Tags » 25 Year Club

 
 
 

25 Years @ Midd with Jeff Byers

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Jeff Byers, Philip Battell/Sarah Stewart Professor of Chemistry was inducted into the 25 year club last spring. In this post Jeff shares his experiences working in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, the evolution of his research, and his appreciation of our surroundings as an avid mountain lover and endurance athlete. If you have ever read the Middlebury Trailrunner blog, then you have met Jeff. (If you haven’t – what are you waiting for – check it out!) Read on to learn more about a talented and dedicated member of our faculty, and the excitement that a Chemistry classroom contains. (Spoiler alert – there is a reason why there is fire safety equipment in those labs!)

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

I was a postdoctoral research fellow and part time instructor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  And I skied.  A lot.

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?

Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor,  Department Chair, Philip Battell and Sarah Stewart Professor of Chemistry

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? 

It was all so sudden – I interviewed for the job on August 1, was offered the job a week later, and finished teaching a course in Utah at the end of August.  I didn’t have a car fit to drive back across the country, so I had to buy a pickup truck and stuff it full of all my belongings worthy of transport.  I showed up in Vermont the night before the first faculty meeting (held at Kirk at that time), and glimpsed the textbook that I would be teaching organic chemistry from for the first time that afternoon.  It was also a shock, when I went running into the office of our department secretary, Joyce McAllister, a few hours before my first mid-term exam, desperately looking for the Xerox machine.  She laughed and pointed to her hand crank mimeograph machine, the likes of which I had not seen since Jr High School.  Other than that, and the fact that I lived in 4 different apartments over the course of the year, life was pretty simple as a bachelor.  As far as work goes, I wrote and submitted several research proposals, and lucked out, getting funded by The Research Corporation on the first try.  None of the chemistry that I proposed worked, but my mistakes led eventually to the projects that got my research career on track.  I also hired three students to work in my lab that summer.  Life outside of work?  I was too busy to have much of that, but was too happy to notice.

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

My life with my wife Cathy and my two teenage daughters , Emily and Sara, keeps me quite busy.  I have been really enjoying getting back into my piano playing over the last few years, as my daughters’ accompanist in various performances.  I also am enjoying the work associated with my position on the Executive Board  of the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, which allows me to give back to the profession which has treated me quite well.

A field path on the Bread Loaf campus in Vermont

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 interests actually haven’t changed much, except in response to the occasional injury and inevitable slowing of middle age.  I came here as an avid mountain lover and endurance athlete, and those activities still are a big part of my life.  I have been authoring a blog called The Middlebury Trailrunner for a few years,  which I know other runners look to for off the beaten path running suggestions.  I still enjoy the campus classical music scene.

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

Only one?  I am not sure if “fond” is the best word for one of my most memorable experiences.  I almost burned down BiHall in the course of a classroom demonstration during the first class I ever taught in BiHall 216 when we had been in the building about a week.  I probably shouldn’t put the details in print, but let it suffice to say that it  involved an unanticipated flamethrower and loss of hair (mine, not my students).

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?

Middlebury is a wonderful town to raise a family in, and I also feel quite fortunate to be doing the kind of work I dreamed of as a graduate student, while surrounded by the best hiking and skiing in the Northeast.

What are your plans for the next 25 years?

I have long enjoyed being involved with funding agencies, and would love to spend a year’s sabbatical working as a rotator at the National Science Foundation.  I am in the process of phasing out my research activities in the area of radicals in organic synthesis where I was active for the last 25 years, and have begun a series of projects in nanotechnology, looking to develop new materials for molecular wires and organic semiconductors.  Since I am already an Adirondack 46’er and a member of the New Hampshire 4000 Footer Club, I will hopefully have the time to climb the 4000 ft peaks in Maine to gain membership in the Northeast 4000 footer club.  I would also love to do some travelling with my wife Cathy, without having to tie it into a chemistry conference.

Skiers ride the Worth Mountain ski lift on a snowy January day at the Snow Bowl.

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

I have had countless  “pinch me, is this real?” moments while skiing at Bread Loaf and the Snow Bowl.

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?

Emeritus Professor Bob Gleason in his role as Department Chair and Dean of the Faculty supported my research and teaching despite the fact that I was a very young and hyperactive Assistant Professor who didn’t always want to do things the way he envisioned they should be done.  He was a great colleague, and a wise senior mentor when I needed it.

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

Simple truths always sounds so trite.  Anything I would say here would fit that description.

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

If teachers live vicariously through the successes of their students,  I am living very  well.

25 Years @ Midd with Mike Pixley

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Mike Pixley has worked at Middlebury College since 1986 and was inducted into the 25 year club in the spring of 2011. In his current post he serves as a Locksmith in the Facilities Services department. In this article Mike answers questions about his career, the many memories he has accumulated over the years, the best view on campus and his advice for new employees. Read on to learn more about a self-designated “sports junkie”, a proud dad, and a very talented member of our staff that we are pleased to welcome into the 25 year club!

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

Prior to coming to Middlebury I worked as a carpenter in Germany for a non-profit that provided services to the U.S. military. 

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury? 

I started as a carpenter/painter, and also did most of the glass work.  A couple years after coming here a position in the lock shop opened up and I thought this would be an interesting job (and much easier on the body), and I’ve been doing it ever since. 

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?

When I first came to the college I was a 26 year old with a wife from Germany and a 1 month old baby.  It was quite an adjustment for us, but Middlebury and my colleagues made it much easier. 

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

We are proud parents of 3 wonderful daughters, our oldest graduated from Wheaton College and NECI and now lives in Boston,  our second child goes to a great school in Massachusetts for children with disabilities (she has Down Syndrome) and our youngest is a sophomore at UVM.  It doesn’t get better than that!

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?

Middlebury panther sculpture, overlooking the athletic fields

I am a sports junkie.  I used to play basketball and baseball in my younger days and now I umpire baseball and coach basketball.  I played baseball for many years with David LaRose from the mail room. (We called him coach most of the time.)  I’ve also been involved with Special Olympics for many years and have had the privilege of working with many of our students who volunteer to help. 

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

I would have to say my fondest memory at Middlebury would be memories. I have made so many friends here over the years – students, faculty and staff. 

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?

Middlebury is a great place to work, not that every day is roses but most are.  I have looked elsewhere but none have ever come close to the college.

What are your plans for the next 25 years?

I plan on working at Middlebury for a while longer then maybe I will look for something in the sports field. Who knows, maybe also at Middlebury College!

The view from the roof of Bicentennial Hall

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

My favorite place to be on campus is taking in the scenery from  MBCH.  What a great view! You can see all of the campus, the mountains and miles around.  If you haven’t had a chance to see this view you should make a point of doing so. (Editor’s note: The stairwell at the 7th floor observatory level as well as the study lounges at the ends of the east and west corridors on the 6th floor and the north and south corridors on the 5th floor all offer fantastic vantage points from which you can appreciate the amazing views.)  

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?

Harold Strassner is an amazing person, he was a big reason why we made the transition to Middlebury so smoothly.  As my supervisor when I first came here he made sure that we were taken care of and was genuinely concerned about us.  We miss him since he retired but look forward to seeing him on the golf course.

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

The advice I would give to a new employee would be to be open minded, take advice and take advantage of all Middlebury College has to offer.

25 Years @ Midd with Brett Millier

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Brett Millier, Reginald L. Cook Professor of American Literature, became one of our newest members of the 25 year club last spring. In this post Brett answers our questions about her career, fond memories, one place on campus where you can always find “a bit of summer on a chilly spring day” and why she has always found Middlebury worth working hard for. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Brett in person, read on and learn why you should.

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

When you get a Ph.D. in English you go where the job is, and though my degree is from Stanford University in California, Middlebury was my first job in academia. Before graduate school I worked for a while at Sports Illustrated magazine, and during graduate school, ran the scoreboard for the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?

Assistant Professor (1986), Associate Professor (1992), Full Professor (1997), Reginald L. Cook Professor of American Literature (1997-present).  Chair, Department of American Literature and Civilization 1992-2004;  Chair, Department of English and American Literatures (2007-present)

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? 

On my very first day in Middlebury (July 1986), I met my husband, Karl Lindholm, when I went to the Dean of Students office (then in Old Chapel) to volunteer to lead a freshman (as it was called then) Orientation reading discussion group. The rest, as they say, is history.  It took us a little over four years actually to marry (October 18, 1990, at the chaplain’s house, at 4:15 on a Thursday afternoon!), but it all started on that day.

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

My children are happy teenagers at MUHS (Peter, 11thgrade, and Annie, 9th grade), and we are beginning to think about college for them.  I greatly enjoy my church community at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, and walk several miles most every day with my dogs. Karl is a happy retired guy, writing and driving teenagers around and having coffee with his friends.

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?

Skier at Rikert Cross Country Ski Touring Center in Ripton.

I learned to cross country ski at Rikert in my first J-term at the college, never having done any kind of skiing or skating or other winter sport.  Despite the no-show snow this year, I still love skiing cross country above almost anything—I ski in places where the dogs can come, too!  Living in Middlebury and Cornwall has also taught me how to live in a community (we moved around a lot when I was kid), and I am enjoying making long-term connections with people through work, through church, through volunteer work, and other community activities.

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

I remember walking out of a meeting at 5:30 or so in the winter of, maybe 2001 or 2002, and into a stunning display of the aurora borealis—great flashes of red and white and green swirling in the sky and lasting for almost an hour.

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?

The market for English professors is not an expanding one, for one thing.  Tenure is another.  But that said, I know that when I was hired at Middlebury in 1986, this was a very good job—and it is a great job now.  I cannot imagine teaching better students, with a more supportive administration, in a more beautiful place, anywhere else.  In addition, of course, Middlebury has been a wonderful place in which to raise children.

What are your plans for the next 25 years? 

To finish my next book, to teach somewhere abroad in my next sabbatical, to work hard until I retire.

Axinn Center

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

The courtyard behind Axinn gathers the sun and shields the wind—and is a little bit of summer on a chilly spring day.

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?

I will always be grateful to former Presidents Olin Robison and John McCardell, for their visions for Middlebury’s future, and for including me in those visions.

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

Define your job broadly. We are surrounded by extraordinary people here, of all ages.  Put yourself in contact with as many of them as you can.

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

I have always found Middlebury worth working hard for.  I feel blessed to be here.  How could I not?