University of Vermont

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees, Chair's Report

David A. Daigle
UVM Board of Trustees Chair’s Report
October 25, 2019

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our annual October board meeting on this lovely fall day.

2019 will go into the UVM history books as a year of change. President Sullivan and Provost Rosowsky stepped down from their positions after making meaningful and lasting contributions during their terms. We are excited to have the new dynamic duo of President Garimella and Provost Prelock assuming these critically important roles.

For those of you who attended the installation ceremony for President Garimella earlier in the month, I hope it gave you a better sense of him as a person, his principles and values, and a few hints about where we may be heading together. For everyone who contributed to such an amazing and memorable event, I want to thank you personally, and on behalf of our board. I especially want to thank Kelly O’Malley, Patty Prelock, and Tom Chittenden for their contributions to the production.

2019 will also be remembered for the closing of UVM’s third, and largest, capital campaign. With total campaign commitments of $581 million, we have moved UVM onto to a different plane of philanthropic support, when we need that support more than ever. Thank you to everyone who made this campaign a huge success, to all of those who contributed, and to Foundation President and CEO Shane Jacobson, and the entire UVM Foundation team. I will remind you of a line that our consultant shared with us during the campaign: donors give to success, not need. They share a deep desire to see faculty and students succeed at the highest possible level.

Change is also evident away from this campus, across the arc of higher education. Aside from a handful of elite private and public institutions, stress fractures in the higher education system continue to emerge. A combination of adverse demographic trends, cost escalation along with its twin rising student debt, and an undercurrent of disenchantment with higher education will inevitably create real challenges for many universities, including UVM.  For some, that time is here.

We must adapt, or our relevance, and our finances, will be in jeopardy. It is impossible to predict with precision where we are heading, and what changes will need to be implemented, but the range of potential outcomes for UVM is very wide, and we can best control our destiny only if we accept the need for change. Disruption is real, it is accelerating, and it requires us to be vigilant in reacting and responding. Notwithstanding the uncertainty, I am confident that with the right strategies and a willingness to change, UVM can shine and sustain its commitments in teaching and research for decades to come.

This concludes my chair’s report.

Last modified October 28 2019 12:04 PM