BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Incoming President E. Thomas Sullivan said Wednesday in his introduction to the University of Vermont — and the state — that finding enough money to ensure the school can provide a high-quality education at a reasonable price and making the campus more international are among his top priorities.
Sullivan is a lawyer and a former vice president and provost from the University of Minnesota. He was chosen earlier this month to the president’s post by the UVM Board of Trustees, and takes office July 15.
Sullivan’s appointment comes at a time when academics throughout the country are struggling with the competing demands of providing a quality education with dwindling resources.
He said at a meeting on the Burlington campus that a university needs talented faculty and staff to be able to attract talented students and advance knowledge.
“I think the most important priorities are investing in human capital,” Sullivan said. “All of that is for the benefit of society. That has a cost factor to it. We simply can’t have great quality without it costing.”
Sullivan said he wants to continue the effort just beginning at UVM to increase the number of international students on campus, especially undergraduate students.
“We live in a very global, interconnected world,” Sullivan said. We simply don’t live and can’t live in isolation.”
University students in Vermont need to get to know students from other parts of the world to increase their understanding of each other, he said.
“Quite frankly, a student graduating from a university today who has not had that kind of experience, that opportunity, will be at a disadvantage,” he said. “We want to make sure that students at the University of Vermont have had that experience.”
Gov. Peter Shumlin was among the state and university officials who greeted Sullivan during the meeting at the Davis Center.
“Vermont’s jobs future depends on a strong partnership between the state and the University of Vermont, and I believe that future is bright,” Shumlin said. “I look forward to working with him in a close and constructive partnership to the benefit of all Vermonters.”
Sullivan will succeed Daniel Fogel, who retired last August after nine years as president. Since Fogel left, former UVM provost and professor John Bramley has served as interim president.
During his first three years at UVM, Sullivan will be paid $447,000 in salary and deferred compensation. His wife Leslie is a 1977 UVM graduate, and he said his first visit to the campus was last spring for the graduation of a nephew.
“We were here for four absolutely lovely, gorgeous sunny days in May and we had a terrific time,” Sullivan said. “I’m somebody who loves college campuses and I got up early and walked the campus when no one else was up and the sun was coming up. And I was taken by the place and the sense of the place.”
Sullivan became senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Minnesota in July 2004. He left those positions earlier this month, independent of his pending move to Vermont.
Sullivan earned his undergraduate degree at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and a law degree in 1973 from the University of Indiana. He has clerked for a federal judge and has taught law at a number of schools.
Considered an expert on anti-trust law, he has written or co-authored 10 books and more than 50 articles.
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