—Approved by the Board of Trustees on October 13, 2000

The University of Vermont is an exceptional institution with a proud history, based on a strong intellectual community and a long tradition of concern for the quality of life in the communities it serves.1 UVM combines the intellectual resources of a comprehensive research university with an excellent liberal arts education offered through close student-teacher interactions. In addition, it combines an enduring respect for high quality education with the use of cutting-edge technology to enhance excellence. Our strengths, unusual among state universities nationally, offer both exciting opportunities and difficult challenges.

Our strengths reflect our values, which include:

  • An abiding concern for the environment, health, and liberal education
  • A strong commitment to diversity in the student body, the faculty and staff, and the curriculum
  • A willingness to address difficult societal issues with honesty, civility, and practicality. We are a community that values respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility.

If our efforts over the next five years are successful, the University of Vermont will have a superior national reputation —

  • As a university that combines the outstanding teaching and student-centered experience of a liberal arts college with the research focus, faculty excellence, programmatic depth, graduate studies, and societal mission of a comprehensive university.
  • As a community that is vibrant, diverse, and intellectually engaged, that operates on a human scale and focuses on enhancing the quality of life for individuals and communities in Vermont and throughout the world.
  • As a place that emphasizes not only academic excellence, but also an exceptional student experience that extends far beyond classroom walls.
  • As a financially healthy institution.
  • As a leader in the study of the environment and of health.

Our vision is to achieve these things, and to make UVM one of the best places in the nation to study, live and work.

To sustain and nurture our values, and to enhance excellence, we need to meet urgent challenges to our strengths in four areas2:

  • Promoting academic excellence
  • Enhancing student experience
  • Responding to the needs of society
  • Building our capacity to achieve our mission

Prioritizing ways to meet these challenges will be based on the extent to which each proposed course of action:

  • Is in the best interest of our students
  • Enhances quality
  • Is critical to our mission
  • Will increase the perceived and actual value of the UVM experience for students, faculty, and staff
  • Will help us create and maintain a sustainable resource base for the future

We will also focus on the hallmarks of a UVM education, what we do best and what makes us distinctive. These include three areas of exceptional strength in our academic and research portfolio:

  • Liberal Education
  • Health
  • Environment

and two areas of emphasis where we create learning experiences in meaningful ways:

  • Engagement: our community, local, national, and international, is our classroom, our laboratory, and the place where we work together to meet the needs of society.
  • Technology: harnessing to power of technology to advance learning and discovery.

These five elements provide connections and synergy across the entire UVM experience, creating a distinctive culture throughout the institution.

Tactical Imperatives for FY 2001

The strategic action plan and tactical imperatives for FY 2001 are drawn from work of the Strategic Change Process and focus on urgent issues requiring immediate attention. This represents a subset of the many areas for attention, redirection, and investment delineated in a number of other documents including the 5-Year Planning Goals and Initiatives.

The work described in this plan is critically important, since it will help UVM succeed on multiple fronts. Meeting these goals will have a positive effect on our:

  •  applicant pool and retention rates
  •  ability to compete with other institutions
  •  perceived value among current and prospective students
  •  image, in Vermont and nationally
  •  development as a multicultural campus
  •  capacity to find sustainable sources of revenue to support essential expenditures
  •  ability to garner external support (government and private)
  •  resources available for faculty and staff compensation

To accomplish this, the University will adopt a cohesive planning and budget process at all levels, linking college, department, and unit efforts, the Faculty Senate Academic Program Review Process, and the university strategic action plan. This framework will be in place by December 2000.

Review and focus academic programs.

Over time, this may mean consolidation and elimination of some programs and strengthening of others.

Proposed measures:

  • Percentage of academic programs reviewed annually

Target: 20% in FY 2002

  • Strategic changes in funding related to academic programs

Target: For FY 2002, budgets of programs related to the environment and faculty recruitment decisions resulting from the voluntary separation program


  • The Faculty Senate Academic Program Review Process, with approval targeted for November 2000, will continue throughout this period, focused on issues of quality and value in all academic programs.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, the appropriate deans (SNR, CALS, A&S, E&M, Medicine), and the Interim Director of the Environmental Studies Program, will assess the funding and administrative structure of programs related to the environment, eliminating structural redundancies and forging collaborations. Budget allocations for FY2002 will reflect any changes.
  • By April 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, and appropriate deans, will take steps to simplify the array of graduate programs through program consolidation, elimination, and revision, while enhancing the quality of those programs that continue.
  • By April 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, appropriate deans, and key administrators, will establish university goals for programs serving the educational needs of adults, professionals, and non-traditional students.
  • By January 1, 2002, the Provost, working with faculty leadership and the appropriate deans (CALS, A&S, Medicine), will assess the funding and administrative structure of programs related to the life sciences, eliminating structural redundancies and forging collaborations. Budget allocations for FY2003 will reflect any changes.

Recruit and retain an excellent and diverse student body.

Recruiting and retaining excellent, diverse students are at the very heart of UVM’s future. Excellence or quality in this context begins with academic ability, but also includes diversity, social commitment and involvement, special talents (creative, artistic, etc.), and geographic/international representation. Competition for these students is intense, and we must invest in and employ a variety of new and effective strategies if we are to meet our objectives. Our ability to accomplish this task is a key to our success as a university.

Proposed measures:

  • Size of undergraduate applicant pool with sustained applicant quality

Target: Increase pool for Fall 2002 by 7%

  • Yield of undergraduate applicants in specific areas

Target: Increase yields for Vermonters, National Merit Scholars, and students of color

  • Overall student retention rate from first year to second year

Target: Increase of one percentage point per year

  • Student retention rate for specific populations to ensure quality and excellence (i.e. high GPA, students of color, etc.)

Target: Improve on current general retention rate in each specific area


  • By November 1, 2000, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, working with key administrators, will establish a full tuition scholarship program for Vermont's strongest students, beginning with the entering class for Fall 2001.
  • By December 1, 2000, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, working with key community members, will identify strategies to improve the quality (academic ability and diversity) of the entering class for Fall 2002.
    • Increase funding of scholarships in FY2002.
    • Implement new strategies to increase prospect and applicant pools, including greater and more effective use of technology.
    • Develop targeted recruitment approaches for high-ability students, including a special strategy for talented Vermont students.
    • Increase opportunities for honors work.
    • Develop partnerships with targeted secondary schools with large populations of students of color.
  • By March 1, 2001, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, working with key administrators, faculty, staff and students, will address issues of student retention, with a target of improving retention rates for 1st and 2nd year students by 1 percentage point per year for the next 3 years.
    • Analyze why students are leaving and from which programs, schools, colleges; take steps to address identified problems.
    • Coordinate first year programs across colleges and schools.
    • Implement selected recommendations from the Senate and the Strategic Change Work Groups to improve faculty advising and mentoring across the university.
    • Train staff to provide services and advice to an increasingly diverse student population.

Increase diversity at UVM and better support existing people and programs

The University has an Affirmative Action Plan and that plan sets forth hiring goals for ALANA persons in accordance with applicable federal law, including Executive Order 11246. The University seeks to widen the diversity of its applicant pools, thereby increasing the likelihood that qualified ALANA people will be hired. The University has had great difficulty in attracting and retaining ALANA faculty and staff. It is time to focus more on implementing ideas we already have and less on generating and discussing new ones. Particular emphasis will be put on the recruitment and retention of ALANA people.

Proposed measures:

  • The proportion of new appointments meeting or exceeding the goals set forth in the University’s Affirmative Action Plan

Target: Progress towards established goals.

  • Retention of ALANA faculty and staff

Target: Match or exceed overall retention rate for all UVM faculty and staff.


  • Beginning September 1, 2000, the Provost will assign recruitment resources based in part upon the potential for creating diverse applicant pools.
  • Beginning September 1, 2000, the Provost and Vice Presidents will include performance in increasing diversity in candidate pools in the annual reviews of all hiring officials.
  • By November 1, 2000, the Provost and Vice Presidents will appoint affirmative action liaisons in each college and/or division to seek advice for and monitor hiring efforts; appropriate training will by provided by the Office of Affirmative Action.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost or her designee will begin exit interviews of ALANA faculty and staff to determine their reasons for leaving the University. These exit interviews will be coordinated with related institutional initiatives. Information gathered in exit interviews may assist the University in devising strategies for increasing retention of its ALANA employees.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost and the Affirmative Action Officer begin interviewing ALANA persons who receive, but decline, offers of employment at the University. Information gathered during these interviews may assist the University in addressing barriers (internal and external to the University) of which the University is not currently aware.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost and the Affirmative Action Officer, working with the Human Resources and Training and Development, will develop a mandatory training program for all managers and supervisors to support the retention of ALANA faculty and staff. Training of the current workforce is to be completed by January 1, 2002 and subsequent training will be provided, as appropriate, as a part of new employee orientation.
  • By March 1, 2001, working closely with the Offices of Affirmative Action and Institutional Studies, each college or division will produce a profile of its existing workforce, a 2-year historical analysis of its hires, terminations and promotions, and a projection of anticipated vacancies and hiring opportunities to be reviewed by the President and the Provost.

Increase Financial Strength

For some years, UVM’s sustainable sources of revenue have not fully supported essential expenditures. This is one of the reasons we fall short in terms of perceived value among current and prospective students, while we engage in a continuous struggle to do all we are doing with limited resources. The effort to increase financial strength will entail cost cutting, eliminating duplication and inefficiency, reengineering services and activities, generating new revenue, and ensuring that all we do is of high quality and critical to fulfilling our mission as a university. We need to maximize revenue, by improving our performance in generating endowment and other investment income, gifts, indirect cost reimbursement, and tuition revenue. Accomplishing this goal will create opportunities for strategic investment in targeted areas, as well as allow us to better address longstanding problems such as faculty and staff compensation. Fiscal conditions are evidence of the success of other university actions (i.e. increased enrollment and retention, research, instructional quality, program review, capital campaign, etc.). Tuition will continue as the major single source of university revenue. Efforts to increase student outcomes in recruitment, retention and graduation will enhance financial stability. Thus, quality contributes to financial strength.

Proposed measures:

  • Net tuition per student

Target: Net tuition per student should increase annually.

  • Net tuition dependency ration

Target: Net tuition revenue to equal less than 60% of operating income.

  • Endowment per student

Target: Exceed endowment per FTE student average for Public Research Extensive Universities

  • State appropriation

Target: State support should equal 25% of general fund revenue by FY 2006.

  • Compensation

Target: Increases should improve faculty and staff compensation relative to its peers.

  • Number of UVM employees

Target: Number of employees should decrease reflecting the Voluntary Separation Program, budget reductions, and other university work redesign efforts.

(Proposed measures related to enrollment may be found under Recruit and retain an excellent and diverse student body.)


  • Based upon FY 2001 budget reductions, by October 1, 2000, the deans will recommend programs for consideration and change over a three-year period. Increases in retention and recruitment will lead to investments of new resources in targeted academic programs based on established criteria.
  • By October 1, 2000, initial budget parameters for FY 2002 will be set to delineate further reductions in college, school, and division budgets, revenue enhancements where appropriate, and strategic investments in targeted areas, reflecting the priorities of the strategic plan.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Vice President for University Relations and Operations, working with key administrators, will take initial steps leading to further reductions in administrative costs over a three-year period, while maintaining or enhancing services central to our mission.
  • Establish a university-wide system for assessment and action, including unit plans, performance measures, workflow analysis, and evaluation criteria.
  • Implement priority redesign initiatives, including major processes involving multiple units.
  • Identify technology needs and technology-driven redesign opportunities.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Division of Student Affairs will recommend reductions in general fund expenditures over a three-year period.
  • Assess overall student affairs offerings to determine the appropriate scope, quality and focus for UVM.
  • Begin elimination of program components that do not provide strategic benefit to UVM.
  • Implement strategies to enhance programs that provide strategic benefit to UVM.
  • By October 1, 2001, budget parameters for FY 2003 will be set reflecting the priorities of the strategic plan. These parameters will also incorporate experience with redesigned instructional and administrative operations and improvements in revenue measures such as improved retention.
  • Build and strengthen UVM’s image and external support.
  • Research indicates that UVM’s image is ambiguous and unclear. Such a relative blank slate leaves room for negative images (e.g. "party school") to receive inordinate attention, damaging UVM’s academic reputation. This issue is closely intertwined with our ability to take advantage of significant untapped potential in the fundraising/external support arena, and success will require investment to create additional capacity to improve in this area.

Proposed measures:

  • Stakeholder perceptions as compared and contrasted with the university's desired image.

Target: See fourth action step below.

  • Number of donors and dollars contributed.

Target: Achievement of goals set through the campaign planning study.

  • Lifelong relationship index (measure of involvement).

Target: Increase by 10 percentage points the number of alumni with university involvement over the life of the campaign


  • By September 1, 2000, the Vice Presidents for University Relations and Operations and for Development and Alumni Relations will finalize the strategy for image development, including identification of resources to support this work.
  • Assuming an adequate resource base, by September 1, 2000, the university will engage outside resources for image development, dissemination efforts, and related research.
  • By January 1, 2001, the Vice Provost for Research will take initial steps to enhance research capacity in selected areas consonant with the university’s mission and priorities (e.g. biomedical sciences, environmental science and policy), leading to increased revenues.
  • By April 1, 2001, a mix of print, oral and electronic strategies to enhance communication with the university's overall constituent family and targeted prospect segments will be identified.
  • By April 1, 2001, develop methodology to assess degree of connection between perceived and desired image of the university on an ongoing basis.
  • By April 1, 2001, the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, working with senior leadership, will develop the draft case for support of a focused list of funding priorities emanating from the strategic planning process at the university and the college/school/program levels.
  • By July 1, 2001, define and finalize desired image through an assessment of current perceptions, current strengths and strategic goals.
  • By July 1, 2001, the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, a campaign planning study task force, and outside counsel will complete a campaign planning study and finalize the funding strategy.

These tactical imperatives represent a series of first steps, taken within the context of longer-range strategic thinking and action. As the results of these imperatives are realized, they will guide and inform subsequent choices and decisions. Again, such decisions will be based on the fundamental framework outlined at the outset of this document.


1UVM's many strengths include:

  • A distinguished history as one of New England's first universities, and sustained intellectual rigor and academic excellence
  • An effective blend of liberal and professional education
  • Moderate size, coupled with a variety of schools that provide the features of a comprehensive university, but on a human scale
  • An excellent faculty engaged in the creation and application of new knowledge, with a strong commitment to teaching and working closely with students
  • A highly competent, motivated staff
  • A mixture of fine undergraduate and graduate students from Vermont, the nation, and the world, who combine a strong commitment to academic life with extensive community service and involvement in outdoor activities
  • A campus set in a beautiful location and with a balance of historical buildings and new facilities
  • Carefully managed finances throughout the University
  • Enthusiastic and supportive alumni and significant potential for additional private philanthropy

2Specific challenges in these areas include:

  • Declines in the size of our applicant pool and retention rates
  • Increasingly intense external competition from other educational providers
  • Weaker than appropriate perceptions of value relative to price
  • Ambiguity in our image, including our "party school" reputation
  • Less progress than we desire in increasing diversity
  • Lower than needed sustainable sources of revenue
  • Finding ways to reduce duplication and inefficiency in programs and services
  • Fully realizing fundraising potential
  • Less competitive than desirable compensation levels for faculty and staff