by Michael Sipe
academic values is key work ahead
In May, with our Board of Trustees unanimous endorsement of the
strategic financial plan underlying the ten-year vision for building and
strengthening the University of Vermont, this institution took a tremendous
step forward. We now quicken our pace to advance the facilities developments
and enrollment management plan that are critical elements in bringing
our vision for the University of Vermont in 2013 to fruition. Time is
of the essence on these closely linked initiatives enhancing our
facilities fuels our ability to attract students, and high-quality enrollment
growth is the only plausible engine to drive our pursuit of excellence
over the course of the next ten years. But the most critical, most central,
and most important dimensions of the vision remain to be shaped and defined
and many voices are essential to that process.
I mean the academic vision for the University. How will we define and
develop innovative liberal arts programs for the new century? What is
the full range of implications for our work together for our teaching,
research and scholarship, outreach, and institutional practices
of our drive to be the environmental university? What will our niche areas
be within the vast domain of the health, life, and biomedical sciences?
How, with our strategic focus on environment and health, will we ensure
the continuing vitality at UVM of the arts and humanities, the social
and physical sciences, along with business, education and social services,
particularly when they dont intersect (as they sometimes do, but
often do not) with our focal themes? We hope to engage such key questions
in open dialogue with our faculty, staff, students, and alumni over the
coming months and years.
As we seek answers to these questions, lets begin by being clear
about ends and means. The ends were working toward are all about
academic quality as expressed in the vision statement in UVMs Strategic
To be the nations premier small public research university,
preeminent in liberal education and the study of the environment and health,
and dedicated to providing students with extraordinary opportunities for
learning and personal development and to enhancing the cultural, social,
and economic life of Vermont, the nation and the world.
Every word in that statement is important. It expresses our identity as
a research institution, dedicated to the life of the mind and the advancement
of knowledge; our aspiration to be the best of our type, the nations
premier small public research university; our commitment to preeminence
through focus, in pursuit of excellence, on liberal education, the environment,
and health; our dedication to the intellectual and personal development
of our students; and our determination to make a difference by contributing
to the betterment of the world through all of our activities in teaching
and learning, research and discovery, service and outreach.
Lets never confuse the ends for which we are working with the means.
There are multiple means: building financial strength for UVM so that
we can take good care of our classrooms, laboratories, and other facilities
and build new ones to create an environment in which all of us can succeed;
so that we can provide scholarship support for students, building a diverse,
talented student body with ample access for students from low- and middle-income
backgrounds; and so that we can be competitive in the support we offer
to talented faculty and staff.
Without financial strength and excellent facilities we cant achieve
our goals, but current operating dollars, a growing endowment, well-maintained
buildings complemented by essential new facilities, and a carefully managed
plan of enrollment growth are all means to ends they are not the
ends in themselves. Though we necessarily concentrate a great deal of
energy and resources on creating, maintaining, and executing the means,
its not about numbers of students, or bricks-and-mortar projects,
or fund-raising milestones its about the value and values
academic values at the core for which we all are working.
Daniel Mark Fogel