Spires” identified through town meetings

In an attempt to achieve more of a prestigious reputation, UVM is continuing the process of identifying transdiciplinary ‘Spires of Excellence.’ These spires of excellence are particular academic areas within the University that would receive focused investments to be used for faculty research and graduate level education. ‘If we want to truly distinguish ourselves and be considered among the very best, we have to be strategic and focused in our allocation of resources,’ Vice President for Research and Graduate Study Domenico Grasso said in an interview with University Communications. Last week, UVM progressed in their attempt to identify these spires, as the Transdisciplinary Research Initiative Working Groups have submitted their final ‘Spire of Excellence’ proposals. The areas include Biological and Bioengineering Science, Complex Systems, Culture and Society, Environment, Food Systems, Neuroscience, Policy Studies and Public Health and Policy. Throughout the week, three days of town meetings occurred to discuss each prospective proposal to determine which of the areas would be selected. At the meetings, representatives from each group gave’ a 15-minute overview of their proposals, followed by discussion prompted by the audience members. If chosen, investments would be focused on the spires. ‘In the past, we’ve tried to be all things to all people,’ Grasso said in UVM Today. ‘Identifying spires of excellence is the path we need to pursue to become truly exceptional.’ While the administration considers the opportunity for a more prestigious University status, not everyone views the changes so positively. Professors are concerned that selectively concentrating resources into these particular areas could lead to the neglect and eventual elimination of existing programs. Both proposals from each working group, as well as podcasts of the town meetings, are available online. Visit www.uvm.edu/~ovpr/?page=workinggroups/charge.php for podcasts