Category Archives: Midd Blogosphere

Healthcare Consulting Case Study: A Workshop in Non-Profit Consulting

Friday, March 9, 3:00 pm in AXN 219

Are you interested in public sector/non-profit consulting? This workshop, which is part of the larger UpNext: Careers in Consulting events, will focus on an example case study to give you a better understanding of the nature of public sector/non-profit consulting, types of clients, their service needs, and whether it may be appropriate for you. Bring your questions.

The Rikert Trail Name Game

Way back when, in the 80’s, when I began my career at the College and started skiing regularly at the College-owned Rikert Ski Touring center at Breadloaf, some “newer signs” were being mounted on the trees, indicating new trail names.  Apparently, until a few years previously, the trails had descriptive names, such as “Turkey Trot”, “Snow Snake” and “Figure 8”, and these, rather than their newfangled names were still commonly used, but the college trustees chose to rename these trails to honor famous Middlebury figures – some of which were truly connected to the Breadloaf campus, and some whose direct connection to the environs still seems a bit mysterious.  Nonetheless, most of the old names are now only vague memories of the old-timers, and the 30+ year old new names are used on the modern trail maps, as well as the signage out on the trails.  I thought it would be fun to ski all of the trails named after historical figures, and find out a little bit about each of them.


Leaving the open field, and entering the woods, the first trail most first-timers ski onto is the Battell Trail. It is only fitting that this well-loved trail is named after Joseph Battell, a scion of Middlebury who built the Breadloaf Campus as a mountain resort, and donated it to Middlebury College to create the Breadloaf Campus.  Full disclosure here – my endowed chair at the college is named after a few of his descendants, so I guess I too have benefited financially from his generosity!  I could write a whole post on Battell, but there are a lot more names coming.


After a short climb on the Battell Trail, I took the right turn onto the Cook Trail, a delightful little dipsy-doodle descent, complete with a mini-jump that has been part of the trail for as long as I have skied it. The Cook Trail is named after Reginald Cook, an English Professor at the college, and also director of the Breadloaf School of English, the summer Masters Degree program, in the mid-20th century.


The next named trail, “Thomas” was one I had no idea on. Rebekah, a college archivist, did a little sleuthing for me, and suggested that the trail is named after John Thomas, the Middlebury College President from 1908-1921. He is also known for having founded the Breadloaf School in 1920, so it makes sense that he would be honored with a posthumous trail name!

After a short stretch rejoining the Battell trail, I finally got to a trail named after an actual skier! The Bower Trail, named after Middlebury Alum John Bower ’63, arguably the most famous Middlebury College Athlete. In addition to winning the NCAA Championship in cross-country skiing in 1961, he also was on the US Olympic Teams in 1964 (Innsbruck) and 1968 (Grenoble), and returned to coach the Middlebury Ski Team before leaving to direct the nordic program at the US ski team.


My wandering path next brought me to the Freeman trail, named after Professor Stephen A Freeman, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 478 (OK maybe I stretched that a little, but he was over 100!).  Freeman is known for bringing the Middlebury language programs to international prominence, and establishing the schools abroad.  I don’t know of any special connection he may have had to the Breadloaf Campus, or the Rikert Ski area.  Does anyone else know?


I next did a short loop on the Gilmore trail, named for the adjacent Breadloaf Dormitory by the same name. I wasn’t able to connect this trail name to any Middlebury College name of prominence, but my college archivist connection Rebekah guesses that it was the name of a local landowner at some point. Looking on geneology confirmed that there were indeed Gilmores living in Ripton in the 19th century, but I couldn’t find much more, although I suspect that time spent looking over Ripton land records could confirm or deny this. I will also take a look around some of the local cemeteries this summer with my eyes open for the Gilmore name.   I did, however, find a blog post describing past alcohol-fueled literary debaucheries by some of the summer residents of Gilmore House!



The next named trail on my jaunt through the woods, is another one named after an actual skier, the Sheehan Trail, named after “Bobo” Sheehan, Middlebury Class of ’44, whose name is also attached to one of the chair lifts at the Snow Bowl. Sheehan, a born and bred Vermonter (from Newport), also the was the coach of the college ski team from 1947-1967, and was also the father to professional golfer Patty Sheehan. Although I suspect that he was more known for his prowess as an alpine skier, I think he deserves a nordic trail as well.



The next named trail, Frost, needs no introduction. He lived here, wrote here, and walked here. And yes, probably slept here as well.


Although I didn’t ski at all on the Holland Trail, I did pass by the sign for it. This was a tough one to figure out, but a friend who is a former Rikert Employee and Google Whiz (Thanks Nate!) came up with a likely candidate, Laurence Holland, a longtime Breadloaf professor and Chairman of the English Department at Johns Hopkins, who apparently met his demise while swimming unsuccessfully (That is a euphemism for “drowned”) in the Ripton Gorge in 1980.


The next trail name as a little bit of a mystery as to its name, “Mandy”. I have heard two explanations as to its origin. The more reputable of the sources seems to think that the trail name is associated with a former Breadloaf employee whose last name was “Mann”, while another current employee thought she had heard it was named after someone’s dog. I am going to have to ask some old-timers about this one!

Craig’s Hill

After rejoining the Frost Trail, I took a sharp left turn, and came down from the upper reaches of the old racing trail, and descended the section known as “Craig’s Hill”. Chatting with a former Rikert employee, he seems to think that the Craig name was associated with a landowner in the area, past or present. Most people who ski at Rikert probably don’t give too much thought to land ownership, presuming that all the land is either Middlebury College property, or part of the national forest. Actually, the land is a patchwork of private, college and public property, and I know that expansion of the cross country skiing is limited by the needs of local property owners.


Still following the path of the old racing trail, I came to the Upson Trail, still commonly known by it’s old name “The Figure 8”. A few years ago, on this blog, I wrote a little bit about Mr. Upson, but self-plagiarizing:

W. H. Upson had been a prolific writer for the Saturday Evening Post, as well as other periodicals during the mid 20th century. Although he lived in quite a few parts of the country, including a stint at the Caterpillar Tractor Company in Illinois,when he eventually settled in the Middlebury area, he frequently attended the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, and taught creative writing on occasional at Middlebury College.

The house on RT 125 called “Earthworm Manor” is also his former home, and is still used as a Breadloaf School of English residence.


The last descent down to the Breadloaf Barn, home of the Rikert Center, is down a trail now labelled as the Tormondsen Trail.  This trail, the current racing trail, is named after John Tormondsen ’82, a former All-American skier and generous donor to the college – and even younger than me!   I have presumed that he donated a lot of money to the college to support the Rikert area’s recent upgrades, as well as making the donations such that the common room of the building where I work, Bicentennial Hall, is also named after him.  Thanks!

On a more somber note, the trail maps for this final descent also still also bear the Cubeta name.  The now-deceased professor for whom this trail was named long ago, was a powerful English Literature professor, Provost of the College, and head of the Breadloaf School.  In the Middlebury College version of #metoo, about 30 years ago, enough men started talking to each other, and realized that they weren’t the only ones being sexually harassed by this professor.

Now, you might guess from the length of this posting, that this was an epic long ski tour.  Nothing could be further from the truth – I covered a lot of Middlebury College history in about 4 miles!

Google Earth of the ski tour


Upcoming library catalog (MIDCAT) downtime

In preparation for our upcoming merge of the Middlebury and MIIS library catalogs, our vendor, Innovative Interfaces, Inc., will be adding a 2nd serials and acquisition unit to our Millennium installation.  This addition requires a short period of downtime, which will occur on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 4AM-8AM.  During this period, MIDCAT will be unavailable, including lookup and checkout functions.

Thank you for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

Terry Simpkins
Director, Discovery and Access Services
Davis Family Library

How to Turn Off Outlook’s Clutter Feature

Many students have told me that they’re not getting emails about events and opportunities sent out by the CCI.  In every case, the email was found in a student’s “clutter” box.  Microsoft had a “smart” filter called Clutter that has been turned on by default. It claims to learn what email you consider to be clutter and moves it to the Clutter folder. Microsoft has since dropped Clutter in favor of their “Focused Inbox” feature, but if your computer received this feature from the earlier launch then you may find it is still in effect, unhelpfully moving some messages to this Clutter folder.

If Clutter is hindering rather than helping you, here’s how to turn it off:

1. Log into to the Outlook Web Application (OWA) via a browser <>.
2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen. This will open the Settings options in the right-hand column.
3. Toward the bottom of that column, click on Mail. This opens a new column on the left-hand side of the screen.
4. In this column, you will see, under Mail, a selection called Automatic processing. If it is not expanded, click on the arrow next to that heading.
5. From the Automatic processing options, select Clutter. This will open the Cluster options in the center column.
6. Click in the box with the caption “Separate items identified as clutter” to deselect it. That will turn off the Clutter filter.
7. Click the Save icon at the top left of this column. Things will no longer be sent to the Clutter folder now.

Hair Me Out: A Black Hair Celebration

The collaborative, locally sourced, internationally themed, contemporary and historical exhibit “Hair Me Out” is now installed on the Upper Level of the Davis Family Library and includes multimedia components in the atrium. It explores the political, diasporic and stylistic phenomena surrounding Black hair from all around the world. This exhibit will be installed from February 21st through March 22nd. Stop by to see it and visit to see its digital representation.

Who’s involved in this latest exhibit?

four women holding a banner

Four members of the crew working on the Hair Me Out Exhbit, from left to right: Katrina Spencer, Kizzy Joseph, Thandwa Mdluli, Jade Moses.

Katrina Spencer (Literatures & Cultures Librarian) [KS]: Roll Call/ Credits:

  • Jade Moses, a sophomore from New York and Guyana who studies Psychology
  • Thandwa Mdluli, a sophomore from the small kingdom of Swaziland who studies Psychology and may seek a minor in Dance
  • Kizzy Joseph, a senior from New York and Grenada who studies American Studies and is pursuing a double minor in African American Studies and Education Studies
  • Betty Kafumbe, a staff member in the Finance/Controller’s Office from Uganda

    three women holding products

    A small portion of the cast responsible for the Hair Me Out Display, from left to right: Betty Kafumbe, Katrina Spencer and Jade Moses.

  • Professor Christal Brown from North Carolina who is Chair of the Dance Program
  • Natasha Ngaiza, a Tanzanian American Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Culture
  • Lydia Clemmons, a community member and owner of the Clemmons Family Farm
  • Myself, a librarian from Los Angeles who regularly encourages creative and collaborative projects

“Hair Me Out”? Is that a pun?

a horizontal banner reading "HAIR ME OUT"

A screenshot from the Hair Me Out exhibit’s digital homepage

KS: It is! And all credit goes to our punny Jade Moses! The Hair Me Out exhibit is an opportunity for Black staff, students and faculty to showcase many of the ways we engage with our hair. The texture of our hair is one of the most definitive markers of our ethnic and racial identities and has suffered a great deal of persecution for centuries and even today with bans of dreadlocks (2012), Afros (2016) and braids (2017) still happening in schools, on work sites and in the armed forces in the United States, in parts of Africa and throughout the Black diaspora. The rise of the natural hair movement has invited Black peoples to re-embrace our hair in its natural state and has granted Black peoples license to appreciate our hair anew. A variety of styles and testimonies can be seen on the exhibit’s digital home page at

The Hair Me Out exhibit includes and represents this trend and the many others– weaves, extensions, press ‘n’ curls, relaxers, finger waves, et al– that have come in and out of popularity over time, inviting in-groups and out-groups to critically engage with this highly politicized part of our personhood. Have you ever wondered why Michelle Obama hasn’t been seen with an Afro? Or why Barack Obama hasn’t sported cornrows while delivering the State of the Union address? Hair has meaning and Hair Me Out taps into it.

How did you decide what to include?

various hair related items including a wig, hair literature and styling products

Part of the Hair Me Out Exhibit including a wig, hair literature and styling products

KS: As “we” say, “from jump” we knew that we would be working without a budget so we had to be creative about what we would include. Aside from books, mannequins and stands, 100% of the items– dashikis, wigs, combs, busts, pins etc.– and products– creams, oils, butters, etc.– are personal property belonging to some member of the group.

Two wooden busts adorned with colorful head wraps

Two wooden busts adorned with colorful head wraps

Lydia Clemmons from the local and Vermont-based Clemmons Family Farm really came through with beautiful items and realia sourced from West Africa: wooden statuettes of Black women with textured carvings of hair. When I provided the seed of an idea for this project, my vision was rather modest. It has grown impressively under the careful and loving eyes of many.

Is there co-programming that goes along with this?

KS: Yes! Newly tenured dance professor Christal Brown has leant her prowess in inviting both a barber and hair stylist to come to Middlebury to offer discounted services to students. Men’s barber, “Kev,” will arrive on February 25th to Solos Salon Associates on Court Street. See the Facebook event here.  And Linda Hill will be available at the same place on March 4th and 5th. See the Facebook event here. Both are ready to create a variety of styles for community members who normally have limited local access to Black hair experts.

Also, a cycle of screenings of thematic films has already commenced! UMOJA, the African Student Union, has screened Yellow Fever, a short film on Blackness and hair. And You Can Touch My Hair will be shown by  Women of Color (WOC) this coming Wednesday, February 21st at 7:00 p.m. in Chellis House.

What was the most challenging part of developing this?

KS: For me, I was literally involved in three other projects– the Black History Month Display, In Your Own Words and Black History Month Jeopardy— when I presented ideas around an exhibit that centered Black hair. I had figuratively tied my own hands because if I were to carry out the first three projects well, it was in no one’s interest that I take on a fourth as there are only so many hours in the day. That said, as you know, Middlebury starts its Spring semester in the middle of February [Black History Month], thusly, much of the planning for this effort needed to happen during J-Term. The group was very invested, working after class and even during the week of interim between J-Term and the Spring semester. I am continually impressed by their efforts.

hair-related items including creams, oils and synthetic hair

Part of the Hair Me Out Exhibit including creams, oils and synthetic hair

Of what are you most proud?

KS: I like to entertain myself with the idea that to some extent I educated these women on new uses of the library. Throughout this process, if they did not know how to do so before, they learned how to make purchase requests to grow our collections, how to navigate licensing for the public screening of films and they made many new contacts from Special Collections, Circulation in reserving spaces, props and materials and perhaps Digital Media Tutors in the Wilson Media Lab. I like to think it was a covert and crafty mission of mine in getting them to know new things but they were always open, willing, engaged, aware and quite awake. . . so I’m not that clever. LOL Middlebury students are very smart. And they miss nothing. Nothing is lost on them.

What do you hope others will gain from this exhibit?

KS: I’d love for them to sit with the idea of diaspora and gain a deeper understanding that there are Black people– black and brown humans worthy of dignity– all over the planet. I want people who do not identify as Black to gain a deeper of understanding of how much those of us who do identify as Black care about and for our hair. I want others to know that they, too, can take greater ownership of library spaces.

What did you learn in the process?

two wooden busts with textured hair and three wide-toothed, stylized wooden combs

West African wooden busts with textured hair and wide-toothed, stylized wooden combs

KS: I confirmed what I suspected: with a little guidance, students can develop amazing, educational works that edify the community. At times in this process, after providing an idea and information about accessing the tools necessary to shape this exhibit, it was more helpful for me to shut my mouth, step back and let others work. I say that with no offense intended towards me. But my anxieties about timeline and fears about quality of presentation were not especially useful to the group. And my idea of what might be an appropriate scale and scope were potentially limiting to the group’s vision. So I “coup d’état-ed” myself so that others could lead and lead well. And they did. Over and over again. It is my honor to be even marginally associated with this project. It was everyone else who did the hard work.

As a relatively new resident in Vermont, there are some regional resources I didn’t know about, like the Clemmons Family Farm. Betty Kafumbe found ways to engage the greater Vermont community and to ensure the discourse we engaged was both local and international. I must praise her efforts. Christal Brown, too, contributed and expanded the project in ways I could not have anticipated. Her access to dramatic props like mannequins and her professional contacts enriched this project. I mean, if this is not community, what is?

What’s next?

KS: Ooh, chile (<—African American Vernacular English, [@Marcos Rohena-Madrazo] also known as “AAVE”). We in the library got the Mixed Kids’ mixed race display; summin’ called “fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy” and “Resume of Failures,” too. Can’t stop, won’t stop.  Don’t ask what they are. Just keep a look out for ‘em. Various speakers will engage the topic of Challenging White Supremacy on the 26th. And supported by the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) and Women of Color (WOC), Jade Moses and Thandwa Mdluli are bringing a poet, Porsha O., to campus on February 27th. It’s dizzying, really. Or as we said during Black History Month Jeopardy, “It’s lit”: “luminous, dynamic, enjoyable.”

Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement Blog 2018-02-20 18:54:39

Catherine Harrison talks with prospective Sister-to-Sister members.

Sister-to-Sister aims to support the middle school girls in the Addison County area. The mentors interact individually with the girls in an informal and comfortable environment and discuss common issues in the girls’ lives, including school, body image, peer pressure and relationships. Many of the participating girls suffer from physical or mental disabilities or have difficult home lives. The mentors act as a support system for the girls which in turn has led to more participants to return regularly for the monthly events. Monthly events have included log rolling, zumba, and game night.

The STS Summit is the highlight of the year, and it is on the basis of the Summit that many girls keep returning to the monthly events. It gives a chance for the girls to spend an entire day bonding with other girls from their school and the surrounding area, in addition to learning new skills and talents in workshops and sharing their experiences and difficulties of middle school.

If you’re interested in learning more about Sister-to-Sister, please click here.

This week’s Student Leadership Spotlight is Catherine Harrison, president of Sister-to-Sister.

Why should folks join your org? What will they take away from the experience?

Sister to Sister is a great way for a busy student to get involved because our events are only once-a-month. This allows for us to really put our all into each event. The events are tons of fun and they’re a great way to bond with the younger “sisters.” We learn as much from the girls we are mentoring as they learn from us.

Why did you first join Sister to Sister?

I joined Sister to Sister as a sophomore, last year after transferring to Middlebury in February. Every summer I work as a counselor at a children’s sleep-away camp, so I was looking for a way to work with kids during the year. Sister to Sister was the perfect fit as the events combine fun activities such as scavenger hunts and spa nights with meaningful conversation that allows us to act as mentors to the younger girls.

What has been your most memorable experience as a member of Sister to Sister?

The first Sister to Sister event I attended was my favorite. It was cold outside so we had a pool day in the gym, and we had a raft building competition. We helped the girls build these massive rafts out of pool noodles and duct tape and then we had a race. I had forgotten how much fun it is to do stuff like that.

What have you learned, either about yourself or the world around you, as a member of Sister to Sister?

I’ve found Sister to Sister to be a valuable experience as it has allowed me to get back in touch with what it was like to be kid. In our group discussions at the events, the girls really open up to us and talk to us, and that’s when you realize that in a lot of ways, 21 isn’t really so much different than 12. I think so many adults find it easy to dismiss children because of their lack of life experience, but when you actually talk to these kids, you realize that they really are insightful and what they have to say is valuable.

Where are you from and what’s your major? What other activities are you involved with on campus?

I’m from Tampa, Florida. I’m a Film major and I’m also pursuing a Theater minor. I sing a cappella with the Middlebury Paradiddles and am one of the group’s social chairs, and I’m on the board of Chromatic social house as well.