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Making it Official
photograph by Sally McCay

It’s been a busy first year on the job for President Daniel Mark Fogel, who has proposed a bold vision for the University’s future and moved forward on a number of initiatives to make it a reality. Though he’s been in office since last July, Fogel’s ceremonial inauguration as the University’s 25th president took place on April 4 at Patrick Gym.

Business Bellwethers
Vermont EPSCoR is all about the innovation

The crack in the Liberty Bell is an endearing flaw really, as embedded in our understanding of the artifact as those arms gone awol from the Venus de Milo. Yet, this piece of American history has a darker secret, a hairline fissure that connects with the main crack and threatens to split the entire bell in two. That’s enough for the bell’s keepers to worry about in any circumstance, but as planners have plotted a 200 yard move to the new National Historical Park in Philadelphia next fall, they’ve taken every step to ensure that the icon will arrive at its new home in one piece.

That’s where MicroStrain, a Vermont-based company headed by Steven Arms ’81, stepped in to monitor the forecast for a safe move. The Vermont engineers approached the job with wireless sensor technology they developed with critical support from the Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a National Science Foundation program for the state which is housed at UVM.

Anyone who doubts the potential of the state of Vermont as a center for technological innovation clearly needs to spend a little time curled up with a cup of tea and a copy of the Vermont EPSCoR News. Granted, the publication may not rival Jane Austen for rainy day reading, but it is an enlightening glimpse into the fact that the Green Mountain state’s industry is about a good deal more than maple sugaring and sliding down hills.

We’re talking R & D projects with titles like “Nanotechnology Substrate Cleaner” and “Quantum Cascade Differential Absorptions Biological Agent Detector.”

EPSCoR is a multi-faceted initiative that has been helping to foster and strengthen scientific research in the state since 1985. One aspect of EPSCoR, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, is a Vermont invention in itself, developed by Judith Van Houten, chair of UVM’s Biology Department as well as associate director of EPSCoR, and her husband Joshua Van Houten, a professor at St. Michael’s College.

“It was so successful that the National Science Foundation said to other states, ‘you have to go and do this too,’” says Chris Allen, UVM chemistry professor and Vermont EPSCoR director. “The goal (of SBIR) is to help programs and businesses get money on their own, so we start with a seed grant fund — just enough to get preliminary data to help them write for larger grants,” says Allen. Many grant recipients go on to receive additional grants to further projects.

MicroStrain is one such business. With the help of SBIR funding, Arms’s company developed tiny wireless sensors for monitoring very small motions, just what was needed when the Liberty Bell was put to a test move.

“We can use the data that we collected to create upper and lower limits for vibration, and sound an alarm during the move to warn the riggers if the limits are exceeded,” Arms said after the successful test in March. “That will allow us to move the bell to the new location and basically mimic the conditions that we got here today, which we feel are safe.”

While MicroStrain is providing assurance for the well-being of a piece of our national heritage, other SBIR-funded innovation promises better mousetraps for diverse problems from back pain to prostate cancer to fuel efficiency in semi-trucks.

A small state and a small university wouldn’t always be able to compete for research funding, says Allen, noting EPSCoR’s ability to even the playing field. He estimates that ESPSCoR puts well over $100,000 each year into Vermont’s economy, and notes how that figure multiplies with the salaries of jobs created by the innovations.

“Nationally, high-tech businesses pay significantly higher wages, so of course this is the kind of businesses Vermont and everyone else wants to attract,” says Allen. “They’re almost always located near a research university, so EPSCoR plays a big role in making sure UVM is a better research university and that we’re funding high-tech businesses. This is UVM bringing these resources to the State of Vermont. I’m proud that Vermont EPSCoR does exactly what land-grant colleges do best.”

Trustees Give Fogel’s Vision Green Light
With passage of resolutions giving the go-ahead on a transformative enrollment management plan and critical next steps toward construction of a new student center, the University of Vermont Board of Trustees recently demonstrated strong support for President Daniel Mark Fogel’s leadership and ten-year plan.

Fogel’s vision for the University, detailed in the Spring 2003 issue of Vermont Quarterly, hinges in large part upon an enrollment management plan that would increase the size of the student body at the University, while also increasing quality indicators of incoming students — providing resources for the University to make a series of strategic investments.

The new student center, tentatively dubbed University Commons, is envisioned as an educational, cultural, and social crossroads of campus. A feasibility study by consulting firm WTW Architects proposes a 200,000 square foot building, potentially sited along Main Street between Morrill and Terrill halls and the Bailey/Howe Library. As proposed, the commons would include a bookstore, several additional retailers, dining areas, a 600-seat performing arts center, conference spaces, lounges and game rooms.

The board authorized the University to carry forward the next phase of the project, which will include hiring an architectural firm and the beginning of the permitting process. Once those steps are completed by next spring, the board will decide whether to give a full go ahead to the project, estimated to cost $70 million.
The board’s mandates came the day before Fogel, just ten months into his UVM tenure, would preside over his first graduation ceremony. “I’m elated by the progress we’ve made,” he said.

Herbarium has Deep Roots
And is still growing strong after a century

The collection’s very name — The Pringle Herbarium — sounds antique, yet ripe with mystery and full of promise. What goes on up there on the second floor of humble Torrey Hall?

Follow the arrows from the front door and wind up the stairs to the quiet world of science — the type practiced before the era of the electron microscope, DNA analysis, and chromosome counts. It is the place of exquisitely detailed botanical prints, painstakingly preserved plant specimens, and mellifluous Latin monikers. Yet it is not just an archive of the past, rather very much the taxonomy of both the past and present informing today’s scientists in consort.

The UVM Botany Department’s Pringle Herbarium is a working resource for researchers world wide. A total of more than 310,000 plants make it the third largest herbarium in New England (after some schools called Harvard and Yale). The backbone of the collection is made up of specimens collected by the herbarium’s namesake Cyrus Pringle, a legendary Vermont botanist, who became the University’s first herbarium director when his collection was brought to UVM and endowed in 1902.

More than 100 years later, these specimens are still among the best collected and preserved. Not just extraordinary to look at but chock full of information that botanists could not otherwise glean. “His specimens are beautiful,” says Professor David Barrington, director of the herbarium. “This art shines where plants are reduced from three to two dimensions. But what is important is that they display the character of plants to scientists.”

Though the centennial of Pringle’s original collection has been cause for celebration, the most recent additions to the herbarium have been noteworthy as well. Barrington took a lead role in bringing in the acquisition, the library collection of eminent fern biologists Rolla and Alice Tryon. The seven-hundred books and ten-thousand scientific reprints detail the evolution and diversity of ferns found throughout the world. It is the fruit of 70 years of research by the two, who taught for years at Harvard. Barrington, who earned his doctorate at Harvard, was among their students.

The UVM botany professor says the collection has found the right home. “Pringle was especially interested in ferns, and so am I, and Vermont is a ferny place,” he says. “With the Tryon collection here, it solidifies our position as the place for fern study.”

While the recent addition to the herbarium hearkens back to the University’s past, Botany Department Chair Thomas Vogelmann sees it also as a sign of good things to come. “This magnificent gift beautifully reinforces the fact that the Plant Sciences at UVM are of world-class standing,” he says. “Our planned investments in new faculty positions and a new plant sciences building over the next few years will further prove that point.”
—Cheryl Dorschner

Nursing and Health Sciences Receives $2 Million Gift
Announced in May, a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences is a milestone for the college and provides support for two key initiatives. The largest individual gift in the history of the college will be equally divided to support an endowed professorship in radiation therapy and an endowed chair in end-of-life/palliative care.

“This gift is a powerful endorsement of the work of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and its leadership under Dean Betty Rambur,” said President Daniel Mark Fogel. “At such a critical time in health care, we will look to the college to play a vital role in achieving the University’s mission in this important area.”

The $1 million directed toward end-of-life/palliative care is the first step toward an overall goal of $3 million to support an endowed chair in this area. It’s an important issue for health care professionals and society — while about 70 percent of Americans say they want to die at home, about 75 percent die in medical institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes.

“Our goal is to better understand how to serve patients and families at the end of life, and prepare all our students, regardless of professional discipline, to be a healing force in this process,” Dean Rambur said when the gift was announced. Detailing some of the areas where palliative care could be improved, Rambur noted that pain management is dramatically under-treated. “So often we’re focused on cure and not care. We need to be looking at how we can really enhance the end stage with a focus on what the patient and what the family want.”

Rambur believes this gift will be an essential step to build an emphasis on both research and curriculum in this area. “We need to build a critical mass of caregivers who are sensitive to these issues,” Rambur said. “My goal is that every one of our 500 students will have the knowledge and emotional preparation to be advocates for patients and help foster positive end-of-life experiences.”

The other half of the gift will address a need for radiation therapists in Vermont and throughout the nation. The $1 million in support of the Radiation Therapy Program will “help us prepare professionals who provide treatment for those afflicted with cancer, and also advance our research agenda in the area of cancer treatment,” said Burton W. Wilcke, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Technologies.

Wilcke said that the role of radiation therapists has evolved from what was once seen as a purely technical function. Cancer treatment has increasingly become a team approach with patients, families, doctors, nursing specialists, and many other healthcare professionals deeply involved. Wilcke said that the endowed professorship will enable the college to bring in a new faculty member well-versed in the range of skills — highly technical to interpersonal — that are essential to training excellent future radiation therapists.

Summing the potential in the record private support, Rambur said, “Outstanding research and teaching in these areas are essential to high quality health care. The generous gift will enhance our existing strengths and enable a profound and lasting impact on society.”

Am I Doing the Right Thing?
“After graduation, I moved to New York City to begin what I hoped would be an exciting career in the film business. It took me a year to get my first job on a movie set, but I finally did thanks to a UVM alumna named Yudi Bennett. She was one of the top assistant directors in New York. My first job was doing crowd control, many blocks from the action. So after four years of college and a year of odd jobs, there I was, standing on the corner of Bleecker and McDougal streets at 3 o’clock in the morning, asking the denizens of Greenwich Village to please cross to the other side of the street, we’re making a movie. I could hear my poor mother’s voice in my head saying, ‘It’s not too late, you can still apply to law school.’”
—Jon Kilik ’78 in his May 18 commencement address to the UVM Class of 2003. Kilik, who didn’t heed his mother’s voice, went on to a career in film that has included producing more than a dozen major motion pictures, including Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, Dead Man Walking, and Pleasantville.

Swift Support Boosts Fleming Collection
Glenn Ligon’s contemporary text appropriations and Charles Heyde’s pastoral Vermont landscapes, wildly different on the surface, have at least one thing in common: The Fleming Museum’s recent acquisition of paintings by the two artists was made possible only by swift rallying of the UVM community.

Tom Pierce, a local Heyde enthusiast who co-curated the 2001 Heyde exhibit at the Fleming, knew that speed mattered when, on the Web, he spotted two small Heyde paintings belonging to a woman in California. They were “calling card” paintings, small works created as something between a business card and an advertisement to drum up some commissions. Of particular interest to Pierce, they traced directly to ownership by Heyde and his wife, Hannah Whitman Heyde, sister of American poet Walt Whitman.

Pierce says that he views the Fleming as the home-base of Heyde’s work and adds, “these paintings were too important not to be in the collection.” Within the space of 24 hours, Pierce got to work making sure that was exactly where they’d be. He contacted the paintings’ owner; arranged appraisals; and put in calls to a circle of potential donors who he hoped would support purchasing the paintings then giving them to the Fleming Museum. With a batting average that would be the envy of any fundraiser, Pierce placed five calls and yielded five gifts. The Heydes were coming home. Those who answered the call to make the swift purchase and subsequent gift to the Fleming possible were Theodore Church, Judy and James Pizzagalli ’66, Gunnel and Grier Clarke ’74, Carolyn and Harry Thurgate, J. Brooks Buxton ’56, and Pierce himself.

Currently on display in the European and American Gallery, the two Heyde works feature the view out UVM’s front door — Lake Champlain’s Burlington Bay — and the back — Mount Mansfield.

When Fleming Museum Director Janie Cohen found Glenn Ligon works on paper for sale through a New York art dealer, she saw another rare opportunity to grow the museum collection in an important direction. The Fleming had lacked any text-based work, an important contemporary movement, Cohen says. Adding Ligon to the Fleming would also build the museum’s collection of works by African-American artists.

Richard Meyer described Ligon’s approach in the October 1997 edition of the publication Art/Text: “In his best-known series of work, Ligon stencils black text across the surface of white, door-sized canvases. The words presented are not the artist’s own but have been appropriated from writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin. Typically, Ligon will repeat an especially charged sentence (Hurston’s “How it feels to be colored me”) until it verges, through the force of excess paint, on illegibility. The tension these works set up — between visibility and erasure, between the linguistic naming of “color” and its painterly absence on the canvas — suggest the subtle contradictions and perpetual slippages of racial identity and embodied desire.”

The Fleming’s new portfolio of four Ligon prints includes works featuring the Hurston text described above, and a quote from Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Cohen rallied support across University departments to make the Ligon acquisition possible. In addition to the Fleming’s Way Endowment Fund, financial support for the acquisition came from the Provost’s Central Diversity Fund, the H. Lawrence McCrorey Gallery of Multicultural Art, and alumnus Stephen D. Kelly ’85, a member of the Fleming Advisory Board.

‘Pride, Possibility, Partnership’
Within weeks of being selected as the University of Vermont’s 25th president, Daniel Mark Fogel traveled to Arizona to meet with former UVM leader Lattie Coor. Among the wisdom Coor shared with Fogel was the advice to not rush scheduling his inauguration, an academic ceremony steeped in pomp and tradition, and often a milestone opportunity for a new leader. Fogel related the story early in his April 4 inaugural address at Patrick Gymnasium. “The event is the most important occasion for you to set forth your vision of where the University has been and where you want to take it,” Fogel recalled Coor telling him. “Take time to get to know the place well and to develop that vision. Then you can have the inauguration.”

With a nod and a smile to Coor, sitting among the guests of honor on stage, UVM’s new president admitted that he hadn’t followed that advice to the letter. “…never the patient man, I floated a vision for the next phase of this institution’s history some two months ago, stealing my own thunder, as it were, in advance of today’s event.”

If Fogel’s inauguration speech lacked for the nuts-and-bolts vision detailed in his February letter to the UVM Board of Trustees and widely discussed since, he made up for it with a talk that focused on the spirit of “pride, possibility, and partnership” he sees driving his vision to reality. The speech was also a very personal talk shaped by a sense of gratefulness to the many family, friends, and career-long colleagues whom Fogel thanked for helping him realize one of the great achievements of his life. Early in his address, Fogel put his emotions on the day in simple terms: “You see before you a very happy man.”

For complete text of President Fogel’s inauguration speech or his 10-year vision for the University of Vermont, see www.uvm.edu/president.

Honored by Ebony
Sederick Rice, a doctoral student in the Cell and Molecular Biology Program, has an impressive array of talents — so impressive that they earned him inclusion in a recent Ebony magazine feature titled “Young Leaders of the Future.” As a mentor to incoming undergraduates in the Summer Enrichment Scholarship Program (SESP), a co-teacher of a course on race and culture, and an author of a book on music, Rice’s pursuits are varied and intense.

But research is what consumes most of his life right now. He and advisor Barry Finette in the Department of Pediatrics study the damage chemotherapy generates in the DNA of kids with cancer.

“It would be a sad set of circumstances to cure a kid at the age of five only to predispose them to another type of cancer at age 30 or 40,” Rice says. Preliminary results indicate that the amount of damage — or number of mutations — in genetic material varies according to both the age of the child and the chemotherapy procedure he or she endured, a result that may someday help doctors weigh different treatment options.

Rice also highly values his life outside research, especially the time he spends mentoring undergraduates. “Graduate school is a very selfish process,” he says, adding, “I have been mentored all my life.” Raphael Okutoro, a former student of Rice’s and a peer advisor at SESP 2002, says, “Everyone respects Sederick. He’s a person of action.” When recalling team-building summer days on the ropes course and games of horse at dusk, Okutoro smiles. “Sederick is also one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet.”

February’s Ebony picked Rice from among thousands of applicants, but Rice always knew he had a shot. Finette remembers, “He said he was going to do it. He had one try, and, by God, he got in. Power to him.”

“I’m a Leo,” Sederick laughs, “We have a problem. We don’t think that there are things we can’t do. That mentality has helped me to stay focused and give everything I have.”

Who Knew?
Thinking caps on, readers, it’s time for a little Trivial Pursuit UVM style. What New England university did actor Ben Affleck attend for the first semester of the 1990-1991 academic year? Eyes on your own papers, people.

Yep, the University of Vermont. The Registrar’s Office turned down our request to see Ben’s transcript (something about privacy law). So, we’ll just have to wonder about the progress of his studies during the time in Burlington.

But, Ben, if you pick up a copy of Vermont Quarterly during an idle moment on the set and read this, please know that you’re welcome to re-apply if the movie star thing doesn’t work out. J.Lo, she’s welcome, too.

Warhol 101
When nearly 100 Boston eighth graders participating in the Citizen Schools program sampled college life at the University of Vermont this semester, students and staff tried their hands at some Andy Warhol-style portraiture. Art education majors and the Fleming Museum staff coordinated on the activity, which included a tour of the Fleming’s Warhol show. This was the second year that the College of Education and Social Services has sponsored the Citizen Schools visit. For a past VQ story on Citizen Schools, founded by alums Ned Rimer ’83 and Eric Schwarz ’83, see the Fall 2001 issue of Vermont Quarterly online, ww.uvm.edu/vtquarterly. Self-portrait by Ifanyi Bell.

Quote Unquote
I see these absurd bumper stickers —
‘Don’t Sweat the Details,’ ‘If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?’ —
and they bother me. Why would I write a Ph.D. dissertation, then? Lord knows it wasn’t fun. You do these things because they are challenging and because they are personally worthwhile.
– UVM Classics Professor Jacques Bailly, 1980 National Spelling Bee champion and official pronouncer for this year’s competition.

The Proverbial Professor
Mieder in print early and often

Does absence make the heart grow fonder, or is out of sight really out of mind? The man to ask is Wolfgang Mieder, the world’s leading authority on folklore and proverbial wisdom.

Professor and chair of the Department of German and Russian for 26 years, and a collector of proverbs for 30, Mieder’s personal library contains more than 4,500 collections of proverbs; 8,000 books, dissertations and articles on the subject; and a 10,000-slide archive.

“We’ve had to add on to our house three times,” he admits. “But every professional needs his tools, and these are mine.”

Mieder delights in searching for pearls of proverbial wisdom, finding pithy passages everywhere from New Yorker and Playboy cartoons to political buttons and greeting cards.

Much like the maxims he studies, Mieder is a man of contradictions. The author and/or editor of more than 100 books in several languages, he strongly disagrees with the “publish or perish” mandate in higher education.

“A professor’s job shouldn’t be reduced to that,” he asserts. “The students come first. ‘Never expect more from your students than you can deliver yourself.’ You can call that ‘Mieder’s proverb,’” he says with a laugh.

Despite his amazing productivity, he does not consider himself a workaholic. “I’m driven by an active mind and a deep interest in the life I am lucky enough to live,” he explains. “There are days I come home dead tired from meetings and classes, but I go into my office to work and suddenly it’s 2 a.m.”

Mieder shrugs off the good-natured teasing of his peers, who often ask if he “has a new book out this week.”

“They don’t suffer from my particular disease,” he jokes. “But there’s a nut like me in most countries.”

His latest book, Wisecracks: Fractured Proverbs, is the last in a series of ten light-hearted volumes published by New England Press. Wisecracks pairs familiar proverbs with “fractured” versions that put a modern, often humorous spin on the originals. “Nobody is perfect,” for instance, becomes “No body is perfect,” and a health club slogan is born.

Wisecracks and other mainstream books, “allow me to communicate with people from all walks of life,” Mieder says. But a leopard can’t change its spots, and Mieder is a scholar at heart. Within the last year, in addition to his University duties, he has published his 20th annual volume of Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship. Big Fish Eat Little Fish, a scholarly treatise on the expression, is currently being printed in Vienna. Mieder has ideas for several more publications, and would especially like to publish an updated edition of his 1996 Dictionary of American Proverbs — a big job, considering the first edition contained 15,000 annotated proverbs.

Meticulous bibliographies are mainstays of Mieder’s scholarship, but his mental inventory rivals those in print. Every proverb, it seems, has a unique story and history of its own.

“Mass media has incredible power to create and share proverbs” that travel quickly throughout the world, he says. Yet Mieder discourages accepting any proverb as a universal truth. “Proverbs are as contradictory as life,” he says, though a well-worn axiom often rings true in the right situation. Consequently, “A good lawyer or politician is well served to throw in a proverb,” says Mieder, “because it’s very difficult to spontaneously argue against it.”

In short, he advises: “If the proverb fits, use it.” —Lynda Majarian