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 vpadmin@middlebury.edu.  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.

Not Exactly Administrative News: Ten Great Albums of 2010

The following post is not even close to an administrative update, but for the past couple of years Matt Jennings and I have blogged about our favorite albums of the year (for instance, see this and this).   Because we do a radio show on WRMC every Friday afternoon, we get to pretend to be authorities on pop music.  And we have fun.

We ‘re doing it again this year, and share the following recommendations in the spirit of the holiday season.   We invite readers to post their recommendations as well.  The more, the better . . .

Matt’s Choices

Astute listeners of 68 Degrees and Holding will not find my list particularly surprising (nor will they be surprised by what will surely be a snarky response from my friend and co-DJ, the author of this blog).

Some really good music was produced this year, but to my admittedly quirky ear, this five albums represent the best of the best:

  • Mumford & Sons, “Sigh No More”

A brilliant debut from this West London quartet. From Marcus Mumford’s passionate vocals to Winston Marshall’s banjo pickin’ (yes, Spears, banjo pickin’!) to Ted Dwayne’s mastery of the stand-up bass, this band manages to sound both refreshingly original yet appropriately reflective of their musical roots in bluegrass, folk, and eclectic rock.

  • The National, “High Violet”

I enjoyed “Boxer” so much that I was both eager and anxious about this album’s release. Eager because “Boxer” just left me wanting more, more, more and anxious because I fretted that “Boxer” was so good that anything that followed would be a letdown. Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

  • Frightened Rabbit, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” [Insert Spears eye roll here]

I’m well aware of the heresy of comparing the Irish to the Scottish, but this band reminds me of the Pogues–without Shane MacGowans drunken (and ultimately destructive) antics. “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” is the perfect follow up to 2007’s “The Midnight Organ Fight”; it’s fun, catchy, and addictive.

  • LCD Soundsystem, “This is Happening”

A trendy pick, I know, but to ignore James Murphy’s latest work would be a flagrant omission, especially if we were to look back on this list in a year’s, two years’, ten years’ time. Aggressively original and fascinating to listen to.

  • Treme Soundtrack

From the traditional (Dr. John, Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Kermit Ruffin) to the original (Steve Earle’s “This City, which was written for the show) to the hilarious (“Shame, Shame, Shame” by Steve Zahn and friends) this soundtrack from the HBO original series is a must have, both for fans of the show and folks who love great, authentic music.

Tim’s Choices

No snarkiness here.  All sweetness and light!

  • Cee Lo Green, “Lady Killer”

Cee Lo Green has a storied career in the hip-hop world, but this is a full-out R & B record that traditionalists will love.  It includes the infectious and infamous “F– You,” which can be seen and and heard in all its glory on YouTube.  But there is nothing gimmicky about this album.  Fans of Michael Jackson, Al Green, or Beyoncé should take note.

  • Janelle Monáe, “The ArchAndroid”

At times, this sounds like another entry in the R & B sphere, but the album is so diverse and international in its offerings that it really can’t be categorized (though I don’t think it includes any banjo).  Style-wise (check out her videos), Monáe gestures to 1920s (the album cover art is apparently inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, Metropolis), but her genre-mashing encompasses hip-hop, jazz, Afro-punk—you name it.  A virtuoso performance, and Monáe, who is from Kansas City, is only 25.

  • Bruce Springsteen, “The Promise”

The outtakes from Springsteen’s 1978 album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” the songs here will please long-time fans of the Boss.  This album is not entirely new, since Springsteen has been performing these songs for decades and they’ve appeared on bootlegs.  But it is great to have them all in one place.   And it’s also worth listening to these songs along with “Darkness” so you can see what sort of sound and statement he was going for on the original album, which is more stripped down than “The Promise.”

  • Robyn, “Body Talk, Pt 1″

The Swedish techno-pop star hits the sweet spot with songs about dancehall love, gender bending, and cyber culture.  She keeps it light, witty, and danceable—not so heavy as Lady Gaga.   And, believe it or not, she will be performing at Higher Ground in later January.  I already have my tickets.

  • Jamey Johnson, “The Guitar Song”

This is country music about the useful themes: heartbreak, crummy jobs, alcoholism, and the little pleasures of everyday life.  Johnson is a compelling storyteller, and his Alabama-tinged bass voice gives the lyrics a sense of gravitas and depth.  I don’t listen to a lot of country music, but I keep returning to this album, trying to understand why I like it so much.  There are also just enough guitar riffs here to satisfy rock fans.

Juice Bar Competition Update

A selection committee convened last week to review the nine proposals we received for a student-managed food and drink service in the Juice Bar. As we have mentioned before, proposals were evaluated on the following criteria: feasibility, economic viability, vision, and simplicity. We also took into consideration the numerous comments readers left on the last update post, so thank you to all who contributed.

After much deliberation, we have narrowed the field to three proposals. We have notified the students and we will be conducting interviews in the first week of January. We hope to make a final decision shortly thereafter. If we are unable to reach a decision after the interviews, we will reconsider the other applications.

In the meanwhile, please feel free to continue chiming in on what you’d like to see at the Juice Bar.

Five Questions for Gary Margolis and Karl Lindholm

Gary Margolis  is Executive Director of Counseling and Associate Professor of English.  Karl Lindholm is Dean of Cook Commons and Assistant Professor of American Studies.  Both are Middlebury graduates from the class of 1967.

1. You have worked with literally thousands of students over the years.  Is there one student experience in particular that stands out for you?

Gary: How often our students, with support, humor and goodwill, can move from despair to resiliency.

Karl: It’s a tie between (1) the night of Winter Carnival in the 80s when I went to the Slug barn to help Public Safety (then Campus Security) close down a frat party at 2:00 a.m. that was infuriating its neighbors and when the house president said over the band’s microphone that the Dean was here and he says the music has to stop all in attendance chanted, “F___ the Dean!” and poured beer on the Campus Security officer- and (2) the occasion on a cold snowy Saturday morning of another Winter Carnival weekend when Dean of the College John Spencer and I called in an enormous earth mover (from a nearby construction site) to destroy the obscene snow sculptures (anatomically perfect) in front of the DU house first and then the Chi Psi house next, the earth mover rumbling up Main Street amid the cheers of the frat boys bedecked in bathrobes and u-trou. Ah the good old days. Then there was the raft race on Otter Creek, and the demo derby in front of one of the frat houses, and, oh yeah, the time Erica Wonnacott and I . . . .

2. What is your all time favorite Middlebury College sports memory?

Gary: If memory affords me: beating Plattsburgh in triple-overtime on their rink and driving home in a snow storm; winning our first lacrosse national championship at the University of Maryland and driving back to Midd with Mickey Heinecken; bus rides with my basketball teammates; seeing Karl on the mound.

Karl: April, 1965, Middlebury 5 – RPI 1, in baseball, the one good game I pitched in three years. Went the route, all nine innings. After the game, my new college girlfriend Anne and I went with friends down to Green Mountain Park in southern VT and enjoyed the thoroughbred races at that time  – that was a good day.

3. In one sentence, what advice would you give a newly arriving first year student?

Gary: Asking questions of your professors and deans is a strength; keep the phrase, “progress not perfection” close to your heart.

Karl: Work hard; have fun; enjoy your friends; make new ones; don’t drink too much; spread out; grow; relax; take a deep breath; enjoy your surroundings (love those semi-colons – one sentence!).

4. What influence have students had on your style as an advisor and counselor?

Gary: To listen carefully for what is said and unsaid. To being open to the unique experience of each student and the wisdom they bring.

Karl: Are you kidding – a short answer? My job(s) has been about students. I have enjoyed my constituencies. My limitations have been in administering systems. I like it when students talk to me. I try to listen and respond honestly.  At the outset, I remember what I felt as a student and what I needed so I have tried to be someone that I might have been able to talk to then, who I might have listened to, who didn’t condescend, but who leveled with me, and seemed to enjoy students, and life, who had some enthusiasm for the enterprise.

5. What is the most significant positive change you have seen at Middlebury since you graduated from the College in 1967?

Gary: That as the “Strength is in Our Hills,” it is also in the changing landscape of our contemporary students, from across the country and around the world, and in the ways they urge, require us to take each background and way of life into account.

Karl: The increased diversity in the student body, which has been the hallmark of the school’s effort and concern in all the years I’ve been here.

On Staffing, Mission, and the Challenges of Reorganization

To illuminate one aspect of the staffing changes the College has experienced during the last two years, we asked Jeff Cason, Dean of International Programs and a faculty member in the Political Science department, to describe the benefits and challenges of reorganization.

*****

As everyone knows, we have been going through a great deal of change on campus lately as we have dealt with a reduction in staff, changing expectations about what staff should do, and reassessing what we all do, in many ways.

I have found it particularly interesting—as well as challenging and rewarding—to work with staff in the “international” area as we have dealt with the need to readjust our expectations over the last year and a half, and as we have consolidated operations in the area. In this international area, we’ve seen a staff reduction that mirrors the overall staff reduction at Middlebury, which is about 15%. This has not been easy—how could it be?

In the consolidation, we have brought together staff in the International Programs and Off-Campus Study office, the International Students and Scholar Services office, and the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs. Bringing these three areas together makes a great deal of sense, given their affinities and related and cross-cutting purposes.

The consolidation has brought both challenges and opportunities. Since we are an area of the college that has certain “non-discretionary” service requirements (we can’t stop providing services for international students who need visas to come to Middlebury, after all!), we have to figure out how to do things more efficiently, and figure out what we have done in the past that we no longer need to do.  And in some ways we are doing more.  For instance, over the last few years we have been increasing the number of students from other colleges and universities who attend Middlebury’s Schools.  This makes both financial and reputational sense for the College, so we know we will continue in this direction.

A key component of our reorganization effort has been to make sure that communication happens throughout our area and the entire organization.  We have done this by making sure that everyone is at the same table every two weeks, in a general staff meeting. While this might be seen by some as a new time commitment, by bringing colleagues together, we have been able to learn from one another and save time in other ways. At these meetings we have also increased cross-campus dialogue by inviting colleagues from other departments (most recently, the office of Student Financial Services) to meet with our full staff and discuss topics related to the entire group’s work. The individual units also continue to have their standard meetings to discuss nitty-gritty and routine work in their areas. This is still a work in progress, but we have made progress.

Very importantly, this consolidation has led to colleagues doing new things, which almost everyone has found beneficial. As one colleague put it to me in an email, responding to a query about what I might include in this post: “I think the thing most worth mentioning is how the consolidation has forced us to think differently about ‘our jobs.’ We have people who have traditionally always done certain tasks/projects, but as we consolidate, different people have been given the opportunity to dabble in areas of interest where they may not have had experience before.” Noting that there are different needs (and different crunch times) in the different offices, this staff member concluded: “The challenge is identifying these needs and availabilities and matching them with staff interests enough in advance to capitalize on the opportunities, but we’ll get better at that.”

I do think we’re getting better at that, as our staff knows more about what everyone in the broader area—and outside the area—does. It is not a simple process, of course. And it’s interesting, to say the least.

Juice Bar Competition: What Do You Want?

The deadline for submitting proposals to establish a student-managed food/drink service in the Juice Bar area of the Grille has come and gone. The competition has yielded nine outstanding proposals demonstrating the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our students. A committee of faculty, staff, and students will convene shortly to review each proposal and select a final candidate by Monday, December 13. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their feasibility, economic viability, vision, and simplicity.

Having read through all of the proposals, I have noticed that several common (and uncommon) themes have arisen. In the beverage arena, smoothies, hot drinks (espresso, brewed coffee, and tea), beer, and wine are clear favorites among the submissions. Several proposals include a desire to also serve niche drinks, such as kombucha, bubble tea, and butterbeer (a la that bespectacled boy-wizard). As for food, there seems to be a tension between healthy fare and comfort food. Submissions include everything from Asian-inspired light meals to afternoon snacks to just desserts.

In terms of the appearance and ambience of the restaurant, students widely acknowledged the need to counterbalance the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality of our campus. Whether advocating for the feel of mom’s kitchen counter or a 1930’s-style jazz café, students want to develop a venue where patrons can hang-out, relax, and unwind.

There was also no shortage of ideas for what sort of entertainment should be available. Poetry readings, improv shows, classic movie screenings, theme nights, coffee tastings, board games, and especially live music top the list.

Given the array of proposals before us, it would be helpful to have a sense of what the greater community would like to see in the former Juice Bar. Even if you did not craft a proposal, you likely have an opinion about the beverages, food, entertainment, and overall atmosphere that should be offered. If the new venue is to be successful, what should be included and what should be left out?

Why?

In light of Dean Shirley Collado's November 15th essay about the role of privilege in dish theft, I bring you this post syndicated from The Middlebury Landscape. Horticulturalist Tim Parsons draws a connection between dish theft and the rampant tree vandalism he has witnessed this semester and rightfully asks, "Why?" -Tim

*****

7-18-6. Not a fertilizer label, but an accounting of the fall semester at Middlebury. Seven-the  number of weekends in a row we’ve seen vandalism against trees. 18-the total number of trees affected. And 6-trees killed outright. We come into work Monday morning, and, in addition to picking up the inevitable and ubiquitous litter and detritus from the weekend, now survey the damage as well. I was not writing of it, hoping to sweep our problem under the rug, hoping that these acts were random, solitary, maybe just an aberrant mutation on an otherwise pristine campus, a passing social deviation that would go away on its own. And I’m preaching to the choir, here, after all. I’ve discussed vandalism in the past on Middland, and am quite frankly a little sick of telling the tale. I’ve reported this problem to my superiors, and they’ve approached community council. And I was going to get on with life, and write posts on annuals, the Sustainable Sites Initiative, and put some more work into Turf Battle. Last night, Dean Shirley Collado wrote a piece on One Dean’s View called Plates and Privilege. We’ve all heard about the missing plate problem, thanks to Aunt Des and the great communications department. But Shirley’s take is different, and had me thinking all night (well, until 9:30 or so, I can’t seem to stay up like I used to) about privilege. Let’s let her say it best:

I would like to call students to action to think more critically about the human face behind the dish problem. Think about what it says about us as a community when these small acts of thoughtlessness create a collective problem that impacts all of us in a negative way. This thoughtlessness speaks volumes about what kind of people our students are going to be when they leave this institution.

So, I thought, our tree vandalism is a problem of privilege, like the many beer cans scattered around on a Monday. It’s easy to take trees for granted, and yes, sometimes they do get in the way (I’ve wondered on one or two broken branches if the offender was tall-sick of running into the same branch every day).  But then I cleaned up some of the damage today, and came to a different conclusion. We have a problem of violence. Pictures won’t even do it justice, and even my words won’t. In the service building? Come by my office, I’ve saved a couple pieces of broken limbs. But let me try to explain what’s going on here. The offender (I hesitate to use the word ‘student’, as surely this individual isn’t really learning anything here) is breaking limbs off of trees. Serious limbs. I climb trees, and, while I still resemble the pasty geek I was in high school, I’ve jumped a couple of weight classes. Limbs broken would hold me and my chainsaw with room to spare. Limbs that are not just snapping off, but need to be bent, wrenched, moved back and forth hoping to break 3” of bark and wood to separate it from the tree. Entire small trunks of immature trees not only bent to the ground, but shaken, trampled, twisted and torn, sometimes breaking completely, sometimes left hanging , or lying in ground, waiting for a chalk outline to surround it. This is an act of rage, of violence, well beyond wanton destruction of property, senseless passing violence against an animate object incapable of screaming or defending itself. A 3” limb, counting rings, is probably very well older than the person breaking it off. Monday will come again, and again we’ll go out, willingly pick up the remnants of a privileged life, but hope and pray that no more violence has befallen our silent friends.

Five Questions for Missy Foote

Our guest this week on Five Questions is Missy Foote.   A member of the Athletic Department for more than thirty years, Missy currently serves as Director of Physical Education, Senior Women’s Administrator, and women’s lacrosse coach. 

Our questions come from a variety of sources, including the women’s lacrosse team.

On December 3, we will be profiling Gary Margolis (Executive Director of Counseling; Associate Professor of English), and  Karl Lindholm (Dean of Cook Commons; Assistant Professor of American Studies).  If you would like to ask Gary and Karl a question (or two), please send your submission to vpadmin@middlebury.edu.

*****

1. You’ve coached a number of sports during your career at Middlebury. If you had the chance to coach a sport which you haven’t yet coached, what would it be and why?

Since I’m a wanna-be Nordic skier, I would love to coach that sport. Of course, the problem is that I know nothing about Nordic skiing from a coaching standpoint, but I do love that the sport demands that the athlete be in great physical shape while also focusing on the intricacies of both classic and skating technique. I think it would be a fun challenge to figure out how to best prepare athletes in those ways. Besides, without a doubt Nordic ski coaches own the best gear!

2. For what fault do you have the least toleration?

Seeing someone with lack of passion might be the thing I have the least tolerance for. It probably boils down to the fact that I like being around people who simply say “yes” to more things than “no”, and who live their lives with intention, willing to dig in to see the possibilities of most situations.

3. How do you think athletics contribute to the overall culture of Middlebury?

Whether for the spectator or for the participant, athletics gives one the chance to lose oneself in the simplicity of an arbitrary goal. For Middlebury students, where intellectual pursuit can sometimes feel all absorbing, athletic events can draw people into the joy of being physical or the commonality of rooting for ones classmates towards an uncomplicated end.

4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?

My dad was a Navy pilot for the first 16 years of my life, so my family moved every 3-4 years while I was growing up. I loved living in different states and making new friends wherever we lived, but I especially loved the constancy of visiting my grandparents in Alabama for summers and holidays. Those days seemed endless, filled with the ways of the old south; gathering for big mid-day dinners, making home made ice cream, sitting on the front porch on hot summer nights listening to the grown-ups talk, water skiing and fishing on the lake, and walking on endless stretches of deserted beaches on the Gulf.

5. What do you think about when you run? What’s your favorite run near/on campus?

I think about NOTHING and EVERYTHING at the same time when I run! The reason I love running so much is that thoughts float in and out during the course of the run. There is no conscious effort to choose a topic, or solve a problem, but inevitably by the time the run is over the problems have diminished and my outlook is always more positive. And, what is my favorite run? That’s easy. It’s Chipman hill. It’s a playground with all kinds of possibilities and challenges, and I always feel so good when it’s over!

Plates and Privilege

Once again, I would like to syndicate a timely blog post that has generated much discussion on an oft-recurring subject at Middlebury: dish theft. Dean Shirley Collado examines the matter from the perspective of privilege and invites you to join the conversation. If you wish to comment, please click the above title to visit the post at its original source. -Tim

*****

Today, I am writing about plates. It seems almost comical that this is the subject of my post, but since pilfered dishes have been a major topic of discussion throughout campus lately, I’d like to bring up an aspect of this issue that has not received much attention.

We’ve talked about the extremely high cost of replacing dishes, the hundreds and thousands of missing plates, and the efforts undertaken by Community Council, Student Government, and the administration to resolve the problem. But there has been less discussion about what this situation says about our students. I believe it’s not a plate problem, but an issue of privilege.

It is one thing for students to be unconcerned about costs, but it’s quite a different matter to be unconcerned about people—and the message that this behavior sends is, “This is really convenient for me, and I don’t care who has to deal with it. I don’t care if other people have to clean up after me.”

We are approaching a holiday in which people in this country and around the world don’t have enough food to eat and are trying to find a warm place to live. Yet, here at Middlebury, we live in an incredibly privileged environment that is beautiful and pristine. I am sure that everyone among us is thankful for this environment. It takes a lot of hard work to create and maintain it—work that scores of staff members put in on our behalf every day.

They move through campus, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, keeping lights running, mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, and thinking about how to make our campus safe and clean. When they have to contend with ant infestations from food-caked dishes left in dorms, or with picking up dirty plates piled in bathrooms, or with hauling large boxes full of filthy dishes down flights of stairs, or with soaking and then hand scrubbing them, I imagine that they can’t help but feel undervalued—or worse, unseen. They are being forced to do work that is incredibly menial and unpleasant because of thoughtless behavior.

I would like to call students to action to think more critically about the human face behind the dish problem. Think about what it says about us as a community when these small acts of thoughtlessness create a collective problem that impacts all of us in a negative way. This thoughtlessness speaks volumes about what kind of people our students are going to be when they leave this institution.

As we pause with family and friends this Thanksgiving to reflect on the many blessings we enjoy, please take time to see—really see—the people here who make our campus a haven of calm and beauty. Perhaps, even, ask yourself how you can show your appreciation for their efforts.

An Overview of Internal Communications: Tips and Challenges

As I suggested in my October 15th post, internal communication can be a challenge. In an effort to improve communications on this front, the President introduced the topic at a meeting with Senior Managers this morning, with the promise that we will return to the issue in subsequent meetings.

To frame the discussion, Deans, Directors and Vice Presidents asked Managers to explain how they communicate within their areas, to identify the challenges they face, and to offer suggestions for improving communications at the College.  Here is a summary of their responses.

Meetings

  • Weekly meetings for management teams and groups with a “report out” model
  • Regular all staff meetings (monthly), mostly report out with some question & answer
  • One-on-one with direct reports at some interval (weekly, quarterly)
  • Quarterly meetings on topic of interest or importance
  • Annual retreat to set agenda and discuss strategy (full staff)
  • “Just in time” meetings, immediate and brief as needed
  • Meeting by subject, project, or topic, group follows the subject rather than hierarchy
  • Weekly teleconference to set agenda

Tools

  • Minutes and agendas should be shared broadly, within department and across
  • Departments should develop an annual communications plan
  • Outlook calendar as preferred way to manage meeting invitations and schedules
  • Regular email updates, weekly or less frequently, to serve as a complement to meetings
  • Email bullets from direct reports to managers on a weekly basis
  • “Just in time” or urgent email with timely information
  • Informally float and “visit” with staff
  • Vary the medium to reach different audiences, blogs not for everyone, and not everyone has convenient access to a computer
  • Shared web-based project chart or management tool

Style

  • Communications often mirrors the hierarchy in terms of how information gets out
  • Important to hear from the top with clear direction and priorities
  • Important for leadership to be open to questions and model openness
  • More “before the fact” communication with key stakeholders

Challenges and Suggestions

  • Lateral or “department to department” communication is frequently noted as concern
  • Changes in organizational structure don’t really tell you how to get things done
  • Impact of decision not always thought through in terms of all stakeholders
  • Need to be more clear in setting expectations for those who are communicating out
  • Should be considering who needs to know what by when and state clearly
  • Must balance amount of time with benefit, more communication requires more time
  • Invite people from other departments to attend meetings from time to time
  • Create a community email digest with important updates to minimize amount of email
  • Pick up the phone, don’t use email when a phone call or a “face to face” can work