Posts by Timothy Spears

 
 
 

Five Questions for Jeff Stauch ’05

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The Five Questions series returns this week with Jeff Stauch ’05, Assistant Director of Principal Gifts. Check back throughout the year for more Five Questions posed to our staff and faculty colleagues.

1. As Assistant Director of Principal Gifts, you get to travel around the country and to other parts of the world to ask alumni and friends of the College for their support. How do you get over the awkwardness of asking others for money?

I’m not going to lie: part of me gets enjoyment out of the discomfort engendered in fundraising, and I think that helps me professionally. By the nature of my work, I am always, at some level, bringing people out of their comfort zone by asking them to engage in a significant philanthropic relationship with the college. The other thing to keep in mind is that when you’re actually in front of the donor, they know why you’re there, at least on some level, so it’s easier just to address it. Believe me, I still get the jitters sometimes, but I take that as a sign that I care about the outcome of the conversation. You also have to remind yourself that fundraising on certain days is the art of getting rejected, and that while you are responsible for making the best case for giving, you cannot control how the donor will respond. You have to remember that when the donor says “no,” they aren’t saying, “No, and I hate you,” they’re just deciding that now isn’t the right time to give to Middlebury. The awkwardness part, though, that’s actually kind of fun. It’s like dating: both nightmarish and exhilarating. And generally uncomfortable for both parties at different points in the conversation. And both parties leaving the conversation somewhat bewildered at what just happened.

2. Next spring, you will demonstrate for your shodan (first-degree black belt) in Aikido. Why do you practice Aikido?

Dangerous question, if only because I could talk about Aikido for hours. I got into Aikido completely by accident, actually; it’s been an interest path since I randomly showed up at a dojo in Paris, France, in 2003, during my year abroad. I really fell in love with it in 2005, during my graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where I used it to keep my life in balance. I continue to study it for a lot of reasons, the least significant of which is the ‘practical’ reason of being able to hold my own in a fight; if anything, the more one studies the art, the less we seek out conflict. Aikido brings with it a code of ethics and an opportunity for spiritual exploration. You often find yourself stuck in any technique, and it’s a matter of finding out where you are erring, not your partner. It teaches you about the body, both your own and the body of others. Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, one of the great practitioners of the art, called Aikido, “a philosophy of action,” which I think hits the nail on the head. It teaches you both how to move and how to channel your own desires to respond to conflict violently in a more productive manner. Another teacher, not my own, said that for him, “Aikido is about the chipping away of the ego, not fueling it,” which is another great way to summarize the beauty of the art.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to my two teachers, Jonathan Miller-Lane Sensei right here in Middlebury and Kagan Arik Sensei in Chicago who have both encouraged and challenged me in my training. It is impossible to overstate the importance of good teachers in Aikido and I’m very fortunate to have two of them.

Lastly, I should note that I find myself using the lessons of Aikido in professional settings, too. That’s not to say that I end up throwing a colleague or a million-dollar prospect across the room or break their wrist, but rather I use the principles of centeredness and calm resolution to stand my ground if a donor (or colleague!) is particularly riled up about something. It’s been of great use to me in non-martial situations that are nonetheless conflictual.

3. You have been known to ask first-year students during orientation, “What’s your favorite part about college so far?” What’s the most interesting ice-breaker question you have ever been asked? What’s the answer?

Well, in Boston, when I was managing a canvassing crew that raised money for political non-profits, we had a question of the day every day before we went out to canvass for five hours, so there are a few different ones that come to mind.  The one that backfired on me big time was “What was the name of your first pet,” which turned into a sob session in which everyone told us the name of their first pet, all of its relevant and endearing features, and then how it died.  So we all went out onto the streets that day thinking about the death of puppies, kittens, parakeets, and guinea pigs.  I’ll also make the suggestion that you not ask what someone’s nickname was in high school, as not all nicknames, I learned, were necessarily terms of endearment.

4. Tell us about Pamplemousse.

Ah yes, Pamplemousse. Pamplemousse, or Pampy for short, is my pet rabbit. And whenever I tell people I have a rabbit, they always seem to think it’s a euphemism for something far more sinister; sadly, or happily, the Pampy is an actual, literal rabbit. I’ve had her since March of 2009. I made the decision to get a rabbit while on a business trip with severe food poisoning, which is when all important decisions should be made. She is a mixed breed, all black number who continues to expand. She is excellent at many things, including eating, quickly excreting what she has eaten, chewing wires, cardboard, windowpane envelopes and rubber bands, looking bewildered, and washing her face. I have tried to teach her math and ASL, but to no avail. Singing lessons have also gone unappreciated. I’ve told her she won’t improve without practice, but her passions seem to lie more in eating parsley and tipping over her small, wooden house. On occasion, I take her outside for walks (sporadic hopping, really); she has a bright pink harness/leash. She’s good to have around in my life; she tears around the apartment when I’m home in the evening and before I go to work. She guards the place during the day. I catch myself talking to her a little too often sometimes. Also, I’m of the opinion that all things manly that I do in life are instantly discounted when I tell people that I have a pet rabbit.

 5. In Sex & the City 2, Carrie says, “I’m more Coco Chanel than coq au vin.” We hear you’re just the opposite. What’s your favorite thing to cook?

The funny thing is that I was a terrible cook until after I graduated from College.  The summer between undergrad and grad school, I was selling shoes in Southern Vermont, living in the barn of a family friend, and the only rent that they charged me was cooking on my days off, so I figured I better learn a thing or two.  It’s such a hard question to answer, because I really love cooking (and eating) all manner of things with equal amounts of joy.  Given that I run a fair amount, I’m somewhat of a carb freak, so I guess I’ll have to answer by saying that I really love baking my own bread and making my own pasta and then immediately gorging myself on the product I’ve just managed to create.

Emerging Landscapes—From Atwater to Washington DC

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Given the progress made this week on the Atwater landscape project, I can’t resist posting these photos (taken this morning), and encouraging people to take a walk over to the north side of the campus to see the area. Though it’s not done yet, as College Horticulturalist Tim Parsons noted in this week’s Campus, the project is gradually coming together—just “have faith.”

But I should point out that this work and the facilities projects described in my earlier post require more than faith to be completed. Besides financial resources and the hard work of staff and hired contractors, they require careful planning and management. Kudos to the Project Managers engaged on all these projects: Tim Parsons (Atwater landscape); Tom McGinn (Forest and the Solar Decathlon site); Mark Gleason (HARC and Kohn Field); and Mary Stanley (118 South Main).

Meanwhile, 488 miles to the south . . .

. . . the Solar Decathlon team arrived this week on the National Mall, where they have sited their solar-powered house—called Self-Reliance—and are getting ready for the competition sponsored by the Department of Energy. We’ll be hearing more about this competition in the coming weeks, but for now check out this cool time-lapse video of the team reassembling their house. Rumor has it they were the first team on the mall to begin construction. They make it look so easy . . . ! You can read daily updates about the team’s progress on their blog.


A New Year, and Some New and Improved Spaces

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Every September, students return to campus to find that something about the landscape has changed. Over the years, Middlebury has maintained a remarkably distinct culture—visiting alums often comment on how the campus still feels the way it did when they attended the College—but the physical plant has certainly evolved and expanded.

This year’s changes are more in the nature of renovations. We have not replaced the Bubble or the Mods—not yet—but we have improved some existing spaces. Here are the major projects completed this summer, plus photos.

Forest Hall: A huge project finished in a compressed time-frame, resulting in an overhaul of the major building system, new residential spaces, and air conditioning.

New lounge:

New room:

History of Art and Architecture Suite: The Music Library moved to the Davis Family Library, and HARC took its place in MCFA. The suite includes offices for the faculty, two new classrooms, and a new space for the slide library. And the College Art Museum is just steps away.

Reworking the entrance:

In the suite:

New classroom:

Kohn Field: New turf and lights.

Landscape Around Atwater: Following up on plans developed in the student design competition (“Turf Battle“), Facilities Services has begun work on a project to enhance the landscape in and around Halls A and B and the Chateau. That plan includes additional vegetation and a new stone patio. Much of the work will be completed by the end of September, though we will not be able to finish the project until next summer.

118 South Main: An old, historic house, renovated as office space for emeriti faculty, who will now be across the street from the Davis Family Library.

Solar Decathlon House: A site is being prepared for the house on Porter Field Road, where the building will be installed when it returns from the competition in Washington, DC.

Hepburn Steam Line: The kind of project that seems to get done by magic in the summer, thanks to efficient work by Facilities Services. Ten days ago, this area around Hepburn was torn up.

More on Turf Battle

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We were happy to see the front-page story in today’s Campus on the plan to improve the landscape around Atwater.  The Campus had asked for an exclusive on the story, and we gave it to them.

However, we were disappointed that the article did not say more–or even mention–the students who generated the designs for the plan: Jesse Catalano ’11, Bente Madson ’11, and Jake Moritz ’11; Jaeun Lee ’11 and Molly Rosenblatt ’12; and Leah Webster ’11, Christine Hsieh ’11, and Jack P. Maher ’12.

They deserve credit for their work on this project. As we told The Campus, we plan to install a sign that acknowledges their contribution to the College community’s enjoyment of our outdoor environment.

For more information about the site plans and how the students’ visions were incorporated, visit the Turf Battle blog.

Important Update on Salary Increase Program

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

After careful review and additional research we have decided not to cap maximum salaries.

The SRC/Wage and Salary Committee’s recommendation that we enforce maximum salaries was based on the assumption that caps would free up resources that could be allocated to staff members further down in their salary ranges so they can reach the midpoint of their salary band more quickly. Further review now indicates that the number of staff members who will be at the maximum will be fewer than expected, and therefore the savings gained by enforcing the maximum salary will be relatively small.

However, Human Resources (HR) will still be conducting a market analysis over the next year to ensure that staff positions are placed in the correct career band/level and that our salary ranges are accurately tied to the market. This is very important because beginning in July 2012, we will calculate annual increases on the midpoint—now to be called the “market target”—of the salary range. As we’ve noted in written communications and in open meetings, tying raises to the midpoint rather than individual salaries will enable us to direct more dollars to staff members who are lower in the salary structure. The rest of this memo provides an overview of how this project will unfold over the coming months.

Our first step will be to ensure that we have up-to-date position descriptions for all of our jobs. We know that jobs have changed in the recent past and have been working with managers and supervisors to update job descriptions as the changes occur. This is also a natural part of the performance evaluation process, so some of you are having these conversations right now. In addition, HR will coordinate with managers to ensure that we are working with the most up-to-date job information. We encourage each staff member to take an active role in this process. If you feel that your job description does not reflect your current position, please speak with your supervisor. (You can find the most recent job description that HR has on file for your position online.)

We have set a deadline for updated job descriptions to be received in HR by mid-June, so that we can begin to review positions and make sure they are placed in the correct career bands and levels. Once we have completed the placement process, we will share all of our data with our compensation consultants, Mercer. The professionals at Mercer will research the market data, test and refine the salary structure itself, and confirm range minimums, market targets, and maximums. We expect to have the market analysis back from Mercer in the early part of 2012 and intend to communicate with staff about results of the study by March 2012.

Our primary objective is to confirm that jobs are in the correct career band and level and ensure that our salary structure accurately reflects the market. And we want to conduct this process in a transparent manner. More details about the process will be forthcoming, but in the meantime feel free to contact Human Resources if you would like additional information.

Five Questions for Luther Tenny

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Luther Tenny is Assistant Director of Facilities Services.

1. As Assistant Director of Facilities Services, you are responsible for building and maintaining the College grounds. What is your favorite area of the campus?

That’s a tough question because I was born and raised in Middlebury and have several perspectives to choose from. As an employee, Voter Quad on Commencement morning at sunrise. You’ve got the sun just starting to rise hitting the peaks of Mead Chapel and Old Chapel, and the tents are up and we’ve already got a few thousand chairs set. You can see the graduating seniors heading to Alumni Stadium and eventually hear them singing in the distance. The landscaping is perfect and, for me, it is the most rewarding day of the year.

My other favorite place is the top of the Allen trail at the Snow Bowl. I’ve skied it thousands of times in my life starting at the age of 6. It’s one of my all-time favorite ski trails because of the history I have racing there. It’s not uncommon for me to head to the Bowl and take 8-10 runs on the Allen and head home.

Honorable mentions would be the deck of Kirk during sunset and the Great Hall at McCardell Bicentennial Hall.

2. We hear you’re an avid golfer. What’s your handicap and where is your favorite place to play?

Pretty personal question for a first date! I will admit I have a golfing addiction. I would have to look up my handicap, but I think I’m around a 13. I was down to about 11, but I tore my ACL (ski racing on the Allen) and getting my knee back up to strength and getting my timing back down has not been easy. Now with a new daughter I can kiss getting to single digits goodbye. My favorite place to play would have to be Lake Presidential in Maryland. Each year we go down to visit my in-laws in Annapolis, and I play this course every day including Thanksgiving morning. I like it best because I always seem to birdie the last hole of the day. I also usually win some money off of my playing partner Pete who happens to be my partner for the Member Guest tourney at Ralph Myhre. My favorite course I’ve been to but never played is Augusta National. I’ve been very lucky to attend the Masters twice, and that is perfection on every level.

3. You and your wife Carey welcomed a new daughter into your lives a few days ago. Tell us about Millie.

She’s a little peanut and looks just like her dad. Carey read somewhere that it is a biological thing for infants to look like their fathers, so the dads will “stick around.” It’s working. She’s already got me wrapped around her tiny fingers. Amelia (Millie) Bass Tenny has been the most wonderful thing. She’s perfect in every way…but all parents say that.

4. Some of your colleagues, who wish to remain nameless, want to know: Exactly how long was your hair in your skateboard punk days?

Let’s just say I’m glad facebook wasn’t around in those days. I was a walking disaster. Puberty can be so cruel. My hair wasn’t really that long because I had a bowl cut. It was like Justin Bieber meets Eminem. My hair was longest in College when I was spending my extra time traveling to see as many Phish concerts as possible. At the longest, it was down to my shoulders. I entered the working world at an engineering firm where the owner was a graduate from Norwich, so the long hair didn’t last long.

5. You grew up in town, and now work at the College.  What single word best describes life in Middlebury as you know it, and why?

Community. I think it’s great that I can bump into my old babysitter or my friends parents or even a former teacher while grocery shopping. So many high school friends left after college but came back to settle down with a family, because it’s truly a special place to grow up. After high school all I wanted to do was get out of Middlebury, but after four years of College I missed Vermont. It gets in your blood. I returned and shortly after met a group who just graduated from Middlebury. That group turned into some of my closest friends, and that’s how I met my wife Carey who also graduated from Middlebury. Not bad for a “townie.” Both my parents settled in Middlebury because of their ties to friends who graduated from Middlebury. I guess it was only natural to go to work for Middlebury College.

All-Gender Restroom Project

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In recent months, Sarah Franco, Special Projects Coordinator, and Jennifer Herrera, Special Assistant to the Dean of the College, have been engaged with a group of students to develop a plan for creating all-gender (also known as gender-neutral) restrooms in non-residential buildings on campus. This initiative grew out of a recommendation put forth last spring by an ad hoc study group that published a review of potential student life issues facing transgender students. In their final report, JJ Boggs, Associate Director of Campus Activities, and Mary Hurlie, Associate Director for Career Services, recommended that the College “initiate a collaboration with other appropriate college offices, with a goal to convert as many gender-designated bathrooms into gender-neutral bathrooms as possible.”

In pursuing this recommendation, the College hopes to provide support for the safety and health of Middlebury’s transgender students, faculty, and staff. We also believe that acting on this recommendation will benefit other members of our community. For example, the presence of all-gender restrooms would provide more flexibility for disabled individuals who have opposite-gender caretakers. It would also help parents of young children since they would not have to decide which restroom to use. In sum, all-gender restrooms would create more restroom options for all people to use.

It is important to note that the majority of restrooms on this campus would still have a male or female gender designation. There are many within our community who are unable to use mixed-gender restrooms for a variety of religious and personal reasons. These perspectives are equally valued by the College.

Now that the group has engaged President’s Staff, the Space Committee, Community Council, Faculty Council, and Staff Council in conversations about the proposed changes, the College will begin implementation in two phases. In the first phase, we will change the signs on all non-residential single-stall restrooms to one that includes the male and female symbols as well as the universal symbol of accessibility where applicable.  Single-stall restrooms may then be used by anyone. We expect that this phase of the project will be complete by the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year. Because not all buildings have single-stall restrooms, the College will work collaboratively with the occupants of such buildings to identify a multi-stall restroom that could be converted to an all-gender facility. This process will likely begin in the fall. We recognize this is a sensitive issue, and so if it is not possible to reach a consensus, then there may be some non-residential buildings that do not have any all-gender restrooms.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please do not hesitate to send a note to vpadmin@middlebury.edu. Alternatively, you may leave questions and feedback in the comments section (anonymously, if you wish).