The Vermont Cynic

UVM president hires chief of staff


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The UVM administration organization chart has been shuffled to create a new position in the president’s office.

President Tom Sullivan has hired his former co-worker from the University of Minnesota, Sharon Paulsen, to be his new chief of staff and senior counsel at the University of Vermont, Paulsen said.

Paulsen has more than 20 years experience in higher education and served as Sullivan’s chief of staff while he was vice president and provost at the University of Minnesota between 2004-2011, according to her resume.

“I think my previous relationship with the president will definitely be an asset when it comes to my new position,” Paulsen said.

Felicia Kornbluh, president of United Academics at UVM, said she met Paulsen last week and found her to be “very qualified.”

I will say that we need that same level of competency throughout the University,” Kornbluh said.

Kornbluh also said United Academics was not notified in advance about Paulsen being offered the position.  However, she said the position is not unionized, so the lack of notification did not constitute a breach of protocol.

Sharon Paulson, the newly hired chief of staff and senior council to President Tom Sullivan, is pictured Feb 1. RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic

[/media-credit] Sharon Paulson, the newly hired chief of staff and senior council to President Tom Sullivan, is pictured Feb 1. RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic

Paulsen’s base salary will be $186,000, said Gary Derr, vice president for executive operations.

Kornbluh said she remembers asking for a salary increase for a department staff worker when she was director of the gender, sexuality and women’s studies Department and she was denied that request.  That staff worker’s salary had been “much, much, much less” than $186,000,  she said.

“I don’t in any way begrudge the president’s desire or right to have a fully functioning administrative staff,” Kornbluh said.  “We want a fully functioning administrative staff at UVM.”

Paulsen said she made the decision to come to the University of Vermont from Minnesota in November 2015.

“I did a lot of research on Vermont before making my decision,” she said.

Paulsen said she is excited to work with the president on his strategic plan and capital campaign.  Most university presidents have chief of staffs and she is excited to fill that role, she said.

Paulsen has been working at the University of Minnesota since 1991, according to her resume.  Sullivan worked at the University of Minnesota from 1995-2012, beginning as the dean of the law school. Paulsen served as his associate dean, according to the University of Minnesota website.

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UVM president hires chief of staff