University of Vermont

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees, Chair's Report

Deborah H. McAneny
Board of Trustees, Chair’s Report
October 17, 2014

I have been coming back regularly to UVM for 10 years now and each time I arrive I have the palpable sense that it is nice to be home. Especially this time of year. The light and colors of Vermont are magnificent and the campus is humming with the energy of a new class and excitement for a new academic year ahead.

I had the opportunity to be here last week to attend my first meeting of the UVM Foundation Board and several wonderful events sponsored by the Foundation around Homecoming weekend. I am here to report that seeing the Foundation in action, and meeting so many of the talented, engaged and highly enthusiastic board members and leadership council members was one of the most fulfilling times in my tenure at UVM. Some of us remember when the Foundation was just a passing idea-just a twinkle in the eyes of a few. But now, after three short years, our UVM Foundation is not only alive but it is buzzing with vitality and enthusiasm for its mission and the future. There are countless positive measures of the Foundation's success but here's one that says it all: for the year ending June 2014 the foundation received $55M in new commitments-up 175% since the launch of the Foundation in 2011 when we raised just $20M.

I want to take a moment to thank this Board for its vision and its willingness to take a leap and form the Foundation. It wasn't easy giving up the reigns on our critical fund raising operation, but I think we can now safely say it was clearly the right thing to do. I want to express gratitude to the members of the Foundation Board and the Foundation Leadership Council who, like you, have generously committed their time and energy to making our University a great success. And last, but certainly not least, I want to congratulate and thank Rich Bundy and his entire team at the Foundation for all their time, energy, passion and hard work-because of them we are well on our way to building an even stronger future for the University of Vermont.

Over the summer the annual Presidential Review was completed, and I am pleased to say that President Tom Sullivan received an excellent performance review. I have previously advised the Executive Committee that Tom informed me that he did not wish to receive a pay increase for the 2015 fiscal year. You will recall that for the 2014 fiscal year Tom contributed his pay increase to student scholarships, and he plans to continue this commitment to make substantial contributions to student scholarships going forward. I think we all can agree, it is moments like these that make us all grateful to have him as our President. Thank you, Tom.

Let me take a minute to express the Board's recognition of the importance of the Incentive Based Budgeting initiative. We are all paying very close attention to the implementation, and wish to acknowledge that progress toward the July 2015 launch of IBB has been nothing short of extraordinary. The campus has truly become engaged with a common goal of producing a working "Version 1.0" of the new budget model. Owing to the tremendous effort by so many on the campus in an inclusive and transparent process, the University is on-time and on-target with this very important two-year effort.

We have been most impressed by the tireless commitment to open and timely communications throughout this entire effort, and we commend the Provost for his leadership of this important implementation. Let me also acknowledge and recognize the Core Budget Group and Steering Committee members and the many people who served on the committees and numerous subcommittees for their countless hours of service to this critically important undertaking. You are all the true architects of IBB at UVM.

The competitive landscape of higher education is changing and we all recognize that change can be difficult. Given the shifting landscape, we believe IBB offers an opportunity for units to adapt and take ownership over decisions and be more entrepreneurial in decision making as they plan for the future. The Board is highly interested in this initiative and we look forward to regular progress updates.

The Board also embraces the sustained focus on academic excellence as an imperative in this highly competitive environment. We fully endorse the eight Academic Excellence Goals put forward by the Provost that support the President's Strategic Action Plan. These are the right goals for UVM, as a great university that is fortifying its commitment to academic quality and excellence across its programs, and they include a compelling plan to achieve measurable and reportable outcomes

Taken together, the goals and the mechanisms for achieving them, represent a critical step forward for UVM. We commend the University for moving swiftly and strategically toward elevating these most important academic quality indicators, to allow UVM to continue to compete favorably for top students and maintain its reputation in the intensely competitive higher education market.

We applaud the Provost and the academic deans for the significant efforts they are undertaking this year, with the faculty in the colleges and schools, to thoroughly assess and improve student academic advising and evaluation of teaching effectiveness. These are essential elements for a high quality higher education institution, and the commitment demonstrated by the academic leadership here underscores the priorities our University places on student success and the quality of our teaching and learning environment.

Given the demanding environment UVM inhabits, we are asking the President, Provost, and the University leadership to articulate a value proposition that tracks graduate outcomes (such as job placement rates and average starting salaries), and establishes measurable performance indicators for academic quality and impact.

We are fully supportive of the visionary and energetic leadership being provided by the President and Provost, and the active engagement of the University Community in the process of setting a successful course for UVM. I believe we have the right team for UVM at this time in its history, as we adjust to the new realities facing higher education and to ensure a productive, prosperous, and sustainable future for our great university. We expect and embrace change, and we endorse modernization and evolution, while preserving the best of the values and traditions of Vermont's University. We look forward to the journey ahead.

This ends my remarks.

Last modified October 17 2014 10:36 AM