Board Approves $70 Million Student Commons

Over a decade has past since the idea of a Student Commons here at the University of Vermont was brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees. This past Saturday solidified the inspiration and dreams of countless students, faculty, and staff. The Trustees approved the $70 million plan along with $6.8 million to design and build an extension of the Marsh Life Science Building which will relocate the faculty and staff currently in the Carrigan Dairy Science Building, which will be demolished in order to construct the new student commons. Student Trustee Christine Hertz motioned to bring the plan to the full board for discussion and a vote. Hertz stated that, “the students have trust in the board to make the right decisions, so let’s trust the students,” speaking in favor of the commons. The motion was seconded by Student Trustee Colin Robinson. The Board approved the plan overwhelmingly with only two no votes and one abstention. Several Trustees spoke in favor of the commons project, including John Snow, Malcolm Severance and Helen Spaulding to name a few. Construction will begin in late May of 2005 with the building predicted to open for the Fall 2007 semester. For many this is a wonderful moment. The Student Government Association has for over a decade advocated for a Student Commons. Past Student Government Presidents such as Chris Allen, Bill Tickner and Joseph Thibault have supported the creation of a commons. For administrators such as Provost John Bramley, Dean of Students David Nester, and Department of Student Life Director, Pat Brown, this is a time to celebrate for years of hard work. To pay for the project $54.3 million will be borrowed, $8.7 million will be raised from student fees currently at $100 but by 2008 will increase to $500 per year. $2.1 million will come from cash reserves and $4.8 million in cash pledges to the University. The new student commons will house the Department of Student Life, several new dining facilities, retail outlets, such as a bike shop or sub shop (this is all up to students). As well as the bookstore, Student Government Association offices, and plenty of club space and study space for students. For more information and design plans go to The Board also approved $13.8 million to purchase property in Colchester for the College of Medicine. Currently the University leases the land, but College of Medicine Dean, John Evans Ph.D., during a presentation to the Facilities and Technologies Committee in July, presented a plan to buy the land. The Board made the idea become reality and soon many medical students will be doing research and studying at the soon-to-be newly renovated Colchester Medical Campus. The Board named 1981 UVM graduate, Deborah McAneny to the Board of Trustees replacing Anne Dodge. McAneny will serve for six years. She was a Student Trustee, like Hertz and Robinson, when she attended the University. The Board also acknowledged the passing of Arts and Science Dean, Joan Smith. Dean Smith died this past Friday after battling cancer for nine years. Smith was the first female dean of the College of Arts and Science and implemented the African Latino Asian Native American Studies Program (ALANA). She was deeply involved in the Women’s Studies Program. Dean Smith was 70 years old when she died. Jane Knodell is the acting Dean for the College of Arts and Science and Provost Bramley has created a Selection Committee to fill the vacant Dean position. Dean Smith began her career at UVM in 1990 as a professor of sociology.