMahon.
McMahon, of course, is the impresario who founded the World Wrestling
Federation. McCabe, a 1991 UVM graduate and Hall of Fame lacrosse player,
returned to his alma mater last February as assistant vice president
for athletic marketing and business development after stints as an executive
with the WWF and Rupert Murdochs Newscorp.
McCabes history of developing innovative and profitable marketing,
sponsorship, and merchandising efforts in the corporate world makes
him confident that he can build revenues and visibility in academia.
His work will focus on athletics at first exploring more comprehensive
corporate sponsorship opportunities, revamping logo apparel and other
merchandise, assisting feasibility studies for a potential arena, and
improving the marketing of athletic events and the experience of the
fans who attend them.
Its been a whirlwind eight months back in Burlington for McCabe,
who is already seeing some initiatives to fruition most notably
an extensive sponsorship agreement with Banknorth Vermont and the introduction
of a new line of UVM clothing tailored to students style preferences
and built around a more dynamic V-Cat logo.
A key test awaits this fall as McCabe and colleagues strive to bring
more fans especially students to the Catamount games.
A new comprehensive athletic fee means students wont have to pay
at the door, creating hope that more will take themselves out to the
ballgame, whether it be at Gutterson, Patrick, or Centennial.
If they do, McCabe says theyll find more entertaining events
from a bagpipers clarion beckoning them to hop on a shuttle bus
for weekend mens soccer games to pumped-up sound systems to a
JetBlue-backed basketball promotion that will give students a chance
to win Spring Break plane tickets for themselves and their friends.
Inevitably its all about creating buzz, McCabe says. How
are you going to tell the kids? he asks rhetorically and fields
his own question, Ultimately, theyre going to tell each
But, speaking as a guy whose perspective on sports marketing is to some
extent guided by his own experience as an athlete, McCabe stresses that
no promotion will draw fans like a winning team. If the Catamounts can
keep building on some of the recent successes in sports like basketball,
baseball, and skiing, he believes that UVM athletics will boost school
spirit not only on campus but throughout the state.
It sounds like a strange comparison, but if you live in Nebraska,
you love Nebraska football, whether you went to college there or not,
he says. On a smaller scale, we have that opportunity in Vermont.
Theres no close competition.
Sir Martin Gilbert will deliver the
12th annual Raul Hilberg Lecture, The Holocaust: The Christian
Clergy as Rescuers, at 8 p.m. on Monday, November 3, on the UVM
campus. The author of eight books on the Holocaust, including The
Macmillan Atlas of the Holocaust, The Holocaust, and The
Boys, Gilbert is also well-known for his eight-volume biography
of Winston Churchill. This public event will take place in the Billings
Campus Center Theater with overflow space available in Ira Allen Chapel.
Bob Pepperman Taylor, professor of political science and director
of the College of Arts and Sciences John Dewey Honors program for the
past five years, will lead the Universitys new Honors College
as dean. A University-wide Honors College has long been discussed at
UVM and bringing it to reality was a high priority for faculty and administration
during the last academic year. I am delighted that Dr. Taylor
has accepted this important position, said Provost John Bramley.
The Honors College will not only attract and retain great students
for the University, but also will be a catalyst for curricular innovation.
UVM will officially launch the Honors College in the fall of 2004.
Four UVM faculty have been selected for the annual Kroepsch-Maurice
Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2003-2004. The winners are Glen
Elder, associate professor of geography; Todd McGowan, assistant
professor of English and film; Dan Baker, lecturer of community
development and applied economics; and Walter Poleman, lecturer
of botany. The awards memorialize Robert and Ruth Kroepsch and her parents,
Walter and Mary Maurice, all four of whom were teachers themselves.
Tangled up in green
Exploring where environment
popular environmental movement shapes daily life think of bygone
Styrofoam and the proliferation of recycling bins but it has
largely whiffed on national elections.
The paradox fascinates Deborah Guber, an assistant professor of political
science. To explore the environmental movements enduring strength
and confounding weakness, she methodically explored the movements
roots in public opinion. After analyzing every modern poll conducted
measuring public attitudes about the environment, she wrote The Grassroots
of the Green Revolution (MIT Press, 2003), which seeks to explain why
this social force is largely a political farce.
Part of the problem, she argues, is confusion. Since politicians dont
run on anti-environmental dirty air and water campaign platforms, most
races feature two candidates speaking eloquently about preserving the
earth. (Guber points out that in the 2000 presidential election, Earth
in Balance author Al Gore spoke less frequently about the land than
did his opponent, a former oilman from Midland, Texas.)
Opposing the environment is like kicking a sick puppy, says
Guber. No one goes there. So the trick is to try to differentiate
yourself without appearing to be an extremist, and thats very
difficult to do.
The task is complicated by several factors. Gubers book argues
that, while the support for green ideas is broad and long-lived, it
isnt particularly deep. The huge pluralities favoring green goals
plummet when citizens are asked about trade-offs, like higher taxes
for clean-ups. And issues like employment, education, and crime rank
ahead of the environment when voters rank their preferences. Even worse,
complex environmental issues are hard for citizens to understand.
Most people just dont know very much, she says. They
think most oil spills are caused by big business, when most are caused
by day-to-day activity.
The knowledge gap leaves voters vulnerable to greenwashing
presenting hostile policies as helpful ones or just confused.
Guber, who is personally sympathetic to environmental goals while often
critical of the tactics of environmental groups, would like to see more
market-based incentives that provide immediate rewards for Earth-friendly
actions and better public education about ecological issues.
A lot of what the movement does is not grassroots. Its scary
direct mail, she says.
Check It Out
Because I Said So!
Family Squabbles and
How to Handle Them
by Lauri Berkenkamp G90 and
Steven C. Atkins, Nomad Press
This book might save a life or two. Alumna Berkenkamp, an educator and
seasoned mother of four, and her co-author Atkins, a developmental psychologist,
offer tips on easing the kid-induced friction that can make
family life feel like a circle frightening beyond anything Dante envisioned.
Tattling and whining, sassy mouths and sloppy rooms, all of that good
stuff is dealt with humorously and insightfully. Our favorite suggestion:
If the kids are fighting in the backseat and you and your partner are
in the front, pull over and start kissing. The sheer gross-out factor,
the authors advise, will produce immediate silence and make the kids
think twice the next time their evil alter egos start to surface.
The Lost New England Nine
by Will Anderson, Anderson
& Sons Publishing
You cant blame a Red Sox fan for looking back. And there was no
finer era for the BoSox than 1912-1916 when they won three World championships.
Key to a number of those victories was Larry Gardner, a UVM alumnus
who is among the great, if sometimes forgotten, New England ballplayers
celebrated in Will Andersons new book. Gardner was the rare college
boy turned major leaguer in his day, but he excelled in Boston as he
had in Burlington. In New England Nine, Anderson has Gardner as starting
third baseman on his line-up card. Another UVM alum, Ray Collins who
pitched for the Red Sox from 1909 to 1915, makes honorable mention in
this volume rich in baseball lore.