Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years - It Gets Better







As we did last year, a group of us who have worked at SMC for almost the past 30 years gathered at Jennie and Art Cernosia's home to "construct: Gingerbread Houses. We have been good friends and all have SMC as our common connection. Last night was particularly great as Mark and Alicia Cernosia, pictures above with Fr. Mike joined us. I haven't seen them since their wedding and as they are both alums of SMC, it was appropriate for them to join us. You can see the "houses" that we did construct in the picture on the right - we spent almost 4 hours together and I posted pictures on Facebook and have already received dozens of responses from folks who recognized all of us and who have great memories with Jennie, Fr. Mike, Sue Kuntz, Ann Giombetti or me. A great time.


Classes are over with, the semester has ended, grades have been completed and posted and now it is time to complete more letters of recommendation for my students, construct my syllabi for second semester and reflect on the past semester. Fr. Mike asked me last night how my semester had gone and I simply responded that I had not had one bad class the entire semester. A tribute to our students. I am blessed to work here with the people I work with and thoroughly enjoy engaging with my students at so many levels. They continue to amaze me with their level of interest, their critical thinking and their willingness to actively engage in their learning.


Back in September, after attending an NCAA Diversity workshop in Providence, RI, I challenged our SAAC _ Student Athletic Advisory Council - to collaborate with Common Ground, our Gay/Straight Alliance on campus to create an It Gets Better video in response to last fall's rash of young people taking their own lives across this country because they were or were perceived to be gay. Their ages ranged from 11 - yes, 11 years of age to 18 and many of them had been bullied in their schools. Sadly, many of the bullies were later identified to have been athletes. I KNOW our athletes and have worked with them for almost 30 years and KNOW that our athletes can be ALLIES and not ADVERSARIES for anyone who is "different." That challenge was taken up by Brady Earle (men's ice hockey) and Samantha Steinmetz (women's basketball) and they immediately contacted Common Ground and wrote a script, engaged with Common Ground folks and the final product of this collaboration hit the internet last week. They did an amazing, amazing job and with the help of people like Brian Healey, Rachel Stone, Samantha Hooper and our men's and women's basketball teams PLUS many students from Common Ground, their video has not gone onto the internet and is posted on the Student Association's website, the Athletic Department's website, the NE-10 website and the NCAA website. I couldn't be more proud of our students - they took a difficult challenge and made something wonderful happen. Please check out the video when you have a chance and let us know your reaction. These young people didn't do this for credit - they did it because it was the right thing to do - to be supportive of anyone who struggles because of a difference, either perceived or actual - just one of the many, many reasons why I love this place I call home.


Take care, be well, have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and as our troops have now left Iraq, please keep all of them, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Remember that while we lost 4,500 American soldiers and had 35,000+ wounded, the toll on the Iraqi people was also devastating as they had over 100,000 of their people killed and countless others wounded. With our still having troops in Afghanistan, please remember them all at this time of year. We are able to celebrate here while our soldiers stand guard for our freedoms over there. The Psychology Club sent over 200 Christmas cards and 150 "nips" of Vermont Maple Syrup to Jesse Holland to distribute to his company over in Afghanistan - please take care.....


Merry Christmas

Dave

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finals begin tomorrow - New York City is amazing...

I flew to New York City on Friday to celebrate the retirement of Jim Wall, our former Board Chair (4 years) and member of the Trustees of the College (12 years) . Jim is also married to my sister..... Jim's contributions to the Human Resource field has been amazing and he often attributes his success to the foundation he received right here at SMC as an undergraduate. His firm, Deloitte Touche, Tomatsu is the largest accounting field in the world and they honored Jim with a wonderful celebration of his 27 years with the firm. They also gave a gift to the College and specifically to SMC Fire and Rescue as Jim was a member of that group when he was an undergraduate and he has remained a loyal supporter of that organization here. Well done Jim..... There were 4 former CEOs who spoke but for me, the highlight was when his son Mike and his daughter Maggie took to the stage to "talk about their DAD."

In one of those small world stories, as I settled into my seat on the plane from Burlington to NYC the seat next to me was taken by Connor Stewart a Class of 2011 graduate. Connor is working in Burlington for Democracy for America and seems to be thriving. I knew Connor because he was actively involved in many, many students activities here, including the Student Association. He and one of his SMC roommates were heading to Chicago for a concert - it was great to catch up with him.

Classes ended on Friday and while many of us were shaking our heads about how fast this semester has gone, students were preparing for their finals which begin tomorrow. It has been a "different" semester with our new 4 x 4 curriculum but for the most part, students seem to have survived the changes. We held a "December Graduation" this morning as we always have a number of students who graduate now - it is always nice to meet families of students and to watch how proud they are of their "kids" at they finish up their undergraduate careers here. I just finished some grading and am now heading out to Grace Kelly's home for an afternoon with the Student Association's Executive Board - these students have worked so hard this semester, bringing their own strengths and personalities to the Student Association. The advisors have been invited to gather with them so I am looking forward to a good afternoon.

Take care, be well and, please keep all of the members of our military - our veterans and all of their families, especially at this time of year, in your thoughts and prayers. The Psychology Club just sent 150 Vermont Maple Syrup "nibs" and 250 Christmas cards to Jesse Holland who recently spent his "leave" from Afghanistan back here on campus talking with our current students - there are 150 men and women in Jesse's company stationed on the Pakistan and Afghanistan border and so the officers of the Psychology Club got in contact with Jesse once he returned to Afghanistan and asked what they wanted for Christmas and Jesse, being a true Vermonter, suggested Vermont Maple Syrup - good call my friend.

Peace
Dave

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A veteran gets married and an active duty soldier talks on campus



Any of you who have followed my blog for any time over the past few years I have been blogging have read of my friend and former student Alan Punsky. Alan graduated from SMC in 2001 with a major in Psychology and then went on to serve in the U.S. Army for his four years - tours in Iraq and Afghanistan impacted him greatly and as he was to get out, he was then Stop-Lossed and returned to Afghanistan for an additional 18 months. I have commented on his service on a number of occasions in this blog. Well, this past weekend in Portland, ME Alan and Katie were married in a wonderful ceremony at St. Joseph's Church. It was an honor for me to be able to attend and I sat with his Mom and Step-Dad (his best man) at the reception. Alan now works in MA putting his degree in Clinical Psychology (earned here at SMC and finished in August 2011) to good work in a social service agency there. I thought it was significant that the wedding took place on November 12th, the day after Veterans Day. We all are grateful to him for his service so it was nice to see him so happy with his bride. Katie is a wonderful young woman and I have come to know her also over the past many months. Congratulations to you both.

Jesse Holland '07 was a Journalism major here and he is currently serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He is a photographer and has some amazing pictures. He was back in the States on a 15 day leave and decided to return here to Saint Michael's to "give back" to a place he feels great affection for. He spoke with our Journalism students on Thursday afternoon and then did a public presentation that evening on DO TELL where he related his experiences with the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell before and after it was recently rescinded. There were over 100 people in attendance at his evening presentation which was co-sponsored by the Psychology Club and Common Ground which is the College's Gay/Straight Alliance. It was a powerful and very personal talk with his family and friends from Irasburg, VT also in attendance. On Monday he returned to campus and spoke for 1.5 hours with my Practicum class. My students are out in the community for the entire academic year on internship sites - they spend 8-10 hours a week on site and 2.5 hours back in class with me. Jesse spoke of how the men and women he is deployed with in Afghanistan AND who are parents are coping with having to leave their spouses and children back home. Since many of my Practicum students work at sites with young children whose parents could be deployed AND since everyone in the helping profession WILL someday work with veterans who have PTSD, it was a fascinating opportunity for my students to interact with Jesse and he was open to their asking him anything. Perhaps the most STARK REALITY is that here he was, sitting in our classroom, talking with us and on Thursday (today) he would be flying to Washington and then directly back to Afghanistan - he is stationed at a site which sits on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan...................

As busy as things are here with registration completed, Thanksgiving just a week away and finals looming in the immediate future my students still were completely engaged in Jesse's talks. We all need a break and fortunately next Tuesday begins Thanksgiving break :)

I hope everyone has a peaceful and restful Thanksgiving and that as part of that Thanksgiving, we do, as I always ask, take a minute to keep all of the members of our military, veterans and active service men/women AND their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Take good care
Dave









Monday, October 24, 2011

Baptism and Zip Lining - an interesting weekend

yesterday afternoon I drove out to Smuggler's Notch with recent graduate Alex Higgins for an adventure we had been talking about for some time. We were going ZIP LINING - for those of you who don't know what that is, let me quickly tell you that we climb into a harness, strap ourselves to a cable and ZIP from platform to platform through the hills/mountains at Smuggler's Notch. Oh yes, we also have to rappel down to the ground from two different platform towers. This 3 hour adventure was incredible and an amazing way to spend several hours on a Sunday afternoon. What a great time. I am hoping to get a LOT more students from SMC to try this as I will most definitely return here. They now have this year round and I am curious as to what it will be like when I do this in the middle of our winter. The name of the company is Arbortrek and you can check them out online or on Facebook. One of the many, many joys of working here for so long is when former students return here as parents. On Saturday afternoon Matt Monahan and his wife Justine brought their family and friends back to campus for the baptism of their daughter Riley. Fr. Marcel married them (I was there and the wedding was so much fun as it brought so many good friends back together for the celebration) and so it was fitting that he perform the baptism in our chapel. Matt is the oldest of four Monahan "kids" and I have had Matt, Greg and Alex in class and in the spring will have their "younger" sister Jill. Marge and John (the parents) have become my good friends over the years and so it was great to have time with them at the reception following the baptism.


Busy times as we are in pre-registration now - so please take good care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.


Dave


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Because it IS the right thing to do..............

There is often so much competition in today's sports world that we forget that there can be and often IS a greater purpose in athletic competition. Chris Kenny is our Associate Athletic Director here at Saint Michael's College and a very, very good man. Chris is so easy to work with and he is always thinking about others. He sent this email message out yesterday morning and since he seldom asks for anything for himself, when Chris asks for a favor, we ALL respond. I did go over to the Sports Center and did sign the T-shirt as Chris asked. Those of you who follow my blog know that I end each one with a simple request - PLEASE keep all of the members of our military - active and veterans AND their families in your thoughts and prayers - this is why......................

Chris' message to our community:

"Hi everyone -

The next time you are over here in Tarrant, would you please take a moment to stop by the main Athletics office to sign a shirt for John Coker?

Coker is a former student-athlete at Louisiana - Lafayette, and was seriously injured recently in combat in Afghanistan.

We recently received a heartfelt note from Kristi Stake, Director of Athletic Compliance and Academic Support at UMASS-Lowell. It was a call for support for this young man, who is battling for his life. It reads, in part, "I know that we don't often email unless it's about a compliance issue, but I wanted to ask each of you for a personal favor. I recently learned that one of my former student-athletes, John Coker, (from when I worked in Louisiana) was shot while serving in Afghanistan. He is seriously injured and on a long road to both physical and mental recovery. (His legs were both badly shot, he may never walk again, and he witnessed three of his fellow soldiers die right in front of him.) As a student-athlete, he was one of the "good ones" that makes our jobs as administrators enjoyable, always popping in to say hello, always smiling, always volunteering to help in any way that he could. I know we're supposed to be impartial, but truth be told, he was one of my favorites :) I know he's not a NE-10 alumnus, but I know how much college athletics meant to this young man. I have spoken to our baseball team here at Lowell about signing a baseball cap in order to show John support while recovering. I know it would mean the world to him to know that other student-athletes out there, even ones he didn't know, were supporting him in a tough time like this. I plan to send him a care package with other personal items from me, but then I started thinking how much more impactful it would be to flood him with signed baseball caps from other schools to show him just how much the baseball community supports each other. I know it's cliche, but sometimes the best family we can have is our athletic family.."

Coker played center field for the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette, and joined the National Guard after graduation. Like many "citizen soldiers" in the Guard, he was deployed to Afghanistan early this year.

Our baseball team is signing a cap for him, but we thought some "U-Knighted" support from our entire varsity program might really give him a good feeling. The shirt will be displayed on the desk as soon as you enter the office suite on the second floor of Tarrant. Just grab a Sharpie and sign your name. The shirt and the SMC ballcap will be sent to him as part of a NE-10 Care Package that Kristi is putting together at Lowell.

Thank you !!!!!
Chris

This IS the right thing to do - period........

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

Dave

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A"teachable moment" and our hearts go out to Norwich University

Last evening, during our Student Association meeting, I spoke with all of our student leaders about the tragedy over the weekend at Norwich University. On Saturday night, after leaving an off-campus party, a first year Norwich University student was killed when the car she was riding in went off the road and crashed into some trees. This 18 year old from Michigan lost her very young life while riding in a car with 7 others, none of whom reportedly were wearing seat belts and the car was designed for 5, not 8. The 22 year old driver of the car was arrested and has been charged with driving under the influence with death resulting AND the 20 year old who "hosted" the off-campus party also was arrested. Three others in the car were reported to be in critical condition.

One life lost - seven lives which will be full of horrific memories of that night - two young men who have been arrested and whose lives will NEVER be the same. They had been celebrating - having fun - enjoying Norwich's football team victory and Norwich's Homecoming Weekend festivities. None of them went out that Saturday night ever thinking that what happened WOULD happen. Vermont has something called a Dram Shop Law which holds responsible, those who host gatherings where tragic events result from the consumption of alcohol. That can be in a residence hall room, a Townhouse, an off-campus home OR even my own home. MOST students have no idea that they can be held liable for the actions of someone who leaves their "party" if that person is intoxicated. My attempt last night was to remind students that they ARE vulnerable - that they CAN make bad decisions (getting in a car when the driver has had too much to drink) - that there ARE consequences to their decisions and that YES, it CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. It was a sobering talk but one that I felt I had to deliver to our students.

Earlier on Saturday, SMC had hosted the Vermont Colleges' Women's and Men's Cross Country Championships. It was a very cold and very windy day and many of us who volunteered to help were cold and soaked right through BUT we did it to help out. Norwich University, along with many, many other colleges/universities sent their students to compete and when I heard the sad news on Sunday morning of the tragic death of the young woman, I couldn't help but wonder if any of the cross country runners from Norwich, whom we had all cheered on as they completed either a 5K (women) or an 8K (men) race that afternoon had been in that car OR at that party. The reality is that this tragedy could happen at any of our colleges. Mike Samara is our Vice President for Student Affairs and our Dean of Students - Mike is a very, very good man and he has always talked about "teachable moments" - our hearts and prayers go out to all of the members of the Norwich University community and their tragedy will hopefully be one of OUR "teachable moments."

We want students to have a good time - that is just ONE of the things that being young is all about. We also, as I told our students last night, want them to PROTECT YOURSELF BY MAKING WISE DECISIONS.

Take care, be well and, as always, keep the members of our military, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers AND please keep the members of the Norwich University community in your thoughts and prayers too.

Dave

Monday, October 3, 2011

A call for INDEPENDENT journalists.

It has been a VERY busy couple of weeks with classes all going well and so much going around campus that it doesn't seem possible that we have already completed five weeks of classes. Yesterday afternoon there was a program presented by the campus Peace and Justice Club which, in honor of Gandhi's birthday they presented their Annual Peace Pledge Ceremony. Ten of us from across campus who had been nominated were then selected by the Club to read the Peace Pledge prior to a keynote speech by Amy Goodman. I was honored to be one of those chosen by the students to read one section of the pledge!.

Amy Goodman is the producer and host of "Democracy Now" and she spoke eloquently about having just returned from the funeral of Troy Davis - she spoke of his case in Georgia, how our Supreme Court had refused him a stay of execution (despite 7 of the 8 witnesses recanting their own testimony, calls from the Pope and from former President Jimmy Carter, pleas from several law enforcement officials across the country and countless other pleas for a stay) and of her coverage, as an INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST of his last hours AND of his funeral. She held the entire audience (it was a full house with a good mix of our students and many folks from the Burlington community) with her quiet but determined explanation of WHY this country desperately needs INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. She spoke of her (and her colleagues') beating and arrest in Minneapolis during the Republican Convention and told us that today there will be a press conference from Wall Street talking about the settlement of that lawsuit. She spoke of how she covered the conflict in Timor and how she and her cameraman were attacked and almost killed UNTIL they showed their American passports (the guns the soldiers were holding on her were paid for by the USA) - it was one of the most powerful and riveting talks I have seen in many, many years and we should all be grateful to her for her courage, her passion to keep making a difference and for her message about the importance of INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. I also want to thank Prof. Laurie Gagne and the students from the Peace and Justice Club for bringing her here.

A student is waiting to see me so I have to close, but, as always, please keep the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers.
Take care
Dave

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another beautiful Vermont weekend - classes are GREAT.

I often tell my classes that it doesn't get much better for a college professor than to have a student say "I never thought about that before." For me at least, that brings joy to my heart. In my Sports Psychology course, an applied psychology course, students MUST make a connection between all of their other psychology courses and various issues or aspects of sports and athletics. I am in the office this fine morning (already been kayaking) grading more of their first papers - so far, they have related their paper topics to Child Development, Adolescent Development, Abnormal Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Research Methods, Cognitive Psychology, History of Psychology and Drugs and Behaviors and oh yes, Personality Theories too. Watching their faces in class the other day when we were discussing extreme sports and I showed them a YouTube video of "base jumping with a wing suit" (check it out on YouTube) was amazing as MOST had NEVER seen anything like that before. As we discussed possible reasons why someone is very happy to be a green circle skier/boarder (that would be me) and someone else is only excited when they ski/board a double black diamond they were intrigued with looking at a possible physiological connection. What a great class and what fun to be teaching these young people..............

I meet later this afternoon with the Student Athletic Advisory Council which is made up of representatives of all of our 21 varsity sports and is advised by our WONDERFUL head women's basketball coach - Jen Niebling. She is not only an excellent coach, but she is just a really nice person I get to call a friend and colleague. As part of my role here as the NCAA FAR (Faculty Athletics Representative) I get to meet with our student group and always look forward to our discussions. Tonight is also the beginning (for student-athletes) of our Athletic Department's new initiative which is a LEADERSHIP opportunity where several representatives of each team will have the chance to get trained in leadership over the course of the academic year. A great new program - congratulations to our Athletic Department and the coaches who have worked so hard on organizing this effort.

Our Student Association holds their Open Forum this week followed by SA elections and next weekend is the SA-Day Away (which is actually ON campus) and then they begin their weekly meetings. I get to serve as the faculty advisor for this group along with other colleagues - Rob Robninson, Marilyn Cormier, Allison Sherman and of course, our wonderful Director of Student Activities - Grace Kelly. I have enjoyed working with this organization for the past 29 years and they always amaze me with their maturity, their dedication to this College and their respect for each other - I am looking forward to another good year with this group.

Enjoy your day, take care and be well and please keep all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers. Also a request that you all come to visit Vermont this fall as even though there HAS been much devastation from Hurricane Irene, we ARE open for business and because of so much loss and devastation, we really need people to know that WE ARE OPEN and love tourists :)

Dave

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two weeks completed - time IS flying....

It doesn't seem possible but two weeks of classes have already flown by. With so much attention being paid to the impact of Hurricane Irene to many areas of the State of Vermont, much national press has been given, almost nightly to Vermont and what has happened to so many towns and so many people. I was interviewed live on WCAX television, our local CBS station Thursday afternoon on a five minute segment where I discussed the psychological impact of the flooding on Vermont and Vermonters - so many people have so many emotions hitting them all at the same time and many don't know how to deal with all of that. I hope that my words (be as good at ASKING for help as Vermonters are in offering help - it is alright to turn OFF your TV, especially now with the anniversary of 9/11 upon us - all of that can become overwhelming so it is OK to turn your TV off) I have to admit it struck me as funny to be advising people to turn OFF their TV's while sitting in a TV studio being interviewed :)

My classes are great - students are all actively engaged in what we are doing, asking GREAT questions and allowing me to confuse and challenge them. I am using the Tegrity technology for each of my classes this year which means that each class is recorded and everything we do in class is then available to my students to review later on. FANTASTIC technology and the folks in IT have been wonderful - Jim Millard, Sue Breeyear, Kelli Campbell and Erik Lightbody all help keep me somewhat sane as I challenge myself to utilize ALL of the technology available to the faculty and to our students - thanks to you all.

I was downtown at the Farmer's Market this morning (a normal Saturday morning) and saw the LONG lines outside of the Flynn Theater where people had started lining up yesterday to purchase tickets to a Phish Concert scheduled for this coming Wednesday. Phish began in Vermont as many of their members were UVM students BUT the first stop on their first big tour WAS at SMC :) They are doing a benefit concert to aid Vermont in its flood recovery - so typical of Phish and of OUR citizens to give back. There are 12,000 tickets available at $75 a ticket so even with my own math challenges, that comes out to almost one million dollars that Phish is donating for flood relief - what a great group - thanks....

Take care, be well, and as the anniversary of September 11th approaches tomorrow, please take time to remember the members of our military and their families AND please keep all of them and ALL of the emergency responders that day ten years ago, in your thoughts and prayers - it is the least we can do. Please remember...............

Dave

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I had my first class of the new year yesterday - Practicum is a yearlong experience for senior psychology majors - each student (16) will be located at a local service agency and will spend 8 - 10 hours each week on site under the supervision of a master's level professional. They spend 2.5 hours back in class processing their experiences. I am always nervous the first day of classes yesterday was also the beginning of my complete use of our new technology on campus called Tegrity - this captures the video from class as well as anything that we use from the class computer. I will be using this in all classes and students seemed excited (albeit a bit nervous) about it - they can go back and review class anytime they want. A couple of Practicum students were in Sports Psychology and I used it there so they were very comfortable. I did an interesting exercise where I sent the students out of class for half an hour in pairs - each student was to "interview" the other for 15 minutes and then when they returned to class they had to introduce their partner to the rest of class - since interviewing, listening and responding are such an important part of this class, it turned out to be a great exercise. The most common comment: "I have known him/her for a couple of years now but never knew all of this about them" - good job everyone.

Sports Psychology and Theories of Counseling this afternoon and yup, still nervous........

take care and be well and, as always please keep the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers AND additionally, please keep all those here in the beautiful State of Vermont in your thoughts and prayers as well as SO many areas have been devastated by the flooding from Hurricane Irene - the pictures from all over the State are incredible. I am a huge lover of covered bridges and watching one just be swept away by the raging waters was heart-wrenching.

Dave

Monday, August 29, 2011

First day -

Here are our wonderful Orientation Leaders and their "leader" - Grace Kelly A great group.



Classes begin in a few minutes for our new academic year. Yesterday's Hurricane Irene did devastating damage in many areas around Vermont but SMC was lucky not to sustain damage other than a few branches blown down and a LOT of rain. We finished up the formal Orientation Program in the morning and then the new student-athletes had their Orientation in the afternoon. The Orientation Leaders were amazing with so much genuine enthusiasm and since they had worked since January to prepare for our new students, they did a GREAT job. Congratulations once again to Grace Kelly, Director of Student Activities and all of the Orientation Board for your hard work - it clearly paid off.

Our new curriculum begins today too and we have all been challenged by Dr. Karen Talentino, our VP for Academics to make sure that students realize that taking fewer classes also means that they are getting a more intense educational experience in EACH class. As I told our student-athletes yesterday, OUR expectation is that students will put in 10 hours per week for each class - that includes in and out of class experience. I know that for my classes, there is a great deal of work to be done and this should be a very exciting semester. I will be using one of our new technologies again this year BUT will now be using it for every class. Tegrity is a software package which allows me to "tape" each class period which is then available to my students at anytime to review. Some worried that this would mean that students wouldn't come to class IF they could just view class on their computers but that is definitely NOT the case at SMC - this technology is just another resource which faculty get to use in order to assist our students in their learning.

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. It should be a great semester and I am heading to campus to begin again.................

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Three more weeks.....

As amazing as it seems, in just three weeks we will be completely immersed in welcoming the Class of 2015 to SMC and also welcoming all of our returning students back to campus. It is a busy time with my continuing to get requests for recommendations for my students who have recently graduated and saying "later" to some who have been around Burlington all summer but who now head off to graduate school. This is also the time for THAT discussion between parents and students - talking about realistic expectations, hopes, fears, etc. CAN take place anytime now as too soon you will no longer be just down the hall from your "kids" or from your parents.

Some of our recent graduates - not to mention any names Matt Falcone and Meaghan Cormier - seem to have forgotten that you may NOT return to live in the Townhouses this year as you DID graduate this past May. It is not unusual at this time of year, as the stores and the internet advertise "back to school" specials, for recent graduates to suddenly (although we DO try to warn them) realize that for the first time since they were 4 or 5, they will NOT be returning to school - this is just different, it doesn't have to be bad, just different. :)

I fully intend to make the most of these remaining weeks with a lot of kayaking, some hiking, lots of "fun" reading and time with friends before the new year begins. I hope that you will also make the most of this time and spend quality time with family and friends.

Take care and be well, and given the incredibly sad news out of Afghanistan today (30 of our soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash) PLEASE keep all of the members of our military - active and veterans, AND their families, in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Friday, July 15, 2011

Student-athletes SHINE and dinner with recent graduates.

Last night I got together with 6 former students - all from the Class of 2011 - at American Flatbread in Burlington and then, of course, we ended up at Ben & Jerry's for dessert. We ran into Evan Dewey and Brian Ahern on Church Street as they were on their way to dinner too. Kimmy Thevenet had contacted me earlier this week asking if we could all get together for dinner soon and I was only too happy to agree. Next to Kimmy (far left) is Jess Sanborn and then Ryan Stanley and on my left is Meaghan Cormier, Will Towne and Sarah Regan. Except for Will, all of them are living and working in the Burlington area and along with a large number of their classmates, they are enjoying Burlington, Vermont in the summer. We laughed (a lot) and talked about how they are all doing (working at a variety of places - some just for the summer and some already with full-time employment). It was great to catch up with all of them and we decided we need to do this again so the next time, it is a barbecue at my house. Chris Kenny is our Associate Athletic Director and Chris compiles data on how well our student-athletes are doing academically. He just released the latest information and it is GOOD. Overall, our student-athlete grade point average is the HIGHEST ever recorded = 3.127. These student-athletes carry a full academic load AND compete in our varsity athletic program which is also very time-consuming. For the first time, the student-athlete overall GPA of 3.127 is HIGHER than the general student body. Also, for the first time, the male student-athlete overall GPA (3.000) is HIGHER than the general male student population. The male student-athlete GPA is the HIGHEST ever. We have been attempting to convince our student-athletes, and especially our male student-athletes that they are expected to do well academically, they CAN do well, and that it is acceptable for student-athletes at SMC to do well in the classroom. Our women student-athletes GPA of 3.242 is their second HIGHEST ever. Also, we have 21 varsity teams and for the first time, 16 of those teams had a 3.0 or higher. Congratulations to the student-athletes, their faculty who work so closely with them, their coaches who support their academic achievement and to the Athletic Department for their continuing support of our initiatives to improve the academic achievement of our athletes.......

Take care, be well, and please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans in your thoughts and prayers. When President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor the other day to Army Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry it was a very moving and important occasion. HIS story is repeated over and over again by members of OUR military - his words (I did it for my brothers - to protect them) get repeated time and time again by the men and women in our Armed Forces - it is so important that we make sure that they know that they have our support - our thoughts and yes, our prayers.

Dave

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New students arrive on campus for Summer Orientation


Kayaking at Indian Brook, about 5 miles from campus provides me with great shots like these two. The Great Blue Heron picture was not taken with a telephoto lens but I was that close.....New students for the fall semester arrived on campus yesterday for Summer Registration/Orientation and many of them are also now participating in one of the 4 Wilderness Program Trips or POW (pre-orientation weekend). I attended the advising session held by Associate Dean Joan Wry (a fantastic resource for students and faculty alike) and Prof. Ray Patterson, Religious Studies professor extraordinaire. They advised the new students on HOW to register for classes for the fall and then the students were off to meet with temporary advisors to select their classes. I love having students back on campus as their energy fills the place.

Seth Cole has been the College's Sports Information Director for many years - he also is an alumni of the College and was also our men's baseball coach for several years. Seth has decided to leave SMC and move with his wife to New Hampshire where they will be closer to family. Seth has done an amazing job over his many years here and he will be sorely missed - the Best of Luck to you Seth.

Lots and lots of contacts with former students as Jenny Pietroski was back in town from Maine this past week and I had the chance to have lunch with her and catch up on how she is doing. She graduated in 2010 and started graduate school in psychology in Colorado - great to catch up with her. Mary LeClair is back for a few days and her Dad, music professor Paul LeClair has just retired after a lifetime (Paul began here in 1970) of great service to the College and to all of our students - Paul is featured in the Spring/Summer 2011 Saint Michael's College Magazine. Mary and I will get together tomorrow. Barb Puls ('84), Meaghan Cormier('11), Eda LaPlaca ('11), Jason Fuchs ('10), Brett Peryer ('09), Seth Brown ('09), Craig Farnum ('99) have all been in touch lately - just one of the many, many things I love about being at SMC is the relationships that will last a lifetime.

Off to Indian Brook for some kayaking again - I continue with my writing and preparing for fall classes and enjoying life in the beautiful State of Vermont. Take care, and, as always, please keep the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer and way too busy :)

Good morning - as I look out over campus from my office on second floor St. Ed's I am amazed as how busy I have been since Commencement. This morning I am working on my book - yes, I am attempting to finally put down in writing the many, many thoughts/comments/essays from my students in response to a paper I assign in Men & Masculinities - How My Father Influenced My View of What A Man Is - is the assignment and for almost 8 years I have been accumulating their responses with the idea of eventually putting all of this down into a book. That eventually is NOW and it has been interesting to say the least to go back and re-read their essays. I just emailed one of my students who wrote an amazing paper describing her father and his influence on her view of what a man is. I am so appreciative of my students that they have always given me "permission" to use their work "someday." For now I am just inputting their responses - at some point I will try to organize this into some coherent format :)

The other day I received an email from one of my former students, a recent graduate. He asked for some assistance on research he is doing in his graduate program. As we corresponded back and forth, he said the following, which I copy here with his permission:

"On a side note, I would like to let you know that I fully appreciate the quality of education and even more-so the outstanding quality of the professors and level of guidance that I received from them at St. Mike's. The quality of teaching, academic guidance, and of the professors themselves at my current University is questionable, even at the best of times; making me realize what I took for granted while in Vermont. Hope you're enjoying your summer break and take care. Thanks again." It is this type of response from students that keeps me going - he was a good student who went on to work on an advanced degree and his response was something that we don't often hear - not because it isn't true, but because in many cases students never tell us what we mean to them and/or they don't realize this until they are many, many years away from SMC - so thanks for this.......

I had lunch with a former student yesterday, ran into another recent grad and an "older" grad (she would not appreciate being referred to as "older" :) down on Church Street [her place of employment had just hired their 4th SMC graduate],dinner last night with another one and last week I had dinner with another recent grad. There are many of our more recent grads who have chosen to stay in the area this summer and it is great to run into them all over the area. I was at the Burlington Farmer's Market a couple of Saturdays ago and ran into Ryan Stanley and Logan Pinka - it is always so funny when they see US outside of the college environment and are reminded that we are PEOPLE too, with our own lives.

I also met this past week with two prospective students and their parents - one is the daughter of another former student and Mom and the other two daughters were here while the oldest daughter was interviewing in Admissions. The other is a dear friend of many years who graduated from SMC before I came here - she brought her son here for his interview and I not only met them in Admissions but then had the pleasure of having dinner with them downtown. We went to RiRa's as I wanted Jack to "see a college town" from that perspective. It is also nice when parents ask ME questions about the value of a liberal arts education - that question is a no-brainer as to my answer...... Hopefully both of these students will be accepted and will come here.

Back to work - take care, be well, and as July 4th looms in the near future, please remember that OUR freedoms have been earned with the lives of so many others and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NE-10 Sportsmanship Award goes to SMC ice hockey player Alex Higgins

Shown at the Awards Dinner for the NE-10 annual meeting, held this year, in Providence Rhode Island is men's ice hockey coach Chris Davidson, recent graduate and male Sportsmanship Award winner Alex Higgins and Julie Ruppert, Commissioner of the NE-10. Alex was honored with a plaque and a great picture which will hang over in the Ross Sport Center. Alex was nominated by his coach and not only is an outstanding student (psychology major) but a great role model for all of our student-athletes - well done and very much deserved Alex - congratulations. Our meetings in Providence were good and it was gratifying to see that the NCAA has broadened their definition of diversity as I attended, along with AD Geri Knortz, the Diversity Workshop on Tuesday. This four hour workshop addressed issues of diversity from a broad perspective and included the issues of race, gender, sexual orientation and privilege. The rest of our meetings were a combination of athletic directors, faculty athletics representatives(FAR), senior women administrators and a variety of assistant and associate athletic directors from all 16 schools currently in the NE - 10. It was nice to re-connect with many of my FAR friends for these meetings and to find that our concerns are being addressed as we work with the NCAA's Life In Balance programs to ensure that our student-athletes do, in fact, have that balance that is so necessary between their academics, their athletics AND a social life.

As I am working in my office this morning, many of my colleagues are next door attending the annual TWTW - Teaching With Technology Workshop. I would have been in there but it is a week long event and I had to be in Providence Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This workshop helps faculty members better understand how technology and all of the changes that it makes in our lives, really DOES fit into the classroom.

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

Dave

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Graduation pictures and Winston Churchill's spy in WW II



Now that Commencement is really over with many of my students have posted graduation pictures on Facebook. In the second picture are Tully LaBelle-Hamer from Alaska and Alex Higgins from Arizona. Both were members of our men's ice hockey team and they are just two of the many, many amazing students I have had the privilege of knowing and teaching (and learning from) here at SMC. The other picture to the lower right is one with me and Samantha (SAM) Taturczak - she is another one of those exceptional students who not only excelled in the classroom (she took all but one of my classes so I know just how smart she really is) but she is someone who is an amazing role model for all students - especially for students in our residence halls as Sam has served as a Resident Assistant for several years and she has been actively involved with all aspects of Residence Life and a major contributor and leader of several of our clubs and organizations - a special person who will be part of my "family" forever, much like Tully and Alex.

The other picture on the top is of me with my friends Max and Linda Ciampoli who are the authors of Churchill's Secret Agent. They live in Reno, NV and along with my friends Davis/Ann Clark, Jim and Sue Wall (my sister and brother-in-law) and my niece Maggie we met up in New York City's Central Park this past Saturday. Max and Linda were in NYC to present to the Jewish Book Council on their book. Max was a spy for Winston Churchill during WW II and he is responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Max, a Catholic, was doing all of these things when he was just 17,18 and 19 years old and I used their book and Max's exploits to challenge MY students to answer the question: "what would YOU do if this country, like Max's France, was ever to be invaded?" - now there is no answer to that question but it certainly made for fascinating discussions in my Men & Masculinities class. I suggested that they might want to read the book and write a reaction which I then sent to Max and Linda - it is so important to Max (now 88 years old) to hear what young people think about what happened back then AND that they NOT forget that we all need to be aware of what is going on in our world. Being in NYC with good friends and my family was an amazing end of our academic year. More of my students, even though they have graduated, are reading this book and have spoken with me about how amazed they are at the things that Max had to do in order to save the lives of so many.

Several former students are going to be in town this weekend and Burlington hosts their marathon along Lake Champlain and I have heard from several who will be here and who want to get together - IF it stops raining, it should be a great weekend. Next Monday is also Memorial Day and so once again, I ask that we all remember the members of our military and our veterans and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Memorial Day should be every day..... We owe them all so much.

Take care and be well, and also please keep those students and staff from SMC who are doing service trips to Rawanda, India and the Dominican Republic in your thoughts and prayers too.

Dave

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Commencement was exceptional

Yesterday we all gathered on campus for the annual ritual called Commencement. On Sunday we had gathered in the chapel for the Baccalaureate Mass and then in the Ross Sport Center for the Honors Assembly and then a reception following in the Tarrant Center. It was a time of celebration, and a chance for me to meet the parents of so many of my students from over these past four years. It is always an emotional time for all of us and I had the unique opportunity to thank these parents for sending their daughters/sons to us - while I understand fully that these students are better because of the time they have spent with us, I also reminded the parents and thanked them because WE are all better because they have been with us for these past four years. The Commencement speaker was Jim Wall - Jim, while having the lofty title of Global Managing Partner for Human Resource and Talent Management for Deloitte, Touche, Tomatsu (the largest accounting firm in the world) his is best known because he is ONE OF US. Jim's time at SMC as a student in the early 70's contributed to the success he has experienced since his graduation from SMC in 1974. His Commencement address is worth watching in its entirety and I simply cannot do it justice here so I will only ask that you all go onto YouTube and type in Commencement at Saint Michael's College - James H. Wall - please watch it and see why I have said that Jim's talk was exceptional - I have listened to many, many Commencement speakers and Jim was wise enough to speak with six seniors prior to writing his speech and his talk was honest, REAL, emotional and so well received by students, faculty/staff, parents and everyone who heard him. Since yesterday I have heard from many of my students and many of my colleagues who commented that Jim's speech was simply the BEST they have ever heard. Great praise indeed. Thank you Jim.....

One additional note from Commencement - near the conclusion of the celebration, Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino asked all of the members of the faculty and staff to stand and be recognized by the students - we did and they, and their parents and families also rose and gave all of us a spontaneous round of applause - a first in my memory - just more evidence of what an amazing class this is. thanks.....

It is never easy to see students leave - we have watched them over the past four years grow and mature into amazing individuals who will make our world a better place - I never say goodbye- merely a "later" as they leave for the next step in their journey. So, thank you to all of you who have so impacted me - thank you to Sarah Regan's Dad for letting me know that he DID read my blogs (it usually seems as if no one else does read this thing) and thanks to all of you who DO read this but who choose not to comment on it.

Take care, be well, look for summer postings from me 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. I just finished reading the final paper of one of my former students - my friend Alan - his final paper for the completion of his Clinical Psychology graduate degree was a qualitative essay on how these wars have impacted his life. He presented information on how he decided to join the military, his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his being Stop-Lossed and returned to Afghanistan after having already served his four years and finally to how all of this has impacted him as he has transitioned OUT of the military - an amazingly powerful story - his story will help him AND others as they learn how to deal with what they have seen, done, experienced in service to ALL OF US - they deserve our thanks AND our prayers........

Dave

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Let the finals begin.........

Practicum Reception
Psi Chi Induction











Yesterday was the last day of the semester and now it is time for finals to begin. It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks as the College held its Symposium featuring academic departments honoring student achievements. The Psychology Department was no exception as our students who had completed their Honors Projects (bottom right picture) presented them to the Department and the College. Students who had participated in Practicum and/or Independent Study also presented their POSTERS (upper right and bottom left) over in the Ross Sport Center. We also held our induction of new members of Psi Chi - the International Honor Society for Psychology. We also hosted the first annual Practicum Reception (top center picture) in the Pomerleau Alumni Center where current Practicum students met with next year's students and we thanked the site supervisors for their participation in our very successful Practicum program.

The sun has come out again (we had forgotten what it looked like) and it has stopped raining - Lake Champlain is at its highest level EVER and this has impacted everyone in the area who enjoys the many opportunities offered by this great Lake... BUT life goes on and as students begin their finals and our seniors reluctantly get ready for Commencement on the 16th, we celebrate the conclusion of yet another academic year. I have had five groups of students over to my house for dinners this semester and that ends on this Thursday when I am having my Practicum class over for lunch. the students are always so grateful to be invited to a professor's home and it is always so much fun for me. At least having this group for lunch will hopefully mean that I won't be telling them that they have to leave at 11:15 p.m. which happened all five times when students were here for dinner.........

As always, please take good care and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Very busy times on campus as the semester comes to a close.




As our semester and academic year come to a quick ending there are so many student activities that it is sometimes difficult to find the time to attend all of them. In the pictures above, you will see a group of students in Eddie's Lounge on campus enjoying a concert put on by Adam Reczek, who is seen above reading out information about prostate cancer awareness. Adam is in my Men & Masculinities class and when I told them (30 second semester seniors - 15 women and 15 men) that I wanted their final projects to be creative Adam took me at my word and asked his friend Matt to join him for a set of amazing guitar music and singing and then he asked Mike Check, our campus Acappella group to join him on stage. The coffee pot on the table served as a container for donations and they raised $85 AND provided some excellent information to everyone gathered there about the very serious issues surrounding prostate cancer - this is one of the most unique final projects I have received from a student and I am proud of Adam and his friends for doing this.

Yesterday afternoon, before heading over to the Duffy Field and Senior Day for our men's lacrosse game I joined my friend and colleague Ingrid Peterson from the Career Development Office for two panel presentations to accepted students who were visiting the campus. We responded to their excellent questions about everything from "what do I do if I suck at languages" to "how can I figure out what I want to major in" - it is always fun to see our prospective students before they make that difficult decision - there were great questions and, as always, it was fun to work with Ingrid.

There is a concert this afternoon over in Ross Sport Center which is a benefit as part of the College's Earth Day celebration. It was planned for the green outside of the library but as I look out my window and see the continuing rain outside, it is a wise decision to move it indoors. The group presenting the concert is BAREFOOT TRUTH, which, if you have ever followed my blog you know IS my favorite group - with two former SMC students performing it has become a favorite of many more than just myself.

Three weeks of classes left AND an Easter weekend break- students are completing their work, WE are all busy grading that work and with the sun making an appearance every now and then, life on campus goes on at a hectic pace. Many of my seniors have been successful in their job hunt and have been hearing from either graduate schools OR places they have been seeking employment from and therefore needing recommendations. It looks like a good end of another great year.

As always, please take good care, be well and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dinner at Dave's - GRACE Potter and Barefoot Truth













Each spring semester I invite students from my Men & Masculinities course to my home for dinner. I cook, they eat and then we sit around and talk until I have to throw them out - this past Monday I asked someone what time it was and they said 11:15 and I just said they all had to leave as it WAS late for me and I had to get up in the morning :) Each group consists of 4, 5 or 6 students - here are pictures of the first two groups - we have a great time and they are so appreciative of having dinner at a "professor's" home that it is worth all of the effort in planning and feeding young college students.........

Last night the Student Association held their Spring Concert. There was a great deal of discussion on who the performers could/should be and they settled with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals AND my all-time favorite group, Barefoot Truth. Running a concert on any college campus is a challenge - there is the set-up, the management of tickets and security, the advertising and marketing, the "management" of the venue and the overriding fear that any concert MAY NOT be a success. Grace Kelly is our Director of Student Activities and in that capacity, she works closely with all of the students involved in the concert activities. Mark Litchfield is our Special Events man and he has the experience and skills to work with performers, physical plant AND most importantly, with our students. The collaboration between Grace (Kelly) and Mark is amazing to watch. They arranged for student-workers to handle all of the needed tasks and rather than DOING the work themselves, Grace and Mark have taught our students by example how to get things done. Matt Seklecki and Claire McQuillen are the two students from the Student Association who are co-chairs of Programming and it is their responsibility to make sure that things run smoothly from a student perspective - their responsibilities run the gamut from marketing to enlisting student volunteers to work the event.

Well, the concert was amazing. There were several, several hundred people in the Ross Sport Center gym last night for a great time. Barefoot Truth first became MY favorite during the senior year of two of the band members who were SMC students. Garrett and Will have worked tirelessly to make this band what it is today - they travel all over the East Coast performing and their sound has grown over the years - you can check them out at their website at BarefootTruth.com - it is well worth a listen. I spoke with both Garrett and Will last night before they performed and they were just so happy to be back on campus and performing before an SMC crowd. Their sound in that gym was the best....... They have a solid following on and off campus in the Burlington area and their fans were NOT disappointed. Both Dean Jeff Trumbower and I have been avid fans for several years and it was great to have our Academic Dean at the concert too.

Grace Potter - what can I say about her? She has recently been on the Letterman Show as well as the Leno Show and she was completely on fire last night. Early on in the evening after she finished her sound check and before the doors were open to fans, she walked past Grace Kelly, Mark Litchfield and a couple of students and waved to us, said hello and was just amazingly friendly and welcoming. A Vermonter herself, she clearly appreciated being on OUR campus and she put on a fantastic show. Unlike so many "performers" today, both Grace Potter and the guys from Barefoot Truth were approachable (Grace Potter even offered to sign autographs for folks and was so unassuming that you would wonder who she was if you ran into her on the street) and clearly appreciate their fans. The smile on Grace Potter's face lit up the entire gym... So, congratulations to Grace Kelly and Mark Litchfield for once again setting the stage and enabling our students to actively work at making a concert a success. Congratulations to Matt and Claire for the success and to all of the many, many student workers who all combined to have a very successful concert..... Well done!!!!

We only have a few weeks of class left in the semester so all of my students are busy completing major assignments, readings, journals and projects - it has been a great semester and once again I am able to say that I have not had even one bad class the entire semester...... They WERE a bit upset last week with the prediction of another 8 0 10 inches of snow for Friday BUT in the end that did turn out to be an April Fool's Day joke as we barely had a dusting. While winter isn't over yet, warmer days are coming and hopefully they all see the end in sight. Our seniors are looking back on their four years and ahead for when they leave - an interesting mixture of emotions. The next few weeks will go faster than they realize.

Please take good care and, as always, please keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Student music, talking with parents, a sad goodbye to a colleague

Yesterday was a sad day for our College (more on that later) so I decided to head to downtown Burlington last night to Parima to take in the music of two of our students. Matt Wolfe ('11) had invited me to his show and told me that Adam Reczek ('11) would be joining him on stage for some guitar and some vocals. I am glad that I did. They are both talented young people and their music was excellent. My colleagues Paul Olson and Karen Popovich also joined us as we not only supported our students, but enjoyed some good music.

On April 2nd I will be traveling to Castleton College for the second of three presentations I do for VSAC - the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. I did one a week ago yesterday at SMC and spoke to 600 parents of high school juniors/sophomores about the transition from high school to college. College Pathways is just one of the many services that VSAC provides to students and families in Vermont and they are an amazing organization. The week after the that I will do the final one at Lyndon State. I present the reality about the transition that most parents are unaware of. This is the third year that I have presented these workshops and I hope that parents are better informed AND that they have more educated conversations with their son/daughter prior to the actual time that the leave for school. The feedback I get is very valuable so this year I provided the parents with Conversation Starters which are merely suggestions on how they can broach difficult topics with their sons/daughters.

Yesterday afternoon the College came together in our chapel to celebrate the life of Doug Green. Doug and his wife Prof. Donna Bozzone have taught at SMC since 1987 and they have both been an integral part of this community and their home community in Huntington, VT. Doug has been battling cancer for some time and he died a week ago leaving all of us saddened and at the same time, grateful - grateful that he WAS a part of our lives for so long and grateful that Doug and Donna understood that life is simply too short so we HAVE to make the most of every day. Donna's eulogy, delivered in her usual manner, had us all laughing as she recounted their friendship and their abiding love for each other AND their two wonderful daughters. Donna reminded us that we best remember people when they are gone through stories so she told of THEIR first date and then of their conversations leading up to his death as they knew that his time was short. She reminded us that "there are no guarantees of 70 or 80 years of life" and let us know that she and Doug fully understood that. Doug's impact on all of us is still palpable but his impact on his students is something that we can all take pride in. Declan McCabe, one of Doug's colleagues in the biology department set up a FaceBook page and the tributes that flooded that site speak of Doug's constant willingness to take HIS time for his students - it didn't matter what Doug was dealing with, if a student needed a minute or an hour of his time, he gave it.

A brilliant yet very unassuming man with a heart so big is gone BUT he will be remembered forever in the lives of those he leaves behind. Rest in Peace Doug............... Our thoughts and prayers, of course go out to Donna and their two daughters Samantha and Allison........

Take care, be well, and as always please keep this community AND all of the members of our armed forces and their families in YOUR thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayers for Japan - Spring Break for our students

As the news continues to come in about the devastation caused by the earthquake and resulting Tsunami in Japan our thoughts and prayers continue for the people of Japan. Ryan Layman graduated from SMC a couple of years ago and he has been living in Japan for a number of years. He visited campus two weeks ago and was excited to return to Japan and a new job. Thankfully, he is alright and let his friends know through Facebook that while he is alright, he cannot get to his home there. We have many students from Japan studying at SMC and their friends have been so supportive as their fears for families back in Japan prevented them from being able to do much more than watch the unfolding tragedy in their home country - again, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.

Our students began their Spring Break after the last class yesterday afternoon. Many will travel to warmer climates and some will remain here working on senior projects or continuing to spend time on their academic internships. Several of our students have traveled to Boston with Ari and Molly for the Eastern Psychological Association's annual conference - a number of our students are doing poster presentations either by themselves, or with their faculty.

I will be on campus grading papers most of this week and then next Saturday I will once again be speaking to over 500 parents of high school sophomores and juniors on the transition from high school to college. This is part of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation's annual College Pathways. While the students learn about a variety of topics they need to know, I have the opportunity to address the parents on issues that THEY need to understand. I will be presenting what we are calling "Conversation Starters" for the parents with what will hopefully be helpful suggestions on how to deal with topics that "scare" most parents. This is the third year I have done this presentation and I also will be doing it at Lyndon State and Castleton over the next few weeks. VSAC is an amazing organization which provides valuable assistance to families and students as they weave their way through the oftentimes confusing and complicated process of college selection and college finance.

Please take care and as always please keep all of the members of our military and their families and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.

Dave

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Incline Village, Nevada is located high above Lake Tahoe and is a place I visit twice a year. I have former students who live there and while Davis is the IT person for the Hyatt Regency, his wife Ann is an art teacher in their local high school. It is truly a beautiful place and a complement to my love for Vermont and the area around Saint Michael's College. Yesterday completed my 29th year here so today begins my 30th - I doubt that I ever suspected back then that I would come to love this area so much nor that Saint Michael's College would become my home. I have met so many wonderful people over the years and my colleagues at the College have become MY family. All of my students over the years have taught me perhaps more than I have taught them and staying in touch with so many people I have worked with over the years is one of those great joys of working somewhere that you love - Thank you Saint Michael's College for 29 amazing years and I hope for many, many more.

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

Dave

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More great skiing and student papers ARE good so far this semester.

I got up early this morning and headed to Smuggler's Notch Ski Resort for a few runs down the mountain before returning to campus to grade more papers. The skiing was great, as usual and we are so lucky to have Smuggs as part of SMC. Since I had graded most of the newly submitted papers Saturday, I only had a few more to do. I have been impressed with the quality of my students' writing so far and if this is any indication of the rest of the semester, it is going to be an excellent one. Sports Psychology and Men & Masculinities are both writing intensive courses and I have high expectations for student writing and hold my students accountable for such things as spelling, grammar and punctuation. Since society holds them accountable once they leave our campuses, I think it is part of our responsibility to make sure that they DO learn now so that they don't make common mistakes later on.

This past Thursday my friend/colleague Pat Standen (adjunct professor of Philosophy) came into my Sports Psychology class to talk with my students. Pat was in an automobile accident when he was just 16 and has been in a wheel chair ever since. I have been inviting him in for some time and when his schedule works with mine, it is an eye-opener for my students. Pat kayaks, sails a sailboat, handcycles, participates in sled hockey, water skis, downhill and XC skis and probably engages in several other athletic endeavors that I don't even know about. He is the founder and President of NDAA - Northeast Disabled Athletes Association and we brought up their website disabledathletes.org in class and my students were amazed at the variety of options open to "differently abled" athletes. Pat and I have a great banter back and forth and students quickly become comfortable with his presence in my class. Many of my students have already had Pat for one of his Philosophy classes so they already know what a great teacher he is. Because we examine the psychological implications of sport injuries, it was really important for my students to see what the newest options are - wheelchair soccer and wheelchair lacrosse and even rugby are just some of the new things that people who have been injured and who may have thought finished with athletic competition can participate in. My gratitude to Pat for his willingness to give of his time to educate my students. Pat also serves at the faculty mentor for our men's ice hockey team and they have come to admire and respect him as much as I do.

Yesterday afternoon we had our final home women's and men's basketball games. Our women won and our men lost a great and close battle. We have been working on getting more and more people to appreciate all of the hard work that our student-athletes put into their sports so it was nice to see a good sized crowd at the women's game and an even larger crowd there for the men's game. President Jack Neuhauser, VP for Enrollment Management Jerry Flanagan, VP for Academics Karen Talentino, VP for Student Affairs Mike Samara, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Edmunds, Fr. Mike Cronogue, Academic Dean Jeff Trumbower, Assistant Academic Dean Joan Wry along with three business/accounting faculty, an Economist, three psychology professors, a science professor, a religion professor (Ray Patterson attends most of our athletic contests and is faculty mentor for two of our teams) and Fr. Brian(Director of Campus Ministry) plus a couple of folks from Institutional Advancement, personal counseling and many alumni all cheered out student-athletes on. It was great to see such a strong showing of support. Each semester I give an update on the academic achievement of our student-athletes to the faculty. A week ago Friday I addressed the Faculty Assembly and provided them with the NCAA Academic Success Rate and announced that SMC was number 1 in the NE-10 (our conference) and number 2 in all of Division II (made up of almost 300 schools and with over 100,000 student-athletes). I also gave them the standings of all of our teams and was happy to share that OUR student-athletes have an overall grade point average of 3.12 which gives them a higher overall grade point average than the rest of the student body. The faculty appreciated this and applauded this information. The collaboration between our student-athletes and the rest of our educational community makes for a very strong bond which is reflected in how well our student-athletes perform in our classrooms. Go KNIGHTS.....

I showed my Men & Masculinities class the Academy Award nominated documentary Restrepo last Monday to accompany their reading of the book War by Sebastian Junger. It was a very powerful class and their response papers after viewing the documentary will be the subject of our class tomorrow evening. Their papers aren't due until tomorrow but several of them have already submitted them to me and their reactions are very powerful. I continue to feel that it is important that those of us who are NOT in the military need to better understand those who ARE and the impact that war can and does have on so many of our men and women. As our soldiers return home and transition from the military to civilian life, it is imperative that we all better understand what they have gone through.

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

Dave

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snowshoeing, new classes and a local high school student death.


I just returned to my house after some snowshoeing this morning. It is, as usual in wintertime, beautiful here and all I have to do is strap the snowshoes on and walk around my neighborhood to enjoy all of our new snow. Any of you in NY, CT or MA who don't like YOUR snow can feel free to send it our way as we LOVE it here. Classes began on Monday for the semester and already many of our students have been to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding and I hope to be at Smuggs this week too. I was just in San Antonio, Texas last week for the NCAA National Convention and their temperatures were in the low 40's which dismayed not only the convention organizers but also the residents. As they were all complaining about their weather, I just laughed and many of them asked HOW I can possibly live in Vermont where it REALLY is cold and where we get so much snow - my response was to simply say that I just add another layer on and get outside and enjoy all of the amazing seasons we have here in Vermont. It was a good convention and as always, I enjoy talking with friends and colleagues from across the country about what we are doing at Saint Mike's. Geri Knortz is our Athletic Director and I also enjoy having the chance to talk with her at these conventions as we have an excellent working relationship and enjoy working with our student-athletes. On a very good note, Chris Kenny, Assistant Athletic Director compiles data on the academic performance of our student-athletes and he informed us right before we left for Texas that for the first time, our student-athletes overall grade point average was higher than the non student-athletes grade point average. Fifteen of our twenty one varsity teams had a grade point average for first semester of over a 3.0. Given all that the students have to deal with, between a full load of academic classes and a rigorous athletic schedule, I am very, very proud of not only our athletes, but also our faculty and staff who work so hard to accommodate game schedules, practices and who continue to push our student-athletes to perform at the highest level academically and athletically. It was also good to be able to "brag" about our student-athletes in Texas when others mentioned the ASR (academic success rate) which is such an important component of Division II athletics. Saint Mike's ASR was the highest in our conference (Northeast 10) and the second highest in the nation - not bad when we are talking about approximately 100,000 student athletes in D-II.

My classes so far are great - my first impressions are often pretty accurate and if the first few classes are any indication, it is going to be another great semester. I continue to work with my seniors on their post-graduation plans and will once again be utilizing the fine staff in Career Services to help students update resumes and finalize plans for graduate school or employment. In Sports Psychology yesterday we discussed whether or not Tom Brady's no pass interceptions record being broken early on in their game against the Jets played a role in the Patriots losing the playoff game - we also looked at something called "base jumping with wingsuits" on YouTube - check it out - it is pretty amazing and for me, pretty frightening but for some of my students, it was a rush - I enjoy this particular class the most when students tell me that they have NEVER thought about some of the connections between sports and psychology.

Yesterday morning Mount Mansfield Union High School, located just up Rte. 15 from the College in Jericho, VT had a young man die from what is described as self-inflicted gunshot wounds. What a horrible experience for his family, his friends, everyone in the school and that community. When a 15 year old dies we all want answers to the question WHY? I was interviewed on TV by our local Fox channel and asked what parents and others can do to try to understand and/or prevent something like this and all I could say is that we ALL have to become better LISTENERS to and for our young people - their lives are very difficult today with incredible pressures and we also have to become better OBSERVERS so that we all notice changes in mood, attitude, dress, academic/athletic performance/interest and IF/WHEN we see something that makes us nervous we HAVE to TALK about it with them - we cannot be afraid of the S word which today is not sex, but which is SUICIDE. I suggested that parents and everyone use this tragedy at MMU and the Tucson shootings as what our Dean of Students Mike Samara likes to refer to as "teachable moments" where we ask the young people in our lives how THEY felt when they heard that a 22 year old shoot those people in Arizona and how THEY felt when they heard yesterday during the day that a 15 year old had died at a local high school. Somehow WE have to get the message across that no matter what the problem is today, IT GETS BETTER and that there isn't anything that you can't learn to deal with - young people need to hear that they are loved, that they are valued and that WE are here for them, no matter what they are experiencing. If parents don't know how to help, then ask others who do. At St. Mike's we have four very wonderful counselors who are easy to talk with. We have faculty, staff, nurses, residence life folks, priests, security, administrators, coaches and people who are committed to making this a safe place for students to learn - LISTEN, OBSERVE and TALK with an not AT young people - a good formula.

As Fr. Mike and Mike Samara are fond of saying "God Bless" and as I say, please take good care and as always, please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers - I do.....

Dave