Next spring will mark ten years since Vermont Quarterly published then President Daniel Mark Fogel’s “Ten-Year Vision for the University of Vermont: 2012-2013: A Picture of the Future.” With a couple of exceptions—the long-sought arena and the, well, head-scratching “transparent cylinder wrapped around the water tower” that would house the Admissions Office and the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics—it’s a vision that has come to fruition in many ways across a transformative era for the university.
The Davis Center is easily the most visible and highest impact change of those years. President Fogel wrote in 2003: “But none of the additions to the physical campus have had the transformative power of the University of Vermont Commons, a vital student union that seethes with activity from early morning to late night. It is more than a physical change. The Commons has rewoven the fabric of community at UVM in ways that all agree are highly positive. It is the place to congregate, to see and be seen…”
True and true and true. As both a staff member and a UVM parent, it’s taken an important place in my own life personally and professionally—it’s the place we went to see both of our daughters on their ways when they hiked off for TREK to begin their freshman years; it’s where we went for our older daughter’s December graduation reception last year; it’s where I’ve spent large sums of money on textbooks and small sums on Atomic Fireballs; it’s where I’ve gone for the announcement of Tom Sullivan as our new president, for Diwali Night, and to see my wife perform with the UVM Orchestra. It’s where I greatly regret not being on the day Bruce Springsteen and family were spotted as they college shopped with son Evan. Damn. (Evan chose Boston College. Double damn. If only I’d been there.)
But I will respectfully take exception with the vision that the building would “seethe” with activity all-day long. Around noon, seethe it does. But at 8:30 a.m., seethe it does not. There aren’t many people there to see or be seen. And I’m appreciative of that. I love a quiet DC, a cup of coffee, a pad of paper to start roughing out a story draft, get some future issue planning done, or, lo and behold, come up with an idea for a new blog post.