REAL WORLD: Service-Learning & Community Engagement at the University of Vermont

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he work of the University of Vermont does not end at the borders of the hilltop campus in Burlington. In myriad ways, that is just where the work begins. From the King Street Center to the fields of Franklin County to the forests of Mt. Mansfield, and beyond to the urban parks of New York City or a small village hospital in Uganda, our faculty, students, and alumni are putting the expertise and lessons of the academy into direct application in “the real world.” Public service, community engagement—call it what you will—this ethic is deeply ingrained in the heritage and character of the University of Vermont. It is found in our mission as a land grant university since 1865. It is found in the life and pioneering thought of the father of American progressive education—John Dewey, UVM Class of 1879. This great man’s words, “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself,” ring true at our university to this day. The pages that follow offer a sampling of the many ways our research, our curriculum, and our people are making a positive impact near and far.

COVER: Saran Chhetri, a native of Bhutan, studies for the U.S. citizenship test with the support of UVM student Eric Venezia. See story on page 8. Photograph by Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist











I’m a big believer in experiential learning, whether it’s through an agency, nonprofit, business or school district. Students need to be honing communication skills, conflict resolution, and negotiation. These are the kinds of skills they’re going to need to work in an interdisciplinary team; no one will solve complex problems on their own.



S E RV I C E - L E A R N I N G Engineering designs to marketing plans, environmental impact assessments to educational materials—students in UVM service-learning courses produce a wide variety of work that directly benefits scores of community partners in Vermont. Courses at the university are designated as service-learning when they integrate academic content with a service or experiential component involving a community partner; benefit both the community partner and the students through the project; and are designed to support students in meeting course learning goals through the experiential component.

HONORING AN INNOVATOR Kathleen Liang, professor in Community Development and Applied Economics, was named National Entrepreneur Educator of the Year by the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Liang is credited with designing, developing, and implementing the first entrepreneurship curriculum within an agriculture and life sciences program in the United States in 1998. And she was also recognized for her creation of the Dollar Enterprise program, considered one of the most



Growth, across the past ten years, in the number of service-learning courses offered at UVM.

1in5 UVM students are enrolled in a servicelearning course.

200 community partners of UVM servicelearning courses


innovative service-learning and experiential-learning courses in the nation. Students in her Introduction to Community Entrepreneurship course are given $1 and work in teams to create and operate small business ventures on campus (pictured at left) to benefit non-profits focused on youth development, mentoring, homeless, and health services. Since 2005, more than 3,000 UVM students have participated in Dollar Enterprise activities that generated upwards of $60,000 for 300-plus non-profits.


CDAE 195: Cabot Marketing Challenge

This course pairs groups of students with local socially responsible businesses and non-profit organizations to develop unique, targeted outreach and marketing plans, the most promising of which are then funded and implemented



As a teacher, seeing students taking ownership and doing service to the state has made this one of the most rewarding experiences in my twenty years of teaching. My students love the idea that the results of their work might inform policy that could help these individuals. I think we’ll make a difference.”

KATHY FOX, professor of sociology. Students in Professor Fox’s Criminal Justice Seminar interviewed 379 inmates at Vermont’s seven correctional facilities. Their research explored issues surrounding the families and children of prisoners and how they are impacted by the incarceration of their loved one.

with grants from the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Professors Kate Finley Woodruff and David Connor won the 2014 Campus Compact Engaged Educator Award for their development of the course. FS 350: Food Systems Immersion

Cherie Morse, faculty member in geography, teaches the interdisciplinary graduate seminar in the Food Systems graduate program. In the course, the students produced a professional-quality exhibit, titled “Working the Landscape: Vermont’s Fields, Trails & Forests.” The exhibit (pictured above) highlighted the ways that people, tools, and policies have shaped the landscape we often consider iconic and unchanging. EDSC 215: Reading in Secondary Schools

Faculty in the College of Education & Social Services


work with a range of community partners to connect their students with Burlington-area youth who need reading help, often as part of learning English as a second language. The course partners with agencies such as the Boys & Girls Club and King Street Youth Center in Burlington, the O’Brien Community Center in Winooski, and several middle and high schools.

CONNECTING EDUCATION STUDENTS TO COMMUNITY Alan Tinkler, assistant professor of education, was among the finalists for the 2014 Ernest A. Lynton Award for Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty by the

New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Center for Engaged Democracy. The award is presented annually to pre-tenure faculty members from across the disciplines who connect their teaching, research and service to community engagement. Tinkler, who arrived at UVM in 2010, made an immediate impact by landing a Learn and Serve America grant to integrate service-learning into the teacher education curriculum in the College of Education and Social Services. The grant also led to ongoing relationships with the King Street Center, Burlington and Winooski school systems, and the United Way of Chittenden County that have proven beneficial for local youth and students in his service-learning based education courses, “Reading in Secondary Schools” and “Student Leadership for Change.”


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On a fall semester Sunday, half a dozen students, guided by an expert in the field of costume installation, are at work in the basement of the Fleming Museum. Their task sounds simple: put clothes on a dress form, make a hat look as it would if someone were wearing it. But how do you accomplish this when the clothing size doesn’t match the size of the mannequin? And most importantly, without permanently altering or damaging what could be an invaluable piece of the collection? This is a slice of the work of museum staff, and two classes of UVM students learned all about the job as they collaborated on the creation of an exhibit which would go on display at the Fleming. The museum has long worked with classes to curate exhibitions, but this effort had a twist. For the first time, two classes from different UVM departments collaborated in tandem with the Fleming on the project. The interdisciplinary effort, led by professors Jennifer Dickinson, anthropology, and Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, art history, in partnership with Fleming staff, received support from the College of Arts and Sciences’ grant program Enhancing Excellence through Interdisciplinary Experiential Engagement. The program, begun in 2012, seeks to increase the range of UVM classes that expose stu-


dents to multiple disciplines in an integrated fashion and include “real-world” learning experiences in the process. This effort has “real-world” experience in spades. Through group projects, students were exposed to and responsible for all facets of museum exhibit creation. Given a central theme to explore—sex, gender, and sexuality—students worked with their peers across both classes to select objects, research and write descriptions, design the layout, create an online exhibit and develop interactive and educational materials as well as a PR and outreach plan. The pressure of that real work—and an

Art history and anthropology students got firsthand experience of the challenges of curation and museum installation as they worked together on a Fleming Museum exhibit. impending public show—pushed students to rise to the challenge. “I respect the Fleming,” says student Alyson Atherton. “I want to put my best foot forward.” That was clear when students presented to their professors and Fleming staff their groups’ deliverables, including a three-dimensional, virtual model of their recommendation for exhibit arrangement as well as an audio tour aimed at orienting children to the tricky topic of sex and gender. Students were not only given the chance to do the work themselves, the courses introduced them weekly—either in person or via

Skype—to professionals at work in the field today. Both Dickinson and Di Dio invited these guest speakers to talk about the scope of their jobs and also the path they took in arriving at them. Students heard from museum workers from Burlington to Boston and beyond, many of them UVM alumni. “It’s irresponsible for us not to give some sort of professional training and skills to these students as they go out into a very tough but burgeoning market,” Di Dio says. “There are a lot of jobs out there, but there’s a lot of competition, and they finally can claim some experience now that they’ve had this class.”


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CONNECTING WITH BURLINGTON’S NEWEST AMERICANS When sophomore Eric Venezia enrolled at UVM to study and play goalie on the men’s soccer team he looked forward to the usual experiences of college life. Befriending a 69-year-old man from Bhutan and helping him become an American citizen wasn’t among them. 8


The unlikely relationship between Venezia, a secondary education major, and Saran Chhetri, a rice farmer in his native Bhutan who now lives in Burlington after fifteen years in a refugee camp in Nepal, was forged during a service learning course taught by Barri Tinkler, assistant professor of education. Every Thursday evening students in her “Citizenship and Education in the U.S.” class meet at the O’Brien Community Center in Winooski to help adult refugees from Russia, Bhutan, Uganda, Nepal, South Sudan, Vietnam, and other countries prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Tinkler, who started the course a year ago, added the service-learning component in the fall after volunteering as a tutor at the citizenship class herself. She worked closely with Gabe McGann, a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program, who started the citizenship class in Winooski through the nonprofit Serve Burlington. “It has been an incredible experience to work with Saran,” says Venezia, who completed twenty-five field hours of tutoring as part of the course. “We have a mutual respect for each other and just enjoy working together. It’s powerful to know that it could have a direct impact on his life if he gets citizenship.” Before Tinkler brings students to the O’Brien Center, she provides an overview of the immigration and naturalization processes in the United States with a focus on the ref-

ugee system and related educational policies for English learners. Students examine theories about second language acquisition and how these theories support or conflict with current debates in the field of educational policy. Tinkler saw the opportunity to join forces with McGann as a way of giving life to the course content. “The course content is designed to help students understand how the system works,” says Tinkler. “Once they understood it better, I wanted them to talk to people who are actually in the system. It’s a way of connecting the policy to the person and putting a face on the individuals that it affects. I also want students to understand how resilient the refugee population is by hearing about it first-hand.” Although most students reported feeling some initial anxiety about tutoring someone old enough to be their grandparent, it’s not detectable on a spring evening at the O’Brien Center. The atmosphere is loose, warm, and full of humor as students and their mentees sit around connecting tables listening to McGann give instructions at the front of the room. Members of the class are excited to hear that when they become a U.S. citizen they could run for public office. “You could become the mayor of Burlington, Saran!” shouts McGann as members of the class yell out words of encouragement for his candidacy. Saran Chhetri raises his hands in the air before shyly covering a huge smile.


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The Public Health Projects course at the University of Vermont College of Medicine offers a win-win situation for physicians-in-training and members of the greater Burlington community. Students learn to apply the principles and science of public health while working to meet the needs and improve the health of local citizens. Each spring, first-year UVM medical students meet with Burlington area agencies— coordinated by United Way of Chittenden County—to identify partnerships for public health projects to address a need in the community. These projects, led by Dr. Jan Carney in the College of Medicine, are conducted during the fall of the second year of medical school. Over the past ten years more than one thousand students have completed 150 projects, adding up to roughly 39,000 hours of work. And according to Carney, associate dean for public health, participating agencies overwhelmingly agree that the students’ projects benefit people served by their organization.


Two particularly successful recent projects illustrate the diverse and lasting impact of this service-learning initiative. A public health project conducted by College of Medicine students in the Class of 2016 that explored barriers to asthma management in Vermont elementary schools prompted statewide action, leading to increased support for school nurses to care for students with asthma. Dr. David Kaminsky, the faculty advisor for the public health project group, says the College of Medicine’s course provides an ideal way for students to make a real difference in the community, as well as develop research and public speaking skills. “It’s especially nice

Second-year UVM medical students discuss their Public Health Project with Vermont Commissioner of Health Harry Chen, M.D. at the final presentation where we get to see the pride felt by students as they present their finished poster,” he says. Reinforced by findings from a Class of 2017 student public health project, Vermont CARES, the state’s largest and longest-serving AIDS service organization, recently received a $40,000 grant from Janssen Therapeutics to start a Vermont Hepatitis C case management pilot project. The organization was one of only eight programs nationwide that received this funding. The students created a survey to assess demographics and the applicability of existing services at Vermont CARES, which was completed by Hepatitis C patients at seven

sites throughout Vermont. Based on their findings, they recommended that Vermont CARES expand their services to include clients with Hepatitis C. Dr. Jerry Larrabee, professor of pediatrics, was the faculty advisor on the Vermont CARES public health project. With the help of the grant, Vermont CARES will fund a staff position, peer outreach workers, and a web-based information clearinghouse. “The College of Medicine’s commitment to local connections and impact really pays health dividends, and this is a great example of a strong connection,” says Peter Jacobsen, executive director of Vermont CARES.


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Students in Professor Mandar Dewoolkar’s Engineering capstone course, Jace Curtis, David Gagnon, Anna Nadler, Benjamin Rouleau, and Timur Steis, created this schematic for improved automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian use of a busy Essex Junction intersection.


Traffic flow in Essex Junction that is more efficient and safe. A green roof design that collects water in Burlington. Containment of a landslide at a campground in Jeffersonville. Professor Mandar Dewoolkar’s Senior Design capstone course for engineering majors (CE 175) provides students with the opportunity to use what they have learned throughout their four years at UVM and apply it in a real-world setting. Students have participated in a variety of tasks from designing traffic roundabouts to historic structure remediation, all of which have benefitted local community partners. Students are required to submit specific dimensions, costs, and materials as they would in a professional job. Their final presentations are illustrated with detailed sketches and computer-generated models. These projects are designed to prepare students for the interdisciplinary world of engineering, and encourage students to really invest themselves in all aspects of these projects. The service-learning approach makes the class more interesting, says Dewoolkar, because “students are more motivated and work harder to meet the increased expecta-


tions.” In a traditional classroom, he continues, there is “less accountability because there is no real-life component.” Many of the small towns and organizations Dewoolkar’s students work with benefit because they don’t have the staff or expertise to begin these projects. They are often energized by students’ ambition and value their engineering knowledge. “Students bring fresh ideas that may not have been taken into account in the planning stages, and community partners value this insight,” Dewoolkar says. The professor says he enjoys hearing back from community partners, sometimes years later, when a project that UVM students helped initiate is completed.






New Americans face significant barriers, from speaking the language to finding jobs and a home. Effective refugee networks take time and careful planning. I want my research to have an impact— that’s what drives me. I want to move policy forward so we can improve these people’s lives, because they are a big part of this country’s future.

PABLO BOSE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF GEOGRAPHY Vermont’s diverse and growing population of new Americans is a central focus in Bose’s research and teaching.


E N G AG E D E X P E RT I S E From Burlington neighborhoods to Vermont’s small towns to the coffee farms of Central America, the research of UVM faculty engages with and impacts the world. More than half of the university’s faculty connect with the community in their research in some fashion, and close to a quarter of the faculty note that their scholarly activity involves active collaboration with community partners.

COFFEE TO MAPLE SYRUP Agroecologist Ernesto Mendez has devoted his research and teaching career to transdisciplinary and action approaches with on-theground impact. Mendez, associate professor of plant and soil science, leads UVM’s Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group, where graduate students and researchers study ecological and socioeconomic sustainability in agricultural landscapes. Working with smallholder coffee farms in Mexico and Central America has long been a central focus for Mendez’s work. Closer to home, he is working with


fellow scientists and Vermont farmers to identify best practices as the state’s agricultural economy deals with climate change. Mendez, together with Kimberly Wallin, associate professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, received the 2015 Lynne Bond Outstanding Service-Learning Award for Faculty from the CUPS Office.

BETTER FOOD IN “THE DESERTS” “Food deserts” are regions the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes as places with largely low-income populations and few or no places to buy affordable, healthy food. Linda Berlin, professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and director of UVM’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture, has led the Vermont component of a multi-state study addressing the problem. Working with colleagues and students, Berlin has gathered information

regarding consumers’ buying habits, local stores’ inventories, and explored the supply chain through which food travels to Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom. The researchers want to link what have often been seen as separate problems. On the one hand, 12 percent of the population in the Northeast, more than seven million people, are food insecure, according to the USDA. This means they face a challenge getting healthy, affordable food—and all the health problems, like obesity, hunger, and diabetes that are associated with this challenge.


Student struggles during middle school are a powerful predictor of later academic trouble, including the likelihood of dropout. Those years are often educators’ last best chance to reach kids.”

PENNY BISHOP, professor in the College of Education and Social Services and director of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education. The institute, funded by the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation, helps Vermont teachers integrate technology into the classroom and employ best practices for engaging middle schoolers.

On the other hand, regional farmers are struggling to stay in business, the land base for agriculture in the Northeast continues to decline, and a large percentage of fruits and vegetables eaten here—that can be grown in the Delaware-to-Maine corridor—are transported from farms in the Midwest, California, Mexico, and other parts of the world. The researchers want to show that both problems can—and maybe need to be— addressed together. The plan: build a powerful model of how the whole system works. The hope: enhance the supply and availability of foods grown in the Northeast region.

HEALING SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA It has been eight years since Professor Karen Fondacaro, director of UVM’s Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center, founded Connecting Cultures, a program designed to provide mental health services to Vermont’s refugee community.





UVM Extension has served the state


$ 4M in grant and contract funds secured by Extension faculty for outreach in the past year


direct contacts with Vermonters made by UVM Extension faculty and staff in the past year


Extension education events held in Vermont in the past year

The clinic has since served hundreds of refugees from more than thirty different countries. Approximately sixty-seven percent are torture survivors. Those numbers—and the real lives behind them—led Fondacaro to partner with groups both inside and outside of the university to expand the types of services offered to refugees. Federal grant funding has helped Fondacaro, her graduate students, and other colleagues provide psychological services to torture survivors, empirically evaluate the effectiveness of treatment, and train other providers. It’s also led her to develop and implement new models of care, such as a carefully designed therapy group bringing together Somali women. “The groups are such a privilege to be in,” Fondacaro says. “It is complicated, difficult, intense—but I would choose nothing else to do now.”





“No wise person would ever work for a salary.” Those were Pramodita Sharma’s grandfather’s words of warning when she told him of her decision to pursue a career in education. To her grandfather, being one’s own boss and staying in their family business in northern India were the keys to a good life. 18

Family businesses face their own set of particular challenges. Many find counsel from UVM’s Grossman School of Business, one of the top programs in the country for this focus.

It was a life Sharma was used to. Starting in grade five, she helped with accounting at her father’s automotive dealerships. At the age of fifteen, when her father passed away, she continued accounting work with extended family, selling “anything with wheels.” Although she left the family business to pursue a passion for education and research, family business has not left Sharma. Today, as the Sanders Professor for Family Business in UVM’s Grossman School of Business, she is a leading scholar on the topic, a research spark begun in her childhood but reignited in grad school at the University of Calgary. “I was working on a project with a million-dollar grant marked solely for family business,” recalls Sharma. “I was told to do a literature review, and I started reading these articles and I thought, ‘They’re talking about my family.’ It was after so many years that I found the literature that actually spoke to me, that was actually more reality to me than anything else that I had studied.” It was a fledgling field at the time, but over the years Sharma has helped define it. Her book Entrepreneurial Family Firms is one of the most widely used college textbooks and has been translated into Mandarin and Greek. She’s also editor of the journal Family Business Review and serves as director for the only

global applied research initiative on family business studies, Successful Trans-generational Entrepreneurship Practices at Babson College, a group with forty-one partner institutions in thirty-five countries. At UVM, Sharma collaborates with fellow faculty to sharpen the family business focus at the university. That work recently led to the Grossman School of Business being named one of the top twenty-five schools worldwide for expertise on family business. That worldwide focus includes connecting with, learning from, and offering expertise to the many family businesses in Vermont and those headed by UVM alumni. The Grossman School annually honors family businesses for excellence in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability. This year’s honorees, recognized for their ability to overcome challenging succession issues and for contributions to community and industry, included a winery, a maple orchard, a garnet mining company, and the leading provider of digital grocery services in the country. The fourteen family businesses that have been honored since the inception of the program four years ago have a combined workforce of 6,800 employees, $388 million in sales, and 740 years of multi-generational experience.




At the height of rush hour, on the evening of August 1, 2007, an eight-lane steel truss bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the water, and thirteen people died. Eric Hernandez, an expert on structural engineering at the University of Vermont, wants to make sure this doesn’t happen on another bridge. 20

Engineering professor Eric Hernandez works in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Transportation as he develops better and more affordable methods for monitoring stress on bridges and buildings.

Combining novel algorithms with existing sensor technologies, he’s developing new, lower-cost techniques to interpret the vibrations in bridges and buildings. His goal is to create affordable tools for engineers and regulators to more accurately forecast the remaining life of a structure—whether it’s a decades-old bridge or an earthquake-shaken building. To support his research, the National Science Foundation granted Hernandez, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, a five-year, $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Award. “We want to know: can we accurately estimate when a structure will fail? Then we’d be able to step back and say, ‘it has between twelve and fourteen years left of service. We should plan now so that in ten years it has been replaced,’” Hernandez says. “Right now that information is often not known.” Engineers had inspected the Minneapolis bridge annually and were concerned about its condition—it was slated to be replaced in 2020. But they didn’t expect, nor were they able to forecast, its catastrophic failure. “Instead of just relying on visual inspections, we could be using sensors,” Hernandez says, to assess the structural health of “buildings, bridges, tunnels, and wind turbines— early, before there is trouble—like people get tests when we go to the doctor.” Hernandez and his students have been working in a UVM lab, and—in partnership

with the Vermont Agency of Transportation—studying a bridge in Vermont to test these ideas. “We’re looking at how structures vibrate as different kinds of loads are acting on them,” Hernandez says, “and from those vibrations we can estimate their level of safety or reliability.” Vibration-sensing technologies on the market today are very good, Hernandez says. “There are sensors with enough accuracy to do the work we need to do,” he says. But they’re not cheap. “The problem is that the number of sensors that we can put on structures is limited because of cost,” he says. That’s why he’s focused on what’s called a “minimally instrumented” approach to measuring a structure’s remaining life. “We’re proposing to determine what is the minimum number of instruments that you need,” he says, using more sophisticated computational techniques for interpreting the sensor data that is collected. Hernandez is exploring his new approach at both ends of the wear-and-tear spectrum. On one end are seismic loads—think earthquakes—on buildings. On the other extreme are the millions of cycles of loads that car and truck traffic make on bridges. Eventually, Hernandez’s new approach could be packaged into software “that could be coupled with different kinds of sensors that people would put onto structures,” whether built into a new wind turbine or attached to a hundred-year-old bridge.




Bernice Garnett, assistant professor in the College of Education and Social Services, specializes in public health prevention with a particular focus on issues such as childhood obesity and bullying. Though she is relatively new to the university, Garnett has quickly become a regular in Montpelier, taking her research and ideas for applying it for the benefit of the state’s youth to the halls of state government. Could you tell us a bit about the connections between obesity and bullying? BG: We know children are bullied because of their weight more than any other identity, primarily because it’s accepted, and there’s this notion that it’s your fault that you are this way as opposed to your race, sexual orientation, or religion. The youth I’ve worked with want to lose weight, but it’s really hard, especially if they come from a low-income area, because they don’t have control over what they eat at home. So often, overweight youth use food as a coping mechanism to deal with all of the hatred at school. What’s your approach to addressing childhood obesity? BG: I was very much focused on physical


health, but eventually realized that we have to address the social, emotional, and behavioral health issues that accompany excess weight. I realized that I can’t work in childhood obesity prevention unless these kids feel safe in school, feel empowered and connected because they have such low self-esteem that nothing is going to happen in a sustainable way. That’s when I took a step back and realized I needed to think more holistically about how I saw health and not come from this traditional “calories-in, calories-out” perspective. I had an “aha” moment when I saw weight-based teasing happening in a gym class that I was commissioned to run, and I thought, “I can’t control this behavior.” That’s when I realized that childhood obesity prevention programs are completely ineffective

unless we change the way we think about weight, talk about weight with kids, and how we are developing them as individuals. How do we move forward on a big picture, policy level? BG: I really believe in the value of applied research because it can influence policy, and public health policy has a direct effect on people’s lives. Cigarette bans, trans fat bans, seat belts, drunk driving—that’s all public health. I’ve gone to Montpelier multiple times to meet with as many legislators and people at state agencies as possible to ask them what their strategic plans and priorities are, and how UVM can answer any questions they may have. In my mind, policy is the only way to

guarantee that there is universal access to a specific type of solution, therefore having the potential to reduce health and educational disparities. Something is wrong when the life expectancy of a black man in Harlem is comparable to a man in Bangladesh or that three subway stops away, your life expectancy goes down eight years in some U.S. cities. Research-based policy, implementation, and evaluation are the most effective way to reduce these disparities. I came into this field wanting to make a difference on a state and potentially federal level. I think Vermont is the perfect place to pilot some innovative healthcare models that we can showcase nationally, and UVM can play a major role by providing evidence-based research to create effective policy.





Vermont Senator Richard Sears ’69 remembers what it was like to “get his bell rung” as a football player at the University of Vermont in the late 1960s. Back then players dealt with what is regarded today as a concussion by “shaking it off ” or taking a brief trip to the sidelines for some smelling salts. “You just kept playing because you didn’t want to look weak, but I’m sure most players back then had at least two or three concussions,” says Sears, who still coaches high school football.


As the debilitating effects of concussions became more widely recognized with former NFL players being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Sears became concerned with the safety of high school football players in


Vermont. After seeing players remain in games despite sustaining concussions, he decided it was time to address the issue legislatively. “I could see that they had a concussion, but there were no athletic trainers at some games, so I began to put together legislation that included certain protocols and safety measures.” Sears contacted a handful of concussion experts including Alan Maynard, clinical associate professor of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, who brought a rare mix of expertise to the process as director of UVM’s Athletic Training Program and president of

the Vermont Association of Athletic Trainers. He’s also a practicing clinician as athletic trainer at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax. Maynard provided key testimony to legislators and helped craft what would become one of the most comprehensive concussion laws in the nation. The majority of the new law, Senate Bill S.4, went into effect in July of 2013 with a key provision requiring all schools in the state that sponsor collision sports (football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling) to have a healthcare professional trained in concussion management at every home game to become law in July of 2015. Another aspect of the new law helps facilitate getting family practice providers and pediatricians the latest return-to-play guidelines distributed by The University of Vermont Medical Center. “We’re not there yet, but the new law should increase education across the board,” Maynard says. “If we can get information about return-to-play into the heads of pediatricians and other healthcare providers who make these decisions, that’s a win.” And the law requires that schools have a concussion management plan—guidelines for what to do when a concussion happens and what has to happen before the athlete’s return—for collision sports. The senator and the professor proved to be a powerful team in crafting the legislation and making it law. “Alan’s role was critical,” Sears says. “I don’t know if it would have passed without him.”




In the nineteenth century, Vermont farmers grew some 40,000 acres of wheat each year. But as the soils, railroads, and climate of the Midwest triumphed in the intense competition of grain commodity markets, Vermont wheat production steadily declined and all but disappeared. 26

Wheat is making a comeback as a viable crop on Vermont farms in large part due to the innovation and leadership of UVM Extension agronomist Heather Darby, pictured sowing seeds with Alburgh farmer Roger Rainville. Wheat fields have begun to sprout once again in Vermont in the past decade, thanks in large part to the research and outreach of UVM Extension agronomist Heather Darby. Darby began studying the viability of growing wheat in Vermont in 2004, later taking that work into the field with Roger Rainville on his Borderview Farm in Alburgh, Vermont, where they began trials with organic spring and winter wheat varieties. As the local food movement grows, particularly in Vermont, for many it has come to include the desire to have daily bread sourced close to home. Darby points to a rash of recent food safety problems in the global food system, climate change, worries about energy supplies, and skyrocketing commodities prices as part of the changing food landscape. “People want some control of their food and they want to be connected,” Darby says, “The localvore thing is moving beyond the gourmet foodie market—it’s now about knowing where your food came from.” Vermont has the highest per capita spending on local foods of any state, according to USDA figures, and that desire to eat local has increasingly come to include bread. Until very recently, however, few bakers were willing to incorporate Vermont-grown wheat in their products, complaining of low quality and limited supply. This has driven Darby to look for varieties that not only will survive in Vermont but produce flour with the protein levels, gluten strength, and taste that bakers demand. “When the farmers, bakers, millers, and Extension actually started listening to each

other, things really took off,” Darby says. To help, Darby opened a cereal grain quality laboratory in UVM’s Jeffords Hall with funding from the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture Organic Research and Education Initiative program. There, she and her team test wheat samples from farmers on a sophisticated machine that measures what millers and bakers call “falling number.” If it rains just before harvest, or wheat contains too much moisture, it may start to sprout. This releases an enzyme that starts breaking down the starch and protein in the grain—which results in off-flavored flour and weak dough. Randy George—one of the pioneers in baking bread from local wheat and the co-owner of Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex—started as a skeptic but credits Darby for what happened next. “There were a lot of good intentions, but we were bumbling around in the dark until she got the farmers and bakers together,” he says, “and soon we saw dramatic improvements in quality.” Local farm tours, a trip to Denmark, visits with millers and agronomists in Quebec, and other education spearheaded by Darby helped farmers to understand better the subtle issues that determine wheat quality, including harvest timing, drying techniques, and variety selection. The result: flours with higher falling numbers and better protein levels. Before too long, Red Hen was selling a hundred loaves a day of their purely Vermont-wheat Cyrus Pringle bread, named in honor of UVM’s nineteenth-century botanist and wheat breeder.



BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF DERAILMENT AIDS RECOVERY On the morning of October 5, 2015, in a forest just outside of Northfield, Vermont, the Amtrak Vermonter went off the rails and crashed down a steep embankment. Fortunately, no one was killed. About an hour later, UVM’s Jarlath O’Neill-Dunne received an urgent phone call from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Emergency officials wanted overhead pictures of the crash site to help in their response. Within minutes, O’Neill-Dunne, director of UVM’s Spatial Analysis Lab, and his team were on the road with a drone—a fixed-wing eBee unmanned aerial vehicle outfitted with advanced sensors and cameras. At 1:50 p.m., they had the eBee flying over the trainwreck, and a few minutes later the team transferred some 280 photos of the derailment site to the incident commanders. “Each photo is geo-tagged during the flight,” O’Neill-Dunne explains. “This allows us to provide the response teams with imagery that is comprehensive, tied to a location on the ground, and easy to display.” By early that evening, he and the other UVM volunteers had created an “orthophotomosaic”—a flexible map created from the drone images that was quickly integrated with other data to help officials in planning the recovery. “We have been able to transform what began as a research project into an operational asset,” O’Neill-Dunne says, “capable of rapidly responding to incidents across the state.” BY JOSHUA BROWN 28






I want to showcase what actions students have taken to reduce the impacts of climate change in order to exemplify our unified call for strong climate legislation and policy. Through my experiences in Paris, I hope to gain inspiration from what students from around the world are doing to take action on climate change.

GINA FIORILE ’18 A sophomore, Fiorile travelled to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Her work with the Youth Climate Summit has made her an international leader in engaging young people on the issue and resulted in two invitations to participate as a panelist at White House events in the past year.


ST U D E N T S I N T H E CO M M U N I T Y While thousands of UVM students connect with the community through service-learning courses each semester, many also complement their academic studies with volunteer and service work. Campus clubs and organizations, fraternity and sorority chapters, varsity athletic teams, religious groups, residential units—University of Vermont students come together and rally in the spirit of community service in myriad ways.

HILARITY FOR CHARITY Two visits from actor Seth Rogen in two years sounds like a fraternity brother’s dream. But earning that reward has been serious business for Pi Kappa Alpha brothers as they’ve twice topped the national competition in a fundraising event sponsored by Rogen’s Pike brothers’ fundraising for Alzheimer’s research has earned them visits from actor Seth Rogen two years running.

Hilarity for Charity foundation, which raises money to combat Alzheimer’s Disease. The Pikes raised $27,000 in 2014. In 2015, joined in the effort by Alpha Chi Omega sorority, they topped it with $30,000.

COMMITTED TO CHANGE UVM junior Alia Degen’s interest in community service began with travel/work trips in high school, and she got off to a fast start in college her very first semester when she

UVM students are enrolled in a servicelearning course.


won a chance to distribute two thousand pairs of shoes to impoverished children in Honduras through Toms Shoes. While the signature canvas slip-ons may be a fashion statement in the United States, in the developing world, they’re a tool to ward off health risks like parasites, bacteria and infection that can easily develop without a barrier between a child’s foot and the ground. It’s no surprise Degen’s service-mindedness has followed her to UVM, where she has volunteered with FeelGood, whose proceeds from grilled cheese sales in the Davis Center are donated to help end world hunger. She has also working as a program assistant in the Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS) office on campus. Professor Luis Vivanco says, “I think Alia is a stellar representative of the kind of Global Studies student that we have here who is really com-


MANY FEET MAKE LIGHT WORK One weekend each fall UVM students hit the 273 miles of the Long Trail en masse for the Catamount Classic. Their mission: collectively hike the entire trail in memory of former student Avi Kurganoff and raise funds for DREAM, a youth mentoring program that, along with the Outing Club, was one of his passions at the university. Kurganoff, who passed away on March 12, 2012, was studying to be a social worker. Uniting kids in the DREAM


mitted to making change in the world and who wants to spark dialogue across borders—cultural and linguistic—to see what we can do to make the world a better place.”

Students hit the trails to remember one of their own and boost a local youth program.

program with UVM students who share his love of the Vermont wilds through the Catamount Classic is an apt way to keep his spirit present in the community. Support raised this year for the Avi Kurganoff Scholarship Fund was slated to send a DREAM student on an Outward Bound trip.

UVM students participated in volunteer activities in the past year

117,500 hours of community service were completed by UVM students in the past year


$ 5M estimated monetary value of student volunteer work


Rather than heading to the surf or the slopes, scores of UVM students embark on a week of community service each spring break. Over the past several years, they’ve leant a hand at an HIV/AIDS clinic in San Antonio, Texas, an inner-city youth center in Chicago, and an urban farming program in Oakland, California, among many other sites.




A RES HALL BUILT AROUND SERVICE Bike Recycle Vermont’s workshop in Burlington’s Old North End buzzes on a damp December evening. You open the door to warmth and a pleasing whiff of well-used bike parts, grease and hundreds of rubber tires. UVM first-years Max Green and Dean Wertz lean over a work bench cleaning and repairing crank sets, while friends and classmates Hudson Cassello and Kyle Landry sort legions of old front forks destined for rebuilds into workhorse “new” bikes that will help their owners get to jobs and the grocery store. 34


The UVM contingent among the volunteers at work this evening has been at it every Tuesday through the semester, part of the community service central to their experience at the Dewey House for Civic Engagement, one of the university’s Residential Learning Communities. The focus at Dewey is getting out into the local community, says program director Kailee Brickner-McDonald. As she rattles off places students are making a difference—from the University of Vermont Medical Center to the Committee on Temporary Shelter to King Street Center to Bike Recycle Vermont for a total of 1,800 hours of volunteer work logged as fall semester nears its close—it’s clear the program is doing well by the man it’s named after. “We don’t use his language—‘education for democratic purposes’—specifically,” Brickner says with a smile when asked about the influence John Dewey, UVM Class of 1836, swings on the first floor of Harris these days. “I don’t think that would appeal as much to students. We talk, instead, about ‘how do I make a positive social change.’” First-year students and sophomores in Dewey House live together in Harris Hall; juniors and seniors remain involved through programming and as mentors to the new members. With a total membership in the

house of nearly eighty students, there’s a strong sense of passing along the lessons and ethics of community service. That continues on with alumni, as well. Carlisle Jensen ’15 is part of that tradition. A member of Dewey House as an undergrad—and the recipient of CUPS Outstanding Student in Service-Learning in 2015—she continues her experience in a staff leadership role with the program through AmeriCorps VISTA. Lining up those steel forks back at the bike shop, Hudson Cassello says he was drawn to this particular volunteer project by the hands-on work and the tangible impact of providing affordable bicycles that can truly make a difference in the lives of low-income Vermonters. Max Green, a mechanical engineering major, notes that he appreciates the way getting his hands on some metal each week meshes in a practical way with his studies. Asked about how experience has matched with expectation at Dewey House, Kyle Landry confesses, “I kind of expected a bunch of socially awkward kids.” He explains that community service wasn’t exactly “in with the in-crowd” at his high school. It’s a different story at Dewey House and more broadly at UVM, he says. “There are so many kids who are thoroughly involved. I was just not expecting it.”



BUILDING BONDS On a Tuesday morning the week before fall semester began, eight new students and their two upperclassmen leaders got down to work at a Habitat for Humanity site in Shelburne. Freshmen backpacking the Long Trail is likely the first image that comes to mind when the subject is UVM TREK. But while the immersive weeklong student orientation program has its roots in the wilds of Vermont, Service TREK has carved out its own distinct place in the university’s culture across nearly twenty years. While a table saw buzzed and nail guns thumped in the roughed-in house frame, Brenna Foley, an Honors College student majoring in Global Studies, says the same ethos behind Service TREK drew her to UVM more broadly. “There was this feeling on campus that working together is valued at UVM,” she says. Foley plans to get involved in service and human rights work during her years at the university.






An old backboard leans against the do-it-yourselfer plywood lockers at UVM Rescue headquarters on East Avenue. The board has carried its last patient and is now a large plaque of sorts with the plastic name badges of Rescue members past glued on it. While its display isn’t quite ceremonial, it’s a step up from the old tradition in which graduates stuck their green pins into the foam ceiling panels. 38


Those old badges offer, name by name, a glimpse into the history of this remarkable student-run volunteer enterprise founded in 1972. Across the past four decades, UVM Rescue has been a vital link in the emergency medical response network for the campus and more widely in Chittenden County. UVM Rescue operates a state-certified Advanced Life Support ambulance, staffed and operated by UVM students twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Primary responsibility of the unit is providing emergency medical care to the UVM campus, UVM Medical Center Helipad, and the University Health Center. They are also the secondary ambulance for Burlington, South Burlington, Shelburne, Winooski, Richmond, and other local communities. UVM Rescue responded to 1,300-some requests for an ambulance in the past year. Between calls, the headquarters look an awful lot like a student apartment or a suite in a residence hall. There’s a kitchen with a pot of coffee on, one student studying and/or napping over on the couch, another surfing the web. For the crew covering a night shift, it’s close company in the small bunkroom. No surprise that the students drawn to Rescue are like-minded, and they grow into a family. Marc Hachey, a junior in biology, is a crew chief driver and financial officer for UVM Rescue, among other roles. “The problem solving and split-second team decision mak-

ing that occurs on our calls makes us closer and a more tight-knit group than any other on campus, I would imagine. You don’t always get along with everyone in your family, but at the end of the day you love them and always have their backs,” he says. While many have majors in the sciences or healthcare-related fields, Rescue draws students from a wide range of areas of study. Many are united by visions of careers that will have them on their feet, in the field and involved with people, rather than desk jobs. The old teaching standard, “see one, do one, teach one,” is passed from generation to generation of Rescue crews. Alumni have long played a vital role in training the next generation and pitching in to help cover shifts over semester breaks and holidays when the ranks thin. They’re a loyal group with a commitment to UVM Rescue that extends far beyond their last ambulance trip. Alan King, UVM Class of 1974, was a Rescue member in the founding years. He has practiced law in Greater Boston for more than thirty years, but still looks back on those days with fondness for what was and respect for the work today’s students continue. “I truly miss the adrenaline rush and a chance to make a real difference in someone’s life,” King says. “It’s unusual to have so much control at a young age. It’s a real test of one’s mettle.”






It’s very difficult for people to think of valuable learning taking place outside of school, and of kids being taught by anyone other than teachers. So, our model is counterintuitive, a disruptive innovation. We’re letting kids learn by doing and by producing things for the community.

ERIC SCHWARZ, Class of 1983 In 1995, Schwarz co-founded Citizen Schools in Boston together with college roommate Ned Rimer ’83. The venture would prove successful as an unconventional educational program that extends the middle-school day with hands-on teaching and personal tutoring, much of it done by community volunteers.


A L U M N I E N D E AVO R S Looking back on their UVM years, alumni often speak of the ethics around issues of community, activism, and service absorbed through their experience studying at the university and living in the state of Vermont. Many have founded non-profits focused on societal and environmental issues, and tens of thousands of UVM alumni make time in busy schedules to keep service central to their lives.

NOBEL CONNECTION Jody Williams, UVM Class of 1972, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her tireless work leading the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams’s career as an advocate on peace issues began through volunteer work. Just two years later, another UVM alum would be in the Nobel spotlight when Médecins Sans Frontières was awared the 1999 Peace Prize. John McGill, UVM MD ’78 was a founder of Doctors Without Borders, the U.S. wing of the organization, and led it at the time of the Nobel. ALUMNA LAUDED FOR WORK IN AFRICA Forbes magazine recently named thirty people under the age of thirty who are “leveraging business tools to solve the world’s most pressing


problems.” And UVM alumna Sasha Fisher ’10 is included on the list of leading social entrepreneurs. As a UVM undergrad Fisher earned her bachelor’s degree with a double major in studio art and a self-designed course of study: human security. Explaining the multi-disciplinary approach of her studies, she says, “I ended up realizing that in economics, the goal is to have poverty reduction—that’s not actually my goal. In political science, it’s about the state—that’s not actually my goal either. What I want to do is to enable all the humans on Earth, even if they’re in an illegitimate state or a corrupt state, to meet all their basic needs. And that doesn’t necessarily mean money—that means that they have food, that they have health care, that they have a house, that they have access to clean water. And so while

that sounds very obvious, it’s a whole other paradigm and a whole new way of thinking about aid and about what our goals are in the world.” Following graduation, Fisher launched Spark Microgrants, a non-profit organization that supports communities in East African nations as they design, implement, and manage their own development projects. To date, Spark has provided grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 to dozens of communities, funding projects that improve access to food, education, sanitation, and clean water. In all, the organization’s work has impacted more than 75,000 lives.



Bob Taylor, then dean of the Honors College, told us in class that his greatest hope for us in college was that we’d fall in love with something—whether a study or a person. It was this amazing, powerful speech, and it’s what we care about at ReWork. What we think matters is meaningful work. The world would be a better place if people were connected to what they do.”

NAT KOLOC, Class of 2008. Together with college friend Evan Walden, Class of 2009, Koloc would go on to found ReWork, an innovative employment service that connects people looking for meaningful work with jobs in the social and environmental sectors.


PEACE CORPS PIPELINE “The Peace Corps seems to fit with a campus that’s so community-oriented and civic-minded,” says Jane Kolodinsky, chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics. In addition to the recruiter position, based in the department’s Morrill Hall location, CDAE has another connection to the Corps. It’s a participating member of the Peace Corps’ Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship Program. At UVM, returned volunteers in the CDAE master’s program—or those

earning a master’s in public administration—can earn six credits for their Corps experience through an independent study course, “Peace Corps Analysis,” which requires students to show the connections between their time as volunteers and their coursework. “One of our department mottos is ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’” Kolodinsky says. “A lot of volunteers have that experience and then want to come back and get the subject matter in a master’s degree under their belt.”

857 25

alumni have served

alumni currently serving



UVM’s rank among mid-size schools for participation rate

Vermont’s national rank in 2015 for number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita






Among tallies of the elderly living in poverty, these are especially sobering and shameful statistics. Fully half of the approximately 60,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City and three surrounding counties live at or below the poverty line. Cut another way, that’s one quarter of all of the Holocaust survivors living in the United States. While there is no quick fix to the deeply entrenched financial challenges faced by this vulnerable population, some hardfought relief was won this summer when the government of New York City added $1.5 million in aid for Holocaust survivors to the municipal budget. UVM alumna Meredith Rose Burak ’07 spearheaded the effort as chair of public-private partnerships for the nonprofit Survivor Initiative. It follows on past successes that include catalyzing $3.5 million from private donors and the federal government to support survivors nationally, and working with the White House to establish the first-ever special envoy for Holocaust survivor services. Coordinating multiple Jewish and Holocaust survivor networks to speak as one was critical to gaining traction for the NYC financial support. Burak also broadened the coalition by reaching out to Hispanic, African-American, and old-school New York politicians throughout the city’s boroughs. Rafael Espinal, a city council member from Brooklyn, was unaware how many Holocaust survivors lived in poverty until he spoke with Burak. But as he learned more about the population’s plight, he quickly took the lead among council members pushing for support. “Meredith was in the forefront of all of the behind the scenes work,” he says. “This all wouldn’t have been possible without her dedication to finding avenues to secure funding.”

It’s all volunteer work on Burak’s part. By day she has worked for Merrill Lynch the past four years managing financial portfolios for nonprofits. But as vocation or avocation, advocacy for the enslaved and imperiled has been woven into Burak’s life since her days as a UVM undergrad. Embracing her own Jewish roots, the inspiration of Professor Richard Sugarman, and work with UVM Hillel were key elements in Burak’s growth during her college years. She organized UVM’s chapter of a national student organization speaking out against the genocide in Darfur. And, through that work, she led the way in bringing author Elie Wiesel to campus for an event that filled Patrick Gym. Post-college, she has remained active on genocide issues, folded her work for Holocaust survivors into her days, and runs the Mary Hass Foundation, a small charity supporting research on ovarian cancer at the UVM Medical Center. The latter is in memory of Burak’s mother, who passed away six years ago. Burak is also chair of development for UVM Hillel and on the Board of Directors of Hillel International. As Meredith Burak recently planned a move to Israel, she balanced it with work on behalf of thousands of people she will never meet. Burak has been in dialogue with government leaders and advocacy organizations, lending her energy, voice, and collaborative skill to the plight of the Yazidi women and girls of Iraq, a people ravaged by ISIS, as they seek asylum outside of the Middle East.




ELIZABETH BURKE BRYANT ’79 WORK: Founder and executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a policy and research organization focused on the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of that state’s children. HOME: East Greenwich, Rhode Island. UVM DAYS: Majored in political science and was active in student government from first-year through


senior year. Husband Dan Bryant ’79 is also an alum. IN HER WORDS: “There’s still so much work to do. We know that getting a high-quality education has always been the road out of poverty. Every day we approach our work with that in mind and strive to make a difference through public policy in the lives of these children.”


YUDI BENNETT G ’75 WORK: Founder of Exceptional Minds Studio, a non-profit vocational center and animation studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Venture is a shift in direction from a more than thirty-year career in film production HOME: Glendale, California. UVM DAYS: While earning her master’s in communications, professors such as Kim Worden advanced her interest and skills in filmmaking—“My studies there totally changed my life!” IN HER WORDS: “Because we are an innovative, one of a kind program, the work is tremendously fulfilling and very exciting. We like to say we are ‘changing lives…one frame at a time.’ Our graduates have just finished working on Avengers:Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Game of Thrones—just to mention a few.” NANCY CLARK ’71 WORK: Co-founder and director of the Zienzele Foundation, which supports AIDS orphans and caregivers in rural Zimbabwe; care coordinator at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont. Last year Zienzele supported approximately one thousand orphans in school. HOME: West Topsham, Vermont. UVM DAYS: Majored in nursing because it felt like a “safe and predictable women’s career” at the time, but was encouraged by professors to think outside the box. IN HER OWN WORDS: “My UVM experience gave me the courage to leave Vermont for a job at Albert Einstein Hospital in the Bronx, where I had my first experiences working in intensive pediatrics among underserved populations, an experience that has guided my entire career.” LINDSEY KITTREDGE ’99 WORK: Co-founder and executive director of Shooting Touch—a global sports non-profit

that uses the power of basketball to inspire and educate under-resourced youth around the world. HOME: Medfield, Massachusetts. UVM DAYS: Played varsity lacrosse; loved her child development and nutrition courses; spent a year abroad in Italy; went to Guatemala for Habitat for Humanity; and enjoyed skiing and the outdoors. IN HER WORDS: “I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to create something out of nothing that helps people through the universal power of basketball. The power of sports truly does have the ability to change the world and improve the lives of youth in need.” MARK BIEDRON ’74 WORK: President, New Jersey State Board of Education. Co-Founder, The Willow School in Gladstone, New Jersey, home of LEED gold and platinum facilities where “children discover who they are, the joy of learning, and the wonder of the environment around them.” HOME: Pottersville, New Jersey. UVM DAYS: Majored in business, enjoyed skiing at Mad River, hiking in the mountains, and exploring the countryside around Starksboro. IN HIS WORDS: “Education is my focus. It is the process for real and lasting change. In K-12 education, you are designing the future.” KATHRYN STAM ’88 WORK: Anthropology professor at the SUNY Institute of Technology and founder of Starting Over, an initiative that brings together Utica, New York’s large immigrant population and helps connect them with the wider community. HOME: Utica, New York. UVM DAYS: An Environmental Studies graduate, Stam was strongly influenced by Professor Carl Reidel, the program’s founder. Decades later, she remains inspired by the fact that



Zachary Wright’s skills in the classroom and nurturing of his students’ college aspirations earned him Philadelphia’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year honor.

100 percent recycled paper. IN HER WORDS: “I’m definitely going to keep doing social justice work. I’m excited to do it back home. I will continue my ties to UVM; I lived in Vermont for thirteen years, so it’s an important part of my life.” Reidel took her seriously and believed in her potential. She also recalls his advice that being a “generalist” is not a bad thing—embrace the variety and see where it leads. IN HER WORDS: “In a place like Utica they don’t have that much opportunity to meet people from other countries. Lectures and performances through Starting Over are a chance to learn about the world and languages and other peoples.” NATALIA FAJARDO ’06 WORK: Fajardo has focused her efforts on social justice work. Prior to a recent return home to her native Colombia, she worked with Migrant Justice in Vermont, helping undocumented farm workers from Mexico and other countries seek driver’s licenses and better conditions. HOME: Medellín, Colombia UVM DAYS: As an environmental science student, Fajardo was a prominent activist, spearheading a successful campaign to increase UVM’s purchases of chlorine-free,


ZACHARY WRIGHT ’05 WORK: A high school teacher at Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, Wright was named the city’s 2012-13 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. In part, the honor recognized his work encouraging his students to prepare for college and consider UVM, in particular. The subsequent Mastery Catamount Scholarship has helped make that aspiration a possibility for more of his students. HOME: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. UVM DAYS: Wright remembers the university as a place where professors met his efforts and ideas with enthusiasm, pushing him to the next step. IN HIS WORDS: “Most educators never get a chance to see the impact they’ve made, but we, through our work together, have and will continue to change the lives of these young people from West Philadelphia.” JARRETT LILIEN ’84 WORK: Successful career in finance that has included being CEO at E-Trade and leading


Achier Mou ’06 returned to his native South Sudan to establish an institution to train badly needed healthcare workers.

his current financial services venture, Bendigo Partners. Lilien’s avocation has long been advocacy for arts organizations, including WFUV Radio, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and the Jazz Foundation of America, which champions support for aging musicians in difficult financial circumstances. HOME: New York, New York. UVM DAYS: Earned his degree in economics. Was an avid skier and developed into a nationally ranked squash player. IN HIS WORDS: “Jazz musicians live the life of an entrepreneur, making their own way without a whole lot of help and security. We’re doing all we can to provide that safety net.” LAUREN DOBAY ’13 WORK: Nurse in Darthmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Surgical ICU. HOME: Londonderry, Vermont. UVM DAYS: As a senior in nursing, Dobay worked in a hospital in the rural town of Kamuli, Uganda. Moved by her experience, she helped organize a microphilanthropy scholarship fund to help future nursing students pay for travel to Uganda as part of the travel course “Uganda: Public Health Nursing.” IN HER WORDS: “I knew I was in for a life-changing experience, and two years later I am still amazed at how it continues to impact me as a nurse and as a person. It was one of the most important experiences


in my education and has forever changed my perception of public health.” ACHIER MOU ’06 WORK: Principal, Aweil Health Sciences Training Institute. It’s the first post-secondary health training institution in the South Sudan city, part of an effort to combat the severe shortage of health workers in the country. HOME: Aweil, Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, South Sudan. He’s finally close again to his mother, from whom he was separated— unsure if she’d survived—for twenty years. UVM DAYS: A “Lost Boy of Sudan,” Mou started his time at UVM as a custodian. As a student, he helped lead UVM to divest from Sudan. IN HIS WORDS: “I had always thought I would come back to South Sudan to help in the field of health and development. It was going to be the time when the country had straightened out its priorities and all the agendas had been set.”




Rob Cox ’89 has built a notable career as a journalist with Reuters, his work appearing in publications from The New York Times to Esquire to USA Today, among others. Cox’s personal and professional focus would shift dramatically with the terrible events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, the community where he grew up and where he and his wife Hannah (UVM ’89) moved twelve years ago to raise their two sons. Though no one in his own family was harmed, his community was devastated. Within twenty-four hours of the massacre of twenty-six children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Cox and a circle of friends were working to found what would become Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to healing their own community and doing all it can to make sure others do not suffer the same fate.

How has your education and experience as a journalist influenced your work with Sandy Hook Promise? RC: One of the things that I credit UVM with is instilling a sense of social justice into my perspective on the world. Sure, my parents were formative in this regard. My mother was into the literature of dissent and made me read Cry, the Beloved Country in high school. But I remember being at UVM when the anti-Apartheid divestment movement was gaining ground and protesters had constructed a shantytown in the middle of the campus green. Though I didn’t participate in the protest, I was drawn to the issue and hugely support-


ive of the cause. Ever since then, during my time at UVM and later in graduate school at Columbia, critical and independent thinking and the notion that there is something greater at stake in what we do besides making paychecks, have guided me.

So often when a terrible tragedy touches a small community, we hear that the place has grown closer. Down the road from the shootings at Sandy Hook, do you find that’s true of Newtown? What is the lasting impact on the community? RC: It’s hard to say what the lasting impact will be. As my WSJ op-ed two days after

the shooting happily predicted, we did pull together to help each other. The community is cohesive, resilient, and moving forward. But the trauma is real and everlasting. I am proud to say that most of the tensions that naturally arise from a tragedy like this, particularly when there is an influx of millions of dollars, have been subdued and managed quietly. My family is stronger and incredibly aware of our good fortune. I know my boys see a higher calling to their lives as a result of what happened. They both want to make a beneficial impact in the world, and to help others. Sam just returned from a week rebuilding homes in a flood-stricken area of Colorado as part of a mission organized by Ben’s Lighthouse, an organization founded in honor of Ben Wheeler, one of the first-graders killed

at Sandy Hook. The Wheelers have become close friends, and Sam was inspired by Ben’s memory. Ethan was a counselor this summer at a camp organized by the Newtown Resiliency Center for the town’s elementary school children. Hannah has volunteered a full-time job’s worth at Sandy Hook Promise and a variety of other organizations that sprouted in town after the shooting. It’s a family affair, and I suspect it has been like that for many others. My sincere belief is that this next generation of Newtown kids will go on to do amazing things that help people and make the world a better place. This interview originally appeared in Vermont Quarterly magazine on-line in fall 2014. For the complete interview, see





In addition to the courses, research, and individuals featured in the previous pages, the facilities and resources of the University of Vermont also enrich and enhance the quality of life in our state. Here’s a sample. HORTICULTURE RESEARCH & EDUCATION CENTER Affectionately known as the “Hort Farm” to many, the 97-acre parcel in South Burlington is home to more than 700 kinds of ornamental trees and shrubs. Tours, apple sales in the fall, and master gardening classes offered through UVM Extension, are a few of the ways the public enjoys the Hort Farm. OSHER LIFELONG LEARNING INSTITUTE Adult learners (age 50+) in Vermont explore new interests and activities through the classes, events, lectures, and excursions of OLLI at UVM. The university is one of 119 schools nationwide that are home to the Osher Institute. In addition to the UVM campus, OLLI events are held at eight other locations throughout the state. THE CATAMOUNTS Patrick Gymnasium or Gutterson Fieldhouse is often the place to be on a Vermont winter evening when the Cats are hosting a home game. Basketball, hockey, skiing, soccer, lacrosse,

and more, UVM varsity athletics offer exciting sports action and a rallying point for Vermonters statewide. UVM EXTENSION For more than a century, the university’s Extension has delivered educational programs and practical information throughout the state. With offices located in eleven of Vermont’s fourteen counties, UVM Extension staff and faculty bolster communities by teaching sound practices based on the latest research concerning health, nutrition, agriculture, environment, and other issues. MAYOR’S BOOK GROUP The university’s Humanities Center partners with the City of Burlington Mayor’s Office to bring the community together to discuss books and ideas. When the group was launched in 2014 Mayor Miro Weinberger called it “a great opportunity to enhance the social and cultural fabric of Burlington by bringing engaged citizens together for lively, respectful dialogue about big ideas and the joy of reading.”



FLEMING MUSEUM For the past eighty-five years, UVM’s Fleming Museum has brought the world to Vermont through its extensive, eclectic collection of art and objects—Rembrandt to New England Indian pottery to an Egyptian mummy. In addition to welcoming the many visitors and school groups who explore the galleries, the Fleming also hosts movie series, public lectures, and youth art programs. LANE SERIES Since 1955 the UVM Lane Series has brought a diverse array of performances—classical music, film, theatre, jazz, folk—to the campus and city. Master classes and workshops often create opportunities for direct interaction with performers. Lane’s ARTIX program provides free tickets to more than thirty local social services agencies to broaden access to all audiences. NATURAL AREAS From mountain summits to bogs, the university’s ten designated Natural Areas preserve a number of unique Vermont wild places as resources for teaching, research, and recreation. In Greater Burlington, areas such as Centennial and East woods provide a quick escape minutes from the center of town. VERMONT LATIN DAY Spring 2016 will mark the fortieth time that Vermont high school students studying Latin travel to UVM for a day of skits, displays, and recitations in celebration of the language. Classics Department faculty have long coordinated this day when togas are in vogue for hundreds of high schoolers, and UVM classics students help serve as hosts.


GOVERNOR’S INSTITUTES During the summer months, the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont bring circles of the state’s most academically exceptional high school students together around eight distinct areas of interest. Half of these institutes— Asian Cultures, Engineering, Environmental Science & Technology, and Mathematical Sciences—are hosted on the UVM campus with many faculty contributing to the programs as directors or teachers. PERKINS GEOLOGY MUSEUM The Charlotte whale, a beluga whale skeleton unearthed by railroad workers in 1849, is the star of the show at the geology museum, which also includes a T-Rex hologram, dinosaur footprints, and lessons on identifying rock types, among other attractions and activities. Perkins Museum, free-of-charge, is a popular field trip for Vermont school groups. MUSIC & DANCE EVENTS The faculty and students in the Department of Music and Dance present performances throughout the academic year, both on-campus and off-, most of them free-of-charge. Solo recitals, full orchestra concerts, and


ensembles from chamber music to jazz fill the department’s calendar. DUAL ENROLLMENT COURSES Juniors and seniors in Vermont high schools can take two courses each year at UVM or other colleges and universities in the state. Tuition is fully reimbursed through this Vermont state government funded program. It is one of a number of pre-college options offered through UVM Continuing and Distance Education. COMMUNITY MEDICAL SCHOOL Designed to share the medical learning experience with the greater community, Community Medical School is a public lecture series presented by UVM College of Medicine/Medical Center faculty experienced with delivering scientific information in an engaging, easy-to-understand manner. Lectures are held the first Tuesday of each month. ROYALL TYLER THEATRE The Theatre Department annually presents three major productions, a festival of student-directed one act plays in the spring, and a holiday classic, “The Toys Take Over Christ-


mas,” that is popular with kids and families. Working in collaboration with the Champlain Shakespeare Festival, UVM Theatre has also recently helped bring The Bard’s work back to Vermont in the summer. VERMONT YOUTH CLIMATE SUMMIT More than 120 students and teachers from fourteen Vermont high schools gather on campus for this day-long event in which students work as a team to create a climate action plan for their own school. UVM undergraduates in an ecological economics course organize the event. The Youth Climate Summit model was recently chosen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to become a national model for climate change education. GREENHOUSE Come mid-February, the warm, moist air and beautiful plant collections of the UVM Greenhouse beckon. The facility is open for public visits at most times Monday through Friday. Home gardeners are invited to start their seedlings in the greenhouse. The staff provides bench space and plant care for a small fee.


“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself” —J­ohn Dewey, UVM Class of 1879


REAL WORLD UVM Real World: Service Learning & Community Engagement is an initiative of the Office of Community-University Partnerships (CUPS) with support from the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President. The Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service-Learning (CUPS) works to create meaningful, sustainable, pedagogically rich opportunities for students to learn from and contribute to the community—in the context of their academic disciplines. To do so, CUPS supports community partners to develop projects, faculty to innovate pedagogically, and students to apply the skills of their academic disciplines to these community-defined needs.

Publisher Susan Munkres, CUPS Office

Editor Thomas Weaver, University Communications

Art Director Elise Whittemore, University Communications


Joshua Brown, Erin Post, Jon Reidel G’06, Katy Silber, Amanda Waite ’02 G’04, Thomas Weaver

CONTRIBUTING photographers Ryan Brandenberg, Joshua Brown, Raj Chawla, Jeff Clarke, Chris Dissinger, Andy Duback, Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist, Brian Jenkins, Caleb Kenna, Sally McCay, Paul Mobley, Mark Ostow, Amanda Waite ’02 G’04

1791 1865 1879 1971 2003 2015

Vermont lawmakers pass legislation creating the state’s university. UVM is designated as the land grant institution of Vermont. John Dewey, pioneering advocate of experiential learning, graduates from the university. UVM’s Center for Service-Learning is the first named service-learning center in the country. The Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning is founded. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching renews the University of Vermont’s Community Engagement Classification. UVM, which first earned the classification in 2006, is one of just seventy-six schools in the United States to receive designations for both academic engagement and community participation.