May 1, 2011 -- Outgoing UVM President Dan Fogel joins Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss the school's past and its future.
From vermont's most trusted news source.
Wcax brings you your news makers, your neighbors.
This is "you can quote me."
>> good morning everyone i'm darren perron.
>> and i'm kristin carlson.
Our news maker this morning is university of vermont president dan fogel, who announce ed will be stepping down from the post next year.
>> thank you for joining thus morning.
>> thank you for having me.
>> as kristen just mentioned, retiring from the post as president of uvm next year.
Why announce now and why is this the right time to step down?
>> you know, it is a very good time for me and it is a good time for the university.
By announcing in midspring, we allowed the university time to set up a search process, a search committee was just convened for the first time yesterday.
That entailed elections, faculty representatives and all of the colleges and schools and other processes, so you needed time to get a search committee set up to carry out a search that would unfold in all likelihood throughout the coming academic year 2011‑2012.
We really wanted to do success right.
You know, for me it made sense because i laid out a 10‑year vision.
I will have completed ten years in 2012.
I will have completed 22 straight years in central administration with always yearning to return to my scholarship and teaching.
And greatly looking forward to doing that but it seemed like a time when we could really tee the university up to bring in another strong leader for the long‑term and i very much hope build on a lot of the legacy that's been created by the university community faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and stakeholders in vermont over the last decade.
>> you know that, vision that you referred to has been doubled the fogel plan.
What in the plan has been accomplished, what has not been accomplished yet?
>> well, we don't yet have the national championship in hockey.
I was hoping to have.
>> you and a lot of vermonters.
>> but we had our second return to the frozen four and built an exemplary program there and raised the metabolism in athletics and don't have the multi‑purpose event center where we might be playing division one athletics in basketball and hockey.
And those were parts of the vision.
You know, almost everything else is either accomplished or well underway.
So, i feel very good about that.
And i think the university can feel very good about it too.
We carried out, first of all, an enrollment expansion plan on the undergraduate level that led us ‑‑ let us build resources to invest in students and the student experience.
Creating the honors college.
Milestone for uvm.
Creating more residential learning communities, strengthening service learning, strengthening what goes on on the classroom for undergraduates.
That's our core mission but we have done extremely well.
We had a record graduation rate for our vermont students this last spring over 80% graduating within 6 years of entering.
The national average is only about 57%.
And that is the best that we have ever seen in the state of vermont for our vermont residents.
So, you know, undergraduate outcomes are very good with the infrastructure honors college, learning communities that support that.
We expanded the campus specifically to accommodate the erollment to make it more attractive to support student experience.
The davis center is a piece of that.
Trinity college campus.
Moving geology into much better facilities in delehante hall at trinity.
For example, creating new instructional and research facilities in jeffords hall.
We concluded a successful college naming in our signature environmental area, the rubenstein school of environment and natural resources;
created a lot of programmatic richness in addition to the bricks and mortar changes.
All of which we were able to do but you know, you've got to feel good when you go from 9000 to over 22,000 applications a year and you are bringing in terrific students and i can't ‑‑ i didn't catch the news last night, i don't know if you guys covered our undergraduate and graduate student research conference, but the other thing we have done is raise the competitive metabolism in research.
146 million dollar last year in sponsored program awards that raises the profile of the university as a distinctive center for innovation, creation of ideas, and that also engages our undergraduate students and, you know, there were scores and scores of undergraduate students doing high‑quality research in disciplines across the campus, creative humanities, social sciences, sciences, some of it is heading for publication, money of them are heading toward top graduate schools.
So you know, i would say we have carried out ‑‑ i think i told the mark johnson show 80 percent of the vision but somebody else said to me 95% and i think that could be closer.
I prefer to be modest but we have ‑‑ we have had a lot of mows a long way and others like creating a program of general education really building the transdisciplinary research areas are well underway.
>> well, uvm president we will continue our conversation in just a moment, we will talk about that and much more after this brief break.
Stay with us.
>> welcome back everyone.
We are continuing our discussion with outgoing uvm president dan fogel.
Things you mentioned president fogel as your list of accomplishments is enrollment and growing enrollment and uvm relies a lot on the ‑‑ the tuition to fund the school and you been successful at groping the stool because you have gotten more students to come to the school.
At a certain point that model doesn't work anymore?
>> i think you do have to shift gears because we think we have pretty much right‑sized the undergraduate student body.
We have have some head room to grow by you are right.
You can't fuel incremental revenue increases from this point forward primarily by undergraduate enrollment growth.
So, you know we have really started shifting gear about three years ago in 2007 i sat down with the vp's and said we have to move from an investing growth strategy to a strategy that we have called focus and excel.
Where we have to start to make our choices and i don't think we anticipated when we saw that that would be the case, how much harder those choices would be in a fiscally constrained environment ‑‑
>> talking about tough choices like pay freezes or, you know, tuition increases?
>> well, absolutely.
I mean, the plan all along has been predicated on some steady but modest growth in tuition.
And you know, i want to say something about tuition because people do wonder how can you raise tuition 5.8% when families are struggling, students are struggling and inflation is quite high.
The cpi is not growing at that rate and the answers complex but the simplest thing as an interesting paradox, we are raising tuition predominantly in order to make the university affordable and accessible for a lot of students of varying incomes.
80% plus of our vermont students have financial aid.
And financial aid is the biggest area of growth in the uvm budget, particularly during the recession.
So, the paradox is the tuition increases is pegged to keeping the university affordable, especially for our vermont students.
>> there has been criticism that uvm is heading in a direction where vermonters could be outpriced if you will.
You don't think that is accurate?
>> i think we have to keep our eye on that as a ‑‑ as a legitimate concern, but you know, when you look at our sticker price, it high.
When you look at our financial aid which offsets it, we are very moderate among public universities.
And very ‑‑ very affordable, compared to most of the private universities that we compete with for students.
About 33% of our vermont students last year did not pay any tuition and fees at uvm.
Nearly a third.
Most because of need‑based aid.
Some merit‑based aid like the green and gold scholars but mostly need‑based aid so a third of our students came for nothing.
You know when you think about it, we are spending about 56 thousand dollars per student in the overall budget.
So, this is a remarkable thing to ‑‑ that they did pay for room and board but they didn't pay for instructional ‑‑ the tuition for instruction or mandatory fees.
And the university ‑‑ and another 51% of the vermonters also had financial aid, even if they paid some portion of the tuition and fees.
So we worked very hard to keep the university affordable to vermonters.
We ‑‑ when i came, vermont enrollment in first‑year class has fallen well below 600.
Students per year.
It has been well above 600 per year for the last 5 years.
Even though the population of vermont high school graduates has begun to decline.
So you know what, we have always kept our eye on for the benefit of vermont is building academic quality that would attract vermont students who might otherwise go elsewhere and keep them in the state.
>> you talk about tuition going to help with scholarships.
It goes to other areas as well.
There is other ‑‑ one source of concern that you have heard a lot about is this new salary for this uvm business dean, i believe it is 320 thousand dollars a year.
You have defended that as this is the thing to do.
You need to attract high‑quality people but at a point when the college is facing a deficit, you are looking at wage freezes, and you are leaving, is this a time to really bring someone on at a salary like that?
>> you know, the ‑‑ again, the emphasis is on on building quality for students and faculty.
The salary is about 7% above the national average two years ago at research extensive universities for a sitting dean with remarkable accomplishments.
Who has a great deal to offer not only the university, but the state of vermont.
Very collaborative, very interdisciplinary focused on supporting uvm's priority areas like the spires of excellence.
And in truth, the marginal difference between bringing the superb person in and bringing an average business dean in is so small, that it wouldn't allow us to give more than a tiny fraction of 1% of a raise to any employee group at the university of vermont.
So, you know, i think leadership is about making that call and investing in the future of the university.
I wouldn't be much of a leader if i said, well, these are tough times, we're in the tail end of the greatest recession since the great depression, we're going to give everybody a.0001 salary increase.
>> the salary that ‑‑ to follow up on kristen as he question, though we have been told by sources that this ‑‑ to justify this salary, there is a lot of expectations being put on the dean and that it could be one of the biggest expectations uvm has ever seen.
What do you hope to achieve, what do you think that this guy is bringing to the table that could justify a salary like that?
>> well, remember, darren you are paying something close to this for any competent business dean against the national market.
So what you have to justify is the marginal cost beyond the least you might have paid.
If you are going to have a business school, and i think having a business school is important to the state of vermont, just as having an engineering school is important, you know, and i ‑‑ when i came, our engineering school was still shivering in the chill shade cast by an earlier president in the early '90's talking about eliminating the engineering school which would have been a terrible thing for the economic vitality and the well‑being of the state.
Similarly, for business.
You know, this ‑‑ this is a gentleman who is a world‑class expert in areas that support uvm's emphasis on the environment, 5 books on sustainable entrepreneurship and corporate environmental responsibility.
He came into a school at ‑‑ at concordia, the john mulson school of business, that was unranked anyplace and is now ranked in the top 100 in the world by both the financial times and the economists.
We need to prepare students who invest four years of their lives or more and family treasure and their education for careers.
His school having never been ranked before he arrived four years ago was ranked number one in the world by the economists and the diversity of career opportunities offered to students.
So, these are the kinds of returns on investment that go straight to the value proposition for the ‑‑ for the university into the future of our students' lives.
He is also superb educator.
He turned around accreditation issues at the molson school and addressed a lot of faculty morale issues very swiftly.
You know, i think we can't afford to ‑‑ to ‑‑ to stop investing in quality and in the high level outcomes this we expect for the state.
We expect the spirit of entrepreneurship to rise across the university.
We expect the accordingly to be more successful in spinning off enterprises that create good jobs for vermonters because we have this kind of leadership in the business school.
>> how concerned are you about debt?
Uvm's debt obviously the assets outpace the debt between long‑term and short‑term debt we are being looking at hundreds of millions of dollars.
And the school is paying quite a bit in interest every year on that debt think it is around 16 million dollars on interest on debt to be due in the next three years.
That is a big problem for the university?
>> no, again it is a matter of prudent levels of investment.
You know, one of ‑‑ one of the themes that struck a note with me just in the ‑‑ in ‑‑ in reading the text of senator sanders' speech in december for 8 and a half hours was a very passionate statement by the senator about the dangers of not investing in infrastructure.
And i think we see that in vermont.
We see it in the bridge down at crown point.
I got a nice hair cut today, my ‑‑ the person who cut my hair has been taking the long way around because she comes from port henry.
New york up to burlington.
That bridge needs to be fixed.
Our culverts and bridges around vermont need to be fixed.
There are all sorts of infrastructure investments that need to be paid ‑‑ made.
The same is true of the university.
The board of trustees has developed a very prudent debt policy.
That actually is authorized us to go to a 6% debt burden.
Through 2017, 2018.
Long‑term we want to stay below 5%.
That means that our total principle and interest payments shouldn't exceed 5% of our annual expenditures.
And we are below that limit.
We are below 5%.
And i would argue strenuously that ill would be imprudent to invest any less than that.
And this we are just on the edge what we need to do.
>> even during the economic times as they are, i mean, when the focal plan was launched in the early 2000's, everything was looking pretty rosey at that time.
Do you think that ‑‑
>> actually, i ‑‑ would i say that wasn't true.
I ‑‑ i don't ‑‑ i'm not sure why we would say things were rosey when i ‑‑
>> i mean the economy.
>> was not.
The economy went into an enormous tailspin after 9/11.
This was post ‑‑ the boom of the clinton years and it was post ‑‑
>> it wasn't the recession that we saw in 20 ‑‑ go not this recession but it was a challenging economy.
The quarter that a arrived to uvm, the cancer was lower than it had been in five years that reflected the state of the economy and the stock market.
Our enrollment management plan was shaky.
Our faculty were among the lowest paid in the nation.
They are now paid at the mid‑range.
Which was a result of the successful enrollment management plan which in turn depended on investing in the davis center, investing in trinity, investing in jeffords hall and residence has and plans like the programs like the honors college.
So you know, all this was a web that is tied together.
But these investments have produced the value of more competitively paid faculty to teach our students and solve our problems and in the state of vermont, whether it is nutrient management in the dairy industry or health care reform.
Our faculty are bringing expertise to bear in solving problems for vermont that are vital to the interests of the people of the state.
So, building the plan and building the facilities that support competitiveness at our one research university is critical for the well‑being of our state.
I would not apologize at all for the level of debt or investment.
>> you had mentioned trinity, obviously that helped alleviate some of the housing concerns.
Uvm clearly plays a huge role in the community of burlington.
And every year and here we are summerlike weather, finally, is arriving, is uvm still working closely with burlington to address noise issues, those kinds of things that come along with having such a large university in the heart of the ‑‑ you know state's largest city?
Of course we are.
>> you know, we meet regularly with city officials.
I meet regularly with the mayor.
We have one breakfast together once a month.
We have an office of campus community relations with personnel who are focused on relationships with the city and in the neighborhoods.
We have very heavy engagement of our student government in working to shape student behaviors in ways that ‑‑ that alleviate some of the historic problems in neighborhoods and i know that they are there from time to time.
I mean, we have 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 22, but you know, i think they are ‑‑ they are very good students.
They are graduating at historically high rates.
They are responsible.
They care about the community.
They are very engaged in a lot of community outreach and volunteer work.
Hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work by our students in the community.
Our relay for life on campus a week and a half ago raised there are 90,000.
But this is typical of the kinds of things our students are doing all the time.
So on balance, if you look at the economic vitality of the city, and you look at the quality of the students we are bringing and by the way, also the increasingly rich diversity of the students we are bringing for the benefit of vermont, i think you know what we add to the city is far more substantial than the stresss that we place upon it and of course, we have ‑‑ are the steadily built all sorts of agreements with the city which have increased the financial support that we provide to the city.
We ‑‑ over a million dollars a year for instance, in fees for services for fire and safety services.
We have very strong cooperative programs between the uvm police department, which is the third largest sworn force in the say the.
And the burlington police department.
So, we work hard at i.
We work all the time on it and it is a concern of many people at the university.
>> just a few minutes left.
Do you have any regrets as you get ready to leave?
>> well, you know there are always things that you look back on that you wish had gotten better.
>> such as?
>> you know, it is very hard leading a university through the shock of something like the recession that we went through in '08‑'09, and there were a lot of stresses at that time.
And i wish hi found a way to be as appreciative as i would like to be of some of the critics, like the students who sat in my office because i think their passion and their care for lower paid employees and others is admirable and should be celebrated.
But you steer through these difficult things.
It is ‑‑ we are an institution that is extremely vital to the state of vermont and in its health and well‑being and we do, like any large organization, have to make hard choices when we are under stress.
So i ‑‑ you know i regret that we are not in a stronger position in some ways, although i will say i think the university is in a stronger position than it has ever been in, certainly in modern times.
And much stronger than many other universities around the nation both public and private.
You know, we have ‑‑ we have had layoffs, and that was very painful, and i regret nothing more than that or the kind of tragedy we saw unfolding with the random horrible violence that led to the murder of michele gardner quin.
I mean there are lots of things you look back on that are very sad.
But ‑‑ but we are in much better shape than most of our peer institutions.
We have a sister institution in hanover, new hampshire, that is laid off 100 people, reemployment 22, and eliminated another 100 positions to solve the 100 million dollar budget gap.
Ours have been much small ever.
>> as uvm's 25th president, what will be your legacy, what will you be remembered for?
>> well, you know i think a lot of people think it will be the big buildings like the davis center.
I hope it will be the programmatic changes like the honors college, general education, transdisciplinary research initiative and in general an increasing of pride in the university and of the return on value for the people of vermont that comes from having a nationally competitive university.
>> president fogel, can you just complete this sentence:
you hope that uvm is known for ‑‑
>> hope that uvm is known for academic excellence and superior your student experience and for world‑class research that makes a difference in solve important problems.
>> and president fogel may not be president for too much longer but you are coming back to teach.
Students can sign up for your course.
>> well, not until the fall of 2013.
>> put ill on your calendar.
>> i'm already even in my sleep beginning to plan the syllabi
>> and you will be focusing on which aerials you think?
>> well, whatever my department asks me to do but my specialties are late 19, early 20th century novel james joyce, henry james, virginia wolf, romantic poetry, contemporary american poetry.
>> i can see you are looking forward to getting back to the classroom?
>> oh yeah, very much.
>> that is your passion?
>> well, i have loved my work for uvm.
I love the university.
And i want to continue to support and advance the university in any way that the university finds useful.
But, i have a very strong interfaculty ‑‑ you may have heard my dad's last words to me the day he had a fatal stroke were, don't you ever forget, professor is the highest rank in the university so i feel i'm returning to the highest rank.
>> and you will get a promotion soon.
Well, university of vermont president daniel fogel thanks for taking time to talk to us about the state of the college.
>> thank you.
>> thank you.
>> and thanks for joining us everyone.
Have a great sunday.
>> see you soon.