Meredith Hay

  Meredith Hay, the second UVM presidential candidate to visit campus, held in-depth interviews with University officials and conducted an open forum on Jan. 23 to answer general public questions. In an interview with the Cynic, Hay discussed the importance of listening because it helps to give her different perspectives on why the University is great. “Listening to the students, listening to the faculty and staff, listening to the legislatures in the state and to governor’s office and the business owners,” Hay said.  “That’s really tapping into the collective wisdom of the entire community and deciding how to move the University of Vermont forward.” Hay said she was attracted to UVM and the position for four reasons: the quality of the academic programs, the commitment to the land-grant mission, the investments being made in the facilities and faculty and the absolute beauty of the state. Hay was previously the Provost at the University of Arizona (UA) from 2008 to 2011.             After UA lost 43 percent of its state appropriation, Hay introduced the controversial Transformation Plan, which resulted in criticism from a number of professors on her handling of state budget cuts, and many called for her firing, according to a 2011 article in the Tuscan Sentinel.             When questioned about the controversy, Hay said she firmly believes that the University is better off because the plan was focused on shared governance and input from those at the University.  “We asked for proposals from the entire campus,” she said.  “We had a shared governance committee review those proposals and the faculty senate voted on those proposals by December of 2008, and in 2009 we implemented them.”             Hay said that when these kinds of difficult decisions must be made, not everyone will be pleased with the outcome.             “Certainly some people were unhappy in the end,” she said.  “But we made some very specific investments in certain programs, and today the University is stronger than when it was in 2008.  I learned a lot in the process about how to communicate better.”             Some faculty members at the University of Arizona said that they supported Hay’s “Transformation Plan.”             “In the end, we were all stronger and many of the people who complained the most now appreciate that things are better,” vice president of human resources Allison Vaillancourt said in e-mail correspondence with the Cynic.  “Dr. Hay’s detractors have gotten far more airtime than the people who know the real score.”             After talking with her colleagues about what they call ‘Meredith’s Legacy,’ Vaillancourt also said that Hay’s Transformation Plan enabled the University of Arizona to develop.                    “[Hay] made us changeable,” Vaillancourt said.  “By that I mean she helped the University community learn how to change. That is a tall order for many higher education institutions, and we have been well-served by it.” Hay said that she could draw on her experiences as provost at UA to help her as University President because budgets and major University decisions almost always run through the Provost office.             “I have also had a lot of experience working with state legislatures, government leaders and community leaders to build support for the University,” she said.               In December 2010, Hay was one of three finalists for the position of president at the University of Massachusetts, but withdrew under unknown circumstances, according to the Boston Globe. “That was a confidential search and that information was leaked,” Hay said when asked why she dropped out of the race.  “It was a personal reason.”             Some faculty members at the University of Arizona said that they think Hay was extremely successful during her three years as Provost of the University.             “In the 24 and a half years I’ve been here, I would say that Meredith did more for the University of Arizona in three years than all of past provosts before her put together,” said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the College of Engineering.                  Goldberg also spoke about Hay’s abilities to lead if she were selected as President of UVM.             “I think she’s great, and she hired some great people while here,” Goldberg said. “I think Meredith’s been given the short stick and she is far stronger than people give her credit for.   “You would be lucky to get her in Vermont,” he said.