The Office of Engagement builds upon the University’s land-grant mission, serving as a “front door” to the University for private, public and non-profit entities and communities looking to access UVM’s many strengths and capabilities.

To increase its effectiveness in partnering with the state in the areas of workforce development, retention, and growth, UVM received $2 million in funding from the Vermont Legislature in 2020. The UVM Office of Engagement will use these resources to respond directly and comprehensively to challenges articulated by Vermont Governor Phil Scott during his 2020 State of the State address in January: an aging population; the need for additional skilled workers; and inadequate growth in the number of well-paying jobs.

Meet our staff:


Christopher Koliba, Director

Chris Koliba is a professor in the Community Development and Applied Economics Department at UVM, and former director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program.  He is serving as the President's Fellow for Engagement and serving as the Faculty Director for the UVM Office of Engagement. He is also the co-director of the Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS) Lab and a fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment. Koliba holds a Ph.D. and an MPA from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. His research interests include environmental governance, governance networks, community resilience, network performance and accountability, with applications to water quality, food systems, energy systems, emergency and disaster response, and sustainable transportation systems. He has served as PI, Co-PI or science leader on grants from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Vermont Department of Education, and the Spencer Foundation. Koliba is the Associate Director of Vermont EPSCoR. 

Read more about Koliba's background and research interests.


Amanda Chase, Internship Coordinator/Career Counselor

Amanda Chase has worked at UVM for seven years, managing internships in the UVM Career Center. She has connected with a wide variety of businesses to support their hiring goals, from one-person grassroots organizations to Fortune 500 companies. She also works with UVM students and alums on applying to jobs, making significant career transitions, building professional relationships, and other career development areas. She received a bachelor of arts in psychology from Hamilton College, a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Vermont, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from UVM. Her work has always centered on supporting people and organizations in times of transition. Amanda completed her doctoral dissertation in 2020, which focused on issues of access and equity in internships and experiential learning. When she's not working, you'll likely find her on her bike or tinkering in her garage. She is looking forward to deepening relationships with partners around the Vermont with her new role in the Office of Engagement.


Kevin Chu, Managing Director

Kevin Chu is a Burlington, Vt. native and a graduate of Middlebury College. He has held several administrative positions at UVM including assistant director for diversity and partnerships in the office of admissions and professional advisor for the university’s cross-college environmental program. Most recently he served as strategic innovations and communications lead for the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. He is also the founder and president of Sprinticity Athletics. “I understand Vermont is facing enormous challenges as we grapple with the COVID-19 epandemic and the resulting economic and social dislocations,” he says. “I bring an entrepreneurial spirit to my work and care deeply about co-creating innovative solutions with our community partners around the state. UVM has a key role to play and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”


Kathleen Kemp, Program Support Generalist

Most recently Kathleen Kemp worked at the University of Vermont as an administrative assistant in Human Resource Services and Operations. She also worked as an assistant trainer for the Child Welfare Training Partnership, a collaboration between UVM’s Department of Social Work and the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF). She will receive a UVM master’s degree in education next spring. Kemp has a deep commitment to social justice and building strong, resilient communities. “My approach to work is rooted in a life-long, foundational commitment to social justice, radical welcome and inclusion practices,” she said.


Emma Spett, Research Assistant

Emma Spett is a graduate student at the University of Vermont. In 2020, she completed an MS in Community Development and Applied Economics, and will begin doctoral studies in Sustainable Development Policy, Economics, and Governance in 2021. As a MS student, Emma was a member of the International Joint Commission’s Social, Political, and Economic technical working group, which explored the acceptability and feasibility of transboundary flood mitigation options in the transboundary Lake Champlain Richelieu River basin. She is a member of UVM's Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security's Transboundary Water In-Cooperation Network, and recently completed a graduate certificate in Community Resilience and Planning. Prior to arriving at UVM, Emma worked as a farm-based educator at Shelburne Farms, and as a community organizer for Environment Colorado. She graduated with a BA in Environmental Policy from New York University in 2016. In her current role, Emma carries out research on community resilience and economic development in Vermont, on behalf of the Office of Engagement.


Contact the Office:

UVM Office of Engagement
109 S. Prospect St., Burlington, Vt.
Phone: 802.656.8911