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The University’s Center for Rural Studies’ annual “Vermonter Poll” provides an enlightening glimpse into the minds of the state’s citizens. This spring, Professor Fred Schmidt and colleagues put our institution itself to the test with a number of questions exploring perceptions of the University of Vermont. The survey yielded excellent news with indications that an overwhelming majority of the state’s citizens hold their state university in very high regard. On a number of fronts — from our academic quality to the benefits we provide to citizens living beyond Chittenden County — the University received high marks.

For instance, 80 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the University helps economic development and job growth in Vermont; and 83 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they would encourage a child or close relative to attend the University of Vermont. What’s more, those positive perceptions held true regardless of gender, region, income, or education of those included in the random survey.

Ringing endorsement also came from Montpelier, where Governor James Douglas and our state legislators supported higher education appropriation increases despite the budgetary challenges lawmakers face in these times. We are grateful for their faith in the wisdom of investment in higher education.

The University of Vermont is an institution with worldwide reach, yet we are firmly rooted in our mission to the state. There are so many dimensions to the University’s service to Vermont — educating our current and future workforce; seeking new knowledge on issues that are vital to Vermonters’ lives from human health to the environment to business to agriculture; enriching the cultural and artistic landscape; and helping to drive the state’s economy in ways that are both significant and enduring.

It has been 141 years since a Vermonter drew the needs of our states and the function of our higher education institutions closer with his authorship of the Morrill Land Grant Act. The role of a public university has evolved significantly since then, but I’m convinced that senator and one-time UVM trustee Justin Morrill would be pleased with the strong ties between the state of Vermont and our University.

—Daniel Mark Fogel