Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Smoking Doesn't Get You High, It Gets You Down"

This past Friday, my friend and colleague Dr. Ari Kirshenbaum, Associate Professor of Psychology presented the work that he and his students have been studying - the following is the description that was posted about this:  "The mortality and economic burden associated with tobacco use is immense, and nicotine withdrawal is the primary obstacle to successful tobacco-use cessation.  There are many aspects of tobacco withdrawal, and the dysphoria provoked by initial abstinence tends to be the strongest precipitator of relapse.  The scientific literature is replete with experimental evidence showing that nicotine reliably produces depression in non-human animals.  Although withdrawal is most often conceptualized a a purely physiological condition produced by chronic nicotine exposure, Dr. Kirshenbaum will present data from his laboratory that shows that nicotine withdrawal is a product of learning and memory processes.  This new conceptualization of withdrawal helps to clarify the reasons why tobacco is a potent dependence-producing agent, and may ultimately provide new opportunities for tobacco-use cessation treatment."    In addition to most of our Psychology Department attending this event, there were several students in attendance.  This past August I traveled to Carbondale, Colorado and co-presented a workshop with Dr. Steve Rissman from Metropolitan State University outside Denver - our workshop raised the question of how issues of masculinity impacts relapse - we did the workshop at Jaywalker Lodge, an alcohol/drug treatment facility for men in Carbondale.  I had previously done a workshop in March based on my book I Wish He'd Taught Me How To Shave and was excited to return here - they have an amazingly successful treatment program at Jaywalker and issues of dependence AND relapse are intriguing to me.  I appreciated Ari's work in his lab and know that his students are challenged as they learn how to do scientific research on various topics - WELL DONE my friend........
As always, please keep all of the members of our military and their families AND all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.  I have gotten to know a couple of OUR current full-time students who are veterans and we have so much to learn from them and their experiences -
take good care

Monday, October 28, 2013

Technology in the classroom at SMC

Last August five members of the faculty participated in the Advanced Teaching With Technology Workshop offered by our Information Technology staff.  The first picture below  shows Amdework Aseffa, Support Technician who directs the College's NEW Mac lab - this VERY state of the art Mac Lab which is designed to support our Fine Arts Department, gives our students the support they need for digital learning and creative work. It is equipped with 15 iMac workstations that include the full Adobe Suite and other popular software.  While I have no clue as to most of what happens in this new Lab, I do know that Amde is a a great teacher who strives to make sure that anyone with questions, will get them answered.  He, along with Jerome Allen, Erik Lightbody, Sue Breeyear, Kellie Campbell and Jim Millard, helped the five of us from the faculty to, in some cases like me, redesign our classes.  The second picture is of a presentation I did this past Friday to explain how I utilize our Tegrity - video-capture program  - in both my Sports Psychology course (students making presentations get video-captured and then they have to view their own presentation and write up their own assessment) and in my Theories of Counseling class where students check out a "kit" containing a webcam and a microphone and then they have to - on their own - set up a mock counseling session which they submit to me.  THIS has been a huge success and the good folks in IT have been amazingly helpful resources as I try to make my classes even more "technology friendly" than they were.  One statistic I was surprised at when we first began the workshop was that the entering first year class at SMC this past August was the FIRST class to have had technology through their ENTIRE school experience.  Pretty amazing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

An amazing weekend - Gloria Steinem, Annie Liebowitz and Senator Patrick and his wife Marcel - for the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Ceremony

Astor Court in Rhinebeck, NY was the alternative site for the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal Award Ceremony since the gov't shutdown closed the site where this celebration normally takes place - Val-Kill is on government property so the shutdown meant their finding an alternative site.  Astor Court is where Chelsea Clinton was married and is a private residence.  Marc and Dana vanderHeyden hosted a reception here Saturday evening for the Vermont contingent who were there to share in the celebration of Senator and Mrs. Patrick Leahy being honored.

Marilyn Cormier is the College's Director of Governmental and Corporate Relations and she and Marcel and Patrick Leahy are good friends of hers.  Senator Leahy is our Vermont Senator and currently the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate which makes him the third in line for the Presidency.  Here they are in front of Astor Court with the Hudson River in the background.

Both Professor Reza Ramazani and I were honored to be at this event and to be asked to "pose" with the Senator.  Prof. Ramazani is one of our economics professor and he truly IS an extraordinary teacher.  His students love his classes and his energy seeps out into the hallways wherever he teaches.

Gloria Steinam is someone I have always admired.  I have used her scholarly writings in my classes seemingly forever.  She, along with the Senator and Marcel Leahy (and three other people) were honored at the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Ceremony.  I had a chance to meet and chat with her about my Men & Masculinities class and my newly published book I Wish He'd Taught Me How To Shave.  It was such a privilege to talk with her and later to hear her acceptance speech as she recounted her journey as a strong feminist scholar and author.  I am not one to be "star struck" but WOW - for me to meet such an icon WAS a privilege.

As we were gathering yesterday morning outside of Astor Court, I walked up to this group - former SMC President Marc vanderHeyden, Marcel Leahy and Senator Patrick Leahy were standing talking with Annie Liebowitz who just happens to live next to Astor Court and who took a break from pressing apples for cider at her home to stop over to greet her long time friend Gloria Steinam - Senator Leahy introduced me to her - she, for those who aren't aware, is an incredible photographer whose works are well known all over the world - she truly has an "eye" for taking pictures of world famous and not so famous people.

So, as indicated in the title of this post - an amazing weekend.  Thanks to Marilyn Cormier for the invitation.  Spending time with VP for Institutional Advancement Patrick Gallivan, his friend Dani Fisette, new VT friends Joy and Ed Limoge, Marilyn, Marc and Dana, Patrick and Marcel Leahy and, of course REZA made for not a "normal" weekend for me.  One of the many reasons I respect and admire Marcel Leahy is her openness about her successful battle with melanoma - she mentioned this in HER acceptance speech - she also is a staunch advocate for our military and their families - so it is fitting as always, for me to ask that you keep ALL of the members of our military and ALL of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Take care

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Practicum - Experiential Education

My Practicum (PS 450/460) class meets for the entire academic year.  This makes SMC unique as most other colleges/universities only have a one semester Practicum.  Students are out in the community for 8 - 10 hours each week and then back in class for 2.5 hours for the academic year.  Both Molly Millwood and I each teach a section of this senior experiential educational class.  This year my students are at the local elementary school, the middle school, an alternative high school, a senior citizen housing complex, the Department of Children and Families, the Howard Center (working with adult schizophrenics) and at Women Helping Battered Women - one of the many skills they learn in Practicum is how to make OBJECTIVE observations as opposed to subjective observations.  They HAVE to be able to observe people's appearance and behavior for any signs of "differences" - potential abuse, warning signs, etc.  We spent some time in class yesterday learning these skills and the pictures show them in discussion about why objective observations are SO important in the field of counseling.  this is only my second meeting with this group but they already are impressing me.....that is not always an easy thing to do. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Class of 2017 - What a welcome!!!

New and returning student-athletes gathered in McCarthy yesterday afternoon for the mandatory NCAA Eligibility meetings - after a great student panel for first year SA's, everyone gathered to listen to me speak about how incredible the ACADEMIC ACHiEVEMENT is of our Student-Athletes and then listened to AD Geri Knortz and to ZAF...... before heading over to Ross for the opening barbecue.

New students arriving at Ross Sports Center for the final event of Orientation Weekend - the Orientation Leaders this year were wonderful, creating a great transition for all of our entering first years.  

After the "official" Orientation activities are completes, the O-Leaders head outside so I can take pictures - they always love this and then I post all of the pictures on Facebook - many of them then use these photos as THEIR profile pictures.  What a great group - well done!!

The success of Orientation, year after year, is the result of a LOT of people working closely together. Grace Kelly, shown here with Resident Director and assistant to Grace Eric Jaukkuri, does an amazing job every year of empowering students to organize, direct, lead and deliver our Orientation Program - Grace allows the O-Board to design the program and is always there to help but knows that leadership is often best learned by doing....  Thanks Grace and Eric for making this year's Orientation such a huge success.

As classes begin today, it is my 31st year here at Saint Michael's College - I look forward EVERY DAY to going to work here.  The students are wonderful and the colleagueship between and among the faculty, staff, administration AND students is a model for other places......

Off to MY first class this afternoon - take good care, be well, and please, as always, keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers .

One last item - my book I Wish He's Taught Me How to Shave was released last week and the first printing has already sold out - you can get a copy at if you are interested in reading student views on How My Father Influenced My View Of What A Man Is - from the early responses, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are telling me that this is making them think - critically about so many things - GOOD, then it already is a success.....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fulbright Scholars' Orientation - Gender and Sexual Harassment

I was asked to speak to a group of visitors to our campus who are Fulbright Scholars from around the globe.  They are at SMC for an orientation before heading out across the country to study for the next two years.  My topic was on Gender and Sexual Harassment.  Too often, we just assume that visitors to our country completely understand OUR customs and laws when, in reality, much of their education comes (shudder) from television and the movies.  These people are from Brazil, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, Colombia and Libya.  They were so attentive and asked great questions.  While I DID have to explain the term "fondling", I gratefully, did not have to explain the word "penetration."  Three of them explained that in their country, LGBTQ (they asked me to explain what I meant by those letters) must exist BUT they are not open because they could be killed......  It was an amazing two hours and I appreciate their attention, their willingness to go way out of their comfort zone and to better understand the influence that culture has on all of us.

As always, please keep all of the members of our military and our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.  We recently held a campus-wide meeting with 25 folks from all areas of the College to discuss how we can better serve the needs of our student-veterans - a good meeting.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Commencement 2013 - LATER, not goodbye

After having been asked by our seniors to speak to them at their luncheon AND after attending my 31st SMC Commencement, I continue to refuse to say goodbye but merely say "LATER" as that is the way it is here at SMC, we continue to see our graduates for so many years and stay in touch with so many that LATER is so much better than goodbye.  Here are some pictures of many of my wonderful students from the Class of 2013....
Eric Jaukkuri
Liz Hamel
Courtney Dunne
Jonna Peryer
Lauren Herlihy
Michael Fay
Liv McCall
Nicole Adach

Friday, May 10, 2013

Senior Luncheon

Yesterday morning the seniors held their annual Senior Luncheon.  As Baccalaureate has been changed this year, this was the first time that a member of the staff and a member of the faculty were invited to speak at this luncheon.  David Barrowclough - Associate Registrar and I were selected by the seniors to speak with them at the luncheon.  Here is what I said to them:
Senior Class Luncheon
May 9, 2013
Good morning and thank you for asking me to speak with you today.  It is an HONOR.  I have just a couple of messages for you:
1.        Look around you - When you arrived on this campus just a few short years ago, unless you had been on POW or had participated in a MOVE or WILDERNESS project, you knew only about a handful of people here – NOW, as you prepare to leave us, you know literally hundreds of people – you have met perhaps a life-partner, a best friend, a soul mate – you have made friendships here which will last you your lifetime.  In just a couple of days you will walk across the dais in Ross and the President who is a VERY GOOD MAN, will hand you your diploma – because you are polite and thoughtful you will shake his hand and say thank you.  You do not give him back all that WE have taught you, both in and outside of our classrooms – you do not give him back all of your good times, your bad times, your challenging and joyful times – all of the things that WE have taught you - you walk off that stage on Sunday armed with all that we have taught you AND the knowledge that you have been successful – you have been successful HERE and you will be successful when you leave here.  We need you to be successful when you leave here – WE need you to help create a better world than the one we are handing off to you.
The Dalai Lama has said that our prime purpose in this life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.  These are very wise words.
2.       You sometimes don’t realize that while it is the natural order of things that YOU leave us and move outside of the SMC bubble into what others call the “real world”, WE stay behind and many of us will miss many of you – YOU have impacted US more than you probably realize – for that I thank you. 
3.       The third and final message I have for you is this – this is something that I stress in all of my classes – once you are aware, you are responsible – the challenge for you is to ask yourselves what YOU will do to apply what WE have all taught you – again, both in and outside of our classrooms?  Once you are aware you ARE responsible – we have done OUR best to make you more aware – now it is up to you to be responsible.
You are responsible for:
1.       Not making assumptions
2.       Only applying labels to soup cans
3.       Confronting racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnocentrism wherever and whenever you encounter it.
4.       Remembering that there IS a war going on and people are dying every day.
5.       Educating yourself on the politics of this country and making your vote count – gun control in this country must change and YOU are the ones who may have to make those changes.
You are responsible for:
6.       Confronting your own and society’s heterosexual assumption – when heteronormality IS the standard for society we marginalize everyone who doesn’t FIT your or society’s image of what is normal and this inflicts more PAIN than you can ever know.
7.       Asking for help when you need it
8.       Crying when you need to
9.       Trusting yourself
10.   Trusting others
11.   Believing in yourself
12.   SAVING our planet
13.   Celebrating our differences and not merely “accepting” our differences.
You are responsible for:
14.   Continuing to challenge yourselves to be the absolute BEST:        best friends, best brothers/sisters, best sons/daughters, best   mothers and fathers, best citizens of this country.
15.   Enjoying life – safely – please PROTECT YOURSELF by making wise decisions.
16.   Discarding the “mask” whenever you can
17.   Stopping violence against women - and everyone else – including yourself.
18.   Taking care of both your physical and mental health
19.   And finally, you are responsible for continuing to teach the “older” adults” in your life at least half as much as you have taught me…..
Thank you again for asking me to speak with you all today – please take good care and as the Dalai Lama ALSO says, - whenever you have a choice – CHOOSE KINDNESS. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sam and Macklemore - an amazing story

On Thursday, the Student Association presented the College's Spring Concert - so many people worked hard to bring this concert here - the E-Board and especially Eric Jaukkuri and Caitlin-Shea Vantine who were co-secretaries of programming looked at several options and they chose Macklemore to perform.  I saw him on Saturday Night Live and the Conin O'Brien show and while I can't understand most of ANY rappers' lyrics, I did read up on him and found him to be a great choice for SMC - he had performed at Higher Ground in So. Burlington and it was an immediate sellout so I knew he would be popular here.  He has such a strong tolerance, acceptance of others and anti-drug message that his sometimes "rich" language doesn't really bother me.  We sold 2,000 tickets on campus and an additional 1,000 off campus so our goal of a sellout was reached. 
What I didn't know, is what an amazing human being he is.  One of my students, Justin Salls, who is in my Sports Psychology course asked if he could speak with me outside of the classroom on Thursday afternoon right before class.  This is unusual because most students just speak with me IN class - Justin is a great student and has added a lot to my class so I, of course agreed.  When we stepped outside he told me that his roommate and best friend had just been diagnosed with leukemia THIS WEEK and since he is now in the hospital BUT had really, really wanted to go to the concert Thursday night some of his friends had tried to arrange for Macklemore to go to the hospital to see Sam.  Justin told me that IF that was possible he was supposed to be there when this happened - he asked if it was alright with me IF he got the text message during class and had to leave - NOW, YOU have to realize that this IS the type of student we have here at SMC.  I so appreciated the respect he showed to me and the class by asking permission - AND, of course I "gave him permission."  He didn't get the text message during class BUT later on he sent me the picture from above of his friend Sam and Macklemore at the hospital.  The concert was amazing and while again, I couldn't understand many of his lyrics, he did ask for a moment of silence for folks to send good vibes to SAM. the backstory of why Macklemore visited Sam is in the attached article.

These types of stories continue to give me hope for our world AND for our young people.  Thank you Eric and Caitlin, Grace Kelly(Director of Student Activities)  and Mark Litchfield Director of Special Events) , and all of our community for the great work you do. 

Today is our annual Spring Fling named P-Day - Sam's friends have asked folks to write SAM STRONG on their T-shirts to send a great message to Sam as he battles with this difficult diagnosis.  I have asked Justin to make sure that Sam knows how much support he has and that I send him MY thoughts and prayers too.  SAM STRONG.................

We finish the academic year on Wednesday so please hope for snow and cold winds through finals - just joking, although I often comment at this time of year that as the temperatures rise, the grade point averages fall :(  

Take care, be well and in addition to keeping Sam in YOUR thoughts and prayers, as I always do, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for all of the members of our military and our veterans.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Honors Research Presentations

Yesterday afternoon the Psychology Department hosted our annual Honors Research Presentations.  Three of our senior psychology majors presented the research they have been working on for the past year.  Professor Ari Kirshenbaum is shown next to Michael Fay whose study is entitled "Acetylcholine, Nicotine and Depression:  What Rats Can Teach Us About Resolving Tobacco Withdrawal" - Megan Olsen and Natalie Zimmer both worked with Professor Melissa VanderKaay Tomasulo on their research - Megan's is entitled "Cigarette Use and Stress- Induced Cardiovascular Reactivity:" The Influence of Environmental Enrichment in Early Childhood" and Natalie's title is "Coping Styles and Stress- Induced Cardiovascular Reactivity Among Habitual, Intermittent, and Non-Smokers" - it is always so rewarding to watch these honors presentations and everyone there was impressed with the research our students had done.  We also inducted 17 new members into Psi Chi which is the International Honor Society of Psychology - congratulations to all of the new  - Inductees.  Today is the College-wide Symposium and many of our senior psychology majors presented their posters which depict either their senior research, or their Practicum Site Presentations.  With over 250 accepted students AND their parents on campus today PLUS so many people who wanted to see the results of student work this place is packed with energy and enthusiasm.  I am heading over to the lacrosse game in a few minutes to watch our men's lax team as they hopefully continue their amazing streak of wins - GO PURPLE KNIGHTS.
Classes are almost over with for this academic year and hopefully everyone will successfully complete their final projects/reports/assignments - Please take good care everyone and, as always, please keep all of the members of our military, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers AND today, please also keep those hurt or wounded in the Boston Marathon tragedy AND those killed in your thoughts and prayers AND our gratitude to all of the police, firefighters, first responders and those who worked so hard to keep everyone safe during the past several days in Boston cannot be expressed enough - it has been a frightening several days BUT as anyone who knows anything about Boston well knows - BOSTON STRONG is NOT just a catch-phrase......

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two weeks are already over with

It always amazes me how quickly second semester goes.  We have just finished our second week of classes and mine are excellent.  Here are a couple of shots from my Men & Masculinities class which meets Mondays from 5 - 8 - all seniors, I have 13 men and 13 women.  This class and essays that my students have written over the years in response to my challenge to them to write "How My Father Influenced My View Of What A Man Is" are the subject of a new book which is at my publishers right now.  It will hopefully be out by Father's Day and is titled:  "I Wish He's Taught Me How To Shave."

I was in Grapevine, Texas most of our first week of classes, attending the NCAA National Convention.  As the College's Faculty Athletics Representative, I serve as the liaison between the academic side of SMC and the athletic side.  This is a very rewarding job and it is fun to see how well OUR students do both academically and athletically.  I always, along with Geri Knortz, our Athletic Director, get to represent SMC at this Convention and I always learn so much.

On Friday I was part of a panel of SMC faculty who spoke with a17 high school guidance counselors.  Each year this group travels to Vermont and visits Champlain College, The University of Vermont and Saint Michael's College.  After the panel I was on where four of us spoke of our interactions with our students and how our research/teaching works so well BECAUSE of our students, I joined others at a dinner with this group and it was very rewarding to hear folks from New York, Michigan, So. Carolina and even as far away as Colorado express how impressed they are with SMC.

Take care, be well, 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.  My M&M class is looking at how WAR influences our views of masculinity and we are reading both WAR by Sebastian Junger and The Lonely Soldier by Helen Benedict - we cannot forget that there is still a war going on in Afghanistan.