Bramley charged with implementing state-UVM partnership plan

Former University of Vermont interim president John Bramley, right, speaks before Gov. Peter Shumlin and other members of the governor’s higher education advisory group, at a press conference at UVM on Wednesday when it was announced he would be responsible for implementing a new state-UVM partnership. Photo by Alicia Freese

Gov. Peter Shumlin and Thomas Sullivan, president of the University of Vermont, held a joint press conference Wednesday at UVM to announce that they plan to restructure the relationship between the state and its only public university. John Bramley, one-time interim UVM president and longtime UVM faculty member, will oversee the organizational reforms.

In June, the governor’s higher education advisory group released a report recommending, among other changes, that UVM double the size of its engineering school, tweak its tuition structure, and shake up the ratio of public to private trustees, and that the state appropriate funds to specific programs rather than the university’s general fund.

The report can be found here.

Bramley, who is also a member of the advisory group, now has the job of making sure the report doesn’t “sit on a shelf.” Bramley will be paid $20,000 for a role that, by his own estimate, he will serve for 18 months.

In his introduction, Shumlin described Bramley in the way he often talks about himself: “He’s a common-sense pragmatic leader who gets things done.”

Shumlin and Bramley both characterized what’s at stake for the state in dramatic terms. The changes are necessary, they said, in order to build a future for the university and the state at a time when the world economy is increasingly shifting toward globalization.

“UVM must be a world class research university and it must be able to attract and support businesses and if it doesn’t do that, then Vermont’s future economic success is threatened,” Bramley said.

The state currently gives $40 million a year to UVM, which amounts to 5 percent and 7 percent of the university’s budget. Ten million dollars is for agricultural and engineering programs, another $10 million goes to the medical school, and the remaining $20 million supports the financial aid program.

Shumlin emphasized how serious he is about putting the report’s recommendations into effect, but he stressed that given its budget deficit, the state would have a limited role to play in funding the reform measures. Though many of the recommendations — doubling the engineering program, for instance — won’t be cheap, Bramley said, “Some of them are noble and expensive, some of them are noble and not so expensive.”

How much Bramley can accomplish will depend in part on the cooperation of the state Legislature and UVM’s board of trustees. One of the proposed reforms — to reconstitute the board of trustees to include more private seats and fewer public ones — would give legislators less direct say in operations at the school. But, Shumlin, who, as governor, is an ex-officio member of the board, said this would allow the board to tap more private funders, and if another of the reforms — to allow the state to control which programs its appropriation goes to — were put into effect, this would preserve a measure of public accountability.

UVM and the state: Private partnerships and public investments (Part 1)
UVM and the state: Private partnerships and public investments (Part 2)

Alicia Freese


  1. Alicia,

    Vermont’s future will be threatened even more if electricity costs continue to rise due to increasingly rolling expensive, variable, intermittent, ridge line wind energy, 10 c/kWh heavily-subsidized, 15 c/kWh no subsidies, into household and business electric rates.

    Such high electricity costs will chase businesses out of Vermont (job loss) and discourage other businesses from coming to Vermont (no investment and job gain). The research graduates will just go to other states with higher-paying jobs.

    For example: Under the SPEED program, projects sell their energy to the grid at 3-5 times annual average grid prices for 20 years; the high-priced energy is “rolled” into a utilities energy mix, resulting in higher electric rates for households and businesses, higher prices of goods and services, fewer jobs, lower living standards.

    Most of the larger SPEED projects are owned by the top 1% of households that work with lobbyists, politicians and financial advisers to obtain generous subsidies for their tax-sheltered LLC projects that produce expensive energy at high cost/kWh and avoid CO2 at high costs/lb of CO2; inefficient crony-capitalism under the guise of saving the world from global warming and climate change.

    Wind energy promoters and politicians often tout job creation by RE projects, but do not mention the jobs lost in others sectors of the economy.

    Economists have used standard input-output analysis programs for at least 40 years to the determine the plusses and minuses of various economic activities. Numerous studies, using such economic analysis programs, performed in Spain, Italy, Denmark, England, etc., show for every job created in the RE sector, about 2 to 5 times jobs are destroyed in the other sectors.

    Also, for every 3 green jobs created in the private sector, 1 job is created in government, but, as a general rule, for every job created in government, about 2 jobs are destroyed in the private sector, largely due to added economic inefficiencies; no one would claim government is more efficient than the private sector. In tabular format:

    Total job gain from RE subsidies = 3 in RE sectors + 1 in government = 4.
    Total job loss in private sector due to RE subsidies = 3 times (2 to 5), due to 3 RE jobs created + 2, due to 1 government job created = 8 to 17
    Net job LOSS due to RE subsidies = (loss 8 to 17) – (gain 4) = 4 to 13 

    Such job “creation” is unsustainable. Whether these government jobs are good or bad, needed or not needed, is irrelevant.

    Note: This is not the case with increased energy efficiency subsidies. They create jobs in the EE sector, but also create a net increase of jobs in the other sectors, because the reduction of energy costs enables more spending on other goods and services.



Comment policy Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Bramley charged with implementing state-UVM partnership plan"