Upgrades to UVM farm delayed due to finances

The continuing issues with the University of Vermont’s budget have put many building projects on hold for the University. Jeff Wakefield, UVM’s deputy communications director, said that “any projects that require bonding are being put on hold.”One of those projects is the University’s Miller Farm Complex, home to the CREAM program and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The complex carries out important environmental and ecological research as well as hosts classes for students in the college.According to the plans, the new building project consist of on-farm classroom facilities, a modern large animal facility, a renovation of the Horticultural Farm, deconstruction of dairy farm, a new dairy plant, a methane digester research unit and other building upgrades.”When we think about what we need as a college, we need to use a crystal ball and look into the future 20-30 years and see what we are going to need down the road,” the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Tom Vogelmann, said. This project took 15 months of planning and is on a list of buildings that will be built once the University has sufficient funds. “We never planned for the project to have funds immediately, although we did plan this project during a time when the economy is better off,” Vogelmann said.Currently, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is building a new plant science building, the plans for which were made nearly 10 years ago. Building projects do not always get immediate attention. “When we created the plan for the new buildings on Spear Street, we created a vision. This is not the final plan,” Vogelmann said. “First we create a vision, and then we look to find the money, and $13.9 million is not easy to come by, we can wait.””Basically, we are taking a sub-optimal facility and trying to optimize it,” Interim Chair of Animal Science, John M. Burke, said. “We understand that the University has other needs when organizing its budget, especially during this time of economic hardship. This action is regrettable, but understandable.”Vogelmann has met with members of the CREAM program to discuss their concern about the building project. “Facilities don’t make the academic experience,” he said. “It’s what you put into your experience along with your relationship with faculty.” Vogelmann said he told the CREAM program that in order to get by with the facility “we will tweak things to make them better, and we will get by with what we have.” “The students will look back on their experience in the CREAM program and remember it for the excellence it really is, even if the facility is not as up-to-date as it can be,” he said. “The students in the program are bright and motivated and they will enjoy the experience regardless of the facility they do it in.”