Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The end of the semester and looking forward to a new year.

The semester ended well and everyone headed home for the break before beginning a new year. I went up to Smuggs this afternoon to join old friend and former students Deanne and Jamie Taylor and their son CJ who has certainly grown a LOT since I last saw him. As you can see, the scenery at Smuggs was great and it was packed. Nice to walk into the lodge and see an SMC banner hanging over the balcony. It was great to see Deanne and Jamie again and we laughed a lot over lunch as they both tried to NOT have me share any of the stories of their time at SMC with their 15 year old son - he has certainly grown up well and he has a great personality - I, of course, encouraged him to look at SMC next year when he begins the hunt for a college - fortunately his folks have had a condo at Smuggs for a long time so he is familiar with the area and I think he even might be interested in going to the college his folks attended...
As the semester came to an end a couple of weeks ago, final exams and papers and final projects took up most everyone's time. I have been on campus a lot since the semester did end doing letters of recommendation for graduate school for a lot of my current and former students. I do enjoy writing the letters and even more, hearing when they get accepted - another step in the careers of so many students. I am looking forward to a new semester and have most of the work done on updating all of my syllabi so things will begin smoothly once students return on the 17th of January. Before that I head to San Antonio, Texas for the NCAA National Convention along with our AD Geri Knortz - this is always a good time to learn more, to see what others are doing and to share ideas with other Faculty Athletic Representatives from across the country. I will most likely update this blog from there as I will be in Texas from the 11th - 15th of January.

On a personal note - a week ago my "big" brother Jack passed away after a battle with lung cancer. He did battle for almost 9 months and it was a difficult time for all of us, and especially for him. I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues and especially my current and former students for their kind words of compassion and support. I appreciate it more than you know and once again was reminded of the very special nature of this amazing community we have established up here in the wonderful State of Vermont. Such good people - thank you all so much. I also posted a message to everyone that if you smoke - please STOP and if you never started - please DON'T..... He was a good man, gone too soon.

Take care, be well and, as always, please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. I watched the documentary RESTREPO yesterday - based on the book WAR by Sebastian Junger; this is a powerful documentation of the daily life of a group of OUR young men fighting in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan - very powerful and I will be showing this to my Men & Masculinities class in a few weeks - we all need to better understand what the members of our military are actually experiencing and this documentary helps.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting ready for the end of the semester.

The snow is beginning to cover the ground outside of my office window here on second floor St. Ed's and that is fine with me. I pick up my skiis this afternoon after getting them tuned at my favorite local "outdoors" place, the Alpine Shop on Williston Road. While I won't have time to head to the slopes just yet, it is always nice to be prepared. I am not sure that any of us were "prepared" for the wicked wind a couple of days ago which ripped the copper covering off one section of Ross Sports Center and that still has some of my friends/colleagues without electricity - that wind was wicked..... Wicked is also one of the words that some of my students in Theories of Counseling class use about my exams. I just completed the creation of their final and posted a review sheet for them on eCollege. We will complete two more chapters in our textbook this week and then they take their final on the 16th. I expect that they will do well but they always complain (they ARE students after all...) that their hands hurt after writing so much on my exams - ah, music to my ears :)

As we do prepare for the end of another semester I have been reflecting on what a great semester it has been - Students are all registered for their second semester courses and seniors are completing their graduate school applications and so I have a LOT of recommendations to complete - while some find this a chore, I enjoy it. I enjoy being able to put into writing (or as is the case today, online) just how I have been able to watch my students grow and mature over their years here - I get to see progress in their maturity, their writing (most of the time) and their ability to think critically and analyze effectively. Putting all of that into a recommendation is something that I do enjoy and as many of them are getting accepted into graduate schools and they let me know that they have either received an acceptance OR they have been able to obtain employment after commencement the reality that they ARE leaving here hits home. I fully understand that this is the cycle we are all a part of but they sometimes don't understand that we will miss them. One student in particular, has been an effective leader on campus, has impacted all of us who have come to know him and who will be missed sorely by all of us is Dave Vorozilchak. Dave is from Pennsylvania and leaves here in two weeks to return home to a job and a "life after SMC" but he certainly has left his mark not only on our athletic program (he was captain of our men's hockey team last year - and a student member of the Athletic Advisory Council which I chair) but also on his professors in the math/science department as he is an Engineering major. I know that we will stay in touch but I wish him well as he leaves this place he has called home for 4.5 years.

Women's basketball plays at home this afternoon so I had better get back to work before heading over there - Caitlin Quinn is in my Sports Psychology class (she hit 5 - 3 pointers the other day) and Mandy Scott is in Practicum and they are both strong members of our women's basketball team which is headed by the "fabulous" Jen Niebling - Jen is such a positive role model for not only all of the women on her team, but for all of us - good luck ladies....

Once again, and especially as this holiday season comes upon us, I wish you well, please take good care and be good to each other AND please, as always, remember all of the members of our military and their families - those who are NOT home and who are serving all of us in Iraq or Afghanistan need our thoughts and prayers - be safe.....


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Almost break time - LOTS of sports

This is the final weekend before Thanksgiving break begins - students (and faculty) are really looking forward to this time with their families, home cooked meals and a rest before the final push to the end of the semester. First year students and their families are astounded that it has gone by so quickly, while seniors are bemoaning the reality that this means that Commencement is only a semester away. I have been grading papers all weekend and hope to get all of them done before students head out on Wednesday. They seem to appreciate that I get papers back fairly quickly and I continue to appreciate that my utilization of a "tablet laptop" means that I now can have a "paperless" classroom. Students simply upload their papers to eCollege, I grade them and return them in emails - I get to make my comments (and there are ALWAYS a lot of those) with a stylus and also get to save them to a file on my computer for future reference. Sports Psychology has a presentation on the psychological implications of spirituality/religiosity and sports on Tuesday and then we are almost done with the student presentations. It has been a good semester with a very high level of interaction and a LOT of energy in class - THAT I love......

Last Wednesday evening the women's volleyball team hosted a fund raiser over in the Ross Sports Center. Samantha Clairemont is a member of the team and a friend from her hometown was involved in a horrific accident which left her in a wheelchair. Samantha approached her coach Chris Kilmer (a VERY good guy) and asked if there was something that could be done to help her friend and family. Chris worked with the women on his team and they created "bumpin for Brenna" which was open to the whole campus and which was a huge success. They were able to raise over $1,500. The gym was packed with students as teams made up of members of our men's/women's soccer teams and the women's volleyball team competed against each other AND a team of faculty/staff. YES, I did play volleyball, alongside many of my friends/colleagues from campus in front of a LOT of our students. There were too many of us to list all but Karen Talentino, VP for Academic Affairs did an admirable job given that she has a "bad" shoulder and I even managed a couple of nice hits. It was a great time and many thanks to everyone who participated and especially to Coach Kilmer for not only organizing this with/for Samantha but also for his very eloquent words when he spoke about the meaning of COMMUNITY at SMC.

This weekend was full of athletic competitions and fun. Friday afternoon I went to our women's ice hockey game which was followed by our men's ice hockey game. I left the men's game after two periods and headed back to campus for the annual Jibfest which is skiing and snowboarding on the 300's field on a structure that was constructed and "snowed" by our students from the Ski/Snowboard Club. Matt Stillman is President of the Club and is one of my students and a very enthusiastic supporter of all things skiing/snowboarding. When I got back to campus from the rink I found approx. 250 of our students having a fantastic time - there were burgers and hot dogs - cans of Red Bull (????) and lots of bananas (????) and it was great to watch so many of our students having such a great time on a Friday night - the hard work of these students, along with Grace Kelly (Director of Student Activities) and her crew from the SA and Residence Life paid off - AND, at least as far as I know, there were no broken bones :)

Yesterday, after grading more papers, I headed back to the rink for the women's ice hockey game and another men's game - while our women lost both games over the weekend, they played well and were never "out" of the competition. Our men started their season off well with two impressive wins. At the same time that I was spending more hours (it amazes me that I spent 5 hours there on Friday and another 5 on Saturday and I don't even know how to skate) at the rink, our men's basketball program kicked off their home season under new head coach Michael Harding and gained a win - so a very busy weekend of activities.

This past Tuesday, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta for his heroic actions in Afghanistan. Last Sunday evening on 60 Minutes there was an interview with this young man (he is now 25 but was only 22 when the incident took place) - if you didn't see it, I would suggest that you Google it and watch it - a very powerful and emotional coverage of someone who self-identifies as a "mediocre" soldier. We talked about this in Theories class on Tuesday and in Practicum on Monday as students who are working in the field of counseling and social services MUST learn as much as they can about the very complicated issues which are facing not only our returning soldiers, but also their families. The presentation by President Obama was very moving and Sgt. Giunta's story is very powerful. He is the first living recipient of this honor since the Vietnam War - others have been awarded this since then but those have all gone to soldiers who gave their lives for all of us. While this is a tremendous honor for Sgt. Giunta, it is also a burden and he very modestly and very honestly spoke of how THIS medal is for EVERYONE who is fighting for our freedom - he is only the person who gets to wear it.....

As we all give thanks this coming Thursday, please remember to keep all of the members of our military - our veterans too, and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

As always, please take good care, be well and have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More rewards from teaching.....

I just returned back to campus from a three day conference in Baltimore - the national Faculty Athletics Representatives Association held its annual meeting at the Hyatt and FARs from across the country and across the three NCAA Divisions gathered for some professional development and sharing of new ideas. We received updates from the NCAA on all aspects of college sports and it was a very worthwhile time - I did "skip" one 45 minute session so I could "explore" the waterfront in Baltimore but other than that one quick trip, I really didn't get to see much of the city. We did have the best crab cakes I have ever had for dinner the first night so I did learn something about Baltimore - they DO know how to make crab cakes..... It was good to spend time with the other FARs from the NE-10 (SMC's athletic conference) and with the FARs I had recently met in Indianapolis at the leadership institute. Sharing ideas with colleagues is something that definitely is a plus these days as academics and athletics sometimes can compete against each other rather than working/collaborating WITH each other. Many of us will be getting together again in January at the NCAA National Convention in San Antonio, Texas. This is where the legislation that we discussed this past weekend will be voted on by all of the members of the NCAA. D-II is the only Division that has recently cut back on the number of competitions and the only one that has worked to ensure that there IS a BALANCE between academics and athletics - this is one of the priorities of D-II and we take that very seriously....

While I was gone, I only missed one day of classes. Fortunately, Chris Clary who is the Director of Career Services for the College agreed to come to my Theories of Counseling class to assist my students in developing an accurate, appropriate and "reviewed" resume. Chris had been with this class earlier this semester when she interpreted the MBTI (personality inventory) for my students - I was pleasantly surprised at how eager my students were to have Chris back in the class - they ARE learning that they will all soon have to have that great resume ready as they graduate. My Sports Psychology class had their third paper due on Thursday and since I utilize eCollege - an online classroom management tool - I was able to see when papers were turned in. I was on campus this morning grading some of those 3rd papers and again, a pleasant surprise that the level of writing has clearly improved over the course of the semester. It is rewarding to see that my students actually DO learn that spelling, grammar and punctuation ARE important and what pleased me more was the very high level of critical thought and analysis that I have seen in the papers I have just graded. They ARE challenging themselves to "think out of the box" more and they ARE taking risks in expressing their own critical thinking as they combine that with their knowledge of psychology. Nothing pleases me more than to have someone tell me that they "have never thought about that before." - I will work on the rest of the papers this week but so far I am very pleased with their progress.

We had another panel on campus last Tuesday evening as two of the officers of Common Ground, their advisor, an Ally who is also a RA and I spoke to almost 200 students for about an hour. We were invited to participate in this panel by the Student Association and Shiobhan Lavery did a great job of being the MC for the panel - we discussed ways to help ensure that Saint Michael's College IS a safe place for all of our students and that THIS community values everyone and that we celebrate our differences rather than to shun those who are different, for whatever reason. Yes, another reward that we all get from teaching at, working at or attending classes as part of this community - thank you to the other panelists and to all of the students who were willing to challenge themselves and some of their ideas..... Well done.

I did manage to go kayaking again this past Wednesday - it WAS cold (34 degrees outside) but it was probably the last day of kayaking for me this year - I find kayaking to be so relaxing and peaceful and have been able to convince a number of my students about this so they too have begun to follow a new interest in kayaking. The snow on the mountains in the afternoon sun looks like gold on Mt.Mansfield as I look across from behind the chapel - always a beautiful sight. I also got my snow tires on the day before the rain, ice, sleet and snow hit here for a few hours - it is ALL in the timing.

While in a couple of airports the past couple of days I saw a number of soldiers in uniform - since it was Veteran's Day last week, it is always good to thank them for their service - they sometimes seem a bit embarrassed but it just feels good to let them know that we DO appreciate their service to all of us. So, please take care, be well and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sometimes being "clueless" isn't a bad thing.

This past Friday morning I flew from Burlington to Philadelphia on my way to Indianapolis, Indiana and an NCAA Leadership Fellows Institute for 18 FAR's from across the country. Faculty Athletic Representatives are referred to by the NCAA as being the "conscience of athletics" on college campuses and the 18 of us all serve in that capacity at our respective institutions. This picture was taken of the group in the lobby of the Hall of Champions at NCAA Headquarters where we worked for the three days we were there. In Philadelphia, as we were about to board the plane three TSA screeners came up to our gate area and one of them signaled me to place my briefcase on their cart and then asked me for my ID - while I had already had everything checked once before I complied and then they asked a woman and then another man to do the same thing. I have never seen this happen before but it really didn't bother me to work with TSA as they have a job to do. As we taxied across the runway I noticed that the UPS hanger we passed had a LOT of flashing lights, emergency vehicles and police cars surrounding it - I wondered if there was a fire or something. As we took off I had a better view and sure enough, it WAS surrounded by all types of emergency vehicles. I didn't think anything more about it and when we landed in Indianapolis and I checked into my hotel, I turned on the television set in my room. I WAS surprised to see that there was a worldwide terrorism alert and that a "suspicious" package had, in fact, been discovered at the Philadelphia Airport at the UPS hanger - sometimes being "clueless" isn't a bad thing.........

The workshops were excellent and it was good to listen to what others are doing on their campuses to comply with the NCAA D-II Platform of LIFE IN BALANCE for our athletes. I was proud to share the many efforts that our Athletic Department and our Faculty are doing to make every student-athlete's experience here a balance between academics and athletics. The NCAA released its latest data this past week and we are very happy that Saint Michael's College has one of the HIGHEST ASR's in the country - ASR is the academic success rate and we had 18 of our 21 varsity teams that had a 100% graduation rate - the data refers to the cohort that graduated in 2009 and Seth Cole, our Sports Information Director provided local media with the data and the report from the NCAA. I made sure that our faculty were thanked because without the successful collaboration between academics and athletics, there is no balance. My colleagues at the conference were full of questions about how WE were able to be so successful and this is just an observation, but I sometimes find that at some other institutions there is a competition between academics and athletics and here we have COLLABORATION. When I get asked "how do you get your faculty to work so well with student-athletes?" I simply reply, to quote Prof. Mary Beth Doyle from our Education Department when I asked her the same question on an evaluation form a couple of years ago - "because we are asked to." - well put.....

In two weeks I travel to Baltimore to the Faculty Athletic Representative Association national convention - this will be my first visit to this conference and I look forward to learning more about how we can all work together with faculty, staff AND, especially our student-athletes to continue making this balance a successful one.

Classes are continuing to go well. My Theories of Counseling class was exceptional last week as we utilized our Development Laboratory with the one-way mirror and my students were able to do some amazing role playing (counselor/counselee) and learn how they are perceived by others and how fast they ARE learning the skills necessary to become successful counselors. This experience continues to provide them with a rich experience that has proven in the past to be most helpful as they interview for and get accepted to graduate schools. This afternoon Heather Strassel, who graduated last year and who is now working in MA with people with borderline personality disorders, will be coming to class to talk about the use of DBT (a specific therapy for BPD) and how she was able to use the skills she learned in all of her classes here to successfully transition to an excellent job.

Take care, be well, VOTE and please remember to keep all of the members of our active and retired military AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Residence Life staff DOES make a difference.......

Last Saturday was just too nice a day to stay inside so even though it has snowed the day before I decided to go kayaking Saturday afternoon after being on campus grading papers. Indian Brook continues to be a great place to relax, exercise and enjoy the benefit of living in Vermont.Last night I presented two workshops on campus. The first one was in Lyons Hall for a group of first year men whose RA, Nick Hogan had invited me to join his "faculty visitor" program with Dr. Herb Kessel (Economics) and Mark Litchfield (Director of Special Events) for their floor meeting. The topic last night (just one of a series of meetings we provide for all first-year students) was on personal safety and they asked me to speak about sexual assault and not only how to keep yourself safe, but also to better understand the laws of the State of Vermont so you don't "harm" anyone else. It was a good group and I hope that they learned something. Siobhan Lavery from the E-Board of the Student Association also spoke to the group about this coming weekend's Halloween Dance - always one of the most popular activities of the year, she just wanted to send a message about personal and public safety - collaboration between students, faculty and staff is a hallmark of our out-of-class educational programs.

The second workshop was for all of the members of our Residence Life staff - there were 60 RA's (residence assistants) who are students but who also serve as mentors, advisors, friends, educators for all of the students living on campus. The Resident Directors, Assistant Directors and Lou DiMasi, Director of Residence Life all gathered for this workshop in Cashman Hall, one of our residence halls. The topic was creating a safe environment for ALL students {specifically LGBTQ} and after the recent rash of suicides across the nation connected to bullying, we wanted to educate all of our RA's, RD's, and AD's on how THEY can make a difference in continuing to make St. Mike's an accepting and safe space. These young men and women were selected through a vigorous process and have been receiving training ever since as they are the "eyes and ears" for the rest of us - they ARE our students and they LIVE with our students so are in the ideal position to provide that "safety net" that we hope all colleges and universities provide their students. I began the workshop by thanking all of them and letting them know that, in spite of how busy everyone is these days and in spite of how much we seem to "take them for granted" - they ARE very much appreciated. They were an attentive group and when I gave them an exercise to do (put themselves in the shoes of someone else) they eagerly responded, despite the Monday night at 8:00 time slot.

So, thanks to Nick, Mark (Litchfield) and Lou for the invitations to speak to both groups and to all of the participants in the workshops - we pride ourselves on the education we give our students IN the classroom and I think that the education we give them outside of the classroom is also extremely valuable -

Pre-registration for second semester ends today and while I have met with all but two of my advisees there is still time until this afternoon for those two to meet with me. Registration begins tomorrow and that also means that we are more than half way through this first semester - it just doesn't seem possible. Classes are fantastic and I have enjoyed each one of them so far this semester - my students are GREAT. I head to Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday for an NCAA - FAR (faculty athletics representative) leadership institute - I will be meeting with FAR's from across the country and look forward to sharing what we do at St. Mike's with my NCAA colleagues. I spoke at our Faculty Assembly last Friday and shared some of the great things that OUR athletic department is doing - from our current overall student-athlete grade point average of 3.045 to the new initiative of providing a first-year student-athlete Orientation Program for our new students, our Athletic Department continues to be committed to helping all of our student-athletes balance their academics with their athletics.

Take care, be well and PLEASE be good to each other and remember all of the members of our military, both active duty and veterans AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our alums continue to give back..............

Dr. Joseph Benamati graduated from St. Mike's many years ago and his daughter Mikel graduated from here in 2002. Joe currently serves as a member of the faculty at the Sanctuary Institute for the Andrus Children's Center in Yonkers, NY. Mikel is a clinical psychologist at her old high school in Saratoga, NY. Joe had offered to come to the College to speak with our students about issues of TRAUMA which is something we are only now coming to better understand IS an issue with so many more people than we have ever realized. I suspect that the current issue of PTSD in our military may be pushing this new surge in interest in the role that trauma plays in everyone's life. I took my Practicum class and Sue Kuntz took her Educational Psychology class over to the Pomerleau Alumni Center on Monday for a 2.5 hour presentation by Joe. Joe's presentation was excellent and the students asked some great questions - Joe didn't have time to answer all of their questions so he took them (they had written out their questions) with him and he will respond via email to me and I will get his answers to both classes. It was nice to see one of our alumni giving back to the College and I warned Joe that this will mean that we will ask him back again and again and he was fine with that. VP for Institutional Advancement Patrick Gallivan, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Angie Armour and Assistant Director Allison Sherman joined us for a few minutes at the beginning of the presentation and expressed the College's appreciation to Joe for his visit.

On Saturday I was on campus grading papers and constructing my first Theories of Counseling exam - I am giving the exam on Thursday and I always try to get it constructed early enough that I can also prepare a review sheet for my students which I then post on eCollege. I don't see any reason to "surprise" them with questions - I tell them what they have to know and then ask questions geared towards that information - a simple formula which seems to work. I have a reputation for giving very difficult exams but students also always say that they are very fair and they appreciate that. On my way to the office Saturday I stopped off in the lobby of St. Ed's and visited with several of our alums who were on campus for the Career Symposium. Pat Lynch ('95), Kate Whitman ('99), Steve O'Neil ('09), David Hiltz ('10) Matt Haydun (?) and a couple other alums were all gracious enough to return to campus to provide support, information and networking for our current juniors and seniors. Given the state of our economy these days and how difficult it is for new graduates to find employment, this was an excellent opportunity for our students to gain valuable help and assistance. The Office of Career Services, the Office of the VP for Academic Affairs and the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations did a great job coordinating this event. It was dedicated to the memory of Joe Maher who was on the Alumni Board of Directors until his death this summer after a brief battle with cancer. Joe's son Joe and his daughter Anne (both graduated from SMC) and his wife, Judge Rosemary Minnehan (Rosemary came to campus to speak to our Psychology Club) were the loves of his life and his dedication to St. Mike's was amazing. This career symposium is something Joe would have been very proud of........
Tonight (Tuesday) we are holding a candlelight vigil in the chapel - this vigil is to heighten awareness of the issues confronting so many young people in our society. A joint effort by Edmundite Campus Ministry and Common Ground, this vigil is in memory of the young people across this country who have taken their own lives over the past few weeks - they were bullied and felt that they had no other options - we want to make sure that OUR students know - KNOW that they have a supportive, loving and caring community here and that "it gets better" even when/if there is pain in the moment. I am very proud of our community for coming together for dialogue, support and education around issues of loving acceptance, respect for ALL persons and a SAFER place for all. I am going to South Burlington High School tomorrow to speak with all of their seniors on the issue of bullying. I have been asked to do this by Andrew Samara ('08) who currently teaches there. Addressing bullying and expecting our schools to take these issues seriously and to confront racist, homo-ignorant, sexist and ethnocentrist language/behavior IS a priority and we all have to do something to create SAFER environments for our students - everywhere.

Take care, be well and as always, please keep the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

a guest speaker and the New England Psychological Association is at SMC

A shot taken from my kayak this morning at Indian Brook Reservoir about 5 miles from SMC.

This past Monday afternoon my friend, former student and colleague Kim Quinn-Smith ('88) visited my Practicum class. Kim graduated from SMC with a degree in biology and stayed for an additional year to pick up her Psychology credits. She married Tom Smith ('89) and they have five children. After receiving her Master's degree from Boston College she began her therapy work in Washington, DC working with chronically mentally ill homeless people - she then moved with her family to New York and practiced there for a while before she and Tommy returned to Vermont where she was a wife, mother, counselor and then author (three books, three DVD's, two CD's) and now is a consultant and soon to be college professor. Kim came to my Practicum class last year and was such a hit that I asked her back for another visit. She basically talked with the students about how anyone can "reinvent" themselves and that initial career paths can and often do change. Kim is a gifted therapist and author and a very humorous presenter. My students, once again, loved her honesty, the hope that she presents that one CAN reinvent themselves and the stories she told of her experiences and how she got from being a bio major at SMC to doing all of the things she does today. She is truly a great role model.

This morning I was on campus (students left yesterday for their first LONG weekend of the semester as we have no classes Monday and Tuesday so lots of them went home) working in my office and I was able to attend one of the many presentations which were part of the NEPA (New England Psychological Association)'s 50th Annual Meeting. Dr. David Boynton of our Psychology Department and a wonderful colleague and friend was the Chair of the conference which brought over 250 participants from all over New England to our campus for a series of meetings, workshops, presentation and posters. It was great that so many of our students did stay in town just for this and they volunteered to assist Dr. B in making sure that everything went along smoothly. Dr. Ron Miller, also from our department here at SMC did his presentation this morning and I heard that this was excellent, as usual. Dr. B commented that many of the participants had commented to him that OUR students were "freakishly friendly" which both David and I found hilarious as WE are just so used to OUR students being friendly that we found it quite interesting that others found that friendliness unusual - I am glad that I am on this campus and not somewhere else.......

A beautiful day so before heading to campus and the NEPA workshop I managed to head out for some early morning kayaking - foliage isn't peak here yet but it still was pretty nice out there.

Take care, be well, and as always, please keep all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

difficult times....

The end of this past week has been difficult for every college and university in this country as we all became aware of the deaths of two young men (Tyler Clementi at Rutgers and Raymond Chase at Johnson and Wales) who at the ages of 18 and 19 decided to take their own lives - suicide is always tragic, no matter what the circumstances. To lose two college students (and three other teenagers within the past two weeks) partly due to their being gay and being harasses/bullied is simply unacceptable and so disturbing to all of us. As the news of Tyler's death became known, I was contacted by our local NECN news reporter Anya Huneke who came to campus and interviewed me on my perspective on all of this. I was able to get her into contact with the President of our campus support group named Common Ground and Michael agreed to also be interviewed by her. I didn't see the coverage locally but it didn't take long before I was hearing from friends and former students in Boston and some areas of CT who had seen it on television. You can check the circumstances out online yourselves, but basically Tyler's roommate and his girlfriend posted a live video feed from their room (where Tyler thought he had privacy) out on the internet for everyone to see and what they saw was Tyler kissing another male student. Not long after that, and after some chat room dialogue on the internet, Tyler made the decision to end his own life, thus taking a young man with great promise and someone who was a gifted violinist, someone's son, perhaps brother and certainly friend away from us forever. That news was devastating to LGBTQ students all over the country. This is 2010 and bullying/harassment continues for young people who are "still trying to figure out who we are" as Michael so accurately put it in his part of the tv interview. I met the Dean of Students from Rutgers at the NCAA National Convention this past January - he is a good man - someone who must be personally and professionally devastated by the behaviors of some of his students which contributed to the death of another student. The SAD REALITY is that we (college/university professors, administrators, staff, etc. can do all the right things - we can provide our students with workshops dealing with diversity issues - we can provide support and resources for our students and yet the REALITY is that in spite of all of OUR good intentions, students still have free will and the right to make their own decisions. Hopefully a bad decision may only result in a missed class or a failed exam or a horrific hangover BUT sometimes the consequences can turn tragic even when the intention was never there to "hurt" someone else. Parents have to deal with the same reality - they can say and do all the right things but then their "kids" go off and do or say something "stupid" and that leaves parents shaking their heads, wondering "where did we go wrong?" Again, our young people have the right and freedom to make their own decisions.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY is to make sure that OUR rhetoric is NOT racist, nor homo-ignorant, nor sexist nor ethnocentric and it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to not tolerate such rhetoric around us AND our sons and daughters. WE do have a responsibility to challenge hurtful rhetoric and/or behaviors when we encounter them in our own lives - that way WE set a tone and WE become the positive role models that gives OUR sons and daughters the courage to confront racist, homo-ignorant, sexist and ethnocentric language/behavior when they see it. I have been challenging all of my students, friends and colleagues over this issue for a long time - it is something that while not easy, is EASIER for me to do and I recognize that it is not always easy for young people to confront their peers, their family members or even, themselves. However, the tragic results of the past few weeks, with two college students dead and three other even younger kids (13, 15 and 15) dead at their own hands because they were bullied/harassed because of something that they have no choice over (sexual orientation is NOT a choice) demand that all of us become part of the solution for otherwise we are the problem..........

Please take care and help us to make our campuses SAFER by confronting bigotry and prejudices. Also, please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. This morning there was a funeral held for a 20 year old Vermonter who was killed last week in Afghanistan - no parent should have to lose a child.................


Friday, September 24, 2010

Follow-up on last weekend's Reunion - classes are great.

(Alex Higgins, Tully LaBelle-Hammer, Dave Vorozilchak - atop Prospect Rock in Johnson, VT)

I posted a new blog after the hall of Fame dinner last Saturday but then had the chance to connect with so many former students that I decided to add another comment or two about the weekend. Paul Lagermasini '91 was here to watch the men's soccer game and to meet up with a couple of his classmates and his former coach. Paul has been working with current Coach Franklin to provide support for our men's soccer team AND to do some networking for some of our seniors who are looking for employment after graduation. Paul works for Credit Suisse in New York City and has been great about helping our seniors. I introduced him to men's basketball player Nate Birr who is interested in the financial field and Paul was very helpful for Nate in not only reviewing his resume, but in making some great suggestions for Nate. During the afternoon soccer game I was also glad to see Pat Maller '91 whom I hadn't seen in way too many years. The year after they all graduated and they returned to campus for their first "reunion weekend" a bunch of us got together at Sneakers restaurant in Winooski and Pat drove over that morning from his home in Maine with a cooler full of fresh lobsters and we all had "eggs benedict" but with fresh Maine lobsters - I reminder Pat and Paul of that story and we had a few good laughs about the "old days." Alex Canning, Megan Sweezey, Erin Noonan, Jeff Hechenbleckner, Drew Millikin, Logan Thurnauer, Nick Botto and too many others to list here were all at the soccer game - perfect weather - good friends and great memories - it is always so rewarding to catch up with former students and to see how happy they are and to head about how their lives are going. Before the soccer game and after grading some papers in my office, I met up with four current/former members of our men's hockey team for lunch in Winooski at McKee's Pub. Pat McGuirk, Ryan Nest, Dave Vorozilchak and Alex Higgins all met me there and we had a great time - Ryan and Alex worked this summer at a camp for kids with behavioral issues in New York State and had an amazing time throughout the entire 8 weeks of this residential camp. They were able to put their psychology major to good use as they provided positive role models to youth who usually don't have such good role models. After lunch and before the soccer game I returned to my office and graded a few more papers from my Sports Psychology class - not bad for their first efforts and they seemed to take me seriously when I warned them that "you are either blessed or cursed that I used to teach English" and that I hold all of my students accountable for their grammar, spelling and punctuation...... They don't necessarily like it, but they did make an effort to keep their errors to the minimum. It seems as if today's youth are so used to the "language" of email and text-messaging, where shortcuts ARE the thing to do that they forget that "formal" writing does NOT include these shortcuts

On Sunday afternoon Dave Vorozilchak (PA), Tully Labelle-Hammer (AK) and Alex Higgins (AZ) came over to my house and we drove out Rte. 15 to Johnson where we then drove up Prospect Rock Road and hiked a short way up into the mountains. Dave is currently finishing up his Engineering Degree at UVM and living on campus here as he has been part of the SMC/UVM Engineering Program. Dave also was captain of last year's men's hockey team and his parents are the "salt of the earth" and great people whom many of us at SMC have gotten to know over the four years Dave played hockey. Tully is from Alaska and also on the hockey team and a member of the Wilderness Program where he has been trained to be a team leader. He too is in the Engineering Program and he has had two great internships the past two summers in Alaska. Alex is captain of this year's hockey team, a student in two of my classes and treasurer of our Psychology Club. I know that all three of them really enjoy the outdoors and Alex and I went kayaking a few weeks ago down at the Waterbury Reservoir. Dave has just taken kayaking up as a new hobby and Tully is a certified kayak trainer for the Wilderness Program. As you will see from the picture, there is a fantastic view from Prospect Rock and soon, very soon, the foliage will be in full color and I suspect that we won't have very many "leaf peepers" up there. The guys were very appreciative of the trip and we ended it with a stop at a Vermont Maple Sugar Outlet on rte.15 where we all go Maple Creemees :0 After that brief dessert we headed to Taft Corners in Williston, right up the road from my house and had pizza at Ramunto's - a buffalo chicken pizza with blue cheese dressing was just what they ordered - I have to say that I envy the metabolism of these three young men as they sure CAN eat........

It has been a good week for classes and yesterday's Theories class was exceptional as we were utilizing the Developmental Lab which has a two way mirror in it so students role play counselor and counselee while the rest of us observe from the other side of the mirror - it doesn't take long for the "counselor" to completely forget that there are 15 of us on the other side of that mirror - students study a theory on Tuesdays and then have the chance to operationalize that theory AND use the counseling skills they are also learning on Thursdays in the lab. My Practicum class has all been placed and I have 15 students who are now working in community mental health agencies across Chittenden County for 8 - 10 hours a week and they are then in class with me 2.5 hours a week. I am looking forward to their discussions of their various sites and to how they will incorporate what they have learned in their psychology classes "on the job."

Back to grading papers - take care, be well and, as I always ask, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military - veterans and current members alike AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

SMC Athletic Hall of Fame - Reunion Weekend

Last night the College honored five individuals and one team at the annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner held at The Double Tree Hotel in So. Burlington. This is always held in conjunction with the fall Alumni Reunion which brings a large number of our alums back to campus. This is also combined with First Year Family Weekend which provides families the chance to visit their "kids" and see how they have survived their first three weeks of classes. :)

After an introduction by Athletic Director Geri Knortz and a welcome from President Jack Neuhauser, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, VP for Institution Advancement Pat Gallivan invited Fr. Brian Cummings up for a blessing and then we all enjoyed a great meal. I was sitting with the President, Marilyn Cormier (Director of Corporate and Community Affairs), Fr. Mike, Fr. Brian, Fr. Ray and Fr. Marcel along with VP for Enrollment Management Jerry Flanagan and AD Geri Knortz. It was great to see so many familiar faces as we came together to celebrate and honor a team and individuals who had given to much to SMC through their athletic participation while students and who give so much to their communities now as members of our greater society. It was a very poignant moment when the first recipient was announced - his classmates from the Class of '64 had nominated him and provided many letters of support for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Donald J. "Bucky" Egan was in the class of '64 and was an outstanding baseball player and leader both in and out of the classroom. Upon his graduation from SMC he entered the United States Marines and was killed in action in 1967 in Vietnam. His daughter was there to accept the honor on behalf of her family. As she shared stories and memories and then former AD Ed Markey, who had been "Bucky's" baseball coach shared his memories, it was truly the right thing to do to honor this man who gave so much to SMC and who made the ultimate sacrifice for others by giving his life. I was struck with so many similarities to what is occurring across this country today as so many families are profoundly changed by losing a loved one to war. His daughter's appreciation to SMC for including her father in this HOF class was palpable.
Magan Gately Trotta, Class of '93, Jennifer Kay Berger, Class of '94, Kyle Lanfear, Class of '98 and Sara Pope, Class of '04 were all introduced and they each spoke of how their education here and their time here had impacted who they have become today. With spouses and children by their sides, these folks thanked the College, not only for their time here, but also for their inclusion into the Hall of Fame. After the individual former athletes were honored, for only the second time in the history of the Hall of Fame, a sports team was honored. The 1988 Field Hockey team which ended up being the ECAC Division II/III Champions were honored. It is a true testament to this event that all but two of the members of that winning team were present last night. Some came from as far away as Oregon and others from North and South Carolina. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces and to watch then get re-acquainted after so many years. They have kept in contact through Facebook and emails, but it was great for them to actually be together again - this time, along with spouses and children. Their coach Ann Noone Adams beamed with pride as each member of the team was presented with a commemorative medal by Ann and AD Geri Knortz. All in all, a great evening. Pat said it best when he lamented that it is unfortunate that more of our current students are not able to attend this event so that they can hear from those who have gone before them, about the amazingly strong sense of community that this place we call HOME cultivates in everyone. Well said Patrick.
This IS reunion weekend and while my intent was to come in and grade papers this morning I have been talking with a number of recent alums who are "back home" in Colchester, Vermont and I am heading out to have lunch with several of them down in Winooski.

Take care, be well, and as always, please keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, September 3, 2010

The first week.....

Grace Kelly and our wonderful Orientation Leaders for 2010

After a very successful four day Orientation Program which welcomed over 550 new students to Saint Michael's College classes began this past Monday. The weather has been incredible and quite unusual for this time of year with Vermont and the Burlington area experiencing an "official" heat wave = three consecutive days of 90+ temperatures - we actually broke records each of those three days. Fortunately I teach in a nicely air conditioned classroom so students did NOT miss a class. Mondays I have my Practicum class which has 16 senior psychology majors who will be spending 8 - 10 hours a week for the entire school year working at a local social service agency - they will then spend 2.5 hours a week in class processing that experience, learning new skills, studying the various sites and supporting each other. We are unique in that SMC had a year-long Practicum where most other places only provide their students with a one-semester experience. Our students tell us that graduate schools and employers are very impressed that we have such an extensive program for our students. Most of my students are already placed on sites as we provide them with potential placements in May and they are expected to make the contacts over the summer. Prof. Molly Millwood teaches the other section and it is always a personal and professional pleasure to be able to work so closely with her. Sports Psychology and Theories of Counseling classes are T/Th this semester and both are full. I always feel badly when I have to turn down students who "really want to take this class" but reality is what it is and they can always sign up for another semester. On Thursday I took my Sports Psychology class to the library where Kristin Hindes, one of our reference librarians spends about an hour explaining to my students how to more effectively utilize the wealth of resources we have available. My students have to do three research papers this semester and they have to work together on two presentations which they make to the entire class - I laughingly title Kristin's presentation as "Beyond Google and" - the quality of the papers my students submit has risen exponentially ever since I have had Kristin do this presentation. Too many students are NOT aware of the variety of resources available AND of the help which is provided by the library staff. The College recently "purchased" a new database called SportsDiscus which we used a couple of years ago on a pilot basis - this database contains over 550 different sources of information on every topic imaginable related to "sports" and "psychology."

I have been hearing from many of our recent graduates as they begin graduate school programs or their employment. I have been getting a couple of calls a day for reference checks on these students and enjoy being able to provide strong references for these students. It is also a lot of fun to follow these students on Facebook as they write about their new classes, their new jobs and how much they miss SMC - fortunately we are having Alumni Weekend in a few weeks and many, many of them will be returning for that. One recent alum called me this morning to tell me that a woman brought her young son into his school to enroll him and when she saw that he was wearing an SMC shirt she asked about his connection - as they talked they shared stories of people they may know in common and my name came up so he just HAD to call and tell me that Betsy Wolfe (not sure of her married name) had asked him to say hi to me - he hesitated because he didn't know if I would be excited to know that yet another one of my former students is in fact, old enough to have a child entering school AND that she has another child at home but he did want to let me know that she said hello......... :)

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Monday, August 30, 2010

A final tribute to a fallen soldier.

Every time I blog, at the end, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for the members of our military and their families. Just this week alone we have lost 14 American soldiers in the War in Afghanistan. This past Sunday, as we were concluding four days of Orientation with our new students, we were all gathered in the Ross Sports Center for what has become known as CONNECTIONS perhaps the most important part of new student orientation. As it happened, we were set to begin at 9:30 Sunday morning - at 9:00 that morning a plane carrying the remains of Vermont National Guardsman Tristan Southworth, 21 years of age, from Walden, VT - one of two Vermont National Guardsmen killed in Afghanistan last week was being flown into the Burlington Airport. Local citizens had been asked to line the route that his procession would take from the airport out to I-89 and the 60 mile trip to Walden, VT. As we gathered, we had spread the word to our wonderful Orientation Leaders that IF they wanted to, they could quietly leave the gym and go out to stand along the road as his procession wound its way from the airport. Megan Powers, Director of New Student Programs opened the CONNECTIONS program by telling our new students that we had lost two VT soldiers this past week and asking for a moment of silence. It was amazing to watch over 500 people just get silent - each one, I am certain thinking about their own connection to the war. After the moment of silence the program began and soon all of our Orientation Leaders silently left the gym and headed out to Route 15 to pay tribute to a fallen soldier. We found out that his procession had already passed by but that does NOT take away from what our students did - they remembered, they stood in silence and they paid tribute to this young man they never even knew - it was an amazing moment.

So, please keep all of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers - they truly need all of the support and prayers that they can get.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Good advice for parents of new students.

I am on campus continuing to prepare for the new semester to begin in less than a week. I was just over in Alliot and ran into our Residence Assistants (RA's) who are just returning from an overnight training workshop off campus. Then I headed upstairs to Eddie's where the 72 Orientation Leaders are finalizing their plans for Orientation with Grace Kelly, our wonderful Director of Student Activities. These Orientation Leaders have been preparing for our new students since their selection in February - with a great group on the O-Board, they have worked hard to make this transition as smooth a process as possible. I will be working with them this afternoon on just one part of what they will present on Sunday morning as we wrap up this Orientation. We go out on Lake Champlain this evening for the Sunset Cruise which they always enjoy - the weather is predicted to be excellent and so the sunset should be clear and colorful. I was in MA over the weekend and noticed that some of the trees at the higher elevations on 89 are beginning to turn and the tree just outside my office window, which is always the first to turn has already started........ I was reading the New York Times article this morning entitled "Students, Welcome to College; Parents , Go Home" - by Trip Gabriel. As I read it I had to laugh as I remember Fr. Mike holding up a sign at the end of the Opening Mass which was a replica of the I-89 South sign and his telling students and parents that this would be a great time, right after mass ends, for parents to say goodbye and then head home. Good advice as the article points out. The article is in the New York Times for 8/22/10 and you can find it under the author's name = Trip Gabriel or you may be able to just click on the URL I have posted at the bottom. Parents sometimes fail to realize that their son/daughter cannot begin to establish their own identity here until/unless they actually separate from their parents and that "moving in day" is important and a great time for parents to simply say "I love you and I know you will do well" and then to literally, hit the road.

You have done a great job so far in getting a son or daughter to college and now is the time to trust that you HAVE done a good job and let us do what we do best - provide a supportive learning environment where they will be challenged, where they will learn more about themselves than they ever suspected and where they will grow and learn in a college which values each and every one of our students as unique individuals. You made a good decision in having them attend Saint Michael's College - this is my 28th starting class and I continue to be amazed at the lifelong impact that this place has on people.

take care, be well and please keep our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sometimes our students actually DO listen to what we say....

I just returned from kayaking on Mallett's Bay in Colchester, about 5 miles from campus. Kayaking for me, is always a great time for either relaxation and contemplation OR vigorous exercise, depending on the wind and the waves. Today was a combination of both. As I was kayaking and realizing that classes begin in just a couple of weeks I was thinking about how excited I get at the start of every new semester. We have all worked over the summer on our courses, our syllabi and as I talk with my faculty colleagues, I find that they are as excited as I am for new beginnings. Over the past couple of weeks I have had the chance to talk with several of my former students and while one can always HOPE that they actually do listen and learn in class, these conversations have been very reinforcing for what we do. Alex Higgins ('11) and Ryan Nest ('10) are both working at a camp for adolescents with behavioral and/or developmental difficulties. This has been an intense 8 week camp and I spoke with Ryan over the weekend - as he described some of the activities that both he and Alex have been involved with I asked him how his SMC psychology major has helped him - I was somewhat surprised because he said that there were times when he wanted to literally "jump off a three story building" but then he said that he remembered one of my classes when I had told them "there isn't anything that you can't learn to deal with" and he kept that in mind and was able not only to have an amazingly educational experience but he has received great feedback from his supervisors. Last Friday I had lunch with Corinne O'Connor who graduated in 2004 - she was up for Zack Cook and Molly Lydon's wedding and wanted to get together with Fr. Mike and Jennie and me - she is working for AT&T out of Buffalo and loves her job - Mark Cernosia ('04) joined us too and we all caught up on what was going on in her life and what was happening on campus. Colleen was a student leader here, actively involved with the Student Association and now she is putting those leadership skills to work in her position in management with a major corporation. On Sunday night I received a call from Craig Farnum ('99) - Craig is the lead counselor at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nevada and is taking his comprehensive examinations yesterday, today and tomorrow for his doctorate at the University of Nevada, Reno. As he discussed some of the possible questions he was going to be asked over the three day examination, he commented that whenever he gets a question asking him to "compare and contrast" things he thinks back to my class in Abnormal Psychology because I was always asking my students to do the same thing - he said that this has helped him study and prepare for these exams. Once again, the rewards of teaching............

I head to Otis, MA for some time with my family before the Orientation Leaders, Resident Assistants and finally new students arrive the week of the 22nd - I will be doing some workshops with the Orientation Leaders and then after the "formal" orientation of our new students ends on Sunday the 29th I will be working with members of the Athletic Department and several of our upper-class student-athletes on the New Student-Athlete Orientation. There are approx. 170 new student athletes in our entering class and the Athletic Department has been working hard to create a balanced orientation that will provide great role models for our new athletes - there will be student led panels on Academic Expectations (this will be where I will speak), Social Expectations and Athletic Expectations. I congratulate the members of our Athletic Department for their foresight in designing this series of workshop and appreciate our upper-level student-athletes willingness to work along with us to make the whole experience of our new students a healthy and collaborative one.

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. We have lost way too many men and women in the War In Iraq and now as our combat forces leave there and we begin more tough work in Afghanistan, they need our thoughts and prayers more than ever.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New York City - family and the value of an SMC education.

Last week I traveled to visit with my family and my sister and I took a train from CT into New York City where we met up with my niece Maggie (far left) and her friend (and my former student) Anne Maher (third from the left) - I blogged about Anne and her Dad's death in my last posting. Anne had never been to New York City so this was her first attempt at "life outside of the Boston area." While Sue and I were waiting for Maggie and Anne to come downstairs to meet us for dinner this nice looking, well-dressed young man came over to where we were sitting and sat down opposite me. It took me a couple of seconds (he said the look on my face was priceless and he wished that he had a camera) to realize that it was Dan Ehrhardt from Anne's class of 2009. Dan has just recently moved to New York from Boston and he, my sister, Maggie and Anne decided to surprise "Uncle Dave" with Dan's joining us for dinner. Dan has done well since his graduation in that he received a promotion at work in Boston and then they asked him to move to New York City - he works for a financial service company and had three internships during his time at SMC. While Maggie and Anne took one cab, Sue, Dan and I took another one and we had a chance to catch up. He spoke of how much he loves his job and how much he credits SMC for having prepared him for this type of work. He said that his three internships AND Prof. Roger Putzel's business class of XP (a unconventional class where students set up a "dummy" corporation and the students actually RUN the company) provided him with the experiential learning which put the textbooks' concepts/policies/skill-building into practice. Dan has one of those "infectious" personalities and he has certainly put both that personality and his education at SMC to good work. He also admitted that he LOVED the Men & Masculinities class he took with me and that he tells his co-workers that he learned so much from A class and they ask if it was an economics class or perhaps a business ethics class or an accounting class and then he tells them that NO, it was a psychology/gender studies class and he said that their reactions are really funny. After dinner we walked around a bit and it was just nice to catch up with Dan and his family - I had his older brother Rich as a student here several years ago - it was certainly a pleasant surprise and I appreciated his feedback as to how much HE values the education he received here at SMC. Anne and Maggie met at SMC and their friendship continues even though they haven't been living near each other for years.

It was also quite interesting because Sue, Maggie, Anne and I went to a Broadway play on Wednesday afternoon - we saw South Pacific which has always been one of my favorite plays. It was first produced in 1949 and deals, as many of you may remember, with the military during World War II in the Polynesian Islands. It was quite eye-opening for Sue and me to be watching the play with two 22 year olds who have no "frame of reference" for this play. The themes of discrimination, class and culture are so strong and fortunately both Maggie and Anne have a solid understanding of issues of peace and justice from their education here that our discussion afterwards was quite amazing. I have often used the music from South Pacific in workshops, especially YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT which makes the point that no one is "born" with prejudices but that you "have to be carefully taught" to hate those who are different.

All in all, a wonderful time in the CITY. I do have to admit that it was equally nice to travel back home to Vermont where life is so different from a large city. I am in the office this morning doing more preparation for my classes which will begin on the 30th. My Practicum students are interviewing for their placements off campus for the year and site supervisors are getting in touch with me with last minute questions about these placements. I also continue to get emails from students asking about their textbooks for the classes and a student just "discovered" that there was ONE opening in my Theories of Counseling class and so as she put it "I jumped at the opening and signed up - yeah...." - these are exciting times as I LOVE the opening of each new school year. A couple of students from last semester are in town this week and have emailed about getting together so I expect a knock at my office door at any minute. It is gratifying to know that so many of our students RETURN just to say hello - just one more reason why I love this place so much.

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers as we leave Iraq and the war in Afghanistan continues to take its toll on our men and women in the military and their loved ones.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Classes begin a month from tomorrow - time flies when you are having fun.

I am in the office this morning sending some emails off to my seniors about their Practicum course which they will be taking with me this coming academic year. I have 16 students who will be out in the Burlington community for 8 - 10 hours a week working in some type of human services or educational setting. They are in class with me for 2.5 hours a week and since this is a full year course we get to know each other pretty well. Several of my students have already secured their placements and others are making contact now - I have been able to find a few additional sites for our students and the feedback from last year's sites lets me know that they LOVE having our students. Molly Millwood also teaches this course and she has 15 students who are going through the same process. Practicum provides our students with an exceptional opportunity to take what they have learned in their classes and apply these ideas/concepts/skills in an actual setting within a community. I received an email last night from Alex who is currently working as a "counselor" at a camp for kids with special needs and he was telling me what an amazing experience this has been for him this summer and that he is very much looking forward to Practicum and having an entire year of "real world" experiences. Last year was my first year supervising Practicum and I not only get to supervise our students, but I get to do site visits so get to hear directly from THEIR supervisors about this program. We are fortunate to have such a supportive community which recognizes the benefits of having our students at their sites.

Sadly, two weeks ago I attended the wake and funeral of Joe Maher - Joe graduated from Saint Michael's College in 1969 and was a member of our Alumni Board of Directors. Joe's wife Rosemary Minehan is the Presiding Judge at Bridgewater State Hospital in MA and a couple of years ago she came to speak to our Psychology Club on the legal issues of the mental health programs in MA. She then arranged for me to take six of my students from here to Bridgewater State Hospital for a site visit. Their son Joe graduated from SMC in 2008 and their daughter Anne graduated in 2009. The wake was amazing as the line outside the funeral home was continuous for 4 hours with no let up. I traveled to Plymouth, MA with Pat Gallivan, our Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Patrick had just come from one of our POW's trips (pre-orientation experience) and we met at Stowe and drove down together. While we were standing in line at the wake, a man came up to us and called out my name and I turned around and there was Ned Joyce who is an attorney in the Plymouth area and an alum of SMC. We had a chance to catch up and shared many stories about SMC. Joe Maher was an attorney in that area so the wake and funeral were full of attorneys and judges. A little later when my sister and my niece got there at the wake (Anne is my niece Maggie's best friend and so we all know the family well) and we waited again to go into the funeral home yet another man called out my name and he had graduated from SMC in 1989 and knew me from then - he had just spoken to Joe about two weeks prior to his death as Joe was passionate about helping out anyone who was connected to SMC. Joe had helped arrange a summer intern for this man's accounting firm. The funeral was very moving and was held in Duxbury, MA which is where the Maher family has lived for many years. Joe was a good man and someone I admired. His wife and his two "kids" spoke at his funeral and Anne said that two of the proudest moments in Joe's life were when his two kids graduated from SMC. There were around a dozen of Joe's classmates at the funeral and as we talked in the parking lot of the church, we all commented on the impact that Saint Michael's College had on this man's life - a true testimony to the amazing effect that this place I call home has on so many people. Rest in Peace Joe......

Back to work so please take care and be well and as always, please keep the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. As things heat up in Afghanistan, our thoughts and prayers are needed more and more each day......


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Class of 2014 (born in 1992) and a new garden on campus.

I was just over in Alliot Hall talking with Grace Kelly, our Director of Student Activities - as I walked into her office space I noted that it was FULL of sleeping bag and backpacks and so knew that another POW adventure was about to start. POW is our pre-orientation weekend and while there are two actual weekends, there is also a mid-week POW. This is an opportunity for incoming first year students to meet upper-classmen/women in a setting away from campus. Along with the 30 first year students and approx. 20 upper-class students there are five members of the faculty/staff who head out to Stowe for a three day experience. Each year student leaders are selected based on their level of maturity, their willingness to share their experiences and their leadership skills. This year we have four such students who are leading all three of the POW's. Katherine Hackett (just back from study abroad - we missed her around here), Molly Moore, Liz Siekman and Justin Kane are this year's leaders and they report that the first POW, last weekend was amazing - they were so impressed with the Class of 2014 and while we try not to have the leaders make comparisons, the leaders told me that the next two groups will have to be exceptional to top the first group. Within hours of their return from POW, they had already set up a Facebook page specifically for POW participants. The level of excitement and anticipation of the leaders is so high and it is great to have so many students back on campus. There are three pre-registration days which coincide with POW so most of our entering first year class of 2014 will be here sometime this week - they meet with a temporary academic adviser, take language and writing tests and select their courses for their first semester. There will be a reception for all of them this afternoon over in Alliot and I will head over there for a meet/greet with the new students and their families.

If you are interested in the latest addition to campus - the Word Garden, then by all means check out'swhere Mallory wood uploaded a video on the construction of our new Word Garden - Professors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz and Grounds keeper Alan Dickinson worked hard with a local artist to create words carved in stones which will be be arranged any way that anyone wants - the video is very informative so check it out.

As I mentioned a while back in a blog, we are all working on the new curriculum and one aspect of that is that each professor has to examine each class we teach and while that may seem like a difficult task, it has actually been a great educational opportunity for us to critically look at what we teach and how we assess what we teach and what our students learn. I have completed two of my four courses and look forward to working on the other two.

The Athletic Department has been really busy over the summer working on an exciting new project. Under the leadership of Athletic Director Geri Knortz, Senior Associate Athletic Director Zaf Bludevich and Associate Athletic Director Chris Kenny the Athletic Department has been meeting and constructing a new workshop which will focus on first year student-athletes. This innovative program will take place beginning immediately after the College's New Student Orientation ends on Sunday morning, August 29th - there will be a series of panels comprised of current student-athletes and mentors who will help our new student-athletes better understand the importance WE place on academics, behavior, teamwork, leadership and good sports-person behaviors. This is just the first of a number of new programs being initiated by the Athletic Department - future workshops for our student-athletes will include programs on leadership for our sophomore, junior and senior athletes. I am very proud of the work being done by the Athletic Department and look forward to working with them on these new initiatives. I have been selected to attend the FAR (faculty athletic representative) Leadership Institute this October, representing SMC and the NE-10 and will definitely be "bragging" about these new initiatives.

Take good care, enjoy the summer and while I realize that our entering first year students were born around 1992 and I was born in 1943, I really am looking forward to another GREAT year at SMC. As always, please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers. We are going to have a meeting soon on campus which will involve a variety of offices on campus to see how we can best meet the needs of our returning soldiers who may be interested in attending SMC - we have a number of vets currently enrolled on campus and their input has been very helpful as we try to work with the vets and the VA to ensure that these veterans receive the appropriate and BEST treatment they can as they transition from the military.


Monday, June 14, 2010

After graduation and a Summer Reunion at SMC

It has been a couple of weeks since Commencement and as the campus settles into a "summer schedule" and we have said "later" to our most recent graduates, the always interesting life of a faculty member continues. We are working at the College in re-structuring our curriculum and that means that each of us has to take a critical eye to each of our courses as we determine exactly how they will fit into the new structure. While this can be a labor-intensive activity, it is not a bad thing - I often tell my students how important it is to re-evaluate things on a regular basis. So one of my tasks this week is to take each of my courses and complete the assessment we have been given by the Curriculum Committee - I enjoy this type of challenge because it forces me to critically look at exactly what I DO teach.

This past weekend was Reunion Weekend and we welcome back classes which have graduated 5,10,15, etc. years ago. There is a reception on Friday night where benefactors of the College are welcomed back and where two or three students get to share their current experiences at SMC with some folks who have graduated MANY years ago and others who continue to be benefactors of the College even though they may not have ever attended SMC. We also welcomed back current and past members of the Board of Trustees. On Saturday morning there was an Awards Ceremony over in Ross and several of our alumni were honored. Jack Russell '70, Denis Collet '85 and Deb Liberatore Leblanc '90 were honored as Alumni of the Year - it is always good to hear former students address a public forum and share how their experience HERE has impacted almost everything that they have accomplished in their lives. We often wonder what the impact is of what we do and these folks didn't hesitate to let everyone know just how much their time here and their continued connection with SMC has impacted their lives. Deb thanked Fr. Mike Cronogue and Jennie Cernosia in particular and all three commented on the value of a Catholic education and the presence of the members of the Society of Saint Edmund in their education. Dennis Murphy '60 and his wife Julie were honored with the Rev. John Verret SSE '35 Award and the Col. Donald Cook' '56 USMC Good Citizenship Award was given to Walter Fitzmaurice '49. After the awards, each of the returning class reunions chairpersons presented their class gift to the President. I was sitting with several of the folks from Institutional Advancement along with Bill Wilson and Jerry Flanagan and Buff Lindau. Tanya Makhlina '10 and Christine Amoresano '11 were sitting in front of us. Tanya, who had just graduated a month ago and who just returned from two weeks of volunteering in Haiti and Christine who is working on campus this summer turned to us when the Class of '85 stood and announced their gift and said "they graduated 25 years ago and we aren't even 25 YET" - a sobering thought but one we all laughed over. I was also struck that the Class of '60 who are back celebrating their 50th Reunion actually have a "Social Committee" - they graduated from SMC 50 years ago and their connection is still such a strong bond that they have a group of their classmates who plan social activities for this group - what a testament to them AND to the impact that SMC had on these men 50 years ago that continues today.

At the barbecue held after the Awards Ceremony many of our alumni gathered to re-connect. One couple even got engaged at the barbecue - I guess they saw the amazing reaction to Jamie asking Rachael at Commencement. I had a chance to see Vinnie D'Angelo and his wife Mary and their three kids - the last time I saw their oldest son he was 3 and now he is taller than Vinnie. Katie Moran and her husband and their two kids were back and Tom Robinson and his partner Brian Moore were also back for the Reunion. Between name tags and my memory, I was able to not mess up very many names. After almost 30 years here it is sometimes difficult to put a name with a face and while I seldom forget a face, I often forget the name that goes with that face. :)

I had dinner last night with a group of us who have been connected to SMC and to each other for 25+ years. We attempt to get together every other month for a dinner at one of our homes and we spend around 3 hours just catching up, sharing our lives and talking about our time here at SMC, politics, music, global issues, family, alums and any other "hot" topic of the day. This is always such a wonderful time with good friends who were brought together by Saint Michael's College - Fr. Mike Cronogue, Jennie and Art Cernosia, Sue Kuntz and Ann Giombetti and her partner Karen Mickelson - a good group of good friends. Fr. Mike is the Superior General of the Society of Saint Edmund, Jennie has now retired but returns each fall to teach First Year Seminar, Sue continues to teach Psychology full-time and Ann who used to head up the MOVE program and who left to return to nursing school is now a nurse with the Vermont Department of Health and me. I usually post on Facebook when we are getting together and am always pleased when so many of our former students send responses to the posting - the most common reply is "I am sooooo jealous." :)

We have a celebration in a few minutes where we will be honoring members of the staff and the faculty who have worked at SMC for 10, 15, 20, etc. years. This is another time for the College to thank those of us who give so much to the College and to our students. The barbecue that was scheduled for after this celebration has been canceled due to a pending rain storm but Campus Ministry promised us that they will re-schedule it for another time soon.

Be well, take good care and PLEASE, especially as things in Afghanistan heat up and more and more of our soldiers are wounded or killed , please keep the members of our military and their families (and all of our veterans and their families) in your thoughts and prayers. War by Sebastian Junger is a book I just finished and it is one which helped me better understand the amazing bond that so many members of our military talk about - he is a journalist who was embedded with our troops in Afghanistan for several months - he has a documentary coming out this summer which is entitled Restrepo which will be an incredibly powerful look at the reality of war.....