As the spring semester opened, our campus community participated
in what I hope will become an annual tradition at the University
of Vermont. It was my honor to deliver UVMs first-ever State
of the University Address. For individuals, for nations, and for
universities, the new year presents a natural point from which
we can take stock of our present position and set a course for
I touched upon many points in that talk to the faculty, staff,
students, and community members gathered in Ira Allen Chapel on
January 26. Among them, I discussed some of the achievements and
steps forward that we have taken on this campus in the past year,
and some of the financial challenges that we must meet before
we can become the university we aspire to be.
In my inaugural remarks of October 1997, I addressed the special
challenges that lie before us. It is worth repeating what I said.
Our future lies in ensuring the excellence of our academic programs
so that we create the assets and energy that we will need to pursue
our core mission, which is the creation, interpretation, and sharing
of knowledge. We do not need to transform this university. Instead,
we need to release its energies and support its involvement with
its many constituencies. By selective investment in those features
that differentiate us from other universities and by the exercise
of fiscal responsibility and strategic thinking, we can continue
to develop the extraordinary qualities that characterize the University
of Vermont and assure ourselves that we will leave for our successors
an institution of quality and distinction that will continue to
enrich the lives of many generations to come.
We must continue to invest in a targeted and strategic way in
those aspects of UVM that create our distinctive character as
an intellectual community and that enhance our ability to accomplish
our mission. The necessary strategy for responding to the intellectual
and financial challenges facing us consists of two elements: differentiation
and a commitment to academic excellence centered on the student
experience at UVM and on the quality and impact of our engagement
with society. All of these decisions must contribute to the hallmark
of a UVM experience: to link learning and life. We are fond of
quoting our own alumnus, John Dewey, who wrote, Education is
not preparation for life. Education is life itself.
Provost Geoffrey Gamble and I propose to focus our investments
in five critical areas, all of which can be derived logically
from both the history and tradition of UVM and from our mission.
They are: liberal education and the enhancement of the curriculum;
research and advanced study in the health sciences; research and
advanced study in the environment; technology; and programs and
capacity that promote engagement with society.
These are all programs that build upon our strengths, fit with
the character of our state, and meet the critical needs that higher
education must address for society. Ours is a two-tiered challenge.
We must strengthen the foundation of what we have meeting the
serious financial challenges this university faces. And we must
step higher. Our strategy must be to direct our budget, our time,
and our effort toward those activities that can create and support
academic excellence; make UVM a first choice for students, faculty,
and staff; establish a campus environment that supports discovery,
learning, and engagement; and ensure our continued development
as a national research university.
For those of you interested in learning more about the State
of the University, I invite you to explore the Presidents Office
Web page youll find video, audio, the full text of my comments
on that day, and the background materials that are guiding us
in our future course. The address: www.uvm.edu/president/.
Thank you for your interest in and support of the University of Vermont as we continue to learn and grow as a leader among this nations public universities.