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Dear UVM Community,

I write today with mixed emotions. Scott Thomas, dean of the College of Education and Social Services (CESS), has accepted a role as the newly endowed John P. ‘Jack’ Ellbogen Dean of the University of Wyoming’s (UW) College of Education and will be starting his new position on July 1. While I’m sad to see Scott leave UVM, I know he will be an exceptional leader at UW, and I look forward to his continued success.

Scott joined the UVM community in 2016 and, throughout his tenure, he has always prioritized student and faculty success. His strategic thinking and collaborative approach have fostered numerous advances for CESS and the university as a whole. This includes his service as Interim Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences—a role that, as a former CNHS dean, is near and dear to my heart, and a responsibility that Scott executed in exemplary fashion.  

Always one to emphasize the value of partnership, Scott is quick to share credit for the progress made during his tenure. With that noted, I want to underscore that his leadership has fostered many accomplishments. These include the development of a five-year strategic plan focusing the college on “Vermont Distinction” through its schools, families, and communities. Scott elevated community engagement through local early learning partnerships with the Greater Burlington YMCA and the Winooski Unified School District, college access work with College for Every Student, and sustainability education partnerships with Shelburne Farms. In fact, CESS has contributed more than 600,000 hours of fieldwork over the last four years.

Scott also prioritized a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion action plan drawing focus on people, place, and programming in the college. This work has contributed to CESS being among the leading colleges across the university in student success, retention, and degree completion.

New strategically centered programs in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity, Place-Based Education, Trauma-Informed Practice, and Computer Science Education are testament to Scott’s forward-facing approach. At the same time, this work is complemented by Scott’s understanding of our history and legacy, as is evidenced by the First Nations Scholarship he championed.

There are numerous other contributions that Scott has made to UVM and the broader Vermont community. And while we will miss having him here on our UVM campus, it’s good to know he will extend his impact through this new appointment at UW.

Looking forward, I am also pleased to announce that Katie Shepherd, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in CESS, has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Dean. Katie is the CESS Levitt Family Green and Gold Professor.  Her scholarship focuses on educational leadership and family-professional partnerships that support children and youth with disabilities. She is the recipient of the 2013 Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2019 President’s Distinguished University Citizenship and Service Award.

Best wishes,

Patricia A. Prelock, Provost and Senior Vice President