Who is Gary Derr?

He serves as the chief of staff at UVM, yet the question remains in the minds of some students: Who is Gary Derr and what is he doing in my inbox?Sitting in his office surrounded by documents and books, Derr casually laughed as he explained his daily responsibilities.”I send lots of emails, you know that,” he said.However, his position as vice president for Executive Operations and chief of staff for President Daniel Mark Fogel involves much more than sending emails, Derr said.”A lot of what I do is provide support and respond to issues of the day for the president’s office,” he said. “I work very closely with President Fogel and staff many committees for him.”Despite the immense pressure of coordinating hundreds of faculty and staff members, he never loses his cool, Derr’s assistant Laura Smith said.”He is pleasant, he laughs, he maintains his professionalism,” Smith said. “He is simply a great guy.”While daily issues change for Derr, every morning starts the same way, he said. He leaves his home in Danby every morning at 5 a.m.”It’s about a two hour commute,” Derr said. “I’m here from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I usually work on projects when I’m at home, too.”He said he loves the energy and excitement of his current position, one he has held for more than 11 years. However, his career in higher education spans 31 years.While Derr puts in long hours at work, he said he fits in many activities outside the office.He and his wife Lynn enjoy living in rural Vermont, where they share their home with two horses, a cat and a black lab, he said.Derr said his hobbies include gardening, sailing, horseback riding and downhill and cross-country skiing.”We love winter sports,” he said. “Except for when it’s freezing.”Although he is happy with the direction his career took, it was not the path he expected to take, Derr said.When he started his undergraduate studies as a religion major at a small liberal arts school in western Pennsylvania, Derr said he thought he would eventually serve the Lutheran faith.”I had gone in with the intent of going on to seminary and becoming a minister,” he said.However, as Derr began getting involved on campus with student life issues, he said he discovered his true calling was higher education.After taking some time off after graduating from Thiel College, Derr said he began working in a college residential hall.”I really enjoyed working with the students,” he said. “But at a certain point, 2 a.m. fire alarms got a little boring.”Intent on moving up in administration, Derr earned a master’s degree and began pursing his doctorate at UVM when he saw an opportunity to work in the executive office.When asked about his future, Derr said he recognizes that changes might be made as President Fogel steps down.He intends to stay on as chief of staff but realizes that the next president may have somebody he/she would like to bring in to fill that role.Derr said that he has had an amazing experience working with President Fogel and that he hopes to find a position in the next administration as well.”Do I hope that something else can be carved out for me here?” he said. “Yeah, because I love UVM.”