Sullivan outlines goals
Staff Council hears from new president
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 21:09
Covering everything from online courses to football, President Tom Sullivan addressed UVM’s Staff Council at their first monthly meeting of the academic year Sept. 4.
After taking a photo with the 30-member advisory board, Sullivan pledged a spirit of cooperation and transparency in his dealings with the University’s staff.
“I thank all of you for whatever success there may be in our team efforts,” he said to the council.
Sullivan then provided an overview of the broad objectives that he and his administration will pursue during his tenure as president.
He cited core themes that will guide his presidency, including enhancing the quality and excellence of all aspects of the University, and increasing affordability and access to education.
With regard to staff issues specifically, Sullivan said his priorities would be investing in new positions, increasing the size and scale of graduate programs and establishing beneficial human resource policies.
Sullivan fielded questions from the council after his remarks, discussing topics such as online courses, salaries and athletics.
Increasing the number of online courses would make education more accessible and bridge the technological divide between generations, Sullivan said.
“Students learn differently, and we have to be aware of that balance and blend them,” he said. “Each generation learns differently.”
Revenue generated from an expanded online presence would also allow UVM to address the higher student-faculty ratio, which has grown from 14:1 to 17:1 over the last decade.
“I think we have a real chance of taking [the] platform we already have and making it robust,” Sullivan said of UVM’s current online education opportunities.
When pressed on staff salaries, Sullivan said offering competitive rates is essential to the success of the University, but he said he would need to look further into the data before getting specific.
“Investing in human capital simply has to be our priority,” he said. “Without talented staff, we wouldn’t have our students.”
Part of the meeting was dedicated to UVM’s role in recreational activities for students. Sullivan praised the emphasis that UVM places on outdoor education, citing the TREK program as an example of impressive student leadership.
As for the varsity football and baseball teams, however, which were cut years ago as cost-saving measures, Sullivan said he doesn’t expect their return any time soon.
“It’s just not going to happen,” he said.
Staff council member Floyd Vilmont said he thought Sullivan seemed tactful and sincere, but he hopes the new administration will make good on their promise to take care of UVM’s staff.
“I had the good fortune of sitting in on the faculty senate meeting and President Sullivan said three times that he would try to push faculty wages to the national standard,” Vilmont said. “That’s fine, but you can’t neglect the staff. Simply put, it’s discriminating.”
Vilmont said that he also objected to a rising trend with higher education institutions in which money becomes the central, if only, focus.
“This is Vermont, not corporate America,” he said.