Author Archives: Middlebury Magazine

Road Taken: 90 Minutes


Stouffer: Now that the pregame work is done, we can finally catch up. I’ve had this [Major League Soccer] game circled on the calendar—two Midd alums in the same press box, in the same role as directors of communications—since I joined D.C. United.


Lindholm: Yellow…that’s not a good start. So, Craig, we’ve known each other since I got into MLS seven years ago, and you noticed I was a Middlebury grad. How did you come to the game?

Stouffer: I didn’t play soccer in college, but it was a rare home game or NESCAC postseason visit to Williams when I wasn’t on the sideline. MLS was in its first year when I began my senior year, a time when I wasn’t sure about my own path—so I decided to carve out an unlikely career writing about the game. As you know, I covered soccer for a while before landing this gig this year.


Lindholm: Nice! They’re supposed to be sending me out on a high note! (This is Lindholm’s last game with the Rapids. He has accepted the position of assistant coach for the University of Massachusetts’s men’s program.)

Stouffer: Silva is the future of the game in the U.S., I believe. He’s of Mexican heritage, raised in the U.S., and starred in college at UC Santa Barbara.


Lindholm: That’s trouble—Moor’s our captain.

Stouffer: How about you? What made you stay in the game after playing at Midd?

Lindholm: Coach Saward doesn’t just teach you how to play soccer, he also instills in you a great love for the sport. I had followed MLS since the day it started, so after graduation I wanted to join the league and help its growth.


Lindholm: It seems like you’re getting into MLS just as it’s ready to hit the big time. Did that play a role in joining D.C.?

Stouffer: Absolutely. As a reporter, I spent a decade investing myself in the sport—now I get to do the same on behalf of Major League Soccer. It’s an amazing opportunity.


Stouffer: So with that being said, why are you leaving MLS now?

Lindholm: In 10 years, there will be more teams, and more jobs in coaching, scouting, analysis, and business. At UMass, I’ll study the game and also get a graduate degree. There might be a new role for me in MLS down the line.


Lindholm: What a strike, from 40 yards! That will be on Sports Center in the morning!

Stouffer: Think you’ll miss MLS, where you see skill like that every week?

Lindholm: Definitely. But I’m joining a crowd of Midd grads in college coaching and helping foster passion for the sport in younger players. That’s exciting, too.


Stouffer: Just missed! That might’ve taken Goal of the Week away from Serna had it gone in.

Lindholm: We’re living dangerously here.


Stouffer: There it is!


Lindholm: You know, this feels like my senior spring at Midd: trying to savor all the moments—even the negative ones, like a D.C. goal—because I know things are about to change.


Lindholm: Can’t you tell your guys to let me finish my thought before scoring again?

Stouffer: I’ll let them know.


Lindholm: There it is: a consolation goal as a going away present. Congrats on the win, Craig, and on joining MLS!

Stouffer: Thank you! Congratulations—well—on leaving MLS for your new opportunity. And good game.

Lindholm: Good game.


Exhibit: Resident Artist

Arthur K.D. Healy "Cecropia" Watercolor on paper, 1951

Arthur K.D. Healy
Watercolor on paper, 1951

“Arthur Healy & His Students,” the title of the exhibit at the Henry Sheldon Museum in downtown Middlebury, is an apt one—not only because it’s a literal description of the artists who have contributed work for the display, but also because this exhibit is intensely personal.

Arthur K.D. Healy was a beloved member of the Middlebury community for more than 40 years. He was a Princeton graduate, though he had attended Middlebury as a freshman in 1921 and would come to make Vermont his home in the early 1930s. In 1943, he became the College’s first artist in residence, an appointment that preceded postings on the teaching faculty and as chair of the fine arts department.   

As the Sheldon exhibit attests, Healy mentored an impressive array of students who would make their mark in the arts world; their paintings share wall space with Healy’s watercolors in the museum’s second-floor galleries. It’s a beautiful display, yet it is the collective reflections of the alumni, presented with their work, which make the biggest impression.

“He made the career of an artist seem so seductive and so admirable that it never occurred to me that I should not try to be one,” wrote Sabra Field ’57.

“Your job is not to render everything in its entirety, but to suggest it,” Ken Delmar ’63 remembers Healy telling him. “Try to capture your subject with the least amount of drawing, least amount of brushwork, least amount of color, least amount of work.”

Nancy Taylor Stonington ’66 recalls the three colors—alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow deep, and Payne’s gray—that Healy insisted they use and relates that 50 years later she relies on these palette choices in her own teaching.

Much of Healy’s work was lost in a studio fire, so the paintings on display are largely loaned from family and friends, many of whom have their own stories of Arthur Healy, stories of his generosity, his fierce intellect, his presence. This bit of detail—the provenance of the artwork—is perfect, really. It’s in keeping with the very nature of the exhibit itself.

Online Learning: Next Course

Prod-Stills-Middlebury-300dpi-39671A digital course for alumni—Years of Upheaval: Diplomacy, War, and Social Change, 1919–1945—is slated for a winter release and will be taught by Russ Leng ’60, the James Jermain Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Law. The course will consist of 10 video classes, each featuring a short lecture and augmented by documentary images, recordings, and videos. To conclude each class, Leng will converse with Frank Sesno ’77, the award-winning journalist and director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

The alumni course follows two other digital ventures recently launched by Middlebury entities. Last summer, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute auditioned its first online course, a six-session series titled Global Trade and Weapons of Mass Destruction. And this fall, students in Middlebury’s master’s degree program in Hebrew are taking advantage of the opportunity to supplement their traditional instruction with video-conferenced class meetings.

Susan Baldridge, vice president for strategy and planning, sees these projects as invaluable opportunities to explore how best to construct learning experiences—“experiences that reflect the institution’s commitment to educational excellence”—which will allow instructors to connect with students and the broader community in new ways.

With the production of Years of Upheaval nearing completion, Leng says that he found the subject matter particularly suited for “an online multi-disciplinary and multi-media approach.”  He adds, “I hope that those who take the course, will find it half as compelling as I did in creating it.”


Download: Why I Love Socrates

Socrates statueEverything about Socrates is ironic and enigmatic: He is one of history’s most famous teachers, yet he claimed not to be a teacher. He stands at the beginning of more than 2,000 years of texts, yet he wrote nothing himself. Universities have canonized Plato’s Socratic dialogues, yet Socrates was never in an academy, but on the streets of Athens—the city that sentenced him to hemlock.

The Delphic oracle called Socrates the wisest person in Athens, yet Socrates felt he possessed only an ironic wisdom, an enlightened ignorance: “I know that I do not know.”

Of all the versions of Socrates, Plato’s remains the most compelling and influential. Plato’s phrases have entered contemporary English: we speak of “the Socratic method,” “the gadfly to the state,” and “the examined life.” Instead of rigidly defending a single position, Plato’s Socrates shows us how to question all positions rigorously. The Socratic position reminds us—lest we be in a rush to judge others—to recognize how much we do not know. Searching itself is meaningful; questions become as important as answers.

Plato’s Socrates continues to inspire students today, as well as creative minds across cultures. The young Nietzsche called Socrates “the vortex of world history.”

Virginia Woolf, in an essay on the Greek classics, wrote that reading a Socratic dialogue provides “the greatest felicity of which we are capable.” And Martin Luther King, in his 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail, invoked the spirit of Socrates when he called for reform and for “nonviolent gadflies.”

Today, when it comes to humanistic inquiry and hard conversations about controversial issues, Socratic dialogue can provide a valuable model; there’s so much we do not know, and so much we can gain from questioning and searching together.

Symposium: Tech’s Role

middlebury_finalThis year, at the annual Clifford Symposium, the keynote address was given by John Palfrey, head of school at Phillips Academy and author of four books on education in the digital age. The conference’s theme was “Transforming the Academy in the Digital Era,” and Palfrey’s address touched on the need to blend digital tools and face-to-face pedagogy.

“When we figure out the sweet spot in the combination,” he said, “we can do some really interesting work together.”

People often think in either/or constructs. But at this symposium, as attendees discussed technology’s role in education, they consciously strove for more of a both/and method of thinking, something that was readily evident in all the lectures, exhibits, panel discussions, and performances. (The symposium concluded with a mind-bending performance by Paul Miller, also known as DJ Spooky, in which the artist channeled electronica to interpret algorithms that mirror the geometry in ice crystals and the math of climate-change data. He then melded this iPad composition with a violin solo to construct a suite of music that most attendees surely never thought possible.)

“What we wanted to avoid was the rhetoric of utopia or dystopia when talking about technology in the academy,” Jason Mittell said a few days after the symposium had concluded. Mittell, a professor of film and media culture and American studies, organized Clifford this year. As regards technology and pedagogy, he said he subscribes neither to “knee-jerk boosterism” nor “dystopian skepticism.”

“In my mind, it was critical that we approached technology within a context, recognizing all the other factors that affect teaching, learning, and scholarship,” he said.

“We’re living in an era of change,” he continued, “and all too often it seems that people are quick either to celebrate or blame technology in ways disproportionate to its impact. We wanted to bring a realist approach to understanding the role of technology in the academy.”

Mittell saw this year’s Clifford as the launch party for Middlebury’s new digital liberal arts initiative (DLA). This effort will involve people from geography, history, and library sciences working to foster a campus-wide understanding of technology and the liberal arts.

Throughout the year, DLA will host workshops and reading groups pertaining to open-access publishing, digital archival research, and emerging interdisciplinary movements such as the digital humanities.

Said Mittell: “We want to give visibility to new tools and approaches in teaching and scholarship while also providing support and guidance for faculty who’re interested in experimenting, trying different things.

“Digital transformations have caused us to rethink what’s a given,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re putting technology at the center of what we do. We just don’t want ignorance to be an excuse or fear to be an obstacle when considering how technology can be best used in the academy.”          

Colophon: Where Do Fanatics Come From?

_D3_7358Despite being a part of the generation that in World War II defeated fascism, Eric Hoffer was never a member of U.S. armed forces. Rejected as an enlistee when he was 40, the Bronx-born, working-class Hoffer turned to laboring as a longshoreman along the docks of San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Always considering himself more a reader than a writer, Hoffer nevertheless distinguished himself with his first book, garnering acclaim with the 1951 publication of what scholars and laymen alike continue to regard as a classic.

In The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Hoffer focused on explicating the collective psychologies underpinning Nazism and Stalinism, the two dictatorial movements that had risen to prominence, and very nearly to world domination, during the prime of his life. Others, of course, had wrestled with how nearly half of humanity could ever have been led down totalitarianism’s senselessly destructive path. However, no one had yet explored the issue with the incisiveness, lucidity, and wit that Hoffer’s prose offered. Hoffer had an abiding respect for the common people and yet discovered that they continued to allow themselves, with alarming predictability, to be blindly misled.

While generally in favor of religion, Hoffer nonetheless professed lifelong atheism. He was wary of the descent into fanaticism that, now, has become a hallmark of extremist sectarian and terrorist movements. Fanaticism facilitates abandoning one’s fundamental humanity or, as Hoffer wrote: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”

Wild Moose Chase


In search of Vermont’s most mysterious creature

I tumbled headlong down the hillside once, twice, three times before landing in a heap of snow beside Ky Koitzsch, a wildlife biologist from in Waitsfield, Vermont and also my guide as we trekked along a remote ridgeline in the Green Mountains, east of Granville, Vermont, in search of moose.

“The avalanche method,” I explained, as I struggled to extract my splayed cross-country skis from nearly three feet of powder. “It works almost as well as skiing when the hill is this steep.”

After untangling my limbs, I reattached my skis. Ky waited all of five seconds before setting out again along the moose tracks, not noticing the difficulty with which I was clambering after him. He had eyes only for the hoof prints that curved out before us, disappearing into a dense thicket of decapitated firs.

“Tracks!” called Ky from twenty yards ahead. “Here are our first moose tracks.” He pointed into the snow with his pole. “They’re not fresh—probably two days old or so, judging by the amount of snow that’s blown into them.” The tracks were widely spaced and diagonally staggered.

He then skied a few yards and, leaning over, put his head a few inches from an indentation in the snow.

“Here’s a good one!” He drew me to his side with an animated hand gesture. “You see how this side is deeper?” He didn’t give me a chance to respond. “You can tell the direction the moose is traveling based on the uneven depth of the print. When the moose walks, it puts most of its weight on the front of its hoof, just like we do. So the deeper side of the print with point in the direction the animal is moving.”

He rolled his balled fist through the snow, mimicking the movement of a moose on the hoof. “We’ll follow these for now. They should lead us to some fresher tracks.”

Our trek took us still higher into the Green Mountains and further from the national park access road that had deposited us into these snowy woods. Ky was confident that we’d find fresher tracks before the day was out—if not an actual moose.

“Come look at this, Conor,” Ky said without looking up from the trunk he was scrutinizing. “This is a great example of bark stripping. You can see marks from the moose’s teeth. Moose only have bottom incisors, so the scraping will always be angled upwards.”

I ran my hand along the grooved surface, thankful for the momentary respite from our energetic jaunt.

Other than tracks, trees display the most prominent signs of moose. During the winter months, moose in the Vermont woods rely on woody twigs for food, and evidence of moose munching on trees could be seen almost everywhere Ky and I turned. The tree Ky pointed to was a striped maple, one of the many varieties that moose will eat during the winter.

“The food moose eat in the summer is buried now,” Ky said. “Now, instead of greens like leaves and aquatic vegetation, the moose will browse on mostly woody twigs and bark. Around here, I find that during the winter, they eat mostly striped maple, balsam fir, hobblebush, and occasionally cherry and birch.”

Moose derives from the Algonquin word “moz”—meaning “twig eater.” And moose certainly live up to their name. The animals consume staggering amounts of vegetation. A typical moose will eat sixty pounds of vegetation in a day. All of which is digested in a moose’s massive, four-chambered stomach.

We stopped in a meadow about thirty yards away from a striped maple tree that a hungry moose had stripped of its bark.

“These,” he said, gesturing to the meadow of firs surrounding us, “have been chowed! Notice that none of these firs are more than five feet tall—moose stunt their growth by coming back and eating here for multiple years.”

“Do you think they’re fresh?” I asked.

He ripped a branch off the closest fir tree. “Look at this,” he said, handing me the branch.

I glanced at it, then back at him. I could tell the end had been chewed off, but didn’t know what else I was looking for.

“Notice the color of the bark,” he told me. “You can tell from the brown color of the inner wood that this moose passed through at least two days ago. If this bite had been taken any more recently, the inner wood would still be yellow or even green.”

We moved through several meadows that had been trampled by browsing moose. Ky followed one pair of tracks for a little bit before picking up a new one—and then a newer one.

“Ah, here we go. Check this out. You can tell this is a moose rub based on the height.”

I studied the patch of trunk he was discussing. Starting at about three feet off the ground (and then spanning another four or so feet) the tree’s bark had been rubbed away, leaving stringy bits of wood hanging at the top and bottom edges.

“This bark wasn’t eaten, it was rubbed off by the moose’s antlers. You could tell that the bark on that striped maple we saw before had been eaten because of the incisor grooves and the clean edges,” Ky said. “But you can tell this fir was rubbed because there are no incisor grooves.”

He removed a glove, running his bare hand along the trunk. “See?” he said. “Totally smooth. Also, the edges of the bark are stringy and frayed when antlers rub them.”

“Keep your eye out,” he said.

As fast as we were moving, Ky reminded me that we couldn’t hope to match the speed of a moose travelling through the woods. I found it hard to imagine animals as large as moose moving swiftly through the labyrinth of brambles and fallen trees that were clawing us from all angles.

“Look at this!” Ky said, “This is great! A fresh moose bed—it can’t be much more than a few hours old!”

We stood before a rounded depression in the snow—a bowl a moose’s body had created. At its center was a heap of what looked like tiny chocolate eggs. A few inches beyond, it appeared someone had spilled a dozen highlighter markers. I couldn’t take my eyes off the fluorescent urine and the pile of droppings.

“Pick one up,” Ky said. “We’ll see how long ago the moose was here.”

I picked up a small piece of scat. It was an egg-shaped pellet, not much bigger than a marble.

“Is it warm?”

“No,” I said, squeezing the pellet. “It’s not frozen though.”

Ky picked up another pellet from the heap, rolling it between his fingers. It broke open like an Easter egg.

“Sawdust.” Ky showed me the digested bits of wood. “That’s really all it is. Now if we were looking at coyote scat—or any other carnivore, for that matter—it might have been uglier. This is basically just cellulose.”

We started following these new tracks, which Ky estimated were made about an hour earlier.

“I’ll bet she heard us,” he whispered. “We can’t be far behind her now. As we ski, try to be as quiet as you can.”

We spent ten minutes in vigorous pursuit. The tracks reached an open meadow and pivoted sharply, turning uphill. Then they turned back downhill. Or were they a different set of tracks? I slowed down, unsure.

“It looks like she went higher up into the mountains,” Ky said, pausing. “I’m thinking we should probably head back. We’ve had this cow moving pretty fast for awhile now, and she’ll already be pretty warm in weather like this. We really ought to let her be. She’s probably struggling as it is.”

“Of course,” I said, trying not to sound disappointed.

 This essay is an abridged version of a longer story and video produced for the winter term course Writing the Adventure.