The Burlington Free Press

  • Reporter: June 2016 – Nov. 2016

At the Burlington Free Press, I covered city hall and higher education for one of Vermont’s largest news operations. The Free Press the hometown, daily newspaper I grew up with, so it was extremely special to me to come on to staff.

I was hired directly out of college, but was later laid off during a round of Gannett-wide cuts.

During my time at the Free Press, I aggressively covered higher education spending, campus issues, city hall politics and an ongoing labor dispute between teachers and administrators in the Burlington School District.

Here are some of my favorite pieces:

Uvm quiet on response to sexual harassment complaint

Aug. 18, 2016 By Cory Dawson

UVM’s Waterman Building houses administrative offices, classrooms and computer labs. (Photo: CORY DAWSON/FREE PRESS)

The investigation, under the federal Title IX law, was triggered in April 2013 after a student filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Boston office, according to records from the federal agency.

University of Vermont officials declined to say if a sexual harassment investigation three years ago led to a policy change.

The student, a female whose name was redacted from the documents under a privacy law, alleged that one of her male professors had sexually harassed her during a conference they attended the previous year.

$1.1 Million final salary for last Champlain president

June 27, 2016 By Cory Dawson

Former Champlain College president David Finney

Former Champlain College President David Finney was paid over $1.1 million in his last year at the college. Much of the money came from a one-time $700,000 payout, on top of his salary and benefits, federal-tax filings show.

Finney was Champlain College’s seventh president. He started the job in 2005 and left in 2014, succeeded by Donald Laackman, formerly of Harold Washington College, a public college in Chicago.

Finney was previously a top administrator at New York University, which had a post-retirement health care plan. By leaving NYU he would be giving up the plan, so as a way of getting him to come to Champlain, the Board of Trustees agreed to cover health insurance for life. The college ended up paying him $700,000 so he can buy his own insurance — though he is free to use the money however he likes.

Uvm changes management of tuition-supported fund

Sept. 10, 2016 By Cory Dawson

Student leaders of the Renewable Energy Network are pictured on campus. From left: Deke Ludwigg, Holly St. Jean, Jane Stromberg, Slayton Marks, Roz Arno. The REN has struggled to receive funding from the Clean Energy Fund, a tuition-supported investment pool for clean energy projects.(Photo: CORY DAWSON/FREE PRESS)

A clean energy investment fund, supported by a fee tacked on to tuition has been under review and supported no new projects for over a year at the University of Vermont. But the tuition money — $115,000 per semester — keeps flowing.

Now, after a faculty review and sharp criticism from students who say they have been stonewalled, university officials said the Clean Energy Fund will start back up under new leadership.

“It makes me wonder what other things we’re paying for that we don’t know about,” said Roz Aronow, an environmental studies major. Arnow said that because the fund has been idle for so long, students often overlook it.