University of Vermont

Board of Trustees


Robert F. Cioffi
Board of Trustees, Chair's Report
February 3, 2012

Good morning and welcome. As always, we have a full agenda so I will attempt to keep my remarks as brief as possible. Let me start by noting what an important moment this is for this Board and for the University community. Choosing a President is perhaps the most critical task of a Board of Trustees, and the past two weeks spent engaging our final candidates can only be described as exceptionally positive for everyone involved. And having observed and participated in the entire process, I want to state for the record: We should all be very, very proud of The University of Vermont for who we are, where we are, and for all we have accomplished together.

There is nothing like external validation to help us see ourselves more clearly. We attracted a group of truly exceptional candidates to seek the presidency ... something I do not think we would have been able to do if we weren't in such a positive position as an institution. To a person, our final candidates extolled our virtues, values, and accomplishments, and reminded us what a special place this is. Our community showed its best features as well as its challenges, in a warm, respectful, positive way, and as Chair of the Search Committee I could not be more pleased and appreciative of how well the process has gone.

From the great press coverage we have received to the broad engagement of the Campus and Vermont communities to the feedback we have received from 98% of those who interviewed the candidates; this has been a spectacularly successful series of visits. When was the last time you heard of a 98% return rate on anything?? Remember that the next time you hear someone say that UVM is an apathetic place! My profound thanks to all those who have participated in this important effort, especially our very dedicated Search Committee, and the person who has looked after each and every detail with flawless precision and good humor, Gary Derr. I have every confidence that the fruits of our labors will be displayed soon in an exceptional new leader for UVM.

This is our first Board meeting of 2012. Take just a moment and think back one year to February, 2011. Who could have predicted the wild ride we were about to take, and the tumultuous period that lay ahead. I am not going to relive 2011 in detail, but I will tell you that our challenges commanded mine and this Board's full attention, and there were times that I didn't know how things would turn out.

Now, a year later, let's look at where we are. We are attracting amazing individuals who want to be our next leader. Relations with the administration in Montpelier have improved greatly. The Governor wants to invest more in UVM. Our enrollment picture remains strong. Faculty continue to receive national and international acclaim for their work. The talent, performance, and potential of our students is outstanding. Our hardworking staff keeps the place going forward. Our alumni support us and are proud of their University. We are working to make important strategic choices that will strengthen our future. In other words: Despite our challenges, we are in good condition.

Our ability to transcend the difficulties of the past year has been fueled by the members of this dynamic and engaged community, who continue to believe in the compelling, vigorous force for good that UVM represents, and its potential to be even better. We owe thanks to so many who have contributed to our current success - far too many to name here. But let me use the Chair's prerogative and name one: Our Interim President, John Bramley. John, without your leadership, relationships, and love for this place, John, we would not be in the enviably strong position we are in today. Your re-engagement with us has been our incredible good fortune. Thank you, John, for all you have done for us in these six short months, and all that you will continue to do before wrapping up this summer. (applause).

There is another person I want to mention, even though she is not here today and is enjoying some warmer climes. Karen Meyer has officially retired, effective just a few days ago, and I want to take a moment to recognize and thank her for her many accomplishments in her eight years as Vice President for Government Relations. Karen will continue to offer some part time assistance to us and to John in the important work of the committee appointed by the Governor that is examining UVM's relationship to Vermont. As you know, Karen is a former member of this Board, and has now accepted a position on the Board of the UVM Foundation for which we are most grateful. Please join me in thanking Karen Meyer for her many contributions to UVM. (applause).

In closing, I wish to note that the UVM Board will meet tomorrow to discuss candidates to welcome to the Board by March 1. Let me make a prediction: Lisa Ventriss will be among them. We also welcome today our new Student Trustee, Dennis Mahoney, who will be replacing our retiring student Trustee, Brian Sozansky. Welcome, Dennis.

And speaking of retiring Trustees, we will have an opportunity to honor them individually at dinner tonight, but I cannot let this moment pass without collectively recognizing them: Brian Sozansky, John Hilton, and my predecessor as Chair, Ian Boyce. Gentlemen: We salute you and thank you for your excellent and unselfish service to this Board. (applause).

This concludes my report.

Last modified September 21 2013 06:48 AM