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photo by Michael Sipe


Our Students, Our Future

Rising student enrollments are the key driver of the fast progress we are making toward fulfillment of our vision for the University of Vermont. Nothing is more critical to the success of UVM’s bid for recognition as the nation’s premier small public research university than our ability to attract high-quality students and offer them the outstanding collegiate experience they expect and deserve.

Yes, we will become a bigger university. More importantly, we will become a better one. By building tuition revenue with enrollment increases (so that we can keep tuition percentage increases in low single digits), we are creating resources for the entire institution — beyond financial sustainability, this expanding resource base is essential to creating and sustaining academic quality at the highest competitive national levels.

It’s important to note that we are closely tying enrollment growth to growth in faculty numbers to ensure that UVM will not lose its favorable faculty-student ratio, the human scale that is one of the hallmarks of the University of Vermont. In the highly respected and data-rich National Survey of Student Engagement, we rank in the top ten percent of doctoral extensive universities (at the 93rd percentile) in the quality of faculty-student interactions, and we are determined to keep it that way.

Recent news from the Admissions Office tells us our enrollment strategy is on the right track. Record numbers of prospective students have applied to the University of Vermont for the 2005-2006 academic year. With roughly 13,000 applications, we’ve far surpassed the record-high of 11,953 set in 1987, during a period that many remember as UVM’s “Public Ivy” era. And this year’s applicant pool continues several extremely positive trends we’ve seen on the admissions front over the past several years — SAT scores are on the rise, more Vermonters are applying, and we have over 1,000 applications from students of color, smashing previous high-water marks. Applications to UVM’s doctoral programs have also reached new heights.

It’s far too early, of course, to celebrate the UVM Class of 2009. A great deal of work remains to be done and the ultimate measure — the number, academic quality, and diversity of accepted students who choose to attend the University — rides on thousands of yet-to-be-made individual decisions by prospective UVM students and their families.

As we build toward our planned undergraduate enrollment of 9,400 in 2012-2013, the challenge for UVM’s next decade is clear: our efforts must be focused on creating an environment that promotes student achievement, happiness, and success. There are numerous measures and initiatives we have undertaken in the name of enrollment management — streamlining financial aid processes, building and renovating facilities, supporting the faculty in curricular innovations like the Honors College and writing in the disciplines, and strengthening academic advising, to name just a few.

Beyond programs and buildings and systems, every member of the campus community — every faculty and staff member and every enrolled student who interacts with a prospective student — has a role vital in the process. A young person considering many college options is looking for reasons to eliminate one school and select another. That decision may hinge on how a phone is answered, the promptness of an e-mail reply, the appearance of the campus, or what is said by a UVM student in a casual encounter during a campus visit. Similarly, many relationships and experiences will determine how satisfied with UVM our current students are and, ultimately, whether they will transfer elsewhere or stay and graduate to become satisfied, loyal, connected alumni.

We know there are many of you who fit that description. Our most effective advocates are alumni and the parents of students past and present who have directly experienced, benefited, and grown from a University of Vermont education. As we seek to build enrollments and extend our recruitment reach throughout the country, alumni and parents can play important roles by spreading the word to prospective students who would be good matches for our University.

Links such as these between students past and future build the fabric, the sense of community at an institution. As always, I thank all of you for your support of the University of Vermont as we continue to pursue our shared vision of excellence.

—Daniel Mark Fogel