Union leader calls for UVM President Garimella to resign over cuts

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Some in the University of Vermont community are calling for the resignation of school President Suresh Garimella after the decision to eliminate some programs to help balance the budget.

Faculty and others are angry about the cuts, saying they have no confidence in school administration and they want Garimella to step down.

Facing an $8.6 million budget deficit, UVM has proposed making ends meet by eliminating majors and minors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am not arguing against reorganization. What we have here at UVM is reorganization at gunpoint,” said Julie Roberts, a linguistics professor and the president of UVM United Academics, a faculty union.

Members of the UVM community are speaking out calling for Garimella to resign, citing proposals to cut programs and the ripple effect that would have.

They complain UVM is building a $95 million athletic complex but can’t find enough money to pay for liberal arts.

“The hallmark of these decisions, in my view, has been that they have been fear-based, made quickly and without sufficient thought,” Roberts said.

Roberts says a recent survey of the union shows they support a no-confidence vote.

“The majority of our facility members that responded stated they would support a no-confidence vote,” Roberts said.

Current and former UVM students are speaking out against proposed cuts.

“I have talked to many freshmen who feel betrayed and lied to. They see the majors they have came here for gutted and eliminated,” said Chrysanthemum Harrell, a senior.

“The recent moves to diminish the humanities flies in the face of the diversity that the university continues to tout,” said Betsy Becker, a member of the UVM Class of 1964.

And this comes with a message to future UVM students.

“I tell these students to look elsewhere if they don’t want to live in fear that their programs will be eliminated,” said Cameron Bauserman, a UVM master’s student.

We asked to speak with someone from the university on camera. They issued us a statement instead.

It does not acknowledge the union’s request for President Garimella’s resignation.

It does say the school faces multimillion-dollar revenue shortfalls this fiscal year and next year, and that it is working to ensure “continued success and stability” by identifying “for possible retirement programs that have consistently graduated fewer than five students a year.”

UVM also says no faculty positions are being cut and lecturers whose contracts expired are not being renewed.

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