Sullivan Says He’s Working To Make UVM Affordable

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Since being selected as the University of Vermont’s 26th president last February, Tom Sullivan has made affordability for in-state students a top priority.

The challenge now for Sullivan is finding the money that will allow the school to reach that goal.

About 5 percent of UVM’s budget comes from the state. Only New Hampshire provides a smaller percentage to its state universities.

UVM President Tom Sullivan believes that the state legislature will modestly increase its appropriation to the school for the next fiscal year. But he has requested additional money from the state. "I asked them specifically for a special appropriation for scholarships and financial aid," says Sullivan. "It’ll go directly to reduce the tuition increase for Vermont students."

Currently, about half of the state’s $40 million allocation to UVM has been set aside as financial aid for Vermont students.

In addition to more state funding, Sullivan says the university must do a better job of holding down costs. And he has an additional proposal to help students reduce their overall bill while studying at UVM. "We’re looking very carefully at creating a three-semester university, to really expand the summer offerings so that a student and faculty will have greater choice."

Sullivan has also been meeting monthly with Vermont State Colleges’ Chancellor Tim Donovan. Says Sullivan, "I would like us to see much more joint venturing between those individual academic units and our university. I think we all benefit from that. Greater efficiencies in the operating costs as well as effectiveness."

UVM’s projected tuition increase of just under three percent next year would be the lowest increase in more than three decades. But additional money will still be needed to meet Sullivan’s goal of affordability. That’s why he says the university will be undertaking a comprehensive capital campaign.

Describing the fundraising goal, Sullivan explains, "The planning at this stage, and it’s early on, is $500 million. I’ve said before and it’s been repeated that I thought that was rather modest."

Sullivan proved to be a very capable fund raiser in past positions. While he was dean at the University of Minnesota’s law school, he set out to raise $30 million. But he topped that amount by over half.

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