Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thoughts on CT

I am in the office this morning because I wanted to send a message to some of my students.  My Practicum class has 15 seniors who are out in the community working 8 - 10 hours a week at a variety of sites.  They are an amazing group of young people and as you will see from my email to them this morning, I just wanted to share some thoughts with them about the tragic events in Newtown, CT yesterday:

Good morning everyone - no, I am not in the office this Saturday morning checking on your Journal entries -

I have however been thinking a lot about all of you since the tragic news from Newtown, CT has filled our lives. I seldom wish that the semester goes beyond our ending time but found myself wishing that we were still in session yesterday so that we could all gather and talk about the events that unfolded yesterday and to LISTEN to each other as we all struggle to make sense of the senseless. I posted something on Facebook last night that I have, unfortunately posted too many times over the past couple of years and that was that it IS ALRIGHT to NOT follow every minute detail of such a horrendous human tragedy - it is so easy to become so caught up in the emotions of the event that we are literally unable to function. Those of us who have chosen this profession dedicate our lives to helping others so find it incomprehensible that anyone would choose to hurt and/or destroy others - WE try to make sense out of something that makes NO SENSE now and will, most likely, never make any sense. We all want an answer to the question WHY yet know at some level that that too has an inadequate response.

Watching the President of the United States tearing up during his statement to the nation yesterday is unprecedented - I have never seen something like that in all of my years yet he spoke for all of us when he said that we have broken hearts. He spoke, not only as our President, but as a father - WE don't have to be fathers (nor Presidents) to have similar emotions. Those of you who work in schools or who work with young people, especially will be impacted beyond what your peers are - WE all ask "what would we do?" if we were ever confronted by similar situations in a classroom or our school. Ever since Virginia Tech, I have had a "plan" for protecting YOU should anything like that happen here on our campus in our classroom. Reports are that the principal, a teacher and the school psychologist were among those killed. At a time when "some" have chosen to denigrate teaching and "some" have chosen to speak negatively of the impact that teachers today have and at a time when "some" want to cut down the number of teachers in our schools, to cut back on mental health services for young people and who want to cut funding for education across the country, these people in Newtown, CT only wanted to protect their students.

Please take good care of yourselves, talk with your family and friends about what YOU are feeling about all of this and, while I KNOW that you tire of my telling you what a difference each of YOU make in your setting, be it with senior citizens, on a telephone hotline, working with those addicted to drugs, helping others deal with pain, listening to someone who is mentally ill OR working with incarcerated/protected youth OR working with kids in schools - YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE........ please don't forget that.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

AN amazing speaker and Classes are over for the semester BUT......

Yes, classes are over for the semester BUT it IS Saturday morning and I AM in the office grading papers and reviewing journal entries for all of my classes.  I took this picture (see below) the other late afternoon as I was leaving here and heading over to the Ross Sports Center to watch our women's basketball game - Cara Deroy and Kayla Carnell are on the team and in my classes so it is always fun to see them in action on the basketball court.  This afternoon, after more grading and journal readings, I will head to McCarthy Art Center to listen to Mallory Hyland who is also in one of my classes and who is a member of a vocal group that is presenting their concert.  Tonight I MAY head back to Ross to listen to the very funny comedian from the Daily Show - John Hodgman (remember him from the PC v Apple commercials - he was the PC man). Busy times with finals beginning on Monday morning.  I continue to be amazed at just how fast semesters are flying by these days. 
There is always so much for US to do and for our students to do.  This past Wednesday we had an amazing speaker.  "Dr. Chloe Schwenke is the Senior Advisor for LGBT Policy (global) and the Senior Advisor on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance(Africa) at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a senior political appointment by the Obama Administration." She is also an amazing speaker and a warm and genuine human being who gave a riveting talk to a good sized crowd before joining some of us for a nice dinner with a small group from campus.  She spoke in classes, spent time with our students in the Center for Women and Gender and as my students said, "blew them away." As one of three transgendered people in the Obama Administration, her presentation, sponsored by our Common Ground helped all of us who met her open our minds - even, if for some, it was just a little bit, our minds WERE opened as she is just such an honest and genuine and spiritual person who cares so deeply about others and puts her "talk" into a "walk" through her efforts for the Obama Administration.  Thank you Chloe for sharing your insights with us.
Back to the grading - please take good care, be well and, as always, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers as WE all enter the Christmas season and THEY are still dealing with the sometimes daily reality of war.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BUSY BUSY but good times -

Things have been amazingly busy this past week with registration for the spring semester completed, students working HARD on projects and papers and an amazing speaker on campus.  Hudson Taylor was an NCAA champion wrestler who founded Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization set up to help make playing fields and locker rooms SAFE SPACES for LGBT student-athletes.  As a non-gay champion wrestler, he has a very strong and powerful voice for our student-athletes and thanks to the collaboration (again) of Common Ground, our gay-straight alliance on campus and our Athletic Department, Hudson spoke to all of our student-athletes in two workshops on this past Wednesday.  I had dinner with him and with Mark Litchfield, advisor for Common Ground and a couple of our Common Ground students AND then had the privilege of introducing him to our campus.  Brian Healey '12 was very instrumental in OUR It Gets Better (SaintMichael's CollegeItGetsBetter on YouTube) video last year and he is now an intern with Athlete Ally and he was able to return to campus to join us.  My students' reaction papers reveal that Hudson WAS clearly able to speak with authroity and authenciticy - well done Hudson and thanks for all you do.

Campus is alive with lots and lots of prospective students and their families visiting for this Admission Office Preview Day - I met up with Liz and Jim Howland and their son Ben who has applied to SMC and with their daughter Marguerite who is in the 9th grade.  Liz and Jim met at SMC, were married 21 years ago today and returned to bring their son back for the Preview Day - I was in their wedding 21 years ago and we have remained great friends - life's cycles certainly are interesting.

I was able to head out this morning for some kayaking - this is my 69th birthday and 9 years ago I promised myself that I would kayak on my Birthday IN Vermont as long as I could and so got up this morning and headed out to Indian Brook Reservoir for a chilly but wonderful time kayaking - just one of the many reasons why I love Vermont so much.

In the office grading papers and now heading out to watch the SMC men's ice hockey game - they won last night and I hope they do as well this afternoon...

take care, be well, and please continue to keep all of the victims of Hurricane Sandy as well as all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Scooter" was in the HOUSE - and the Career Seminar

One of the many, many things I LOVE about working at Saint Mike's is staying in touch with so many of my former students.  After more than 30 years here, I have known my share of wonderful people who are now still in touch.  Craig SCOOTER Callahan and his wife Sarah were up because Scooter was a panelist on the Career Seminar presentations yesterday afternoon and last night.  According to him, it was a HUGE success and he was very impressed that over 100 students showed up on a Friday night to listen to our alums speak about the "real world" out there.  Scooter graduated in 1991 and was excited to have his wife return here to see MORE of what his life had been like here.  We met in my office this morning and then went to Juniors for lunch - we talked about Lags and Harvie (RIP) and Zaf and Pappi and old friends - Scooter and Lags had decided that they really wanted their own radio show on WWPV so entered the lottery for a show but the only time they could get was Saturday morning from 8:00 until noon.  They took it and I occasionally listened in - since they were both, how can I say "active" seniors, Saturday mornings were quite a challenge.  One morning I happened to hear Lags drop the F-bomb on the radio and when the phone in the WWPV booth rang, Scooter said "you answer it Lags, I know it is Landers" - yup it was.......  It was wonderful to see him again, to meet Sarah and to know that his time here is still so important to him.  Scooter is in sales for Viking Appliances and loves his work - he spoke with our students about his journey from SMC to sales and I hope that they listened to the good advice.  He expressed again and again, how impressed he was with OUR current students - not a surprise to me.

Take care, be well, and please keep all those impacted by Hurricane Sandy AND all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers - I am still amazed at how many people seem to forget on a daily basis that we have thousands of men and women serving in the Armed Forces in Afghanistan....  I also am still struggling to comprehend the damage from Hurricane Sandy - take good care.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Kiss of Death for Graduate School

Last night the Psychology Club and Psi Chi (International Honor Society for Psychology) co-sponsored a workshop on Graduate School - Chris Clary, Director of Career Services laid out the process students must go through in their application process for graduate school and provided everyone with very helpful resources for this oftentimes grueling process.  Then Dr. Boynton presented his now infamous KISS OF DEATH powerpoint on what to do and what NOT to do in your graduate application process - this is a powerpoint a colleague of his lets him share each year and while some of the slides seem ridiculous, they ARE actual application errors - things that hopeful psychology students HAVE submitted to schools.  [a hint - don't have your Mother submit a reference for you to ANY graduate school] The third presentor was Jason Fuchs - Jason is a recent SMC graduate and is now a doctoral candidate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Vermont.  Jason provided insights about the current "reality" of graduate school.  He explained the differences between grants, departmental stipends, teaching assistantships, etc. and provided a great deal of current information that students clearly (from their questions) found helpful.  It was a very worthwhile workshop and we appreciate all three of the presentors for taking their time to help our students better understand the whole process of GRADUATE SCHOOL applications. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Special Olympics' Presentation today

This afternoon, my Sports Psychology class did a presentation on the Special Olympics.  Bernadette Beary, Leanna Hammond, Caitlin Dugan and Eric Jaukkuri invited Chris Bernier '04 to be part of the presentation.  Chris is the Director of Development and Marketing for the Vermont Special Olympics and has been a "guest speaker" on a number of occasions.  It is always great to have one of my former students return as a GUEST to any of my classes.  The students had done a great job of preparing their presentation in advance and had sent Chris a copy of their PowerPoint on Sunday - he was quite impressed and approved.  Their presentation was an education for all of the students in class.  Bernadette is a member of the SMC Best Buddies program and spoke of her involvement with this program.  As usual, proud of my students, their preparation and how well they did.  Thanks again to Chris for returning to give back to SMC -

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Slack Line and Sports Psychology

Students doing their Sports Psychology classroom presentation on EXTREME SPORTS decided to involve their classmates in a little exercise outside of St. Ed's yesterday afternoon at the beginning of class.  We have been discussing the psychological reasons why some people are so willing to put themselves (and in some cases their lives) at risk by participating in activities that others would NEVER attempt.  The five students who set this all up obtained a SLACK LINE from a friend and strung this line up between two trees outside in hopes that they could get some of their classmates to "attempt" to walk this slack line.  Some did but most didn't which then led to a GREAT conversation in class.  Some who didn't are athletes who knew that if they injured themselves, their coaches would "kill them" as they put it.  Others just simply said they were scared.  It was a great discussion because some of the students are clearly fascinated by extreme sports.  They then led a discussion about why WE seem so fascinated with watching extreme sports - is it adrenaline, a death wish, a life wish that pushes people?  They showed a video of a young female surfer who lost her arm to a shark at age 16 but returned to surfing three weeks later and another video of Aron Ralston, the young man who had to literally saw his own arm off to escape from a climbing accident.  I was very proud of the students as they challenged themselves and each other to present a great class.  We will continue that discussion tomorrow when we look at why Red Bull sponsors so many of these extreme sports and ask the question:  how far is too far??????

Friday, October 5, 2012

Resources on campus + some foliage

Yesterday afternoon for my Sports Psychology class, I had students show up at the Hall of Fame Room in the Tarrant Recreational Center as I had asked three folks from the Athletic Department to speak with my students about their positions at the College.  Ann Dwyer is shown here talking about her responsibilities as Facilities Director and the Supervisor of almost 60 workstudy students.  She has to work with each individual student and prides herself in getting to know each of them personally.  She expressed how proud of them she is as they have not let her down once and either show up for work assignments, contact her directly, or make sure someone else can take their shift.  She made the connections with Psychology as she has to understand student needs, the MANY different personalities and has to take into account that each student is a unique person.  She later gave us a tour of the new Varsity Team Weight Room that just opened in September.  She also has to work closely with all of the coaches of our 21 varsity teams in order to make things run smoothly in a complex that is used constantly.  Josh Kessler is our Director of Athletic Communications and Harrison Antonioni is an intern in his office.  Both of these folks were in my Sports Psychology class in the past so could relate what they do (produce press releases for ALL student-athletes' hometown newspapers, publicize results of our athletic contests and put that information up on all of the social media students use, deal with local media to announce our schedules and successes) to the field of Psychology.  I asked my students to share THEIR reactions to seeing or hearing about their athletic achievements in their hometown newspapers.  A couple of the students shared that it was really nice to hear from folks at home who had read about them and what they were doing up here in Vermont at SMC.  It was also nice to give both Josh and Harrison some good feedback. 

 You can see my shadow as I took this picture this past week as I got ready to head onto the Indian Brook Reservoir and another quiet and peaceful kayaking adventure.  The leaves are just beginning to turn and it looks like foliage will be excellent.  Kayaking is such a great way to not only exercise, but also relax.  I am fortunate to live in a place where I actually get to do this a LOT.  Last year I kayaked into the second week of December and, yes, there was snow on the ground but the Reservoir had not frozen yet and I just added another layer and stayed warm.

Meetings today - the Athletic Advisory Council meets this afternoon and I always look forward to working with that group.  As Chair, I get to talk with everyone as we plan the meetings and we really value the input we get from the two other faculty members, the three students and a good variety of administrators on the Council.  I will be announcing this afternoon that Saint Michael's College now has a chapter of the National Honor Society for Student-Athletes - Chi Alpha Sigma.  We are only the second college/university in the State of Vermont so will be known as the Beta Chapter.  Student-athletes must have attained a 3.7 overall grade point average, have completed two years of varsity competition and be nominated by their coaches.  This is another way to recognize the ACADEMIC achievement of our student-athletes who make us proud of their achievements both in the classroom and on the playing field.  But don't tell anyone yet as I won't announce this until this afternoon :)

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


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SMC's Student Association is the BEST.

Last night before our SA weekly meeting began, I spoke with Lauren Barone, Secretary of Communications and Michael Fay, President of the SA and asked if they would share a video with the SA during the meeting.  October is Anti-Bullying Month and I had seen an amazing video from Facebook that I thought everyone should see.  Eric Jaukkuri is the Co-Secretary of Programming and he and I have spoken about presenting workshops and/or informational sessions for the campus around the topic of bullying during October.   Eric was bullied as a kid and he knows that this is an issue that I feel passionate about.  The three Officers of the SA immediately agreed and so during the beginning of last night's meeting, Eric showed the video of a television anchor woman who had received an email which made rude and disparaging comments about her weight - HER response is amazing and as our students watched this last night I was so proud of what OUR students do to address a wide variety of issues which confront young people today.  The SA challenges, encourages, educates and provides a space for great discussion and dialogue on so many topics and, in my opinion (not that I am biased after 30 years of working with this Student Association) they are THE BEST....  I suspect that none of you reading this will take the time to actually input the URL listed below but I don't know how to input it so all you have to do is to click on the URL - but I do hope that if you see it on YouTube or on Facebook or on Twitter, that you will copy it and spread the words that this amazing woman used in her response to a thoughtless and cruel viewer.

Classes are excellent, students are working hard and seemingly enjoying the challenges I throw their way on what seems to them, like a daily basis - THAT makes me very happy....

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


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Student Association's SA Day-Away - Burlington's Mayor

Senior Eric Jaukkuri - Co-Secretary of Programming stands with Director of Student Activities Grace Kelly and Marilyn Cormier, Director of Government and Community Relations in Contois Auditorium this afternoon just prior to a talk to the Student Association by Burlington's young and dynamic new Mayor Miro Weinberger.  The second picture has the Mayor and Michael Fay, the College's Student Association President.  The third picture is of all of the members of the E-Board and the Student Senate posing with the Mayor.  And, YES, he does look like one of our students :)

The Mayor spoke of his own internship in Washington, D.C. in the office of Senator AND SMC alum, Patrick Leahy.  He encouraged our students to get involved and to take advantage of the many opportunities in local government.  He is a very impressive young, new politician and it was wonderful of him to share his Saturday afternoon speaking with our students and answering their questions.  One of our students asked him about the plight of the homeless in this area and of the issues surrounding how our society AND our government can deal with the mental health issues of those who are less fortunate and who may find themselves homeless.  It was a GREAT question and I was, as usual, very proud of our students for not only their questions, but for how well they responded to the Mayor - Well done Student Association.

take care, be well and PLEASE, PLEASE, keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

THIS is why I love to teach - - - -

Yesterday was one of those days in teaching that reinforces my LOVE for this profession.  My Sports Psychology class had to select their presentation topics for the semester - they have to work in teams of four and so yesterday they chose topics, established teams and selected dates for their presentations.  For them, it was chaos, for me it was ORGANIZED chaos where they were forced to work together, make connections with members of their teams, compromise, choose tasks within each team and then work with me to establish timelines - as I said, chaos for them - ORGANIZED and planned chaos for me.  One student commented "you love this don't you?" and I smiled and responded YES.  We then began looking at why some people are perfectly comfortable being GREEN CIRCLE skiers and others DOUBLE BLACK DIAMONDS - it was a fascinating discussion about how neurotransmitters may play a role in this and how the Central Nervous System levels of stimulation let one take great chances and another be happy with taking few chances.  We watched a YouTube video on cliff jumping and then moved on to even more extreme sports - check out wing suit base jumping on YouTube - watching the expressions on their faces as they watched seemingly sane people jump off of very high cliffs dressed in a wing suit and then FLY at 100 miles an hour right next to walls of stone left some with expressions of fear and voicing "I will NEVER do that" and others with looks of joy at seeing something that really speaks to them.  We processed all of those different reactions and they left the classroom talking, energized and saying "I never knew that before." - THOSE words warm any professor's heart....

My Theories of Counseling class met next and we talked about the chapter they had read for yesterday. After going through the PowerPoint presentation I had prepared based on the chapter on Medication(s) we watched the PBS Frontline show from 2008 entitled The Medicated Child - wow - each time I show this to my classes, they have a visceral reaction to scenes with 4 and 6 year old children who are on 8 to 11 different medications.  Since most of these students are also in a Practicum class, they will all have "clients" who are on some form of medication so it is important that they do some critical thought and analysis of their OWN views on medication.  Much like the students in Sports Psychology, these students also left the classroom talking with each other, energized and all riled up - again, things that make teaching so rewarding -

As I said, things that remind me why I LOVE to teach, even having done so since January of 1966......

Take care, be well, and please keep all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers as the War in Afghanistan continues to take the lives of OUR soldiers.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Practicum and the Psych Club

Just finished meeting with my Practicum class on this beautiful Labor Day.  Everyone (16 students) is placed and several have already begun their interships - others are waiting for their background checks to be completed.  One of my Class of 2012 Practicum students has an interview tomorrow for a full-time job at the same place she had her internship - she will rock it. 

I meet with the officers of our Psychology Club in half an hour - good folks with great ideas.  We will be contacting all of our majors/minors to see what things they want us to present this year.  The Psych Club is funded by the Student Association and has done a great job of raising awareness over the past couple of years.  We will have Chris Clary from Career Development come to talk about Graduate School and hopefully have Brian Cain, who is a Sports Psychologist come to speak - all of the Club activities are open to the entire campus - Brian spoke to almost 80 students the last time we brought him on campus.  The Club also collaborates with Psi Chi which is the National Honor Society of Psychology so this year looks like it will be a good one.

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers - there still IS a War in Afghanistan..........


Monday, August 27, 2012

Orientation completed and classes begin

Yesterday morning we completed this year's Orientation for new students.  The picture below is a picture I took of all of the Orientation Leaders and in the front is Grace Kelly, Director of Student Activities and the driving force behind making what could be a difficult transition into a much more successful one. Grace is ably assisted by a wonderful group of Orientation Leaders who comprise the O-Board - they work for almost an entire year to ensure a successful Orientation - the picture above is of Grace and most of the members of the O-Board. From new students and Orientation Leader alike, the consensus is that this year's Orientation was one of the best EVER.  With construction disrupting the usual flow of families and students into our Residence Halls and making their way to the variety of activities sponsored by Academics and Student Life, it COULD have been a disaster.  Great planning and collaboration between all aspects of the College resulted instead in a very successful Orientation - Well done everyone.
Classes began this morning and I meet with my Practicum class this afternoon.  These are all senior Psychology majors who will be spending this entire academic year together in this class.  They will be out in our community for 8 - 10 hours a week and back in class with me for two and a half hours each week.  This course provides them with supervision on-site and a chance to process all they are doing with their peers in this class.  Tomorrow I meet with Sports Psychology and Theories of Counseling.  Even after 46 years of teaching - YUP, 46 years - I still am excited for classes :)

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


Sunday, August 19, 2012

They're BACK............

I am in the office on this great Sunday afternoon getting ready for a couple of workshops this coming week for members of the Residence Life staff (Diversity and Inclusion) and then the Orientation Leaders (your role is crucial in helping our new students transition to SMC).  We also have a Cruise on Tuesday night and I get to take a LOT of pictures AND then the ONE thing that Orientation Leaders love more than anything else - RELAXATION exercise.  This is a fun and exciting time as new students arrive on Thursday, RA's returned yesterday and O-Leaders arrive today and tomorrow.

I am excited about classes this semester as I don't know very many of the students who are enrolled BUT it has also been fun communicating via email over the past couple of weeks.  We have secured some new placements for Practicum and since these students are with me all year and not just one semester, we will get to know each other well.  Sports Psych will be fascinating as we talk about the psychological implications of the Olympics and yes, continue discussions about the scandal of Penn State.  Theories of Counseling class will utilize our Developmental Laboratory again as students get to watch themselves "counsel" through the wonders of technology.  All in all, an exciting time of year.

Off to do some kayaking - went yesterday and am going again today as it IS a beautiful Vermont afternoon.  As always, please take good care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.  The number of deaths recently in Afghanistan is staggering -


Friday, August 10, 2012

TC was in the HOUSE :)

Those of you who are fans of the Boston Red Sox know who TC (Tom Caron) is - TC is on NESN for each broadcasted Sox game and is also an alum of SMC.  I was over in Alliot yesterday waiting to meet someone when there was TC standing with Buff Lindau, our Director of Marketing.  I have met Tom on a number of occasions as he has been a loyal fan of Saint Michael's College since his graduation.  I went over and re-introduced myself and as we were standing there talking a tour from Admissions walked past - as the group went down the hall stopping in front ot the MOVE Office and their guide was explaining things, one father, who had noticed Tom kept watching us - Tom and Buff left and headed over the the President's Office (Tom and his family were in Vermont at Smuggs for a family vacation) this one father walked back to me and before he could ask, I simply said "yes, that is Tom Caron" - the father was quite excited as he "thought" that he had recognized TC but wasn't sure - this was just one of those fun moments around here.

We are all getting ready for the new students to arrive and for our upper-class students to return.  With the construction well under way, they are making sure that there will be access to all of the buildings in the Quad for MOVE IN DAY on the 23rd.  We have been working with the Orientation Leaders and the members of the Residence Life Staff for months getting ready for this and I get to do workshops with these students the week of the 20th.  Diversity and Inclusion are strong and important parts of our community and providing these students who VOLUNTEER to be Orientation Leaders or who are employed by the College as members of the Residence Life Staff with a chance to better understand ALL of the issues surrounding acceptance and diversity is both challenging AND rewarding - they are good people.

Speaking of good people, today Allison Sherman and Rich Gardener are getting married - Allison is an alum and works in our Office of Alumni Relations and Rich is an amazing young man who volunteers his time and energies to Camp Ta Kum Ta which is a Camp for kids with cancer.  Rick is also a realtor and builder and as wonderful a person as Allison is.  Everyone here is so excited for both of them - we ALL wish them the very BEST.

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers - with the sad news of several deaths in Afghanistan today they all need our prayers AND gratitude for their service to our country,.


Monday, July 30, 2012

NEW York City here I come AND the Olympics is providing great discussion topics for my Sports Psychology class.

I leave tomorrow morning for a quick down and back trip to NYC.  My wonderful sister/brother-in-law made a contribution to the STAR Program in CT and "won" four tickets to the Daily Show which they gave to me for Christmas.  We are finally getting our schedules together and tomorrow night my sister Sue, my brother-in-law Jim and my wonderful niece Maggie will all show up at the theater at 4:30 for the taping ot the Jon Stewart show - he is an amazingly creative and clever comedian and I am looking forward to this.

This morning I was over in the Student Activities Office and Grace Kelly, our very efficient Director of Student Activities, was meeting with some members of the Orientation Board and the E-Board of the Student Association.  Since I teach Sports Psychology and they all know me, they had a few questions for me - we then had an amazing conversation which ranged from dressage to the size of the suits worn by the women, but not the men, in beach volleyball.  A couple of the women in our discussion were appalled that this IS 2012 and the women are forced to wear skimpy suits but the men aren't - it is so about the marketing.  The men had no clue!!!!  We talked about how someone who has spent their life getting to the Olympics can lose their dream because their foot went outside of the prescribed lines during floor exercizes in the women's gymnastics.  All of these issues and so many more will be great discussion topics for my Sports Psychology class in just a few short weeks.

With less than a month before classes begin again, please enjoy yourselves, take good care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Time IS flying by but at least I am having fun.....

It has been a busy but good summer.  Lots of writing (I am working on my book on Fathers based on my Men & Masculinities course), lots of reading, lots of kayaking, biking and spending time with friends.  A year ago I posted a blog as we were about a month away from classes beginning and so I repeat that message here.  A month from today, on August 27th, the fall semester classes begin.  Much like a year or two ago when many, many former students (Matt Falcone and Meaghan Cormier) were lamenting that in fact they could NOT return for classes, many students are once again remembering their first day of classes here and lamenting that they too cannot return.  Matt is still Matt and Meaghan left Burlington yesterday afternoon for Columbia (the country) where she will live and work teaching English.  I love staying in touch with so many of my former students and have had lunch or dinner with about a dozen over this summer.  I always tell them before they graduate that they WILL survive leaving here and so it is rewarding to see that they are, in fact doing that.  So many of them who chose to live in this area for the summer have found full-time employment and some of them are getting to stay here for their jobs.  Several of my Practicum students have found employment at their Practicum sites and while this is NOT a focus of this course, it sure is nice that half of those students did have job offers at graduation.

This has also been a great summer for weddings.  Last weekend Erik Caron, Lauren Remmes, Rachel Roy/Jamie Gorton (he proposed as part of HIS senior addrsss at Commencement) all got married and this weekend Dave Vorozilchak gets married in PA surrounded by many of his former hockey teammates and his family.  There are several others planned for this summer and fall and I always enjoy seeing pictures of these wonderful events.

Construction on campus has certainly been interesting and provides all of us with challenges as this will continue through this coming academic year.  The Quad Project is an exciting and much needed addition to campus and I know that incoming and returning students will adapt to the challenges that every college faces when they decide to undergo a major construction project.

I have continued doing a LOT of letters of recommendations and several students have recently been accepted into graduate school programs across the country.  Students are often reluctant to ask for these recommendations as they are afraid that they are asking "too much" but I enjoy providing my recommendations for my students.

POW's are complete and two of my long time friends' "kids" are coming here in the fall and both of their "kids" found POW to be "awesome" and they wanted classes to begin NOW.  Nope, not yet - that will come soon enough.

Take care, be well, and please keep all of the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers.  The recent Time Magazine cover story was on suicides in our military and the statistics were staggering.  There is ONE suicide a DAY in our active duty service members and ONE every 80 minutes among our veterans - we all simply MUST do more to stop this.  So, prayers and support can make a difference.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just a few pictures from Commencement 2012

Quaron Pinckney, Frantzy Suffrard, Giselle Regalado with me after Commencement
Marilyn Cormier from the Office of the President and our Commencement speaker Tom Freston '67
Kevin Hunt and his amazing 92 year old Grandfather and Paul Sapia
Mike McKinney gave the student address at Commencement - selected by his classmates, Mike was true to form and gave an amazing address.
Paul Sapia and his family were kind enough to invite me for a celebration of his graduation
Miss Jillian - Jill Monahan from the wonderful Monahan family I have mentioned in previous blogs - Marge and John sure have done an amazing job raising 4 great "kids" - Jill's three older brothers, her sister-in-law Justine, also an SMC alum, her future sister-in-law (congratulations again to Alex and Julie) AND, of course, the love of all their lives, Riley - an amazing little girl who has captured all of our hearts - all were there to continue to share in Jill's success.

Taking some time away to hopefully do some writing BUT, I will be back.....

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  I can now be followed on Twitter (yes, I finally gave in and set up an account and will now use that to keep providing my students with articles and challenges that I used to give them in class) - if interested, you can find me @drdavelanders


Monday, May 14, 2012

Congratulations and reminders

Commencement begins in an hour and seniors are gathering on the lawn in front of the library for their Class of 2012 picture.  I remember clearly when this group arrived on our campus and marvel at the incredible accomplishments that the Class of 2012 have made over their short four years here.  They have impacted all of us, the SMC community, the greater Burlington community and yes, our world by their compassion, their energy, their ability to understand that THEY have to make a difference in our world.  They WILL BE missed - the emotions were running all over the place yesterday afternoon at Baccalaureate and afterwards at a small dinner for Jill Monahan and her friends at the Doubletree Restaurant.  I got to meet more parents/families and to thank them for sending US their sons and daughters.  WE ARE a better place because of our students and I wish them all of the very best as they leave here and embark on the next phase of their life's journey.  I posted the following on FB as a reminder to them all as they get ready to leave this College on the hill above Winooski, Vermont:

Please remember that you don't have to be Black or Asian or Latino to be concerned about issues of race.  You don't have to be a woman to be concerned about the issues confronting women (including women's health choices) and you don't have to be GAY to be concerned about issues of LGBT folks - you DO have to be human to be concerned for HUMAN RIGHTS.  I also have asked them all to make sure that they are registered to vote this November AND that:  ONCE YOU ARE AWARE, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.  Hopefully, Saint Michael's College has made them much more aware than they have ever been.

God bless our graduates and we are grateful to your families for sending you to us.

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


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Practicum ROCKS and thanks to Mike Samara

Yesterday afternoon I hosted my Practicum class at my home for lunch.  This course is one of the few offered at the College which is two semesters long.  Students spend 8 - 10 hours per week at their internship site (local schools, The Arbors (residential facility for people with Alzheimer's), NFI (Northeast Family Institute), Vermont Children's Hospital, etc.  and two and a half hours one day a week back in class where we process what is happening on their internships.  Last year, 8 of my 15 students had job offers from their sites by the end of the semester and this year 8 of the 16 students have had job offers.  On an interesting note, during lunch, one student's cell phone went off and when he came back in after taking the call outside, he was grinning from ear to ear as he had just been offered (and he accepted) a full-time position working with children with autism which is exactly what he was looking for.  The goal of Practicum is NOT to gain placements BUT it has proven to be a wonderful side benefit for this course.  Because we are one of the very FEW places that offers a year-long experience, OUR students have been receiving graduate school acceptances and full-time employment offers at a much higher rate - schools and employers seem to really appreciate that these students have received a unique experience in their UNDERGRADUATE education.  Very proud of these students.

This afternoon the College comes together for a Retirement Celebration for Mike Samara.  Mike has been our Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students for the past 35 years.  He has been the man mostly responsible for creating such an amazing "learning environment" which supports the IN class learning with many, many OUTSIDE of the class learning opportunities.  Mike is a colleague, has been my boss - mentor - role model and a good friend.  God speed Mike as you leave us and move on to other activities which will be blessed with your active, eager and energetic involvement.  I know that you will be back here in another year in a different capacity - in the meantime take care and be well my friend.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mt. Mansfield on a sunny afternoon in April & two friends

I just had to add this picture which I took yesterday afternoon - the snow on the mountain with the bright sun shining on it IS Vermont - WE get views like this all of the time and I, for one, never take it for granted.  It speaks to what WE have here, right in our backyard on any given day.  P-Day was a great celebration and activities on campus were plentiful but this picture shows the contrast that we DO get to have.  This second picture shows two wonderful young women - Jill Monahan and Kaitlin Kaster.  I have known Jill since she was in high school and her three brothers who graduated from SMC used to have her come up and visit and, of course, they told her that she HAD to come here - fortunately for us, she listened to them and the whole Monahan Family is an important part of this College - Thanks Margie and John for sending us all four.  Kaitlin has been in most of my classes and is bright, committed to making a difference in our world and someone who adds so much to every class.  Both of these young women are in my Men & Masculinities class this semester and the class is better for that.
take care and be well

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The MLK Talent Show and another P-Day

Last night over 400 students crowded into McCarthy Arts Center for the annual MLK Talent Show.  This has always been one of the most popular events of the spring semester and a great deal of work and effort goes into making it the yearly success that it is.  This year I was asked to be one of the judges for the show and I was happy to oblige.  The talent, for the most part, was exceptional and the student audience clearly was appreciative of the efforts of their peers.  It takes a LOT of courage for students to go up on that stage in front of their friends and perform - the look on one young woman's face when she looked out into the audience was priceless.  I am still so proud of our students - 400+ students on a college campus on a Friday night so thoroughly enjoying themselves for several hours supporting and cheering on their friends - way to go!!

Today is P-Day and I was just over at the Alliot Rotunda to watch the infamous "trike race" which today, even though it is COLD and there WAS snow on the ground this morning drew a couple hundred very energetic and engaged students as they rode tricycles around the rotunda while being hosed with COLD water, splashed with flour, shaving and whipped cream AND the cheers of their friends.  After 30 years of watching this event, you would suspect that I would get tired of this but it is still hysterical.  Well done.....

Home baseball and lacrosse games this afternoon as our seniors are honored on Senior Day.  There will be music, great food, fun and games and a LOT of memories created on the 300's field this afternoon - I will be at the baseball and lax games for a while and then mingling with the students on the 300's field for their festivities. 

Of course, that will all take place after I complete even more grading - the semester comes to a crashing end on Wednesday and with a number of final papers and projects to grade, I better get back to that....

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


Thursday, April 5, 2012

41 student-athletes honored for a 3.7+ GPA and a presentation.

As I mentioned earlier this week, it has been a very busy time on campus. Last Friday afternoon as the President of the United States was speaking in Burlington and then driving past the campus on his way back to the airport, the College recognized 41 of our 400+ student-athletes who have achieved a 3.7 + Grade Point Average. This is the first of what we hope will become a yearly recognition through what is known as National Student Athlete Day. OUR President Jack Neuhauser spoke as did Athletic Director Geri Knortz and VP for Academics Karen Talentino. Each student was presented with a framed certificate acknowledging their accomplishment. It is difficult enough for today's students to be taking a full load academically AND to be part of an athletic team which also requires a good portion of their time BUT to do that AND excel in the classroom is worthy of recognition. The President told them how proud he is of their accomplishments as did Geri and Karen. As the FAR (NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative) I recognized the student-athletes AND also spoke of the success being the result of an active collaboration between our students, coaches, faculty and both the Athletic and Academic Administration PLUS the added support of our President. We have 21 varsity teams and each team has a faculty affiliate who volunteers to assist in whatever capacity students need to help them be more successful in the classroom. Well done to all of our community for this accomplishment.

Over last weekend, many of our students and two advisors traveled to Troy, NY and Russell Sage College for the Northeast LGBT Conference. There were 433 students and 73 advisors from all over the Northeast in attendance and we were invited to present a talk on our It Gets Better video which, as of last week had over 8,500 hits on YouTube. This collaborative effort on the part of both our Student Athletic Advisory Council and our Common Ground organization on campus is a unique collaboration in that SMC student-athletes joined with LGBT students AND allies in this project. We spoke to approx. 50 students at the Conference and it was great to see how well-spoken our students who had written the script, filmed the video and who spoke in the video were in front of an audience - as always, I am so proud of our students. We drove down to Troy that morning and returned that afternoon after our workshop. If you have NOT seen our video, I would urge you to go onto You Tube and just put in Saint Michael's College It Gets Better and view it. We also found out this week that Athletic Management Magazine has published an article in their most recent edition on OUR It Gets Better video - this magazine goes out all over the country so we are pleased with getting the word out. Of course, our goal continues to be to help prevent ANY young person from ever taking their own life simply because they are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered........ The responses to our video continue to be positive, both on campus and, obviously, outside of SMC.

Off to spend time with family over this Easter weekend - the grading of papers can wait.

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

Have a peaceful Easter.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Incredibly busy weeks......

These are very busy times for all of us. Students are completing major projects, speakers have been here on campus challenging us and "dinner at Dave's" continues to be fun. The top picture and the one on the right above are of the last two of five "dinner at Dave's" which I have been hosting at my home for the past five or six years. Students love getting off campus AND getting a home cooked meal. Even with some who are gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant or vegetarians :) we manage to feed everyone and have a relaxing and comfortable time. I usually have to ask them to leave around 11:00 OR those who know me well already know that they HAVE to leave by 11:00 so I can catch the Daily Show........

We also had an amazing speaker on campus last week. LZ Granderson is a well-known reporter for both CNN and ESPN - an openly gay sportscaster, he has been seen a LOT lately, especially on CNN as the coverage of the Trayvon Martin tragedy unfolds. He did two Skype interviews while he was here on campus. Some of us had dinner with him before his 7:00 presentation where he spoke to a packed house for an hour and forty minutes. I have been here for 30 years and while I love our students, their attention span usually is relatively short and they begin to leave after an hour - not this time. He held their attention, answered excellent questions from the students and at the end, the place was STILL packed. What a great opportunity for our students and this community to host someone who is so thoughtful and who has amazing insight into our world. His advice - "it is not always easier to love than to hate but LOVE is better" - his call, both to us and in one of his most recent columns on for JUSTICE and NOT revenge was so powerful and the students listened...... he is pictured with Mark Litchfield, advisor to Common Ground and me after a group of us had breakfast with him at Sneakers in Winooski. He met with Journalsim classes, individuals within the Journalsim program, students in Alliot at lunch and anyone else who wanted a chance to talk with him. Thanks LZ - we all learned a LOT. We also may have hooked him on Vermont Maple Syrup too :)

Classes are excellent, registration for the fall semester is well underway (NO seniors, you cannot register for classes for the fall - you ARE graduating) - the long Easter weekend is coming up and the school year is almost over with. Please take care, be well and PLEASE keep all of the members of our military and their families and our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dinner at Dave's - AND, it IS Vermont and it IS March -

On Monday night I had the first of five dinners at my home after my Men & Masculinities class. A couple of years ago I began having the class over to the house for what they called "dinner at Dave's" and which became quite popular and fun for my students. After class on Monday nights, beginning right after Spring Break, five or six students at a time come over for some OFF CAMPUS home cooked food and conversation. We always have great conversations and I usually have to "throw them out" around 11:00. The first group consisted of Kate, Sarah, Sunny, Tim, Kaitlin and Brian. What a good group. Tim and Kaitlin are also in my Practicum class so I get to see them a LOT on Mondays as both classes are Monday only classes. I also will have Practicum over for lunch before the end of the semester. They always enjoy getting off campus and having time just to sit and relax and have good conversations with their friends and with me. They always seem to marvel that I actually can cook which cracks me up as I DO cook, a lot and enjoy cooking for them because they are so appreciative. I always tell them that I will provide the food and they bring what they want to drink - NON-ALCOHOLIC only. I end up serving them dessert of cheesecake with Vermont Maple Cream which most people have never had but it is amazing - the folks at the Vermont Maple Syrup Outlet on Rte. 15 near Jeffersonville make the BEST......

Our weather is incredible with records being broken every day for the past several days. Of course, the students are all clamoring "can't we have class outside?" - I did take Practicum outside at the end of class Monday to visit the College's Word Garden which is an amazing community space filled with rocks with various words cut into them - there always seems to be someone out there appreciating the quiet and peacefulness of that Garden. Of course, I keep reminding them all that this IS Vermont and it IS March and while today the temperature is 82, we could get a couple of feet of snow next week - needless to say, they don't want to hear that. The other issue is that as the temperatures rise, grade point averages FALL -

I went skiing a week ago on Monday and it was great at Smuggs - two days later, after a rainy 67 degree day the conditions were not as good - on my way home I stopped off at my favorite kayaking spot just in case - I thought it would be fun to ski in the morning and kayak in the afternoon but Indian Brook was still frozen solid - a good thing. Todd Wright from our Wilderness Program sent out an email warning all of us that while the temperatures ARE great, the water temperature is NOT and people can easily endanger their lives going into water this cold - a good warning Todd - thanks.

Take care, be well and please keep all of our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers. The horrific and tragic story out of Afghanistan highlights just what we are asking of our military personnel when we send them back for multiple deployments - no one can deny the tragic loss of life of those civilians - women and children BUT while I condemn what happened, I can't condemn the man who allegedly did it - we need to know what happened before we judge him. Condemn the behavior but struggle to understand WHY if happened is perhaps more important. At the same time that the world was focused on what that man (1 of 2.3 million soldiers who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan) did, another young man who had had multiple deployments and was only 23 years old (a very close friend to MY friend and veteran Alan of whom I have written in the past) took his own life - 1st LT Daniel Weiss (Danny) from Chicago. He was just 23........ The President of Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans of America spoke the other evening about the civilian deaths in Afghanistan and commented that there are more casualties in our Armed Forces from suicide right now that from the War..... A frightening statistic and a challenge to all of us for dialogue about how WE ARE managing a War in which too many men and women are being sent back, time and time again and time and time again to fight FOR US. I promised Alan that I would talk about his friend Danny to my classes and in this blog - we must pay attention AND again, please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Presidents' Weekend break

I am sitting up in my office on the second floor of Saint Edmund's Hall grading papers from my Men & Masculinity class and looking out onto the campus - OK, so no snow - which has really impacted our state economy as tourism has been hit hard by our LACK of snow - students grumble and I do too as I have NOT been snowshoeing once this "winter." Our students have a long weekend with no classes today - there are still a lot of students around as we have a number of sporting events this weekend and some just stayed to work on projects. Classes are going very well and it is hard to believe that we have already completed 5 weeks. The papers I am grading are in response to my question: How Has Your Father Influenced Your View of What a Man Is? - they continue to fascinate me as most have never been asked this question before. I have compiled a large number of these essays over the past several years and (with permission) they are part of a book I am in the process of writing on FATHERS.

Our Mental Health Task Force met this past week as we finalize some of our work on how to effectively acknowledge and deal with the mental health of our campus. There are so many pressures on our entire community and while our "safety net" is always there, we are hoping that the Task Force deliberations will enable us to report to the Board of Trustees and perhaps expand on some of our current policies and procedures.

I am also on the Admission Office's Task Force on Military Recruitment/Retention and am so glad that we are working on ways that SMC can create a supportive and accepting community that welcomes our returning veterans and their families as students here.

Our It Gets Better video (YouTube - Saint Michael's College It Gets Better) continues to receive a number of "hits" and so far, on just two sites, we have had over 8,500 hits. The collaboration between our student-athletes (Student Athletic Advisory Council - SAAC) and Common Ground - our GSA is unique and we have received such positive responses to the collaboration between these two student groups - I continue being so proud of our students who spearheaded this effort.

Dr. Leo Shea III, an alum of SMC is coming to campus on Monday and he will be speaking to my Practicum class and also doing an open presentation for the whole campus sponsored by the Psychology Club and Psi Chi (the international honor society for psychology) - Leo is a neuropsychologist and he will be speaking about the future of psychology and exactly what neuropsychology is - he will also be explaining the work he is doing with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) and our veterans - I am looking forward to meeting him and to his presentations - we always appreciate our alumnae returning to campus to share their areas of expertise with the campus. My own doctor, Frank Landry, also an alum of SMC was in my Men & Masculinities class a couple of weeks ago speaking about men's health issues and, of course, women's health issues - another example of our alums giving back to the place where they received their undergraduate education - much appreciated.

Back to grading - take good care, be well and, as always, please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The new semester is well underway - great new beginnings.

As I look out the window from my office down onto campus, there is sadly, little snow but that hasn't stopped our students from taking full advantage of the slopes where temperatures have allowed the various resorts to MAKE lots and lots of snow and reports are that conditions there have been pretty good.

I was in Indianapolis, Indiana from the 10th - 14th to attend the NCAA Convention and had the chance to re-connect with colleagues not only from our NE-10 Conference, but from across the country - it is always a challenging time and this year the Scholarly Colloquium was excellent as we looked at the academic challenges to all three Divisions of the NCAA. I was fortunate to be chosen to present a poster which displayed the research that my colleague from here at SMC, Dr. Carolyn Whitney and I did on the academic mentoring program we use with our student-athletes. The poster was well received with a steady stream of interested folks from other colleges/universities stopping by with great questions. It was nice to be able to BRAG about how well our faculty work with our student-athletes and that Saint Mike's has the highest ASR (academic success rate - 99%) of all Division II's 100,000 student-athletes and 300+ institutions.

My three classes all met for the first time this past week and it looks like a great semester already. Practicum continues together from first semester and I have 16 senior psychology majors out in the community for 8 - 10 hours a week and they are with me in class 2.5 hours each week. Tomorrow I will be meeting individually with each of them to go over their site supervisors' evaluations of THEM and their evaluations of me and the class. I always look forward to this dialogue. Sports Psychology continues to be a fascinating class as we explore the application of all they have learned from previous classes to the areas of sports and athletics. The Penn State scandal and today's announcement of Joe Paterno's death will no doubt result in a LOT of discussion and provide the class with an opportunity for some great CRITICAL THOUGHT AND ANALYSIS of that whole sad situation. Men & Masculinities, because we meet for three hours only once a week, has already come together as a group and their journal entries already have shown me that they are actively engaged in the course.

On Tuesday afternoon at our MLK Convocation, we celebrate the life and good works of Fr. Maurice Ouellet, SSE, who died this past summer. He hired me at SMC and I am honored to be a part of our celebration Tuesday where Fr. Richard Mihalyk will speak of Fr. Ouellet's amazing work in the South during very troubled times. That evening Dr. Karen Talentino, VP for Academics will be coming to the Student Association to talk with our students about the new Curriculum which was implemented in September. I continue to be so proud that I work at a college where the VP for Academic Affairs will not only show up for a Student Association meeting, but who invites comments and discussion on the part of our students. What a great opportunity for her to hear from the students about their reaction to the new curriculum and for students to have an honest and open dialogue with a top administrator. Somehow, I doubt that happens at larger institutions.

Back to work - please take good care, be well and as usual, I ask that you keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.