The University of Vermont appointed former interim president John Bramley on Wednesday to develop the university’s role in economic growth. Bramley will work with the governor and the legislature to make the most of limited resources.
Academic studies drafted by advisory groups are infamous for gathering dust. But Governor Peter Shumlin says Bramley’s responsibility as UVM’s legislative point person is clear: implement the state’s recommendations to prepare students for the jobs of the future.
"No dust. No report sitting on a shelf. We want results," Shumlin says.
Those results include doubling the size of the engineering school; strengthening collaboration between UVM and the state colleges; supporting local food systems and creating a new innovation center.
"We have to make some of these investments because, in fact, the future of the state will depend upon it," Bramley says.
But Bramley also says these recommendations are ambitious: "I think some of them are noble and expensive, I think some of them are noble and not very expensive. I think a lot of it is attitudinal," Bramley says. "If you look at some of the areas around the innovation center, I think there’s actually a lot of stuff on the ground that needs pulling together."
Vermont spends about $40 million each year to support between 5 and 7 percent of the school’s total budget. An advisory group appointed last year by the governor concluded that UVM and the state need to collaborate so students are better prepared to meet the needs of the Vermont economy. The group also recommends using state funds to target high-priority fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, making additional investments in health education and revising a state requirement that caps in-state tuition.
Bramley will have his work cut out for him. The state faces a $50 million budget deficit and a protracted recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.
"This is not the year that we’re going to come up with huge amounts of additional money," Shumlin says. "When we create more jobs for Vermonters we have prosperity and we have better revenues, and we should take those revenues and invest them in the future."
Bramley will receive a $20,000 per year stipend in his new role. He says a big part of his job will be persuading the Legislature to approve changes needed to make the initiative reality.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.