VPR Series: UVM At A Crossroads

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UVM President Resigns For "Deeply Personal Reasons"

07/20/11 5:50PM By John Dillon
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AP/Toby Talbot
In this 2003 file photo, University of Vermont President Dan Fogel, left, gets help from a student before his inauguration ceremony. Fogel announced his resignation Wednesday.

(Host) University of Vermont President Dan Fogel says he will step down from his job at the end of the month for personal reasons.

Fogel was planning to leave next year, but he says he moved up his departure to take care of his wife and himself. His wife's relationship with a UVM employee has been the subject of an investigation by university trustees.

VPR's John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Fogel has been at the university for almost a decade. His tenure was marked by a building boom on campus and growth in the student population. Fogel launched an honors college on campus, and is credited with raising the school's academic standards.

But his last few years in office saw increasing controversy over budget cuts, layoffs, and high salaries paid to school administrators. In the past few months his family was also drawn into a campus investigation, as trustees probed whether his wife's relationship with a UVM fundraiser violated school policies.

Fogel said he was stepping down early for - quote - "deeply personal reasons."

Trustee board chairman Rob Cioffi said the board did not ask Fogel to leave, nor was his departure accelerated by the investigation.

(Cioffi) "I think Dan's statement speaks for itself, that Dan's stepping down for personal reasons that he feels he needs to dedicate more time to his personal situation. And I respect that and frankly empathize with the situation that Dan is in."

(Dillon) Cioffi said that the board's investigation will wrap up next month. He said he's been briefed on the progress, and he does not believe campus policies were violated.

(Cioffi) "I can tell you based on what we've seen to date no laws were broken, no university policies were broken. But there are some things we need to change and there are some policies and procedures we need to implement to become a better university."

(Dillon) Cioffi said the timing of Fogel's sudden resignation and the conclusion of the investigation was a coincidence. But some on campus were dubious of that.

Philip Baruth is an English professor and state senator.

(Baruth) "We had this scenario a couple of months ago where President Fogel announced that he was stepping down rather abruptly. There was no mention made of other factors. Those exploded in the media. So, I think, understandably, the campus is now wondering, ‘OK, he's now leaving in two weeks rather than 15 months. That seems incredibly accelerated. Is there some other shoe waiting to drop?'"

(Dillon) Elsewhere on campus, student reaction to Fogel's tenure was mostly positive. Moira Donovan is a public school teacher from Jeffersonville who's taking a writing course at UVM this summer. Her son went to UVM and got a generous aid package from the school. She credits Fogel's leadership.

(Donovan) "I think he can be recognized for two important points: One, the expansion of the physical campus itself, the new buildings as well as acquiring Trinity, but also keeping the cost affordable for our Vermont kids."

(Dillon) University trustees had already launched a search for a new president, who is expected to take office next summer. Trustees have not appointed an interim president.

Fogel will take a year's leave of absence starting in January. He will return to campus as professor of English and will be paid about $195,000 a year.

For VPR News, I'm John Dillon.

(Host) Dan Fogel declined to be interviewed for this report.

 

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