Distinguished Educator Takes on a New Challenge

Herman “Bud” Meyers ’68 MA  ’71 Ph.D.

With his new Ph.D. from UConn’s Neag School of Education securely in hand, Herman “Bud” Meyers arrived on the University of Vermont (UVM) campus in 1971, eager to begin what would turn out to be a distinguished career that has included the chairmanship of UVM’s Department of Education.

Photo Almost 40 years later, Meyers is once again eagerly beginning a new chapter at the school, as the first director of UVM’s James M. Jeffords Center for public policy research. The center, which opened in March of 2009 and was named for the former Vermont senator and attorney teneral, is devoted to addressing what the university calls “complex and challenging issues.” It will offer a Ph.D. in social policy, and the U.S. Department of Education has invested $3 million to get the center started. But its goal is to be self-sustaining in four years.

For Meyers, the Jeffords Center represents an opportunity to bring many voices together. “Ours will be an interdisciplinary approach,” he says. “We’ll be multi-purpose, with a major focus in health, environmental and education policies. I want to bring as many different experts as I can to the table.”  Priority one, though, is health care for senior citizens. “Over the next five years,” Meyers says, “I hope the center will look at long-term community care alternatives. How can we keep more seniors at home instead of in nursing homes?”

But there is no talk of “golden years” for Meyers himself. At 67, he admits he has contemplated retirement, but the Jeffords Center offered a stimulating challenge that was too good to pass up. It will also allow him to continue his busy life as a consultant.

“UVM understood my need to keep my evaluation and research work going,” he says. “The university agreed to a commitment that allows for the hiring of an associate director to assume the center’s operational responsibilities. Plus, I’m still running an eight-minute mile and log about 25 miles per week, so I’m in pretty good shape.”

While the Jeffords Center will be a major career highlight for Meyers, he also takes pride in the creation of the New England Common Assessment Program, known as NECAP. From 2000 to 2004, while on leave from UVM, Meyers served as Vermont’s ceputy commissioner of education and spearheaded NECAP, a series of reading, writing, math and science tests developed in response to the No Child Left Behind Act, and now the official state assessments for Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine.

Meyers, who earned both a master’s and doctorate at UConn, credits his graduate work with helping him map out the program and avoid some bumps in the road. “My UConn experience taught me to understand, and be very careful with, the structure and mechanics of standardized tests,” he says. “It also taught me to strive for curriculum and instruction that promotes creativity and problem-solving.”

Creative problem-solving will continue for him at the Jeffords Center where the words of the former lawmaker guide its mission. “Public opinion is not based on dogma or on simplistic formulas,” Jeffords once said. “It is based on serious examination of individual issues.” To which Meyers adds, “My hope for the center is that we will reach out to all those who share the values of that mission in order to develop and preserve humanity.”