Over $100 million was designated to campus renovations and construction over the next few years at the most recent board of trustees session, a biannual meeting in which board members discuss and vote on the future of UVM.
Despite the spending, the humanities remain in crisis on UVM’s campus.
Earlier this year, the College of Arts and Sciences was considering the elimination of 25 percent of all full-time, non-tenured faculty and 40 percent of part-time, non-tenured faculty, according to a Jan. 21 VTDigger article.
This came after the loss of 12 CAS courses in November 2017, which prompted the chair of the music department to step down.
Virtually none of the large sum dedicated to such projects has been designated to reversing the decline of the English and music departments.
It is worth noting that a large portion of the funding for many construction projects come from donations given with a specific intention. For example, of the $95 million to be put towards the multi-purpose center, $30 million came from donations.
From a business standpoint, modern facilities are key to remaining competitive with comparable universities.
But UVM is a public university, not a private business. As a public school, UVM has a responsibility to serve all students, not just those favored by donors.
The discounted tuition in-state students are entitled to can make the University their only affordable choice for a college degree.
Vermonters interested in studying the arts are forced to choose between expensive private schools and out-of-state universities, or settling for an underfunded department.
While some renovations are necessary in order to keep campus safe and modern, many are based on decisions by donors rather than the interests of both potential and actual students.
Recently, UVM completed construction of Cohen Hall, a building dedicated to arts classes funded by donations from Michele and Michael Cohen.
But sufficient arts spaces should not depend on the generosity of wealthy alumni.
In his campus-wide “Spring Welcome” email, President Tom Sullivan announced the 2018 commencement speaker Alexander Nemerov, who studied art history and English when he attended the University in the ’80s.
“The arts and humanities are so central to our University, with their contributions to our understanding of the nature, meaning and purpose of life,” Sullivan stated in the Jan. 18 email.
If the University and its donors wish to see the arts and humanities continue to be such a valuable part what UVM has to offer, they must be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to support them financially.
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