University of Vermont: Dudley H. Davis Center

Quick Facts

University of Vermont 

Four-year, public, urban
Full-Time Enrollment: 11,898
Location: Burlington, Vermont

Dudley H. Davis Center 

Year Built: 2007
Size: 200,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 5
Annual Operating Budget: $7.9 million
Director of Student Life and the Davis Center: Patrick Brown
Director of University Event Services: Allen Josey
Student Staff: 579 part-time
Nonstudent Staff: 250


In its 10th year of operation, the Dudley H. Davis Center, named after a local Burlington banker willing to take risks to build the local community, has the distinction of being the first U.S. LEED Gold-certified student union. As planning moved forward, the center’s goal was to extend beyond the value of environmental stewardship and strive for a mission-driven approach to be student centered, to build links with academics, and to serve the social justice mission of the university. 

Unique Features 

The realization of its environmental stewardship values began in the design stage for the building, continued through phases of deconstruction, and have been adjusted over the past 10 years. Highlights of these processes include a loading dock cooler dedicated to keeping compost from spoiling prior to pickup; the glycol heating system internal to the loading dock surface that turns itself on when the surface gets wet and below 32 degrees; 65% of all building materials were manufactured locally; 94% of the deconstructed Carrigan Building was reused or recycled; and the facility has public showers on all floors to encourage community members to bike to work. 

In the spirit of supporting students and the local community, the Davis Center has a designated flagpole to celebrate ongoing and one-time programs. The default is the Whole Earth flag, but flags have been flown to support Black History Month, National Coming Out Day, and Women’s History Month. Special interest flags have included one to recognize the independence of South Sudan, the Tibetan flag for special educational programming, and most recently the Black Lives Matter flag. 

Students’ Role 

The operations and events team includes 75 dedicated students working as office/reservation assistants, technical assistants, production assistants, information desk staff, and building managers.  

“This student team is the heart of the building operation,” said Lina Balcom, assistant director of Davis Center Operations and Events. “Together with our professional staff, they support day-to-day building operations, event execution, support all audio-
visual and technical needs for events, serve as primary on-site event support, staff two information desks, and assist in our office and event reservation.” 


As a participant in the Real Food Challenge, the Davis Center’s food operations, as well as all other food operations on campus, strive to achieve the highest level of environmental stewardship in sourcing, preparing, and composting food. 

“The Eco-Rep program, composed of students dedicated to keeping us on track in regard to sustainability, explores mechanisms and programs to teach and experiment,” said Patrick Brown, director of student life and the Davis Center. “We are also proud to host a weekly farm-share pickup that serves students, staff, and faculty.” 

In 10 short years, the center has hosted numerous special events including the Cancer Moonshot forum with Vice President Joe Biden, a live simulcast of a U.S. Senate hearing, the campus’s annual Translating Identities Conference, the annual Dismantling Rape Culture Conference, and fundraisers for local community organizations. 

Contributed by Patrick Brown

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