Students, faculty, and staff members at the University of Vermont (UVM) are up in arms in response to recent decisions by the administration which include removing around 30 academic programs and several departments to address an $8.6 million budget deficit.
More than 1,500 individuals signed a no-confidence petition on Monday condemning the leadership of UVM President Suresh Garimella and his administration’s proposal, which they consider to be a betrayal of the school’s mission.
“In view of this, we, the undersigned, conclude that UVM must be restored to its core mission; we declare No Confidence in President Garimella and call for an immediate and complete reversal of course,” the petition stated.
Petition organizers claim that UVM “manufactured a budget crisis” and channeled academic funds to pay for executives’ salaries and bonuses, consultant contracts, and vanity projects.
Meanwhile, a five-year hiring freeze has left departments with a reduced number of faculty, resulting in gaps in course offerings and larger classes, which negatively impact the students’ learning environment.
“UVM’s own public financial disclosures confirm that there is no fiscal crisis driving these drastic changes; instead, it is a crisis of values,” the petition read.
The proposed degree program cuts, also condemned by the Burlington City Council, place a “short-sighted emphasis on the number of majors, rather than the number and needs of students served.”
University spokesperson Enrique Corredera said that the university has spent the past 18 months developing transformational changes that will secure UVM’s stability.
“As a result of that review, last semester we began [identifying programs] that have consistently graduated fewer than five students a year. The retirement or reconfiguration of such programs is necessary to ensure that UVM remains a robust and relevant university that truly meets the needs of 21st century students, and of our surrounding communities,” Corredera said.