Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement

micaI just retired from CCV, one month shy of 30 years of working hard and joyfully for a college I love.  In 1983 CCV’s mission of access, affordability and quality inspired me to leave a cushy job at UVM and  make a real difference in the lives of  Vermonters choosing a non-traditional path in higher education

I was one of the first coordinator hired to establish a CCV site in Chittenden County.  In the spring of 1983 we had about 30 students, tuition was $88./ per course. By Fall 1983 our site in the Winooski Champlain Mill enrolled 250 students. One of my clearest memories is of the first week of classes that fall. I was working late, helping students find their way to their classroom and selling textbooks.  We were mobbed and I was very busy.  I quickly realized that our largest class, English Composition had more students that we had chairs for. I hunted for more chairs, knocked on the door of our neighbor VSAC looking for 5 or 6 chairs so students could sit down. No one answered my knock. I quickly jumped in my car and headed home, less than a mile away, at home rounded up every folding chair we had and headed back to CCV. Students were still standing in the back of the classroom, I set down the two chairs that I had carried up and asked a student to help me get the rest. Finally the entire class was seated and the class began. That was the beginning of a rapid rise in enrollment where CCV Winooski would become the largest Academic Center in the college. During those 30 years, we would move our site 5 times to accommodate the growth in students, staff, academic offerings and articulation arrangements with other colleges.

Another meaningful memory for me is working on an articulation agreement with the University of Vermont. In those early days CCV was not openly welcomed in Chittenden County. With five colleges in the area, many thought CCV was not needed.  Some colleges were concerned we would take their students. Others felt because our tuition was so low and our faculty was all part-time, that we just could not be a quality institution. But we knew we had a place in this arena and we were interested in partnering with those 4 year colleges. We wanted pathways so our students could receive Bachelor degrees. We began a long, two year process, to convince the University of Vermont it was in their interest and the interest of Vermonters, to develop an articulation agreement.  I remember one long meeting with some of the UVM faculty.  Barbara Murphy, our academic dean, and  Joan Smith , UVM’s academic dean,  a few members of UVM’s faculty expressed the concern that CCV students transferring into liberal arts majors at UVM would not be adequately prepared for upper level courses.  I collected syllabi and course descriptions for over 200 of our courses to persuade them our courses were indeed academically sound and rigorous. The UVM registrar and academic deans reviewed these materials and they conducted focus groups of CCV students who had successfully transferred. UVM researched the GPAs of the CCV transfers.  It was determined that our students were outperforming many of UVM’s traditional students!  That fall Judith Ramely, the president of UVM and Barbara Murphy, now CCV’s president, signed an articulation agreement that guaranteed admission to the College of Arts and Sciences and UVM opened their doors wide for CCV students who today transfer successfully and easily.
Finally, I want to speak about the coordinator’s role of overseeing faculty and developing and growing academic departments. When I started at CCV I supervised all the academic disciplines. But as the site grew and new staff were hired, I eventually only had one discipline, Art. I had the opportunity to hire and support   many talented and local artists who came into the CCV classroom and inspired our students. Many of those early faculty members from the 1980’s are still teaching at CCV today. During those years we built a ceramics studio starting with donated electric wheels and a kiln set up in a traditional CCV classroom. We developed relationships with Burlington City Arts, glass studios, the UVM Photography Coop, the Shelburne Craft School and UVM’s Fleming Museum.  Students’ work from many of these classes is now displayed in the halls of our new building in Winooski. One of my favorite pieces was completed by the Fall 2001 Stained Art class.  After the 9/11 attacks students in that class finished a group project , a large glass piece that depicts hands cradling the earth. It is breathtaking and represents to me what CCV was about:  community building, access.  Outreach, and the many talents of our students.  I feel privileged to have completed my career in education at CCV.