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Open Letter to the University of Vermont Board of Trustees: Restore UVM’s Resources to Academics

This letter with signatures will be shared with trustees, legislators, the press, alumni, and academic and professional societies. CLICK HERE to sign if you are a University of Vermont faculty member, staff, or graduate student worker. If you are a student, alum, parent, community member, or other supporter of liberal arts education, you can read and sign our public petition here.

 

Open Letter to the University of Vermont Board of Trustees: Restore UVM’s Resources to Academics

 

For decades faculty and staff have dedicated themselves to building the University of Vermont’s reputation as a public ivy, a rare state university that combines the expansive opportunities of a research institution with the intellectual rigor and individual attention of a liberal arts college.

 

In the past five years, however, administrative priorities—including systematic underfunding of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and overspending on extra-academic amenities, consultants, and administration—have undermined UVM’s promise to its students and its reputation for excellence. CAS is at the heart of the university’s mission to provide a comprehensive liberal arts education, offering courses in natural science, social science, humanities, and the arts that are essential to the education of students in all seven of UVM’s undergraduate degree-granting colleges. Now UVM’s hard-won reputation as a public ivy is imperiled by a manufactured budget crisis that puts three liberal arts departments and more than two dozen CAS majors and minors on the chopping block. 

 

Budgets are about priorities. An examination of UVM’s budget exposes that UVM’s top administrators have failed to prioritize the university’s liberal arts core, instead treating CAS as a cash cow and leaving CAS with diminishing funds to support its departments and programs. Over the past five years CAS has contributed some $88 million in net undergraduate tuition to the provost’s “subvention fund.” However, in that same five-year period, CAS only received $54 million from that fund to support its departments and programs. This flow of CAS revenues out of the college is the source of the growing “structural deficit.” It is a manufactured deficit, generated by central administration removing millions from the college’s balance sheet. In reality, CAS continues to operate in the black, and in the past five years has subsidized other units to the tune of $34 million, while offering courses essential to the education of students across the university.

 

Why the administration fails to see the value, either educational or monetary, of what CAS contributes to the university is hard to fathom. It is further disturbing that at a time when we face unprecedented environmental, social, and geopolitical challenges, the administration has placed in jeopardy those departments, programs, and majors and minors advancing environmental health and social diversity.

 

We, the undersigned faculty and staff at the University of Vermont, call on the Board of Trustees to halt immediately the threatened closure of the departments of Classics, Geology, and Religion; the cancellation of 27 majors, minors, and graduate programs; the consolidation and downsizing of our language and fine arts programs; and the termination of three award-winning and long-serving senior lecturers. 

 

We further call on the Board of Trustees to correct UVM’s course on spending priorities. What UVM faces is not a financial crisis but a values crisis.

 

Val Rohy English Department

Mary C. Burke, PhD Sociology

Jacqueline S Weinstock Leadership and Developmental Sciences

Sarah Osten History

Nancy Welch Professor of English

Val Rohy English Department

Meaghan Emery Romance Languages and Cultures

Helen Scott English

Brad Bauerly Political Science

Lori Roberts OBGYN – College of Medicine

Jeanne L. Shea Anthropology

Teresa Mares Anthropology

Katherine Merrill Mathematics and Statistics Department

Daniel Munteanu Biology

Helen Morgan Parmett Theatre & Dance

Harlan Morehouse Geography

Ellen Andersen Political Science/Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Deborah Cafiero Romance Languages and Cultures

Linden Higgins Biology

Guillermo Rodriguez Linguistics

Sean L. Field History

Susan A. Comerford Social Work

Kathleen Scollins Department of German and Russian

Susan Comerford Social Work

Lutz Kaelber Sociology

Eric Lindstrom English

Richard Single Mathematics and Statistics

Prof. David Feurzeig Department of Music

Gretchen van Slyke Romance Languages and Cultures

Charles-Louis Morand-Metivier Romance Languages and Cultures

Brian Tokar Environmental Studies

Patricia Julien Music

sin yee chan Philosophy

Adriana Borra RLC,  German & Russian

Jacqueline S. Weinstock Human Development & Family Studies

Mary C. Burke, PhD Sociology

Shana Haines CESS

Jeffrey D. Marshall Libraries

Sheila Boland Chira English

Julie Roberts Linguistics Program

Jamie Abaied Psychological Science

Lori Stevens Biology

Rachael Montesano Romance Languages and Cultures

Anna Lam Classics

Mike Blouin Rubenstein School

Mary Louise Kete English

Daniel A. Jones Geology 🙁

Matthew Liptak Chemistry

Keith Burt Psychological Science