Author Archives: Jason Cable

25 Years @ Midd with Arabella Holzapfel

In this post we recognize Arabella Holzapfel, Electronic Resources Manager and Library Systems Specialist, for her 25 years of Service to Middlebury. Arabella shares some recent travel experiences, her favorite hobbies, and some of her fondest Middlebury memories. Read on to learn more about Midd from Arabella’s point of view.

What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?

This could be a very long story. Immediately prior, I was the Children’s Librarian at the Bixby Library in Vergennes. Before that, I was a graduate teaching/research assistant at UVM in the Physics Department. Before that, I was a process engineer at a (now defunct) semiconductor manufacturer in Arizona. Between and among and prior to those times, I worked in retail, volunteered at animal hospitals, did research in astronomy and various other things during my first 25 years of life in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado, and the following 5 years in Arizona. (Perhaps that’s more than you want to know.)

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?

They have all been in the Libraries: I started as a part-time Science Library Assistant at the Science Library in the Science Center that used to exist at the same geographic location as the current Davis Family Library. Following that, I was a Catalog Associate at Starr Library, then a student supervisor at Armstrong Library, then the Periodicals Assistant back at Starr. My position now as Electronic Resources Manager is basically an evolution from Periodicals Assistant, as the library world has changed and as Middlebury’s library staffing has changed.

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 think most peoples’ responses in this section probably have to do with family concerns but I knew from an early age that I did not want children, so I had different things happening. When I started working here, I was happily married and, as I recall, some of my off-work time was focused on coming to terms with the fact that I did not really like research (in Physics) and I was clearly not cutting it as a graduate student (excelling in classes, but bored with research) after entirely too many years. At the time, my resume was a real hodge-podge; I hadn’t worked anywhere for more than a year or two, so I kind of expected the same would be true at Middlebury. As it turned out, my work at Middlebury has helped me “find myself” in ways that continue to surprise me – even after 25 years!

What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?

In late January, our dog, Dash, passed away, and my husband and I began living without four-legged companions for the first time since before we met 30 years ago. We have many interests that we haven’t pursued as much as we may otherwise have due to the joy and responsibilities that come with four-legged companions, so we’re in an exploration phase right now. One thing we are thinking about – by boat, we can get from our house on Otter Creek in Ferrisburgh to Lake Champlain then through the canal system to Lake Ontario, then up the Saint Lawrence to Montreal then back to Lake Champlain and Otter Creek and our house. That would take longer than I could take off from work at one time before I retire, but we might try some pieces of it in the near future. I have also gotten involved in town planning on the Ferrisburgh Planning Commission and regional planning at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. I have found that work frustrating, challenging (in a good way), thankless, and gratifying all at the same time.

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?

My main interests are knitting and pretty much everything to do with old, classic sailboats; those interests haven’t really been affected by my work at Midd. However, over my 25 years here (and very occasionally before that), I have dabbled in golf and I hope to be able to spend some more time on the golf course over the next several years. If I did not work at Middlebury, I would definitely not be able to afford to play golf regularly.

What is your fondest memory or experience that you’ve had while working at Middlebury?

There have been numerous ones; I would like to name two if that’s ok. First is a few blessed friendships that I have with some of my colleagues. For example, my friendship with Michael Warner and his (now) husband, Joseph Watson, sparked my foray into local and state politics, which in turn resulted in personal growth that went in unexpected directions. I am sure that I am a very different person than I would have been if I had not worked side-by-side with Michael for a number of years. That is one example of how my colleagues have changed my life. Second is having had the opportunity through Staff Council and then as the staff constituent on the College Board of Overseers to be inspired and amazed at the commitment, integrity, and personal qualities of some of the trustees and members of the administration. There is a reason that Middlebury is the remarkable institution that it is.

Many people change jobs/careers multiple times in their working life. Something must have kept you here for 25 years. Is it anything that you can put into words?

I think it is a combination of the people I work with, the mission and values of the institution, and the opportunities for engagement and professional and personal growth. The golf course is nice, too!

What are your plans for the next 25 years?

At this stage of my life, I know that keeping healthy makes everything else more enjoyable, so getting exercise, improving my diet, and all the other things involved with staying healthy are becoming priorities. More than that, I would not hazard a guess!

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

The view from the balcony of Kirk Alumni Center, and the eastern view from the upper level of the Davis Family Library are among my favorites. There are also a number of groves of trees around campus that are nice to hang out in for a while. (I guess I’ve been unable to answer any of these questions with “just one”!)

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?

At the risk of not mentioning many who have been influential, I definitely want to mention that when Rebekah Irwin was my supervisor, she was instrumental in helping me create a job that I think really draws on my strengths.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new employee at Middlebury, what would it be?

My motto is “There’s only one rule: have fun!” and as an employee at Middlebury, you have access to more than you might think. Some examples: I am researching a car purchase right now, so I consult Consumer Reports (go/databases, under C) without cost because I work at Middlebury. The library has a stunning array of books and other resources of all kinds (go/summon or go/midcat to find them). Middlebury has a golf course, a ski area, a natatorium, and other athletic facilities. Then there is the opportunity to audit a class or take it for credit if the faculty member agrees. (I’ve done this with Japanese and Dance.) If Middlebury has it, then as an employee you can more than likely use it (sometimes at a discount, sometimes at no charge).

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your time at Middlebury?

These are comprehensive questions, so there is not much I can think of to add. Overall, I feel extremely fortunate to have found my way here.

From E4 Health: Summer Planning

Summer brings longer days, warmer weather, and opportunity to spend time with friends and family. For some people summer means vacation, and cookouts, while those with children may be thinking about child care and summer camp. Whatever your plans may be, let E4 Health help you find all the resources you need.

  • Information on resources and topics such as:
    • Travel and Recreation planning
    • Special interest and special needs summer camps
    • Questions to ask when considering child care
    • Safety tips on outdoor recreation
    • Summer activities and events in your area
    • Pet care resources
  • Financial consultation to develop strategies for managing expenses

Exclusive Savings on Camp supplies, sunscreen, clothing, and more at the online Savings Center

e4health administers the College’s EFAP program.  To access their comprehensive web site, with many tools and articles, go to the e4health web site.
Username:  middlebury college
Password:    guest
Or call them at: 800-828-6025
(phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Next steps in consideration of health care options

Private Exchange Q & A

Q1: I’ve been hearing talk about a possible upcoming change in our medical benefits.  What’s all this about a “Private Exchange”?

In a nutshell, Middlebury, in collaboration with our Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium partners (Champlain College and St. Michael’s College), is considering adding options to our medical and dental benefits (as opposed to sticking with our current one-size-fits-all approach.) The term “Private Exchange” is just the contemporary name for a benefits plan with choices, something many employers have had for decades.

 

Q2: Is this a done-deal?  Is it happening soon?

The implementation of a Private Exchange at Middlebury is by no means a done-deal; at this point the only decision has been to move forward with researching the concept and bringing forward a proposal for leadership’s consideration. Originally, we had contemplated: doing all of the research, coming up with the proposal, vetting it with stakeholders, submitting the proposal for approval and, if approved, implementing the change effective January 1, 2018.  However, the Administration recently decided to extend the project timeline by a full year to allow ample time for deliberation.  This means that if the change happens it will not be effective until January 1, 2019.

 

Q3: Why are we thinking about doing this?

Having one-size-fits-all medical and dental plans is quite unusual for a large employer. It is common for large employers, including our peer schools, to give employees options so that they are able to select a plan that best matches their own needs. To be competitive we need choices, too.  In addition, having various options may actually reduce the overall cost of our benefits, as some employees will elect to purchase plans that are less expensive than our current plan.

 

Q4: But I really like our current medical and dental plans; will I have to change?

The range of plan options have not yet been selected, but we fully anticipate that one of the options will be quite similar to our current medical and dental plans. So, if you want to maintain the same (or similar) level of coverage you will have that option.

 

Q5: Great, but if this Exchange project goes through and I do elect to keep my current plans will I have to pay a lot more than I am now?

We are not anticipating that there will be a significant change in employee premiums for our current plan. (Keep in mind, though, that as medical inflation continues to rise there will be regular premium increases, just as there would be if we made no plan changes.)

 

 Q6: That’s good to know! But if I was interested in changing my benefits, what kind of options might there be?

The project is still in its infancy, so there are no firm details to share at this point. What we can say is that we are likely to see 2 or 3 other medical plan options that are less expensive than our current plan, as well as a less-expensive dental option.

 

Q7: Having to make a choice makes me nervous – how will I be able to make a good decision about which plan is “right” for me?

Great question! What’s “right” for one employee might not be the best choice for another.  Several factors come into play in making a rational choice.  First, what is your health status (and that of your family, if you have covered dependents)?  Do you have chronic conditions?  Do you take expensive medications?  Are you planning to expand your family?  Is elective surgery likely to be in your future?  You’ll also need to think about your budgetary needs and your risk tolerance, since lower priced plans require that you pay more out-of-pocket when you have certain services.  So, for example, if you are healthy and have a little savings set aside that you could use if you experienced an unexpected medical cost, then you might decide to elect the lowest price plan and use your premium savings to build up your nest-egg.  However, if you have a chronic condition that requires a lot of medical intervention you may decide that our current plan is the best option for you.

If Middlebury does go forward with adding options we will have extensive educational opportunities as well as new easy-to-use decision-making software that will help you make a choice that is right for you! Keep in mind, too, that you could opt to stick with what you know, the first year, take your time learning about the new options, and then make a change (if any) during the following year’s open enrollment period.

 

Q8: Who gets to decide whether or not we are doing this Exchange, and if so, what the options will be?  Will employees have opportunities to weigh in?

Ultimately, it will be Middlebury’s Senior Leadership Group (SLG) who will make the final decisions. However, there is much to do before we get to the decision point.  Over the next several months, Human Resources will be working with our Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium partners and Hickok & Boardman (our long-time Broker/Consultants) to vet various possible options and premium structures.  Throughout this period we will have check-ins with key senior leaders to make sure we are on the right track.  Sometime late in 2017 we will have a fully developed initial proposal ready to present and if the Senior Leadership Group is comfortable with the direction of the project, early in 2018 we will share the specific options with the community and solicit feedback.  This communication/feedback will likely come in a variety of venues, such as: meetings with Faculty Council/Faculty Senate, Staff Council/Staff Advisory Team, and the ad hoc Budget Committee to be followed by faculty and staff focus groups, distribution of written materials and so forth.  (If you are interested in participating please watch MiddPoints early in 2018 for updates on meetings and focus groups.) Once the feedback period has closed, the data gathered will be considered, plan options adjusted as necessary and a final proposal made to Senior Leadership Group, likely in early summer 2018.  Assuming SLG approves the final proposal there would then be a comprehensive employee education and communication plan that would last through the fall 2018 open enrollment period, in anticipation of the January 1, 2019 effective date of the new plans.

 

Q9: OK, so it sounds like there isn’t anything I need to do at this point.  But who should I speak with if I have other questions or concerns?

If you have general questions that you think other employees may also have, consider sending them to middpoints@middlebury.edu; questions of general interest will be posted (anonymously) in upcoming Q & A articles, and answered by Human Resources. If you have a particular or private concern, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at cmullins@middlebury.edu; I’m happy to help!

–Cheryl Mullins

Telehealth – Convenient care when and where you need it!

Have you ever been away from home, whether for work or business, and developed a bad sore throat or ear ache? Have your seasonal allergies ever suddenly kicked in and you feel miserable, but when you call your primary care doctor’s office you learn that you can’t get an appointment until next week?  Has your child ever developed an unexplained rash on a holiday, when your house is full of relatives, and you think it’s probably not serious or contagious, but you’re not quite certain?  If you are covered by Middlebury’s medical plan, and find yourself (or a family member!) in such a situation consider trying Cigna’s Telehealth service.  Through Telehealth you can speak with a board certified M.D. by phone or video chat who can diagnosis and treat (including ordering prescriptions) a wide variety of minor illnesses.  Telehealth is quick, convenient and very inexpensive – on our plan the cost is only $8 per “visit” and the deductible does not apply!  It takes only a few minutes to register for the service and once registered the wait time to speak with a doctor is usually about 5 minutes.  Several Middlebury employees have already tried the service and have given it rave reviews.  If you think it might be something you’d be interested in trying, consider signing up now, so that when you are not feeling well you can get connected to a medical doctor – from home, work, or on the road (so long as you are within the US) – within just a couple of minutes.  And if you do try it please consider letting Human Resources know how you liked the Telehealth service – this is a new benefit for us and we’d love feedback from our medical plan participants.

 

–Cheryl Mullins

Midd/MIIS Travelers

The following employees have reported upcoming travel between Midd and MIIS:

From Midd to MIIS From MIIS to Midd
Ann McMenamin, Advancement Week of June 12 Melissa Sorenson, Digital Learning Commons  May 30-Jun 7
Meg Storey Groves, Advancement  May 18-21 Andrea Hofmann-Miller, GSTILE-T&I  July
Bill McKibben, Environmental Studies Oct 31-Nov 4 Renee Jourdenais, GSTILE  Summer
Sue Halpern, English & American Literatures  Oct 31-Nov 4 Cris Silva, GSTILE-T&I  Summer
Maureen Anda, MIIS Alumni Relations Office  August
Maggie Peters,  MIIS Alumni Relations Office  August
Leah Gowron,  MIIS Alumni Relations Office  August