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UVM president's house to be renovated

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The University of Vermont's next president will restore the tradition of living on campus, but getting the presidential mansion ready for a full-time resident will take months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Major changes are in the works inside the University of Vermont's presidential mansion. "Over the course of the next week, we are going to be inventorying everything that is in the house and relocating it outside the house," said Bob Vaughan, UVM's Director of Capital Planning and Management.

On Saturday university trustees approved an 875-thousand dollar plan to restore Englesby House so it's ready for UVM's next president. The move will mark a return to campus for the person holding the University's top post. Former President Judith Ramaley was the last to live in the house before she left UVM in the early 2000's. "You always like to have the ability to improve a facility at the institution, and a president's house -- you don't get to work on that often," Vaughan said.

Roughly 60-percent of the costs cover improvements to the 9-thousand square foot home's heating and cooling systems. "Air conditioning does not exist, so we are adding air conditioning," Vaughan said.

Outside repairs make up the rest. Replacing the roof with historically appropriate slate will cost about 200-thousand dollars. "We've known about a number of problems on the exterior to this building for several years -- roof leaks, some masonry problems, some of the wood trim needs to be reworked," Vaughan said.

For the last decade the six bedroom, five bath house has been used mostly for entertaining and short term guests. That's because President Dan Fogel opted to live in Colchester instead and was given a hefty housing stipend to do so.

"I think it is a good idea. I thought it was a bad idea to have the last president live off campus and be given a housing allowance to do so when we had a building on campus. It's a nice building. I am concerned that if it is not renovated that it will deteriorate more," said David Shiman, President of UVM's faculty union.

The decision to make the repairs comes after trustees and a finalist for UVM's top post agreed a full-time return to the home was important. "We have had people say, well it is only appraised at a million and-a-half, why put all this money into it? well, it is because it is a historic building and it is important to us," said Tom Gustafson, Vice President for University Relations and Campus Life.

UVM's next president will have a big say in some of the finer details, like what furniture and fixtures will stay and go and what will become of the kitchen and 1960's bathrooms. "Hopefully we will know who that is and get some input on colors on new counters that can go into the kitchen, on colors that will be in the bathrooms," Bob Vaughan said.

Trustees opted not to move forward with plans to waterproof the mansion's foundation. Sump pumps will continue to be used when water is an issue.

Vaughan says that for the team leading the transformation, getting the work done right will be key. "Whoever is chosen, it is going to be their first time here in Vermont and you want their home to pretty much speak to what the institution is, the quality that we can put in here," he said.

Quality that's coming with an aggressive timeline --The work is slated to be done this September.

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