FAQs About the University of Vermont College of Medicine Name Change

The Name, the Donor, the Gift

  • What is the new name of the University of Vermont College of Medicine?
  • Who is Robert Larner, M.D.?
  • Why has the college been named?
  • Why is the most recent gift significant?
  • How does an endowment work?
  • Who decides how the income from the endowment will be spent?
  • What areas of the College will this gift impact?
  • How will this gift advance active learning and clinical simulation education?

Faculty, Staff and Alumni

  • Will the naming affect the University of Vermont Medical Center?
  • Will the naming affect relationships with the College’s other partners and affiliates?
  • What is the local and regional impact of this gift?
  • What impact will the name change have on my department/center/program?
  • Will we have new email addresses, website URLs and social media handles?
  • Should I start using the new logo right away? What is the transition plan for email signatures, business cards, PowerPoint, voicemail and promotional materials?
  • Will our diplomas and transcripts change?
  • How should the new name be reflected on external documents, such as a CV or LinkedIn?

The Name, the Donor, the Gift

What is the new name of The University of Vermont College of Medicine?

The new name is "The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont." Depending on the context, briefer versions may be used, such as "Larner College of Medicine" and "The College."

Who is Robert Larner, M.D.?

Dr. Larner is a native Vermonter who was born in Burlington's Old North End neighborhood in 1918, the seventh child of a roofer. Thanks to scholarship support he earned in part from winning the state championship as a high school debater, he was able to earn his bachelor's degree from UVM in 1939 and subsequently earned an M.D. degree from UVM in 1942. He completed an internship at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and then served in the military during World War II at both Guadalcanal and Okinawa. He returned to complete his residency at Johns Hopkins, and went on to practice internal medicine with the Robert Larner Medical Group in Los Angeles, Calif., retiring in 1989. In 2013, he was honored by UVM for Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy and received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree at the 2014 Commencement Ceremonies. In 1992, at his 50th Medical Reunion, he was honored with the A. Bradley Soule Award, the highest alumni award given by the College of Medicine. He and his wife Helen currently live in Los Angeles.

Why has the college been named?

The new name, The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont, was approved on September 12, 2016 by the University of Vermont board of trustees to honor the countless contributions and long-time support of alumnus Robert Larner, M.D.

The Larners have a long history of giving at the College, which began in 1985 when they established the Larner Endowment and Student Loan Fund with an initial gift of $50,000. The Fund – to which the Larners contribute annually – has since helped nearly 1,300 UVM medical students pay for their medical education. Their wish to create a culture of giving back has inspired gifts from an expansive network of donors that includes past recipients, other alumni, and friends. They have also generously supported a number of medical education initiatives at UVM, including:

  • A recent donation of $600,000 to support the development of curriculum, purchase of equipment and training for clinicians in point of care (POC) ultrasound in the Clinical Simulation Laboratory at UVM.
  • An April 2016 gift of $19.7 million in commercial property and cash – then the largest one-time gift in the university's history – to fund the construction of the Larner Learning Commons, which will house the College's Teaching Academy and provide space and resources to develop the best teaching technologies and techniques.
  • As part of UVM's Move Mountains campaign, the Larners made a contribution of $8.9 million to establish the Robert and Helen Larner Medical Education Fund in the College in October 2015.
  • A $1 million commitment in 2013 helped build the College's first team-based learning classroom – named the Larner Classroom – in the Medical Education Center, which was named for Dr. Larner in May 2013. The classroom supports interactive and case-based learning for the College's medical students.
  • In 2012, the Larners contributed $300,000 to purchase five cardiopulmonary simulators for use by medical and health science students and professionals in the Clinical Simulation Laboratory.

Why is the most recent gift significant?

The most recent estate commitment with an estimated current market value of $66 million is expected to bring the Larners' lifetime giving to the College of Medicine to $100 million. This commitment to donate makes it the largest gift ever to a public university in New England. The naming is an expression of gratitude from the University of Vermont Board of Trustees and the new name is the first time in the United States that a medical school has been named to honor an alumnus physician and donor. This amazing act of generosity from the Larners will allow the College to unquestionably fulfill Dr. Larner's vision and directive: for the College to provide what he describes as "a medical education second to none."

How does an endowment work?

Endowed funds maintain the donor's gift as principal in perpetuity while paying out a small portion, typically around four percent per year, to fund designated programs. Once the Larners' bequest is realized, approximately 95 percent of their lifetime giving will be secured endowment funding. This means that their giving will generate roughly $4 million annually to ensure that The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine remains at the forefront of medical education for generations to come.

Who decides how the income from the endowment will be spent?

Once it has been determined that the Larner Loan Fund has sufficient funding, distributions from the Fund shall be used at the discretion of the Dean of the College of Medicine for facilities and initiatives that support the promotion of the quality of the medical student education and the medical education experience. Examples of tangible, specific items that may be included are new or renovated facilities or spaces, endowed faculty positions, and financial aid.

What areas of the College will this gift impact?

This gift will accelerate the innovation and transformation in medical education already underway at the College thanks to the Larners' generous support. The data are clear that engaging students in active learning is superior to providing passive lectures for teaching science, especially so for women and minorities. Thus, the College has been moving away from lecture-based courses and toward team-based learning, simulation, flipped classrooms, and other engaged learning activities. Recent initiatives include digitizing the entire curriculum, creating new innovative classrooms that facilitate active learning, building an enhanced simulation center to help students learn clinical skills, and recruiting an endowed Professor of Medical Education to lead the Teaching Academy.

How will this gift advance active learning and clinical simulation education?

Active Learning

Active learning is a concept that describes how the human brain assimilates information to create new knowledge and skills. Typically, it involves using newly acquired knowledge to solve problems, usually by a group of learners. This method allows learners to build on prior knowledge, improve retention and sharpen their reasoning skills. It is accessible to all types of learners and has been proven to be more effective than traditional teaching methods that rely on passive listening. Classrooms are organized for group-based learning and educators utilize a curriculum that weaves in award-winning technology and informatics.

This gift will allow the College of Medicine to complete the transition from the traditional method of delivering knowledge – by lecture – to an easy-to-access digital format. This process will be facilitated in new learning studios, aided by instructional designers, information technology experts and librarians, who will ensure that this curated information is continuously updated and made available for preparative activities needed for active learning in medical, graduate and undergraduate courses.

The gift will also assist with the College's ongoing transformation of both the physical facilities for classroom education and faculty development through enhanced training programs created by the College's Teaching Academy, which supports faculty engagement in scholarly approaches to teaching and the acquisition of new skills needed to teach in an active learning environment.

Clinical Simulation Education

Contemporary health care requires competency-based instruction that often relies on simulated experiences to prepare learners for patient care. Clinical simulation education provides an ideal learning environment where errors are transformed into powerful teaching tools. The benefit of simulation is that it allows deliberate practice of skills, a sense of realism and real-time problem-solving together with supervised instruction in a low-risk setting. In addition to providing a wide range of clinical training for procedural skills, interprofessional team training and patient safety, simulation also teaches learners how to communicate and work effectively as a team.

The Larner's gift will support an expansion of the Clinical Simulation Laboratory at the University of Vermont facilities to ensure that students learn in realistic environments that ensure patient safety while verifying competence. This facility is a collaboration with the Larner College of Medicine, the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and the UVM Medical Center and is internationally accredited as a Comprehensive Education Institute for serving as a centralized hub in the training of health care professionals with the ultimate goal of improving quality and safety of care.

Faculty, Staff and Alumni

Will the naming affect the University of Vermont Medical Center?

The University of Vermont Medical Center is our primary teaching hospital partner. Its location, adjacent to the Larner College of Medicine campus, fosters a culture of collaboration and partnership. The name change to The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont will not affect the University of Vermont Medical Center name or operations.

Will the naming affect relationships with the College’s other partners and affiliates?

Medical students at the Larner College of Medicine gain clinical experience at a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings and locations during the Clerkship and Advanced Integration levels of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum. Some students spend a few months rotating through different clinical locations; others spend a full clinical year embedded in primary care clinics. Additionally, the Global Health Program allows students to gain clinical experience in locations including the Dominican Republic, Russia, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Our relationships with these partners and affiliates remain unchanged. We will provide new logos and the naming convention to them so that they can update their associated materials for consistency.

What is the local and regional impact of this gift?

The bequest is expected to make an impact locally and regionally as the College continues to invest in research, jobs, and innovation in education. As Vermont's only large-scale research institute, UVM is an economic engine for the entire state, and the Larner College of Medicine plays a substantial role in creating a significant return on the state's investment. It is estimated that the total economic impact of the Larner College of Medicine exceeds $400 million annually in Vermont, directly and indirectly supporting over 2,600 jobs in the state.

What impact will the name change have on my department/center/program?

It's important to project a consistent visual representation of our departments, administrative offices and research centers and programs. Some centers and programs have established brands that will need to be co-branded with the college's visual identity. The appropriate use of these logos will be clearly outlined in our upcoming graphic standards guidelines provided on the Medical Communications website. All departments, centers and programs will be communicated with on an individual basis.

Should I start using the new logo right away? What is the transition plan for email signatures, business cards, PowerPoint, voicemail and promotional materials?

Our faculty, staff and students play an important role in promoting the Larner College of Medicine brand. Please review where you have naming needs, and see Graphics Toolbox for email signature updates and downloadable versions of the new logo. Think about things like voicemail and other areas that you can update. A PowerPoint presentation template will be shared shortly.

Will our diplomas and transcripts change?

Yes, the graduating class of 2017 will be the first to showcase "The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont" name on their diplomas. The change will be reflected in all student transcripts moving forward.

How should the new name be reflected on external documents, such as a CV or LinkedIn?

"The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont" is the proper name to be used on external documents. If desired, "formerly known as The University of Vermont College of Medicine" can be added.