© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New UVM President Talks About Leading The State’s Land Grant College

UVM President Suresh Garimella
Pat Bradley/WAMC
UVM President Suresh Garimella

Why would a high-ranking administrator from Purdue University decide to move to Vermont to lead the Green Mountain State’s largest college? On his first day, the new University of Vermont president described to a crowded room of reporters what drew him to the university and his hopes for its future. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley has part two of our story.
UVM President Suresh Garimella has an engineering background so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the key attractions the Vermont college held is its land grant status.  “The fact that it’s a land grant university was a very big plus for me. It’s hard to say would I not have come if UVM was not land grant, I don’t know. But certainly I came in large part because there’s this very nice sort of coexistence and I think one feeds the other at UVM of a strong private liberal arts tradition and a land grant mission - an ag school, a medical school, engineering, etc. So I think it’s nice to have all of that. And the fact that Senator Morrill was from this place has that added value. There’s a building called Morrill Building around here. So that means a lot to me.”

Garimella refers to Vermont U.S. Senator Justin Morrill, who in 1862 sponsored the act named after him and signed by President Lincoln to “…provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanical arts.”  UVM’s newest leader said it was a forward thinking measure.  “What President Lincoln did and that whole concept to me is just extremely aligned with how I think about higher education. What I think of as being a land grant mission is that, at least my version for what it would mean to UVM, is that all of our assets should be brought to bear on the well being of the community. And really the land grant mission’s quite centrally about that. It’s about access that anyone should be able to access higher education. I just think it’s a beautiful concept.”

Garimella was the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships and a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in Indiana. He is an expert in micro- and nano-scale transport phenomena and his 65-page CV notes he is co-author of over 500 publications and holds 13 patents.  “I’m pretty sure I wasn’t hired here because I’m an engineer. It’s all about people. It’s all about relationships. It’s about instinct. It’s about trust. I think my past experiences in sort of global affairs and engagement and research and in you know lots of sort of hiring and other areas, faculty and student sort of administration I think has positioned me well. You know and if people see me as an engineer somehow looking to solve things yes sure I’m proud of that. I mean I think analyzing something and looking for solutions in a way that that is inclusive, that you consult a lot of people and try to arrive at options is great.”

Dr. Suresh Garimella began his job as the University of Vermont’s 27th president on Monday.

Related Content