President’s All College Update: June ’19

08 Jul 2019


I have been pleased with the work of several search committees this year as we have welcomed two new colleagues recently with our Dean of Academic Affairs, Ana Gaillat, and our Chief Technology Officer, Kellie Campbell. Another successful search has resulted in the appointment of Jason Enser to the Dean of Students position, who will begin July 10, 2019. Make sure to introduce yourself to our newest community members to give them a warm Knights’ welcome!


Our progress toward the first draft of the NECHE self-study is continuing, if not having met the first deadline of all the standard submissions in late May. Teams have been working diligently to complete full and accurate descriptions, appraisals and projections for each sub-standard, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the college within each standard. As of late last week, nearly half of the submissions were complete as others wrap up their work. The plan continues to be to write the draft this summer so that we may submit it for review in the fall.

This project is so comprehensive and so diverse, we benefit greatly from the contributions of the many team members and the steering committee, led by Rosemary Distel. As with many things in life, this takes a village and I am grateful for the Vermont Tech village taking on this important work.


UltiPro is live and time entries or time-off requests have started flowing. Yesterday was the deadline for submitting hours as needed in BOTH systems. The dual reporting allows the implementation team to compare the results from two data sources to validate the new one is working as intended. We are all looking forward to the various self-service items that will be available to us, like changing routing information, withholdings or contact information, when all modules of the software are fully implemented over the coming weeks. The system is going to become more robust the further we get into implementation. For the moment, the first task is to deliver an accurate payroll with a system that brings us finally into compliance with federal regulations. Here’s to compliance! Thanks, too, to the implementation team’s efforts, especially our own Kelly-Rue Riso.


As you may have seen in the VTDigger article I sent around earlier this week, Chancellor Spaulding and the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) of the VSCS Board of Trustees have initiated a process they’re calling, “Serving Students by Securing the Future of the VSCS.”  Jeb’s white paper is posted on the VSCS website, where more information will be located as the initiative progresses. The point we are all at today is that the whitepaper may identify the forces impacting higher education, but our responses to these headwinds is ours to craft. Jeb and a member of the LRPC will join the next Senior Leadership meeting in July to begin the work of verifying the factors affecting higher education in the coming years and to start developing ideas on how Vermont Tech might adapt to these changes. Our Strategic Plan will be an invaluable resources to that work.


At their last meeting, the Board of Trustees approved our $37 million budget for FY20 in which we show a small deficient of $128,000. We are very pleased the Board has approved. Through a multi-pronged approach of retirements, budget cuts, and five staff layoffs, we have gotten to this position with a small anticipated dip into our Strategic Reserves. We anticipate replenishing those funds as soon as a few of the real estate transactions are complete. While the budget is approved, there are many moving parts that will need to be closely monitored as we progress through the coming fiscal year.  We will watch enrollment very closely, working to abate summer melt, and working to assure our assumptions hold true or make adjustments as needed.

I know the discussions about layoffs have been a constant stress to us all. It is not something we want to do or take lightly. But I am heartened by the creativity I have seen thus far around the college looking for solutions to resolve the structural imbalance of the budget in the future. We hope to avoid annual belt-tightening by investing in strategies that secure our financial health in the long term. I am confident in our team’s abilities and collaborative efforts.


Have you noticed the smooth paving and the solid retaining wall in front of SHAPE? Did you enjoy a popsicle that a Randolph Center colleague brought in to celebrate Pride Month? Did you live through the internet outage in Williston in service of the new roof on the 200 Building? Did you see the amazing families celebrating their graduates at the PN ceremony or the employee presentions at the GW Plastics graduation ceremony? I have taken in these and other moments of pleasure already this summer like stopping to smell the roses. I hope you can join me in celebrating these moments of victory as the college continues to do good work and makes improvements. Every little bit helps!

I know there are many vacations happening around the college this summer. Please enjoy your time away and I hope you come back refreshed!