Former CCV Assistant Academic Dean for Student Services 1989 – 1994
Presently, CCV Faculty member at the Morrisville Academic Center, 2006 – 2013
I started working full time at CCV in August, 1989 as the Director of the Student Support Services Program (TRIO) and was hired because I had written a number of TRIO grants before and the CCV grant was due soon.
What a wonderfully welcoming place to work, I had my best ever supervisor, Barbara Murphy, Academic Dean and 12 outstanding Coordinators of Student Support who would be working with me from all 12 sites.
The grant writing process began immediately, that’s fine, now who is my secretary who will be typing the grant for me? We don’t have secretaries and most everyone types their own work, and here is a shared laptop that you an work on. It was loaded with DOS. What is DOS I asked? Are you familiar with computers and have you used them before? No I have not. That’s OK because we have a computer class in Montpelier that starts tomorrow. So how did the computer class go? Hmmmm, I don’t get it. That’s OK, because there is another class tomorrow. This time I got it, and I was able to use the laptop and a wonderful woman, Marion, who worked at the other end of the hall, volunteered to type and edit my work electronically. Whew, what great support for a new employee!
1989 was mot my first employ with CCV, I taught a class in 1972, Creative Approaches to Education. At that time the tuition was optional and there was no pay for faculty. AT that time I was an administrator at Johnson State and the class took place in my office. What I did receive from that experience was a class of six who were very much interested in education, and especially one student, who became a full time teacher at BFA in Fairfax, Shirley Opstrup. She was later recognized as the Vermont Teacher of the Year, which was super for her, however the best part for me was, we, and our families have been the best of friends for over 40 years.
Working at Wasson Hall, CCV’s “corporate headquarters”, in Waterbury was interesting because many of the college-wide meetings took place there, so I got to meet many people right down the hall from my office. Another very pleasant ritual that happen once a month at Wasson was a “potluck birthday party” for everyone who’s birthday was in that month. This certainly did a lot to develop strong esprit d’corp among the staff.
In my days at CCV it was common for various groups and committees to meet once a month, and these meetings would usually last from 9:00 AM to about 3:00PM. These long meetings were intended to lessen travel for all and to allow time for planning and organizing what that committee was charged with. Well organized meetings were productive and any that were not, got the word. “If I am going to drive up to Waterbury from Bennington and not get anything done, you can count me out.” Needless to say any of us who planned and conducted these meetings, always had this in mind as we plan what the meeting was to accomplish and who was responsible for what.
Early on I realized that CCV people were very committed to the college’s mission and to one another in a supportive team mentality. I observed that the most successful people at CCV were highly work centered, and the focus was on supporting our students and making the college a successful place, and that reputation was “out there” in all of the 12 communities the college served. Then, and now the commitment to student learning and support are the key ingredients that keep new students enrolling with successful conclusions, whether they graduate or transfer. CCV’s ever increasing enrollment and graduating classes is a tribute to the quality of education CCV gives it’s students and is indeed the “word on the street” that… “keeps ‘em comin’”.
When I retired from Vermont Tech in 2006, I started teaching classes at Academic Center in Morrisville, and over this short time I could cite many success stories that would be interesting and could easily document students change and growth. But the one story that I like the best is about Nate, an Iraq veteran who came to my Dimensions class with some PTSD and certainly a no-nonsense outspoken and fairly entrenched approach to everything. Nate laid it all out and in language that was more fitting for an angry pirate. It even encouraged some of the other male students to think they could get away with it too, despite my constant reminder that such language was not appropriate anywhere and especially in college classrooms. Nate got better, but still needed reminding about his choice of adjectives.
Nate showed up in my class the next semester and I was glad of it. We spoke at the beginning of the class about using appropriate language in class, and he said he’d give it his best try. He made it through the entire class without one swear word. On the last day, we had a potluck lunch and enjoyed the last opportunity to socialize as a class, and Nate hung back to help clean up. He said after we cleaned up, “Did you notice that I didn’t fucking swear once during your class?” I responded, “Yes, I did and that is just one example of your growth here.” The last I heard about Nate was he enrolled in the nursing program at Norwich University. It is my observation about students, if you can visibly see some growth in them, you know they are open minded enough to learning new and even complicated things.