As we enter the new year, we take a look back at some of the biggest moments at the University of Vermont in 2018.
1. A Changing Campus
Transformation continued on campus, with brand new facilities opened, and historic buildings reopened with new purpose. Ifshin Hall features new classrooms, study rooms, and an atrium that has changed the face of the Grossman School of Business. Fall also saw the opening of UVM’s first integrated center for the creative arts. The former Taft School was renovated and repurposed into Michele and Martin Cohen Hall, bringing together studios, labs, and teaching spaces. And, historic Billings Library has a new life as an academic center, home to Special Collections, the Holocaust Center, the Humanities Center, and the Center for Research on Vermont. To date, at least 20 key facilities have been constructed or renovated since the Move Mountains campaign began.
2. Mountains Moved
Thanks to gifts from more than 70,000 alumni, parents, community members, and friends, Move Mountains, the ambitious fundraising campaign for the University, surpassed its initial $500 million goal 11 months ahead of schedule. Among the landmark gifts made this year: a $15 million gift from philanthropists Rich and Deb Tarrant to the Multi-Purpose Center project, and a $5 million gift to establish the MassMutual Center for Complex Systems and Data Science.
3. Hummel’s Novel a Top Pick
Assistant professor of English Maria Hummel’s novel "Still Lives" made its mark with readers. The ’94 UVM grad’s latest work was selected by both the Book of the Month Club and Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. Read more about Hummel’s book.
4. A Push for Justice, Progress
Early in the spring semester, a student group called NoNames for Justice launched a protest demanding that the university administration take stronger action on race-related issues, improve diversity courses and training for faculty and staff, and remove a name from a campus building of an individual linked to the Vermont eugenics movement.
Since these student actions, the administration has made tangible progress. Based on a recommendation from the university’s Renaming Advisory Committee, the Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of Guy Bailey, UVM’s 13th president, from the main university library. And, the life and work of Andrew Harris, Class of 1838, UVM’s first African-American graduate and a noted abolitionist, was remembered with the installation of a historic marker and the formal naming of the green between the Davis Center and library in his honor. Follow along with progress on advancing diversity and inclusion at UVM.
5. Wellness Environment Named a National Leader
UVM’s Wellness Environment, an innovative, neuroscience-inspired program that incentivizes students to build healthy brains and bodies, was featured on CBS "This Morning" and in the Chronicle of Higher Education. WE’s enrollment has grown from 120, when the program was launched in 2015, to more than 1,200 today.
6. Green and Gold
A record number of athletes with ties to UVM competed in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Amanda Pelkey ’15 became the fifth Catamount to win gold with Team USA in women’s ice hockey; Jonathan Nordbotten ’14 won bronze for Norway; and Kevin Drury ’14 narrowly missed the podium for Canada in men’s ski cross, placing fourth. See results for Catamounts who took part in the 2018 games.
7. World-Shifting Research
It was a year of breakthroughs, from discoveries about climate change’s impact on reef fish, to a new tool to judge gerrymandering, to research on one of the world’s most important crops, chickpeas. Stories were covered by Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Axios, and more. See some of the most talked-about discoveries of the year.
And, four UVM professors were ranked among the most cited researchers in the world: Taylor Ricketts, director of UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and Gund Professor at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; Mary Cushman, professor of medicine and of pathology and laboratory medicine in UVM’s Larner College of Medicine; Russell Tracy, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and of biochemistry in the Larner College of Medicine; and Richard Page, dean of the Larner College of Medicine and a professor of medicine.
8. The Class of 2022, Record Breakers
For the fourth year in a row, UVM’s incoming class achieved the highest academic credentials in the university’s history. The Class of 2022, an estimated 2,500 students, hails from 43 states and 15 countries. First-year students arrived on campus in August for Opening Weekend, which included a twilight induction ceremony. Read more about this record-breaking class.
9. Introducing DeepGreen
UVM’s supercomputer is now faster. A lot faster. The National Science Foundation awarded the university a $1 million grant to significantly upgrade its Vermont Advanced Computing Core. The new high-performance cluster, dubbed DeepGreen, will be able to achieve a speed equivalent to 20,000 laptop computers working in tandem.
10. Conversations on Campus
Visitors to UVM led thought-provoking talks throughout the year. Thousands gathered on election night to hear a conversation between poet Major Jackson and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the celebrated author of the Class of 2022’s first-year read, “Between the World and Me.” “Voting is not the end of your political engagement," said Coates. “We need to do all of that other work, so that when we fill out the ballot we aren’t just trying to forestall evil.”
Other visitors included: comedian Michelle Wolf; Senator Bernie Sanders; Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and former gymnast who was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual assault; writer Jelani Cobb and ABC News’ John Quiñones; intellectual and activist Marc Lamont Hill; and alumni Richard Ross ‘67, an artist whose recent work explores the juvenile justice system, and Alexander Nemerov ‘85, a noted art scholar who delivered the 2018 commencement address. His words of wisdom? Honor your own “illuminations of goodness in the world.”
11. Tops in Peace Corps
For the tenth year in a row, UVM ranked among the Peace Corps’ top volunteer-producing colleges. The university placed at No. 7 among medium sized schools. As of February, more than 900 alumni have served in the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961.
12. No. 1 Green MBA
For the second year in a row, UVM topped The Princeton Review’s “Best Green MBA” list. Through the Grossman School of Business’ Sustainable Innovation MBA program, “we train and launch the next generation of leaders who will create and reinvent profitable business models to address 21st century challenges pertaining to climate change, social inequities, and widening income equality, to name a few,” says David Jones, academic director of the program.
13. Young Leaders Shine
Some of UVM’s brightest young leaders were honored this year: Sasha Fisher ’10 received an Obama Fellowship for her pioneering community development work. Fisher, who co-founded Spark Microgrants, has impacted more than 178 African communities. Plus, three Catamounts were named to Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list, including professor Michael Ruggiero and alumnae Claire Neaton ’12 and Ariel Wengroff ’10.
14. Social Buzz
And in the world of social media, it was the year of the cat (and dog). Our most-liked photos on Instagram: a river of green and gold foliage, captured by senior Colby Yee, and a pair of pets showing off their UVM pride, taken by 2018 grads Emily and Abigayle. Our most popular Facebook post: announcing UVM's spot on Architectural Digest's 50 Most Beautiful Colleges in America.
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