Vermont State University to Host First Annual Academic Excellence Conference

Lyndonville, Vt. — Vermont State University will host its first annual Academic Excellence Conference on Saturday, September 9, 2023 on the Vermont State Lyndon Campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The conference will feature more than 40 presentations from faculty across all five Vermont State campuses, representing nearly every academic department. The conference is designed to showcase the breadth, depth, and expertise of VTSU faculty, and demonstrate the impact their work has both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Through this conference, we hope to promote the spirit of academia at Vermont State and encourage collaboration amongst faculty in our research efforts across campuses,” said Alexandre Strokanov, Professor of History and a lead conference organizer. “We want to show our students and visitors that we are not only great teachers, but that we are also researchers, experts, presenters, performers, and artists.” 

VTSU Provost Dr. Nolan Atkins will open the conference, followed by two plenary session presentations. Professor of History Dr. Paul Searls will discuss the history of Route 7, Vermont’s primary north-south artery, and Associate Professor of Science Dr. Ross Lieblappen will describe the use of micro-computed tomography to create three-dimensional representations of objects’ internal structures. 

Conference session topic areas will explore Technology and Computer Science, Environmental Sciences, Politics and Public Policy, and more. Faculty will explore a wide variety of subjects during their presentations, from the environmental impacts of mountain bike trails, to global sustainability, research on homelessness, and how the American Civil War shaped the western hemisphere.

The full conference schedule and presentation locations are available at All sessions are free and open to the public. 

Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees thanks Dr. Parwinder Grewal for his service, and names Michael K. Smith interim president of Vermont State University.

April 14, 2023

Katherine Levasseur 
Director of External and Governmental Affairs 

Montpelier, VT – The Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) today announced that Vermont State University (VTSU) President Parwinder Grewal has tendered his resignation and is stepping down effective immediately for personal reasons. Former Vermont Agency of Human Services Secretary Michael (Mike) Smith will assume the role of interim president beginning next week.

The announcement comes after much consideration about how best to lead the upcoming launch of Vermont State University set for July 1. The launch of Vermont State University is the culmination of years of work to unify the state colleges, streamline academic offerings and achieve financial sustainability. This has been a partnership with Governor Scott, lawmakers, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and our communities.

“We knew this work would be difficult – in fact, none of this work is simple or easy but we are making steady progress and will be ready to launch Vermont State University in July,” said Sophie Zdatny, Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System. “We are grateful to Dr. Parwinder Grewal for stepping into the role of President and bringing his skills and expertise from a similar higher education unification at this important time, and we appreciate his service.”

The Board of Trustees and Chancellor Zdatny have asked Interim President Smith to pause implementation of the proposed initiatives around athletics and the libraries, pending development of a comprehensive set of recommendations for continued transformation work in the coming weeks. More information will be shared when that work is complete.

Interim President Smith will serve for the next six-months and will initially focus on implementing transformation plans and meeting with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and communities with an eye towards ensuring the successful launch of Vermont State University in just a few short months.

“It is an honor to take on this role at such a critical time and I am committed to giving this my all to ensure the overwhelming success of Vermont State University,” Interim President Smith shared. “I am excited to work with the faculty and staff and welcome the inaugural class who will help chart this new path forward. Together, we are making history and securing a legacy that will serve generations of Vermonters.”

Interim President Smith comes to Vermont State University after a long career in public service, most recently as Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services where he was a key leader in the state’s nationally recognized COVID-19 pandemic response. Smith also served Vermont as Secretary of Administration, Deputy State Treasurer, and as a member of the general assembly. Smith served the United State admirably as a member of SEAL Team Two and has held various roles in the private sector.

“I also want to extend my appreciation to Dr. Grewal for his contributions and welcome Mike to this interim role,” added Lynn Dickinson, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Colleges System. “We know we have a lot of work ahead to achieve the vision of a unified, thriving and financially viable Vermont State University. Strong communications, engagement, and collaboration will be our ongoing focus.”


About the Vermont State Colleges System

The Vermont State Colleges System provides affordable, high quality, student-centered, and accessible education and career development opportunities for all Vermonters. In 2020, the Vermont State Colleges System embarked on a period of transformation to unify Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College. By July 1, 2023, these schools will unite as a single accredited institution entitled Vermont State University, bringing together all five campuses. The new University will increase access to high-quality educational programs for all learners, fueling Vermont’s economic pipeline, and creating greater access to affordable higher education opportunities.When fully transitioned, the Vermont State Colleges system will be comprised of Vermont State University and Community College of Vermont (CCV). Learn more about the Vermont State Colleges System at