Category Archives: Campus community

Emerging Landscapes—From Atwater to Washington DC

Given the progress made this week on the Atwater landscape project, I can’t resist posting these photos (taken this morning), and encouraging people to take a walk over to the north side of the campus to see the area. Though it’s not done yet, as College Horticulturalist Tim Parsons noted in this week’s Campus, the project is gradually coming together—just “have faith.”

But I should point out that this work and the facilities projects described in my earlier post require more than faith to be completed. Besides financial resources and the hard work of staff and hired contractors, they require careful planning and management. Kudos to the Project Managers engaged on all these projects: Tim Parsons (Atwater landscape); Tom McGinn (Forest and the Solar Decathlon site); Mark Gleason (HARC and Kohn Field); and Mary Stanley (118 South Main).

Meanwhile, 488 miles to the south . . .

. . . the Solar Decathlon team arrived this week on the National Mall, where they have sited their solar-powered house—called Self-Reliance—and are getting ready for the competition sponsored by the Department of Energy. We’ll be hearing more about this competition in the coming weeks, but for now check out this cool time-lapse video of the team reassembling their house. Rumor has it they were the first team on the mall to begin construction. They make it look so easy . . . ! You can read daily updates about the team’s progress on their blog.

A New Year, and Some New and Improved Spaces

Every September, students return to campus to find that something about the landscape has changed. Over the years, Middlebury has maintained a remarkably distinct culture—visiting alums often comment on how the campus still feels the way it did when they attended the College—but the physical plant has certainly evolved and expanded.

This year’s changes are more in the nature of renovations. We have not replaced the Bubble or the Mods—not yet—but we have improved some existing spaces. Here are the major projects completed this summer, plus photos.

Forest Hall: A huge project finished in a compressed time-frame, resulting in an overhaul of the major building system, new residential spaces, and air conditioning.

New lounge:

New room:

History of Art and Architecture Suite: The Music Library moved to the Davis Family Library, and HARC took its place in MCFA. The suite includes offices for the faculty, two new classrooms, and a new space for the slide library. And the College Art Museum is just steps away.

Reworking the entrance:

In the suite:

New classroom:

Kohn Field: New turf and lights.

Landscape Around Atwater: Following up on plans developed in the student design competition (“Turf Battle“), Facilities Services has begun work on a project to enhance the landscape in and around Halls A and B and the Chateau. That plan includes additional vegetation and a new stone patio. Much of the work will be completed by the end of September, though we will not be able to finish the project until next summer.

118 South Main: An old, historic house, renovated as office space for emeriti faculty, who will now be across the street from the Davis Family Library.

Solar Decathlon House: A site is being prepared for the house on Porter Field Road, where the building will be installed when it returns from the competition in Washington, DC.

Hepburn Steam Line: The kind of project that seems to get done by magic in the summer, thanks to efficient work by Facilities Services. Ten days ago, this area around Hepburn was torn up.

What Are We Tweeting For?

Since late last summer, a group of intrepid wanna-be social media mavens from various offices at the College have gathered periodically to discuss the in’s, out’s, up’s, down’s, do’s, and don’t’s of Web 2.0. It’s equal parts brainstorming, salivating, and group therapy. We’ve covered the usual suspects, like Facebook and Twitter, but we’ve also touched on some platforms and technologies you may have never heard of, such as foursquare, Photosynth, Murmur, Quick Response (QR) codes, Gowalla, scvngr, and mobile web. We share what our respective areas are currently working on; bemoan the demise of long-standing, well-used features (we’re looking at you, Facebook Groups!); and philosophize about what social media tools Middlebury should pursue further (like foursquare) and what we should pass on for now (like a three-dimensional image of President Liebowitz via Photosynth).

It was in one of these meetings that the seed for using social media to address the Great Dish Crisis of Forever was planted. Mind you, Communications did all of the heavy lifting and thinking: creating and developing Aunt Des, filming and editing the Godfather-esque videos, designing posters with fancy-schmancy QR codes, and finding just the right shade of red nail polish.

Earlier this year, our ring leader, Pam Fogg, introduced us to Murmur. Dial up 802.443.2600 and enter a three-digit code to hear a story related to a building on campus. Punch in 127 to listen to Hugh Marlow tell of hearing Robert Frost say his poems to packed crowds in Mead Chapel, or 118 to hear Sarah Franco (oh, hey, that’s me) tell the gripping tale of meeting my husband in Coltrane Lounge way back in September 2004. Middlebury’s repository of Murmur stories is a great way to show prospective students how they can build unique experiences and lives on our campus or to help alumni reconnect with the College and classmates they parted with years ago.

Slowly, but surely, we’ve been working on building Middlebury’s presence on foursquare, “a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore.” All of Middlebury’s buildings have been added to foursquare, including 51 Main and the Museum of Art, both of which offer special deals to users who check in. In the coming months, we plan to add downtown venues and outdoor areas of interest (like the footbridge over the Otter Creek and the Robert Frost trails in Ripton), all in an effort to introduce first-years and other newcomers to our community and to encourage upperclassmen, staff, and faculty to try new things. Be sure to check out Middlebury’s page on foursquare and add us as a friend.

I could blog on and on about social media at Middlebury. Is it worth the investment? Is the message getting out? Should institutions be early adopters of new technologies and media platforms? These are just some of the questions we have been asking ourselves this year. But we’d love to hear from you: How have you been using social media as part of your work at Middlebury? Are there things the College could do differently or better when it comes to such tools? Hit up the comments and stay tuned for more from this ragtag crew.

More on Turf Battle

We were happy to see the front-page story in today’s Campus on the plan to improve the landscape around Atwater.  The Campus had asked for an exclusive on the story, and we gave it to them.

However, we were disappointed that the article did not say more–or even mention–the students who generated the designs for the plan: Jesse Catalano ’11, Bente Madson ’11, and Jake Moritz ’11; Jaeun Lee ’11 and Molly Rosenblatt ’12; and Leah Webster ’11, Christine Hsieh ’11, and Jack P. Maher ’12.

They deserve credit for their work on this project. As we told The Campus, we plan to install a sign that acknowledges their contribution to the College community’s enjoyment of our outdoor environment.

For more information about the site plans and how the students’ visions were incorporated, visit the Turf Battle blog.

All-Gender Restroom Project

In recent months, Sarah Franco, Special Projects Coordinator, and Jennifer Herrera, Special Assistant to the Dean of the College, have been engaged with a group of students to develop a plan for creating all-gender (also known as gender-neutral) restrooms in non-residential buildings on campus. This initiative grew out of a recommendation put forth last spring by an ad hoc study group that published a review of potential student life issues facing transgender students. In their final report, JJ Boggs, Associate Director of Campus Activities, and Mary Hurlie, Associate Director for Career Services, recommended that the College “initiate a collaboration with other appropriate college offices, with a goal to convert as many gender-designated bathrooms into gender-neutral bathrooms as possible.”

In pursuing this recommendation, the College hopes to provide support for the safety and health of Middlebury’s transgender students, faculty, and staff. We also believe that acting on this recommendation will benefit other members of our community. For example, the presence of all-gender restrooms would provide more flexibility for disabled individuals who have opposite-gender caretakers. It would also help parents of young children since they would not have to decide which restroom to use. In sum, all-gender restrooms would create more restroom options for all people to use.

It is important to note that the majority of restrooms on this campus would still have a male or female gender designation. There are many within our community who are unable to use mixed-gender restrooms for a variety of religious and personal reasons. These perspectives are equally valued by the College.

Now that the group has engaged President’s Staff, the Space Committee, Community Council, Faculty Council, and Staff Council in conversations about the proposed changes, the College will begin implementation in two phases. In the first phase, we will change the signs on all non-residential single-stall restrooms to one that includes the male and female symbols as well as the universal symbol of accessibility where applicable.  Single-stall restrooms may then be used by anyone. We expect that this phase of the project will be complete by the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year. Because not all buildings have single-stall restrooms, the College will work collaboratively with the occupants of such buildings to identify a multi-stall restroom that could be converted to an all-gender facility. This process will likely begin in the fall. We recognize this is a sensitive issue, and so if it is not possible to reach a consensus, then there may be some non-residential buildings that do not have any all-gender restrooms.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please do not hesitate to send a note to Alternatively, you may leave questions and feedback in the comments section (anonymously, if you wish).

Wanted: Turf Battle Feedback

On Tuesday afternoon, three groups of students presented their proposals for the Atwater landscape. The students, staff, and faculty in the audience asked a lot of great questions and provided solid feedback for how certain aspects of each proposal could be improved. One suggestion that came up frequently was to incorporate various elements of each design into one plan.

Over at the Turf Battle blog, Tim Parsons has provided a summary of each proposal. There you can download their plans and presentation slides. We strongly encourage you to leave your questions and feedback in the comments section, or email Remember: the landscape is for the community and we want to know what you think! When the Master Plan Implementation Committee meets in the coming weeks, your ideas will be taken into consideration.

Turf Battle Update & Open Forum

Back in November, the Master Plan Implementation Committee invited students to submit proposals to Turf Battle, a competition to redesign the landscape at Atwater. Although the committee had no specific vision for how this area should look and feel, they imagined a space with additional vegetation and recreational opportunities.

Three groups of students heard the call and submitted their plans last week. One group would like to create the Garden of Scholarly Delight to promote “dialogue between members of the faculty, community, student body, and the environment.” Because this design is inspired by Chinese gardens, the students imagine that such a landscape could “further the College’s aims to promote respect and learning of other cultures and broaden the scope of building traditions on campus.”

Another group of students contrasts their design with Battell Beach and seeks to develop a “more urban ‘plaza’ and flexible entertainment or gathering space.” Central to their plan is a “terraced seating area that looks out over a retention pond/stage/ice rink” whose use would respond to the seasons and the desires of the community.

Finally, a third group of students has developed a plan whose primary goals include encouraging overall use, improving drainage, creating privacy, and establishing an outdoor classroom/performance/gathering area. These students noted that “while [Atwater] currently provides ‘open space’ for potential recreation, it is under-used because of its sloping turf, oddly shaped spaces and heavy pedestrian traffic.” In turn, their proposal calls for the creation of distinct environments to support a variety of uses.

The community will have the opportunity to learn more about all of these proposals at an open forum on Tuesday, March 1 at 4:30 pm in Dana Auditorium. Each group will be allotted 15 minutes to present their plans. Up to 30 minutes total of feedback and Q&A will follow. The Master Plan Implementation Committee, which will consider the community’s response to these proposals, expects to make a final decision by the following week.

If you wish to view the proposals ahead of time, you may download the PDF copies below.

Copy of Catalano-Madson-Moritz

Copy of Webster-Hsieh-Maher

Copy of Webster-Hsieh-Maher-sketches

Copy of Lee-Rosenblatt

The Juice Bar Lives! (Or Will Soon)

Good things come to those who wait . . . . That’s the underlying message of our Juice Bar competition, and I am sure the people looking to buy food and drink in the space once known as the Juice Bar hope this mantra applies to them as well.

So here is the update: as I reported on December 10, our selection committee reviewed nine strong applications, and then interviewed three of the finalists.   We have now settled on our winners, and are very excited about the vision and menus they will bring to the erstwhile Juice Bar (whether it gets a new name remains to be seen).   What’s interesting about their proposal is that it prominently features food options that the Grille does not currently offer (some might call these options healthy alternatives).  In fact, almost all of the proposals stressed the need for healthy/nutritious/local food options on campus.  Which isn’t to say that the Grille doesn’t offer healthy alternatives–only that we could easily expand the possibilities in this area.

So what does this new vision of the Juice Bar look like, and who won the competition?!   You will have to wait until tomorrow (that is, Thursday the 20th) for the answer because I promised the CAMPUS that they could break the news.

Update: you can read the CAMPUS article here, which nicely covers all the salient points.

Also, on behalf of our selection commitee, I want to thank all the students who sent us such creative Juice Bar proposals.  Kudos to the students who will be launching their venture this spring:  David Dolifka, Kate Strangfeld, Ben Blackshear, Jessi Stevens, and Sarah King.

Five Questions for Carl Roesch

Carl Roesch is the manager of 51 Main, an eclectic social venue where people can come together for music, conversation, art, and food.

On January 28, we will be profiling James Calvin Davis, Associate Professor of Religion.  If you would like to ask James a question, please send your submission to  In February, James will become Assistant Provost.

1. What do you find to be most rewarding about your work at 51 Main?

Knowing that I have been a part of something unique to the area and making it work, and also that Middlebury is now host to an eclectic group of people whom I would not have had the opportunity to  meet unless I worked at 51 Main.

2. You have lived and worked in many places around the world. What is your favorite location?

This is a difficult choice. I have taken away many different experiences from many different places that have each in their unique way contributed to my career and growth as an individual.  But  that feeling you get when you are in another country and you know you are someplace else would have to be Turkey.

3. As we send you these questions, there’s a blizzard raging outside. So, what’s your favorite thing to do in the summer?

Be outside. Swimming.   I can stay in the water for hours.  I also like hiking with my wife and dogs and now baby Violet.

4. 2010 was a big year for you: you and your wife welcomed your first child, Violet. What are you looking forward to in 2011?

To just enjoy every parental experience by watching my daughter learn and grow.  She is amazing.  I notice something new every day. My sister is expecting her first in March so 2011 is pretty huge for my whole family.  I wish for good  Health and Wealth for 2011 and beyond.

5. If you could only eat one 51 Main menu item every day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

“Poutine.”   It probably wouldn’t be very good for me health wise, but it is just so good. Fries, cheese curds and brown ale gravy–it just sounds good.