University of Vermont

Board of Trustees


Robert F. Cioffi
Board of Trustees, Chair's Report
October 21, 2011

Good morning, everyone, and welcome. I will be delivering a brief report this morn-ing, as we have a full agenda. Actually, when do we not have a full agenda? At any rate, here goes:

There is a Chinese Proverb that is translated as follows: "May you live in inter-esting times." Actually, this proverb is more often called: "The Chinese Curse." I will tell you that in the context of my time on this Board in general, and specifically during my tenure as Chair, I can safely say, "Mission accomplished!" It is hard for me to imagine a time of more twists, turns, highs, and lows, and I can report to you that these are indeed interesting times. I should report that this curse is the least serious of a group of three Chinese Curses, the more powerful ones being, "May you come to the attention of those in authority," and "May your wishes be granted." I have considered the pros and cons of these other two, but have decided I am not cut out to be a multi-tasker of curses. One curse at a time is plenty, thank you very much.

So, how are we doing in these "interesting times," anyway? I must tell you that, in spite of a few scrapes and bruises, we are doing very well. Our University continues to make forward progress by being smart, opportunistic, and doing what must be done to strengthen our hand for the future. Much has happened since our last Board meeting on this campus, and most has been very positive.

Some examples:

  • We have enjoyed a smooth Presidential transition, and as we knew he would, John Bram-ley has hit the ground running and has accomplished a great deal, with honesty, transpar-ency, humility, and a good sense of humor. As I have said before, thank you John (and Janet) for agreeing to help us during the interim period.
  • The academic year got off to a very good start, with some 2500 new students experiencing UVM for the first time. Once again, we can report that the incoming class is among one of our strongest on many fronts including academics and diversity. They join a student body which many of our peers and indeed some of our aspirants would be thrilled to have.
  • Our Presidential Search is on schedule, and our pool of interested candidates looks strong. We will be meeting over the next few weeks to narrow this pool to a list of semi-finalists with the intent of bring 2-4 finalists to campus in late January.
  • Fletcher Allen Health Care is also searching for a new CEO, and the timing of the two searches should prove fortuitous. As many of you know, I have asked Rick Morin, Patty Prelock and Carl Lisman to serve on this search committee on behalf of the University.
  • We just completed a highly successful and well-attended Alum-ni/Reunion/Parents weekend, with scores of different events and an attendance of over 5,000. Please take the opportunity over the next couple of days to thank Rich Bundy and his staff on pulling off a first for UVM with the combination of these three events.
  • The UVM Foundation also met last week. I attended those meetings and can re-port that we have a highly enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated set of volunteers and de-velopment professionals involved in the Foundation. We are on target to officially kick off the new UVM Foundation on January 1, 2012.
  • The Strategic Initiatives Project is moving ahead under the leadership of Provost Knodell, with the goal of focusing our institution on what is most important, and creating opportunities to invest in our highest priorities - which is what any successful organiza-tion must do. We will hear more about these initiatives during our meetings.
  • The process to create a General Education curriculum is moving forward, as are initiatives within the Transdisciplinary Research Initiative.
  • Our athletes earned a seventh straight America East Academic Cup for the high-est collective grades among our competitive peers. And I note that our Club Football team is ranked first in the nation.
  • We have made progress in negotiations with United Academics, to the point that we believed we had a mutually acceptable preliminary agreement last week. It now ap-pears that there may be more work to do, but we are hopeful that closure in the near term is possible.
  • Our relations with the Governor are in a healthier place, and Governor Shumlin and John Bramley are finding much common ground to work together for the good of both UVM and Vermont, including a willingness to examine our current relationship with the state and see if it can be made better.
  • UVM has been a very active player in helping Vermont deal with the many complex and difficult problems created by Tropical Storm Irene. We hope all affected will be back on their feet soon, and Vermont's University will continue to provide assis-tance wherever we can.
  • And lastly, recognizing our many challenges, this Board continues to work ef-fectively and tirelessly in the best interests of The University of Vermont. I continue to be proud of and grateful for our work together.

I could go on. But I think you can see that we continue to move forward and are ac-complishing a great deal on a great many fronts. Bumps in the road? Sure. Occasional delays and detours? They come with the territory. Controversy and disagreement? Of course. All are a part of the process of sustaining our momentum.

Yes, we are living in interesting times. I want to thank everyone gathered here to-day, as well as our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends for all you are doing to keep Ver-mont's University moving ahead. I look forward to our continuing work together.

In closing, I want to take a moment to recognize an employment milestone of a per-son without whom this Board could not function. Will Corinne Thompson please stand? Corinne, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for 25 years of outstanding service to our University, and for all you do every day for this Board. Well done! (Flowers presented to Corinne).

Thank you. This ends my report.

Last modified September 21 2013 06:48 AM