Dear Faculty,

Last week, we celebrated the graduation of our students who are just beginning their journey in life, filled with enormous possibilities for success. With the support of you, our faculty, our students have been empowered to define their personal and professional pathways. You have not only given them knowledge, you guided them in research and other scholarly and artistic pursuits, showed them ways to serve their community, and provided them with internship opportunities.

The last 15 months have been fraught with challenges, yet seeing our students celebrating the culmination of their accomplishments with their peers and families—in spite of COVID, national discord, the exhaustion of managing numerous changes, and just being isolated—gave me some comfort that it will all be okay.  I believe we have given our students the tools to succeed, and we should celebrate that.

I would also like to celebrate the continued successes of our faculty as I announce the President’s awards and those faculty who celebrated their first investiture as an endowed professor or chair this past academic year.

The President’s Distinguished University Citizen and Service awardee is Larry Shelton, Associate Professor in Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Education and Social Services (CESS). Professor Shelton has distinguished himself through consistent, selfless and committed service across his nearly 50 years at UVM. He has served on multiple committees within and outside of CESS and played a key role in bringing Universal Design for Learning to UVM, what many would consider a foundational change for the institution. He has systematically facilitated inclusion of students with disabilities (and influencing how we think of our approach to all students and academic success) and helped create a bridge for his UVM service to the broader community.

The President’s Distinguished Senior Lecturer awardee is Kelly Hamshaw, Senior Lecturer of Community Development and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Professor Hamshaw is an inspiring and highly respected university citizen. She has made significant and influential contributions as a teacher-scholar, as an educational innovator, as an outstanding teacher, and a productive scholar with recognition well beyond our institution, impacting not just students but faculty colleagues and community partners. Her extensive and dedicated service has benefitted not only UVM but our Vermont community.

Several faculty members across schools and colleges were also honored this academic year through the generosity of our donors who believe in the strength of our faculty to make a difference that counts. UVM alumni and friends of UVM have endowed seven new faculty chairs and professorships this academic year. These endowments are established as a means to honor and support the work of our faculty pursuing scholarly activity in their particular discipline. Our faculty colleagues who were recognized this year are listed below:

Bloomfield Early Career Professor in Cardiovascular Research
Timothy Plante

Richard L. Gamelli, MD ’74 Green and Gold Professor in Surgery
Margaret Tandoh

Blodwen S. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Sarah Nowak

Elmer R. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
David Seward

Schlesinger-Grossman Chair of Family Business
Pramodita Sharma
George W. Albee Green and Gold Professor of Psychological Science
Matthew Price
Dr. Ronald W. Pero International Research Green and Gold Professor
Seth Frietze

As I do each week, I’m writing to share reminders and information that I hope is helpful to you. This will be my last digest for the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • You can find the most current information on summer 2021 UVM Libraries access and services here.
  • As announced last month, Scott Thomas, Dean of the College of Education and Social Services, has been appointed Dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Education effective July 1. We have planned a special virtual event to recognize Dean Thomas’s accomplishments and his many contributions to the University of Vermont. In addition to attending the event, please also take a moment to share a message, a memory, or your appreciation on the Kudoboard the College of Education and Social Services has created.

Celebrating Dean Scott Thomas
Wednesday, May 26 at 4:00 pm
Meeting ID: 988 5426 0740
Passcode: 930920

  • The second Integrative Pain Management Conference took place on May 7, 2021, presented by the University of Vermont Integrative Health faculty and staff. Over 300 people participated, representing 5 countries, 33 states, and over 20 professions. In the context of the current opioid abuse/addiction epidemic and the chronic pain that underlies it, this conference discussed the relationship between trauma and pain, pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management, pain neuroscience, patient engagement, and more. Check on the conference highlights.
  • *Save the date* Plans are underway for a return of the Campus Wide Faculty Conference on August 23, 2021.
  • Reminders and recent communications:
    • Register soon for the CTL workshops for faculty preparing submissions for new courses or revising existing courses to meet the D1, D2 or new Global Citizenship 1 (GC 1) requirements.  D1 workshop will take place on August 17, and the D2/GC1 workshop will take place on August 18.
  • Last week’s student, faculty, and staff positive COVID-19 test results included 0 positives. Vaccines work! Students, faculty, and staff who have not yet been vaccinated are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

As we come to the close of the 2020-21 academic year, it’s difficult to find just the right words to reflect on all that has impacted our lives. Therefore, my reflection today is for our future work together. It comes from one of my favorite examples of how to work together, establishing ‘the sense of a goose’ that was drawn from a piece written by Harry Clarke Noyes. I have added my reflections on the lessons he outlines in the context of UVM’s Our Common Ground Values.

“In the fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in ‘V’ formation you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in ‘V’ formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.” LESSON #1 “People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.” I recognize that although we may have different views on how we get to our shared vision for students and the university we aspire to be a community that values respect. It is important that we listen to each other, encourage each other, and give strength to one another as we reconcile our diverse perspectives.

“Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the bird immediately in front.” LESSON #2: “If you have as much sense as a goose, you will stay in formation with people who are headed in the same way.” By sharing responsibility, individually and collectively, we uphold our common ground and benefit from the strength of community. 

“When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.” LESSON #3: “It pays to take turns doing hard jobs-with people or with geese flying south.”  As a just community we must unite against all forms of injustice no matter how difficult that may be. We cannot be content to let some do the work of leading in this area; we must all find ways to contribute.

“The geese honk from behind to encourage the birds up front to keep up their speed.” LESSON #4: “You want to ask yourself the question, what messages do you give when you honk from behind?”  As university stewards, we value integrity, fairness, and adherence to the facts. We want to strive for honesty and sincerity, and acknowledge when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would.

“Finally, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.  These geese stay with it until it is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up to their group.” LESSON #5: "If you have any sense of a goose, you will stand by one other no matter how difficult it may be.” It is my hope that we will remain open to one another’s ideas and recognize that through collaboration, together we can guide the direction and well-being of our community.

This year has shown us how powerful we can be as a community when we support each other in  achieving our common goals. We innovated to meet the challenges of the pandemic; as a community, we demonstrated that we can learn and grow, and we turned our attention to looking forward and finding new ways to meet the needs of our community and society. I am counting on all of us to find our ‘sense of the goose’ as we reflect on the last 15 months and prepare for a brighter future. Thank you for sticking with us throughout the year and delivering on your promise to our students.

I know many of you have had to put your own research and other work aside this year to respond to the needs of your students and loved ones.  As you turn your attention back to these important endeavors, I hope you can also take some time to relax and refresh this summer.



Patricia Prelock, Provost and Senior Vice President