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.