LAST ISSUE – Year in Review

The past academic year has seen a variety of happenings and changes at UVM. UVM President Daniel Fogel issued in 2003 with a declaration of excellence, the UVM Gymnastics team won a national championship, and the Redstone Green was once again filled with students demonstrating for the legalization of marijuana.

Dan FogelUVM President Daniel Fogel began Fall 2003 with a number of initiatives, plans, and goals for UVM. As the fall semester progressed, the one constant motif to come from the President’s Office seemed to characterize Fogel’s vision for the University: The Greatness Is Within Our Grasp.

With “The Greatness” in mind Fogel began an overhaul of UVM that began with the removal of 17 trees from the University Green and a newly redesigned website (with colors actively marketed/selected toward a 14-17 year old demographic).

Fogel then announced the results of what was then, a little talked about capital fund campaign, and the announcement was indeed profound: $126 million had been raised signaling more than 50% completion of the capital fund goal ahead of schedule. Among the largest was a $15 million donation lent by the New Jersey based Rubensteins. That $15 million also helped toward renaming the School of Natural Resources, the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources.

Fogel then announced plans to overhaul the physical infrastructure of UVM, beginning with the design and development of a massive Student Union Building at a cost of $70 million.

The Spring semester saw Fogel courting more and more donors (Fogel was on campus an estimated 25% of the time during the Spring semester) and fighting funding cuts from the Vermont Legislature. Early in the semester rumors began circulating about Fogel’s intention to headline commencement activities by acting as the opening and commencement speaker. After an arduous search, word was passed down that play write David Mamet had accepted the invitation to speak at commencement ceremonies.

The news signaled the first of what was to be a major change in this year’s commencement activities, including the decoration of downtown with UVM insignia, redesigned diplomas. Even the caps and gowns will be given a face lift.

Town-GownOver the past year the Burlington community has responded to UVM and its off campus students with a number of pro-active steps. Among them was the Neighborhood Action Project (NAP had been in existence for four years, although this year saw the NAP more aggressive and pointed in the patrols of downtown Burlington). The Student Government Association has responded to the escalating tension between UVM students and Burlington residents by producing an off campus housing video and offering several informational session around the issue of town-gown relations.

UVM and Coca-ColaThis past fall The University of Vermont signed a $4.3 million contract with Coca-Cola. Pepsi came in just shy of Coke’s bid, offering $4 million to act as the exclusive vendor on campus for UVM. The move was controversial and evoked a firestorm of criticism from many faculty members and students. For many the contract represented a further connection between a rapidly growing university and a vaguely defined notion of Daniel Fogel as “more corporate than not”.

Student GovernmentThe Student Government Association has also undergone some major changes. Joe Thibault began 2003 with a plethora of challenges and ideas as SGA President. Throughout the academic year he worked toward better communication between the administration and the students. While Thibault was SGA President the Round Room has begun a transition into a bar, Cake played at SpringFest, and the two UVM catamount mascots were consolidated into one mascot under the name of “Rally”. Thibault worked hard in representing the students at UVM and will now be replaced by Bryant Jones, who brings a comparable amount of enthusiasm to the position of SGA President.

Athletics Athletics at UVM have seen both the best and the worst over the past year. The Men’s Basketball team, carried by Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine, made it to the first round of the NCAA playoffs. They may have lost to the eventual 2004 NCAA Champions, but a 15th seed in the national tournament is certainly admirable. Even Phish showed up to sing the National Anthem at one of their games.

The Athletic situation at UVM wasn’t always playoffs and sold out crowds. This year UVM decided to cut four Varsity sports, including men’s and women’s swimming, tennis, and, golf.

Club Sports enjoyed another year of success with the Women’s Gymnastics team winning a national championship and the Equestrian team competing in a national championship torunament. Overall, athletics at UVM have enjoyed another stellar year.

Student LifeStudent Life at UVM over the past year has seen remarkable transitions and changes. From dorm life to the April 20th marijuana legalization demonstration was once again revived, marking the first time in three years the demonstration has occurred. The 4/20 rally was attended by nearly 800 UVM students, Burlington residents, and local media. This year three UVM students were arrested during the demonstration, two for disorderly conduct and one for possession of marijuana. The revival of the once debunked tradition may come to signal future confrontations between a university in transition and a student body adamant about the legalization of marijuana.

UVM has hosted a number of speakers this year, most notably Ralph Nader, Dinesh D’Souza, and, Mo Rocca. All three speakers were well attended by UVM students and gave the student body much to think about and discuss.

Conclusion The 2003-04 academic year has been an exciting one, and there has been no shortage of events, changes, and, controversy. From Coca-Cola to President Elect Bryant Jones, 2003-04 has been a remarkable year. We look forward to seeing you all again next year, but until then have a great summer.