(Host) The University of Vermont faces on-going budget problems, a potentially contentious academic restructuring and an image badly in need of burnishing. But one thing that seems to have improved at UVM is confidence in the office of the President.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports on the man who has served as the university’s interim president.
(Zind) Ed Colodny will leave the paneled corner office in the Waterman Building on June 30, exactly a year after he first moved in. Colodny was named interim president after Judith Ramaley was forced from office last summer. The Burlington native has a background as a lawyer and businessman; he was CEO of US Airways.
Colodny says he made it clear to trustees he wanted to do more than keep the seat warm for the next president. He says he’s pushed forward plans to renovate university dormitories and worked with the provost on academic restructuring. Colodny says being a temporary president has allowed him to get things done:
(Colodny) “I think it’s been a plus, frankly, because I’m on a short fuse. I have to accomplish something within twelve months. It’s important as an interim to take advantage of the fact that you can take criticism. I did not need to worry about my resume. I’m in a position in my life where achieving something is more important than being loved by everybody.”
(Gurden) “I guess I would disagree with him in the statement that he’s not here to be loved, because I think that a lot of the faculty and others have been charmed by Ed.”
(Zind) Michael Gurden is president of the faculty Senate. A year ago, the Senate returned a vote of “no confidence” in then-President Judity Ramaley. Gurden says Colodny has had a calming influence on the faculty. At first, some had reservations that Colodny came from the business world and not academia. Gurden says the skeptics were won over by Colodny’s style:
(Gurden) “And I think that that willingness to be open, that willingness to listen, that willingness to say what he thinks, what’s on his mind – and he’s been prepared to do that and it’s been very refreshing.”
(Zind) Student and faculty representatives say Colodny has done much to restore confidence in the office of President. Bill Tickner is president of UVM’s Student Government:
(Tickner) “Colodny was a new benchmark for us. He showed us what our president could be.”
(Zind) Tickner says students have found Colodny accessible and responsive. For Tickner, it was a new experience:
(Tickner) ” When I first came here it was under Judith Ramaley. We never had a real close relationship with her in this office, with student government. That always was troubling to us. Then when President Colodny came, it was amazing. President Colodny cares. He knows the heart of this university is with the students.”
(Zind) Colodny says he’s learned a lot in his year as President. Has he thrown up his hands in frustration that change in academia happens at a snail’s pace sometimes:
(Colodny) (Laughing) “Yes, I’ve done that occasionally. Governance here takes a great deal of patience and buy in.”
(Zind) Colodny says he’ll stay in Vermont once his interim term is up. He says he hopes to stay involved in non-profit work and he expects he’ll always keep an eye on developments at UVM. Daniel Fogel will assume the university presidency on July 1.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Burlington.