University of Vermont

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees, Chair's Report

David A. Daigle
UVM Board of Trustees Chair’s Report
May 17, 2019

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our commencement weekend board meeting.

Our May meeting is always an opportune time to reflect on our purpose as an institution of higher education.  As we salute the class of 2019 graduates on their accomplishments, and bid them success in the next chapter of their lives, we should take a moment to consider how important this chapter has been for their personal development.  I hope that we can use the excitement of commencement to reaffirm our responsibility to help future generations of students advance and fulfill their dreams.

As you know, we are approaching a presidential transition at UVM.  In this year, UVM’s 228th, we will bid farewell to President Sullivan, only UVM’s 26th president, and welcome Dr. Suresh Garimella, our 27th.  Transitions bring opportunity as well as risks, and we all can play a role in creating opportunities for success and in managing risks through this transition.  As President Sullivan can attest, university presidencies are increasingly complex roles, and events beyond the control of the president can often define a president’s term.  It is gratifying to all of us that Tom is stepping down from the presidency on his own terms, at a moment when the UVM community will unquestionably view his presidency as a success.  Let me share just a few reasons why:

  • UVM’s endowment per student has reached its highest level ever, and continues to grow thanks to the tremendous efforts of many of you.  Since 2012, in real terms, the endowment per student has increased by approximately 40%.  To all of you who help in our fundraising efforts, to our friends and partners at the UVM Foundation, and especially to our donors, we thank you.  Shane will share much more about our success on this front in a few minutes, and we look forward to seeing many of you at the campaign celebration Friday evening.  Fundraising is fueled by institutional success and a belief in leadership, and President Sullivan has played an indispensable role in the success of this campaign. 
  • Academic achievement of our incoming classes has improved, with the most recent three classes being among the strongest in recent history.  There are several reasons for the improvement, including the success of our honors college, which has made UVM more competitive in terms of attracting some of the most talented students.  At the same time, our admit rate for these classes was at the low end of UVM’s recent history, while our yield was at the high end of the range.  We need to continue to make progress on these critical indicators, but the trends are visibly positive.  I want to thank all of our enrollment and admissions staff, as well as our alumni and students who play such a critical role in admitted student events, for your excellent work in building these classes.
  • We have made great strides in addressing decades of underinvestment on our campus.  Construction has come at an obvious cost, and unlike many of our peer public institutions, we had to fund this cost substantially from our own resources, without State support.  But as we near the end of the redevelopment of our central campus, we should all be excited and proud of what has been achieved, both in functional and aesthetic terms.  I want to thank all of those involved in these projects, for your vision, your relentless efforts to bring these projects online on time and on budget, and your focus on safety.
  • Our leadership at the dean level is as strong as I can recall, and perhaps as strong as it has ever been.  Across the colleges, we have a group of accomplished, experienced, talented deans who are having a positive impact not only on their colleges, but across the University as they seek to collaborate with other academic units.  All but two of our deans, if we include the current searches, were appointed in the last five years.  Our deans naturally play a critical role in academic affairs, but their roles are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial as they seek to advance their colleges in the face of new challenges.

No president is an island, and every one of these accomplishments results from the collective efforts of many.  But having an able captain at the helm enables progress, and affords safe passage in dangerous waters.  With a successful presidency under Dr. Garimella, we seek to build upon the progress that has been achieved under President Sullivan’s leadership, to continue to strengthen UVM for the benefit of future generations, and to enhance its reputation as an academic institution of excellence.

Finally, I would like to invite all trustees who are receiving a degree from UVM this weekend to please rise so that we may offer our congratulations!  Carolyn Dwyer is receiving her Doctorate in Educational and Leadership Policy Studies, and we wanted to take a moment to recognize and congratulate her on this achievement!

This concludes my chair’s report.

Last modified May 22 2019 08:47 AM