In this post we recognize Matthew Dickerson, Professor of Computer Science and director of the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf, for his 25 years of service to Middlebury. Matthew shares with us his recent successes in writing, his other passions and interests outside of work, and his new upcoming role at the College. Read on to learn more about Midd from Matthew’s point of view.
What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?
I was in graduate school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?
In addition to being a faculty member in the department of computer science (assistant professor, then associate professor, then professor) I am also the director of the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf.
Take us back to your first year as an employee at the College. What were the most significant things happening in your life outside of work then?
I was newly married. I got married in the summer of 1988 and started work here in summer of 1989 (and bought my first house). Our first child was born in the summer of 1990. My first novel was published in 1991. So it was four years with lots of fun developments, and life changes.
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
Involvement in my church (Memorial Baptist Church in Middlebury) is very significant. We recently hired a new pastor, and it’s exciting to see what is happening there. I recently celebrated my 25th anniversary. Marriage has always been a very significant part of my life. Watching my sons grow and fly the nest has been exciting and significant. That last few years have been excellent for writing. I had an historical novel published earlier this year (The Rood and the Torc), and I have a book on trout, fly-fishing and ecology due out later this year (Downstream: Reflections on Brook Trout, Fly Fishing, and the Waters of Appalachia) along with a new fantasy novel (The Gifted.)
Have your interests/hobbies/athletic endeavors changed over the past 25 years? Have any of these been influenced by your work at the College or due to your association with others who work here?
Playing in a band with one of my colleagues helped me grow as a musician. Music is now more important to me than it was 25 years ago (and I hope I’m a better musician and songwriter). Last year I was able to record an album in Nashville with some really talented musicians. Being in a community with a lot of great writers has also helped inspire my writing; some colleagues like John Elder and Bill McKibben and Kathy Skubikowski and those who have worked with me on the New England Young Writers Conference have been very encouraging to me in my writing endeavors.
What is your fondest memory or experience that you’ve had while working at Middlebury?
It is not so much one single event, but more all of the times when former students have come back to visit.
I’ve had great colleagues in the computer science department. I find teaching itself to be worthwhile. I love Vermont, and its rivers and forests and abundance of outdoor activities from fishing to gardening to cross-country skiing and hiking and canoeing.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
I’m excited to be taking on the role of faculty head of Cook Commons for the next three years. I hope to continue to teach for many years. My list also includes playing and writing more music, and writing several more books.
Is there any person on campus (or retiree, former employer) that mentored you, or you feel helped you grow into your job, grow to enjoy your work and your time at the College?
John Elder has been a wonderful friend and encouragement and inspiration to me as a teacher and writer. I’m sure there are many people who could say that about him.