UVM board votes ‘yes’ to hear your two cents

The board of trustees voted unanimously to establish public comment at trustee meetings last Saturday. The new resolution will allow for fifteen minutes of comments at the beginning of each meeting. According to the resolution, each comment session may not be lengthened by the board chair unless the board of trustees passes a motion by majority. The board of trustees also may not directly address the problems of the commentators by passing motions during the board meeting. “Comment sessions do not involve matters of the board agenda, so no action shall or may be taken by the board at such session,” said Thomas A. Little, secretary of the board of trustees. “You would be surprised. In legislature when we take testimony, three minutes is enough; the public comment isn’t dialogue,” board of trustees chair Mark Young said.”Our job is oversight, not to make small decisions. Our job is to make sure administration performs well and meets the needs of the University,” chair on the board of trustees Bill Botzow said.Also passed unanimously was the decision to divide nine committees into two: four becoming the Committee on Educational Policy and Institutional Resources, and five becoming the Committee on Budget, Finance, and Investment. In addition to the two large committees there will be five separate committees: the Committee of the Whole, the Audit Committee, the Executive Committee, Committee on Board Governance, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Labor Relations. Justin M. Joffe, President of the Faculty Senate, was hopeful about committee integration, but was also concerned about representation for students and faculty on the new mega committees. “At this point in time, this is a good change for our Board. It is in a phase of a cycle and will have a far broader picture, we just want to make sure we don’t get left out in the cold,” Joffe said. There will be two representatives from the faculty senate and the student body on the two large committees. “This will allow for more representation than less,” Chioffi said. Board of trustee chair John Snow presented a list of 20 companies to the Committee on Social Responsibility, saying that the Investments are involved in wrongdoing. Within thirty days, the managers of these accounts must divest the problematic funds.Other important issues discussed by the board include divestiture of funds from Darfur and the increased enrollment at UVM.This year’s fall class is the second largest in the history of UVM, with 600 Vermonters and 1,600 out of state students. Over the last few years, applications have soared to 18,000 compared to 7,200 in 2001. Total enrollment for the graduate college is 1,300, an increase of 2% over the last year. The current bed capacity is 4,821, 1,100 more beds than four years ago. There are no forced triples, and there are accommodations in place to handle future enrollment.