UVM file photo by Sally McCay.
Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Board of Trustees today adopted the university’s strategic imperatives statement, “Amplifying our Impact,” and approved zero tuition increases for both in-state and out-of-state students for the next academic year.
The visioning document sets the direction for ensuring the university’s future success by following three strategic imperatives: student success, with a focus on the quality of the whole student experience; expanding upon the university’s distinctive research strengths, for the benefit of the state of Vermont and beyond; and better realizing the institution’s land-grant mission by partnering with communities, businesses and state government.
“Today, the Board took important action,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella. “For almost 230 years, the University of Vermont has developed the potential of our students, generated research to improve our world, and served the interests of our state. By necessity, the COVID-19 pandemic is now consuming much of our energy. But it’s critical we also continue to refine and maintain focus on the strategic imperatives of our university, for the benefit of our students, our state, and, the nation. ”
Prior to its adoption by the Board, the strategic visioning document was shared widely with the university community. Nearly 1,200 individuals responded to the call for feedback, with strong representation from undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff.
The full text of the “Amplifying our Impact” document is available here (https://www.uvm.edu/president/amplifying-our-impact-strategic-vision-uvm).
On Monday, Garimella sent a letter to the UVM community outlining the economic impact of COVID-19. He said that impact will continue even as students return in the fall.
He said that simply looking at the deposits for incoming students shows that there are more in-state students than out-of-state students planning to attend. He noted that UVM relies on the higher tuition that out-of-state students bring with them. Nearly three-quarters of UVM students (73 percent) are from out-of-state.
He also said that nationwide estimates suggest that perhaps 20 percent of students who have placed a deposit might not actually attend. Colleges across the nation are bracing for students staying away for health or financial reasons and choosing instead a nearby college or taking a gap year. This would further exacerbate UVM's financial prospects.
He told VBM on Monday that while there have not been layoffs yet, there might have to be layoffs to make ends meet. Because of the nature of tenured and unionized workers, layoffs cannot be campus-wide.
Garimella also said on Monday that the general cutbacks to adjunct faculty/lecturers were based on the amount of work not on pay per credit taught. He said adjunct faculty hours would depend on how many students will be available to teach. As he indicated, he won't know that number until students actually arrive in late August. If more students arrive then teaching hours will be increased also.
A car protest from a group called UVM United Against Cuts circled the campus on Thursday. They said a one-month furlough of pay among top administrators, including Garimella, was only a token given the pay differences between lecturers and top administrators. They are seeking more dialogue and greater transparency of UVM's finances.
The Board’s approval of the zero tuition increases for next year comes six months after Garimella first announced the university’s intention, and aligns with the visioning document’s focus on ensuring student success and access.
When Garimella spoke last fall about UVM tuition rates, he recognized the university’s efforts to keep tuition increases at modest levels in recent years, but noted that relying on tuition increases, even modest ones, was not a sustainable strategy.
Today Garimella said, “The university is facing significant challenges brought on by the pandemic. So are our students and their families. Today’s resolution to keep tuition frozen next year reinforces our commitment to ensuring that a UVM education remains affordable.”
The tuition freeze (http://go.uvm.edu/tuitionfreeze) applies to new and returning in-state and out-of-state students enrolling at the university in the fall of 2020. It also applies to graduate and medical students.
Source: UVM 5.15.2020