Interim UVM President Wants To Re-evaluate School, State Relationship

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(Host) John Bramley has called for closer cooperation between the state and the University of Vermont since becoming interim president in August.

Last week, Governor Peter Shumlin took a step in that direction when he appointed a task force that will reevaluate the state’s relationship with UVM. It’s a step Bramley thinks is overdue.

VPR’s Ric Cengeri reports.

(Cengeri) A new president should be installed at the University of Vermont sometime next summer. It is the goal of the Shumlin administration to have a clear vision for the future in place for whomever is hired. Shumlin says that business leaders have expressed a need for UVM to focus on science, engineering, technology and math.

UVM’s $600 million annual budget includes $40 million from the state. With that kind of investment in the school, Interim President John Bramley believes the state should have a say in the direction the university takes.

(Bramley) "Although I could say the state, in effect, is a minority shareholder in the University of Vermont, it’s still a very significant amount of public money."

Despite that investment from Vermont, the percentage of in-state students at UVM has dropped from around 50 percent in 1989 to just 33 percent this year. Bramley says that equation is important to UVM’s budget.

(Bramley) "Bluntly, the out-of-state students subsidize the education of Vermonters. And that’s been the model that UVM has had to use and in fact, as you observe what’s happening in the country, you’ll see that in fact most other states are having the same challenges around public higher education and they’re also going to go to the same sort of model."

(Cengeri) Bramley would love to see a greater investment in higher education by the state, but notes that challenges such as the economic downturn and Tropical Storm Irene mean that won’t happen. He also notes that the state’s education priorities make this unlikely.

(Bramley) "The state has made a decision over many, many years that it actually spends pretty much more than any other state on K-through-12 education and it spends less than any other state, pretty much, on higher education. That’s a policy decision that successive governors and successive legislatures have endorsed."

(Cengeri) According to the president, the university needs to look for extra sources of revenue. He says that includes making UVM’s buildings available for rent for conferences and events over the summer when they’re used less often.

For VPR News, I’m Ric Cengeri.

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