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.


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.


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.