Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement seeks 2018-2019 AmeriCorps VISTA member

The Center for Community Engagement is seeking a 2018-2019 AmeriCorps VISTA member to join our team and we would love if you could share this announcement with your networks including graduating college seniors, recent alumni, or other individuals who might be interested in spending a year of service to work with college students and local youth!

Do you love working with and for kids?  Interested in social justice work at the youth development level? Come join the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement (CCE) as a Vermont Youth Tomorrow AmeriCorps VISTA member in Middlebury, Vermont! This VISTA supports youth and mentoring programs advised by the CCE by offering guidance on best practices to groups, deepening relationships with community partners, providing volunteer screening and support, and more!
We seek a motivated and compassionate individual for a one-year position beginning August 2018 to work closely with the CCE team and help coordinate eight youth and mentoring programs advised by our office. More information here. Feel free to contact CCE Program Director Ashley Laux, alaux@middlebury.edu with any questions.

Weekly Web Updates – May 21, 2018

The WordPress project has just provided a new release focused on Privacy and GDPR compliance. Read all about it.



Fixes and Tweaks

  • Fixed content-caching for the Institute site that broke last week and was preventing edits from being visible to anonymous users.

Ongoing Work

  • Fixes and tweaks for the new Institute site https://www.middlebury.edu/institute/
  • Upgrading applications to run on PHP 7.1.
  • Upgrading the Drupal sites for the Davis programs, Dining Menus, and Museum of Art to Drupal 8.
  • Upgrading CAS to 5.2.9
  • Creating a photo sharing platform for the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference

A Shaggy Dog Story

A few days ago, I had a curious self-realization about this blog.  For all intents and purposes, each blog posting is my version of the classic “Shaggy Dog Story”.  For my readers who don’t know what exactly a Shaggy Dog Story is, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“In its original sense, a shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline”

So, while off on a run today, a pretty routine run, which I hadn’t planned on blogging, a very minor punchline became apparent, so I thought I would do a short write-up on it.  I only have one photograph in this posting, as I wasn’t really looking to write it up, until something curious happened…..

I went into today’s run with one thing in mind.  It was a cool, pleasant Sunday afternoon, a week before the Vermont City Marathon, and I wanted to get outside, push myself over a modest distance, and enjoy the pleasures of mother nature.  As I mentioned in my last post, I like to benchmark myself on early season runs, to check into my training, and to establish times to beat as the summer and fall progress.   The run on Brooks Road (the right turn on a dirt road about a half mile past Breadloaf, before the final ascent to the Snow Bowl), from the Chatfield/Widow’s Clearing parking lot has long been one of my favorites for this purpose.  It is a forest service road, with easy footing, and climbs in a series of short, moderately steep ascents, with long flat sections in between, leading to a 3.5 mile, slightly less than 700 ft vertical ascent.

Setting off from the bottom, the run is flat for about a quarter mile, then starts climbing, shortly thereafter.   As I reached the end of the first mile, I suddenly saw two dogs bounding towards me off leash.   Hearing their owner behind them shouting “Don’t worry – they don’t bite….” I reminisced over incidents when the next dog move was to lunge at me.   Fortunately, these two where indeed only interested in having a good sniff of sweaty runner.  But that isn’t really the shaggy dog story.   What I did notice, was that I was running very well, so I began to wonder if I could match or improve upon my PR for the ascent.  Sure enough, as I reached the end of the dirt road, I looked down at my watch, and noticed that indeed had ascended faster than ever before.

I don’t make a habit of posting times and speeds in this blog – because frankly I am not that fast, and I don’t want this to turn into just another training blog.  That said, I also knew from past experience that I had never done this run, as a round trip, in less than an hour, and realized that with the downhill acceleration, I just might be able to accomplish this, so I turned, and headed back down the hill.  Are you bored yet?  Still waiting for the punchline?

The descent did indeed prove to put me on a pace to break the one hour barrier for this run, until about a half mile from the bottom, where I noticed a black blob in the distance.  Another untethered canine perhaps?  But no, it was my second bear sighting of the season.  Now, I have two favorite bear sayings, pertinent to my running interests.  The first adage goes “You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your slowest friend”.  But, since I was running by myself that wouldn’t do much good.  The second one is “If you stop and take a picture of a bear, you run the risk of having the last shot on your camera be of the bear’s tonsils”.  Hence, I have never had the chance to take a picture of one of these wonderful creatures while out running.   This time was different;  I was on a long broad straightaway, with a good line of sight, but still far enough away that I hadn’t startled the bear yet.  So, I pulled out my cell phone, and took a shot, using the digital zoom, not thinking about my running goals for this run, as I finally got a bear picture on the trails.   After convincing myself that I had a serviceable photo, I shouted kind words to to my ursine companion, a hundred yards or so away, and he calmly lumbered off into the woods, allowing me to complete my descent.  At this point, my adrenaline was flowing, but I suspected that my goal of finishing under an hour had been squandered.  Riding the adrenaline rush, however, I was indeed able to complete the run in 59:30, kicking it in.  Now – here is the shaggy dog.  My amazing bit of photography:

Yes, it is a bear

Feel free to click on the photo – if you expand it to full size, you will see that it is indeed a black, 4-legged creature.

Brooks Road on Google Earth

Altitude Profile for the ascent and descent of Brooks Road

Retirement Transitions

Individuals who end employment after having worked for Middlebury in a benefits-eligible status for a minimum of ten years past the age of forty-five qualify as “Middlebury Retirees”.


Name Type Retirement Date Department
James Schamber Staff 3/23/2018 Public Safety
Mary Backus Staff 4/3/2018 Information Technology Services
Lisa Ayers Staff 4/20/2018 Events Management
Christopher Ayers Staff 4/20/2018 Facilities Services
Cheryl LeBlanc Staff 5/4/2018 Student Financial Services

Employee Benefits: Private Exchange Update

Early last spring, during a series of open meetings on financial sustainability, the community was introduced to the concept of a “private health exchange”, which Middlebury had planned to implement in 2019. As a reminder, under a private exchange our current one-size-fits-all medical plan will be augmented by at least two new medical plan options, giving employees the ability to select a plan that best meets their needs. In addition, a private exchange will likely include an optional employer-funded health reimbursement account or a health savings account* (both quite popular with employees), as well as additional dental and vision options and new voluntary benefit choices. Implementing a private exchange will allow Middlebury to continue to improve our excellent health benefits while at the same time managing ever-rising healthcare costs.

Our update today is that this benefit change will be postponed until January 1, 2020. The reason for the change in timing is that the institution needs to prioritize the implementation of the Oracle ERP (Enterprise Resource Platform) project—Project Ensemble. That work is underway and is going well, but will extend through the spring of 2019.

While the delay is unfortunate, it has the upside of allowing Human Resources more time to work with our Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium partners to design a program that will best meet the diverse needs and preferences of our community and ensure that we have the support needed to minimize uncertainty and anxiety that often accompany changes of this kind.

For example, as we learn more about best practices we are strongly leaning toward a set of tiered plans that will cover the identical services, procedures, and prescription medicines, with the difference being in the share of the cost covered within the chosen tier. This model reduces the complexity of decision-making and concerns about equity between tiers of coverage.

Even with a simplified tier approach we remain acutely aware that adding multiple benefit plan options will require comprehensive support for employee decision making. The GMHEC partners have continued to explore sophisticated software options that are available to help employees navigate the benefit selection process. In addition, we have learned that the newly emerging best practice is to employ not only software, but to contract with a benefits consulting company to provide a team of highly trained professionals to temporarily supplement the employer’s benefits department during the critical decision-making period. In this way the institution can ensure that anyone who wants one-on-one support will be able to get a timely appointment. Our thinking, at this point, is that such a model could be highly useful, especially during the first year of the private exchange.

As we look forward toward the private exchange, we want to emphasize one important institutional commitment: regardless of the composition of the benefits program, Middlebury will continue to maintain its income-sensitive approach to employee contributions in which lower-compensated employees pay a significantly lower percentage of the premium cost.

Because the private exchange implementation is now over a year and a half away, we do not anticipate having large open meetings over the next few months. However, HR remains committed to keeping the community apprised of the project status and to that end has recently visited Senior Leadership Group, Staff Council, and met with representatives from Faculty Council to provide in-person updates.  As we get closer to January 2020 you can expect communication and engagement efforts to intensify. In the meantime, we are happy to meet with other stakeholder groups who may be interested in learning more about our current thinking on private exchange design and support of the new program.  Please email questions or invitations to cmullins@middlebury.edu.


–Karen Miller

–Cheryl Mullins

Latest News from the Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry

Featured image by Faustin Tuyambaze on Unsplash

The Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry (DLINQ) has an active blog and website. Catch up here on recent news and updates in case you missed them:

A Few Evergreen Posts

DLINQ posts a weekly blog series published on Tuesdays newly re-launched as “The Dirt!” where you will find updates on the projects, news, and developments from staff in our Middlelbury, Vermont and Monterey, California based offices. We invite you to subcribe to blog updates, visit our “About” page to learn about our mission and our January 2018 launch. Explore our “People” and “Projects” pages where you will find descriptions and links to our areas of work, and learn how to connect with us.

Featured image by Faustin Tuyambaze on Unsplash

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.