MiddPoints Newsletter Schedule

monthly-newsletter-tayler-clip-artOne of the major changes that we’ve implemented as we introduced the revitalized MiddPoints newsletter is the frequency of publication. We are now sending out a newsletter every other Wednesday, as opposed to every Monday. In an effort to facilitate the community’s efforts to share time sensitive items, here is the list of 2016 distribution dates for the revised newsletter-






We hope that this will make it easier for you to decide when to submit a story to us. Please email middpoints@middlebury.edu if you have any questions!

-Human Resources

CTLR Staffing Announcement

ctlr-bannerThe Center for Teaching, Learning & Research would like to share a number of staffing updates. First, Jennifer Bates, previously a professional writing tutor, is now working full-time during the fall and spring semesters as a Learning Resources Specialist and Professional Writing Tutor.  Second, Kristy Golubiewski-Davis is the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative’s new postdoctoral fellow.  Kristy joins us after having studied at the University of Minnesota.  And Diane DeBella, who has recently relocated to Vermont, is now working with students as a professional writing tutor and as the supervisor of foreign language tutor.  She will also be developing our multi-lingual writing center.

Rattlesnake Cliffs

Here it was, the last Sunday of my summer vacation, on a spectacular, cool, clear Sunday afternoon. I knew I had some class prep to get ready, but I also knew that if I didn’t get out for at least a short run, I would be kicking myself. So, I headed for one of my favorite trailheads, the Falls of Lana trail just south of Branbury State Park, and decided to try and run up to the prominent cliffs behind the state park, known as “Rattlesnake Point” or “Rattlesnake Cliffs“.

The name of this prominent landmark undoubtedly brings up rather scary connotations for some hikers – I mean who wants to climb a cliff named after a poisonous snake? Curious as to the presence or absence of these reputedly dangerous vipers, I contacted Jim Andrews of Salisbury, and herpetologist extraordinaire, and asked him “Are there really rattlesnakes up there?” His response was, as follows:

“…that is a definite historic site with solid documentation of collection of rattlesnakes for snake oil by local families. However, we have no proof that rattlesnakes continue to exist in that area. It has been many decades since anyone has provided solid evidence of rattlesnakes there. That said, there have been a few reports over the last few decades from people who believe they have seen rattlesnakes in that area, but none of them took photos, or even described the snake well enough to confirm the sighting.”

There you go – I think it is safe to say that you can hike or run on the Rattlesnake Cliffs without your snakebite kit!

Comforted by this information,  I headed up the hill on the Silver Lake Trail, as I have done countless times on my runs up to equally well-visited Silver Lake, but at the switchback to the right after about a half mile, instead of following the main trail, keep going straight, taking the bridge across Sucker Brook, following the Rattlesnake Trail.  This trail climbs pretty steadily, but fortunately, never particularly steeply.  A lot of mountain trails, particularly on the Long Trail, or in the Adirondacks get either too rocky or too steep for running, but this trail was runable, at least to me, for about 90% of it’s length.

After climbing about 2 miles, a left turn to the actual cliffs comes up, and is easily recognizable by a warning sign, warning hikers and runners to stay away from the cliffs from April until the end of July while the peregrine falcons nest.  But, since it is September, the coast is clear, and I finished my ascent heading straight on the trail to the west facing cliffs overlooking Lake Dunmore.

Lake Dunmore View

Lake Dunmore View

I hung out at this overlook for a few minutes, chatting with a couple from North Carolina, before following a weak herd path to the viewpoint facing south towards Silver Lake and the southern end of Lake Dunmore – another stunning late summer view. In the picture below, Silver Lake is the small body of water in the left center of the photo, while Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake are on the right.  On the way back towards the Rattlesnake Trail, I met up with the North Carolina folks – apparently they had tried to follow me on the unmarked path I had followed, and had gotten a little bit lost before backtracking and reaching this place on more established trails!

Silver Lake View

Silver Lake View

The descent was fast and fun – since the trail makes a broad switchback on the south side of the mountain, it rarely gets too steep to run on the descent. Returning to my car, I saw that this was “only” a little over 4.5 miles, but with a 1200 ft vertical climb, and a great way to end the summer.

Google Earth projection of the Rattlesnake Cliff run

Google Earth projection of the Rattlesnake Cliff run

Altitude Profile Rattlesnake Cliffs

Altitude Profile Rattlesnake Cliffs

From MSA: Protect Your Credit This Holiday Season

msaThe holiday season is upon us, and you know what that means.  Shopping.  (And pumpkin spice lattes, of course.)  Before you buy gobs of candy for trick-or-treaters, plan your Thanksgiving feast and look for the perfect Christmas gift, remember this:  shopping can either hurt or help your credit.

Why is credit so important?

In the world of finances, your credit is your reputation.  It affects your chances of getting a loan with a good interest rate, acquiring certain job positions and even housing.  Your credit score is built upon several things, including types of credit used, credit history, credit limits and utilization, and payment history.

Today, we’re focusing on the two biggest influencers: payment history (35% of your credit score) and credit limits and utilization (30% of your credit score).

Payment history includes, among other things, your habits for paying back bills.  Constant late payments lead to negative payment history and consequently, bring down your credit score.

Credit limits and utilization revolve around how much credit you use.  If you have a credit card with a $3,000 limit, are you constantly using the full $3,000 (100% utilization)?  Maintaining a low usage rate is best – regardless of your actual credit limit.

What do pumpkins and mistletoe have to do with my credit score?

So maybe pumpkin spice lattes and new twinkle lights can’t literally hurt your credit, but the amount of money you spend on them can.  Your credit will take a major hit if you consistently spend more than your means and get behind on your bills.

Did you know that over $600 billion was spent during the winter holidays last year, with the average American spending over $700 for food, gifts, and decor?1

Everyone wants to make the holidays festive, entertain family and friends with the best food and fun, and show generosity with gifts for all.  Which is well and good, don’t get us wrong.  We love and look forward to holiday cheer as much as the next person.

What we don’t want is that holiday cheer ending when you get the bills.  Unfortunately, bills don’t take a winter break (Wouldn’t that be awesome?!), and credit card companies still expect payments.

How do I improve my credit and my holiday cheer?

With attention and planning, this winter could provide an incredible chance to improve your credit by being diligent with finances.  What’s more is it’ll help you stay calm amidst the shopping frenzy, and when you find that perfect gift for your loved one, you don’t have to worry about straining your wallet.

Here are five steps to get you started:

1.  Know your credit limits

Before you join the mob of people enjoying Black Friday specials, jot down all your credit cards and their respective limits, as well as their current balances (if any).

2.  Calculate a utilization limit

Now that you know the limit for each credit card, calculate how much you can spend with each card while still maintaining a positive utilization rate.  Exceeding even 30% of your available credit can be damaging, so leave yourself some wiggle room.  A good place to start is only using 25% or less of your credit limit.  For example, if you have an $8,000 line of credit, then you would try to keep the credit card balance under $2,000 at all times.

As you shop around, keep track of which card you use and how much you’re charging to that card, so you can better gauge how close you are to the utilization limit – and refrain from going over it.

3.  Stick to a budget

Just because you have a credit card with an $8,000 credit limit doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend $8,000 on holiday gifts.  And calculating a $2,000 utilization limit doesn’t necessarily mean that you can spend $2,000 without consequence either.

The spending calculation you should adhere to is the dollar amount that fits your budget.  As the holidays approach, think about all the purchases you want to make (candy, decorations, gifts, donations, etc.) and how much money you can afford to put towards those purchases while still meeting your other expenses (like rent and utilities).

Living within your means by sticking to a realistic budget will help you stay on track with credit usage and make it easier to pay off your bills on time.

4.  Set up bill alerts

Sometimes, people miss a bill payment simply due to distractions.  You see the familiar envelope with the monthly bill, and you toss it aside because you’d rather make some hot chocolate, but putting off the sweets for just a minute and making a point of paying your credit card bill is a small step that makes a huge difference.

Always making late payments influences your credit score and losing track of payments during the holidays are a sure fire way to get behind and stay behind.  So… set up alerts on your phone for when a bill arrives and when it’s due.  Unless you pay your bill the moment it becomes available, insert periodic reminders into your calendar so you don’t find yourself waiting until the last minute and increase your chances of incurring a late fee.

5.  Pay bills in full

Paying bills on time and in full are equally important.  Why?  When you only pay the minimum, you actually increase the amount of debt you carry, and you increase the amount you have to pay for your credit card purchases because of interest.

For example, let’s say you make a $10,000 purchase (a bit excessive but works well for this demonstration).  You use a credit card with 15% interest to make the purchase.  You make no other purchases with the card, and the minimum monthly payment required is 2.5% of the balance.  If you only pay the minimum each month, it will take 23 years to pay off, and you will pay an additional $9,637 in interest.

Carrying around that kind of debt and paying off so much interest is certainly enough to kill the holiday mood.

How can I keep track of everything?

So keeping track of credit card usage and bill payments will help you build and maintain good credit, but that’s a lot to remember, especially when you’d rather focus on finding a great Christmas tree.

With Wallet, you can squeeze all your financial information into your pocket for easy access.  Wallet is an online money management tool that allows you to see all your accounts in one place, track your spending (credit card transactions, cash and more), and even set alerts so you never miss a bill or go over budget.

You can also keep your credit in tip-top shape (or learn more ways to repair it) by working with a Money Coach.  All of our money coaches are Certified Credit Counselors who have years of experience in financial services and are familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and many have additional accreditations like Certified Credit Report Reviewer – CCRR®.

A Money Coach can help you keep the holidays bright while integrating smart financial practices into your daily life.  You can talk about everything from budgeting, bills and credit cards, to mortgages, retirement and investments.  And, of course, how holiday spending can boost your financial wellness.

Call 888-724-2326 to get started.



Reminder: On-Site Meetings

cignaPlease keep in mind that representatives from Cigna will be visiting both the Middlebury and Monterey campuses several times through the fall months. The September and October site visits are reserved for private, one-one-one meetings between employees and a Cigna representative.

A Cigna Rep will be on the Middlebury campus on: 9/21, 10/4, 10/ 12, 10/20, 10/26, 12/14 and 1/11/17. If you are interested in having an individual meeting on the Middlebury campus please schedule your appointment at:

Middlebury Campus:


The representative will be available on the MIIS campus on 9/28, 9/29, 10/4, 10/12, 10/20, 12/14 and 1/11/17. If that would like to schedule at:

Monterey Campus:


During November Cigna will hold a series of open meetings (on each campus) in which they will present information about: how to access services, network coverage, switching mail order prescriptions, technology offerings, etc. There will also be ample time for questions from the audience. Open meetings will be offered at various times on November 1st, 3rd, 8th, and 10th; specific meeting times and room locations will be announced as we get closer to November.

Submit a 2017 Winter Term Workshop Proposal

j-termDO YOU HAVE A TALENT? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE IT? SIGN UP TO TEACH A WINTER TERM WORKSHOP. Winter Term Workshop will run from January 9, 2017 – February 3, 2017. These non-credit workshops are open to the entire College community during Winter Term. DEADLINE for workshop proposals is midnight on Friday, October 7th. Please make sure to use either Internet Explorer or Google Chrome to submit your proposal. Contact Maria Farnsworth in Student Activities at x3156 if you have any questions. Proposal forms can be found at: go/wtwproposal .


Retirement Celebration Guidelines

retirementDo you have a colleague retiring soon and are wondering how to mark the occasion? Senior Leadership Group has recently approved a set of guidelines to help leaders and colleagues identify appropriate ways to celebrate faculty and staff retirements.  Please see policy here, or on the HR websites, for further information.

–Cheryl Mullins