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Five Questions for Shantá Lindo ’10

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Jeff Stauch ’05 set the bar high last week with his Five Questions responses. Can Admissions Counselor Shantá Lindo ’10 meet it this week? We think so.

1. You’re in your second year as an Admissions Counselor. What’s it like to review applications from students seeking to attend your alma mater?

Being a part of the admission process for my alma mater is one of the most humbling, yet empowering, things that I have ever been involved in. Seeing the nuts and bolts behind the process and realizing that every single member of the Middlebury community, past and present, has something special and unique to offer is amazing. Knowing that I am a member of that cohort gives me immense pride as I try my best to continue that tradition by ushering younger students through the process. I must admit that I was a little surprised by the extreme attention to detail that goes into the process, and it was a little daunting for me at first. There are so many moving parts involved in putting together a class at an institution like Middlebury, and every single member of my office gives their all to make sure that the process is fair, effective, and fun for all parties involved. A year ago at this time, I was terrified by the amount of responsibility that was handed to me once I started this job. For the first couple of weeks, I was tempted to ask if they were sure that I should have such a hands-on and autonomous role in things such as planning travel, picking high schools to visit, reading applications, and then actually having a say in what takes place in the end result. So much of this last year has shown me the other side of the Middlebury coin–the side of this institution that enables it to run like the well-oiled machine that it is. I, of course, saw this as a student, but once I became a staff member I realized the degree to which people in this community love the students that they are working with, and how they would do almost anything to make sure that their experience is one-of-a-kind with the kinds of experiences that elicite warm, fuzzy feelings all around. I am proud to be a part of that. And furthermore, I feel blessed to assert that I have had an extremely “well-rounded” experience at Middlebury because I was able to make that transition from student to staff. I feel inexplicably lucky to have had this experience, and the best bit is that I still have plenty of time to live the dream.

2. You’re a city mouse in the country. If you could bring one element of New York City to Vermont, what would it be? What would you bring from Vermont to New York City?

The one element of New York City that I would bring to Vermont is an effective, wide-reaching public transportation system. As a New Yorker, I am hard-wired to believe that a car is an unnecessary, and costly, expense. I grew up with tokens (not even metro cards) and I miss the accessibility of it all. I love traveling home because once I get there I can have access to any part of the city in a matter of minutes with my metro card in my back pocket coupled with a decent sense of direction. I didn’t even have my license prior to graduating and getting hired in admissions. All that withstanding, I am still grateful that I had to get my license because knowing how to drive is an important skill to have.

The one thing I would bring from Vermont to New York City is the importance that is placed upon having a healthy quality of life. New Yorkers work too much and it is very (very) easy to fall into a holding pattern of nothing but work all that time. Granted, that might have something to do with the fact that it is a really expensive city to live in, but whenever I go home I am left with the lingering feeling that I wish people would slow down and be still a bit. Vermont has taught me that it is important to find a balance in life that is appropriate for you. Throughout those first couple of weeks within this community I was so agitated by the fact that the stores closed at 5pm. I was flabbergasted. I always remember saying “How can you run a business like this?” I eventually learned to let go of that fixation, mainly because homework was taking up so much of my time. But after 5 years in Vermont, I realized that those business owners closed at 5pm because (more than likely) they had a family to get back to. They had people in their lives that meant more to them than getting a little extra business. Now, I must say that I am being a bit presumptuous because I don’t know exactly why businesses only stay open until 5pm, but I don’t think I am that far off the mark. The most important take away message from being a native New Yorker living in Vermont has been that I now have the perspective to choose what kind of lifestyle I want to live. I will always be a city girl, but this stint in Vermont has taught me that there is so much more to life than pounding the pavement every chance I get. It’s about the little things in life; little things like watching the seasons cycle through or catching a glimpse of the most beautiful sunset that you have ever seen. I am not suggesting that one is better than the other, but I must say that this experience has taught me a great deal about choosing a life that is intentional as well as reflective of everything that you want.

3. Not that we’re stalking you, but you’ve been spotted around campus voraciously reading. What’s your favorite book you read this summer?

As an ENAM major, that is a bit of a loaded question, but if I had to pick one book that has grabbed my attention in the recent past it would be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I stumbled across this novel in The Strand bookstore when I went home, and I immediately was attracted to the scientific aspects of the novel, as well as the painfully human components that act as its underpinning. This novel was a wonderful representation of all of the things that I am passionate about. When I grow up, I would like to be a medical social worker, because it combines my interest in health care (particularly access to effective health care) and my drive to help people. I am well aware of the big picture that is unfolding in the world, but the most important thing to me is the individual experience. If I can make one person feeling better or have a good day, then I feel that I have done some kind of good. This novel is a manifestation of that passion. It combines the story of a woman whose cancerous cells single handedly changed the face of medicine during her time and for years to come. That’s the power of the individual and as long as we take care of each other we can enact significant change. This novel tells the story of a woman who had been long forgotten, brought her back to life, and gave her (and her family) a voice. All of these things are really important to me so I immediately connected with this novel.

4. Grab your iPod. What are the top 5 most played songs?

1. Best Love Song (feat. Chris Brown)

2. You Make Me Feel (feat. Sabi)

3. Someone Like You by Adelle

4. Countdown by Beyonce

5. Party Rock Anthem

I am a firm believer in dancing and/or singing your way through life. I was raised with music constantly surrounding me, and it’s really important that I continue that tradition no matter where I go. I feel most Zen with a pair of headphones, rocking out to the latest dance singles that are playing on the radio. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. You might as well dance your way through it.

5. What do you miss most about being a kid?

As I grow older (yikes that’s so very adult of me) I keep on having more and more “hindsight is 20/20” moments. There is so much that I wish I knew then that I know now. That being said, if I had known everything then I wouldn’t have had any room to grow, and that would just be boring. The one thing that I miss the most about my childhood is constantly being surrounded by my family. I have a very large extended family and all of my favorite memories are colored with their beautiful faces. Being adventurous and leaving the shelter of NYC has also removed me from my family. Not having them as readily available has shown me that what I have in my family is not a given. Feeling filled up with all of the wonderful food, music, and conversation that my family provided me is a blessing. I run back to their welcoming arms every chance I get because it reminds me of how far I have come and all the support that I have standing behind me as I continue to move forward. I am a lucky girl. And if I ever forget that, I have a wonderful group of people around me who will thankfully never let me get too far removed from where I come from.

An Update on the All-Gender Restroom Project

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As Tim mentioned in two of his posts last week, the campus’ physical plant went under the proverbial knife this summer, both inside and out. One project that has chugged along steadily this summer is the all-gender restroom project, which Tim and Dean of the College Shirley Collado announced earlier this spring.

The first phase of the project, in which single-stall restrooms with gender designations are converted to all-gender, is nearly complete. Facilities Services Project Manager Mark Gleason has surveyed the single-stall restrooms for accessibility, and Space Manager Mary Stanley is about to place the order for signs. (It should be noted that Mark and Mary have been excellent resources throughout this project, offering advice and getting us the information we need.) In the coming weeks, the following restrooms will be converted through a sign change:

Adirondack House, 2nd Floor

Armstrong Library, 1st Floor

Axinn, Basement, ADA Accessible

Hillcrest, 1st Floor

Old Chapel, 3rd & 4th Floors

Service Building, 1st Floor

Warner, Basement & 3rd Floor

The second phase of the project is moving forward, too. This summer, Jennifer Herrera and I met with the academic department chairs, office heads, and facilities liaisons in Axinn, BiHall, and McCullough to discuss the conversion of one pair of multi-stall restrooms in each building. These meetings were very productive. Attendees asked questions, shared their concerns and their support, and offered many ideas for potential outcomes. Other faculty and staff members who work in these buildings will have the opportunity to do the same during a series of open meetings coming up next week.

Questions? Please feel free to leave a comment, or email Jennifer or me.

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.

Transitions

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I am sad to announce that Elizabeth Davis (Collection Management-Acquisitions) and Morgan Connor (ILL) have decided to leave their positions at Middlebury College and pursue personal and/or professional opportunities elsewhere. Both Elizabeth and Morgan have been with us for a number of years, and I know that all of us in LIS will miss their helpful and cheerful contributions to the work of LIS.

Elizabeth’s last day will be Friday, Aug. 5.  Morgan’s last day will be sometime toward the end of September.  Please do take some time to offer your farewells and bon voyages.

Terry

A Commencement Day

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Syndicated from Tim Parson's blog, The Middlebury Landscape, this is a humorous, behind-the-scenes look at all of the hard work that goes in to making the quad beautiful for Commencement Day. - Tim

4:30 comes early. I like to say I’m a morning person, but the alarm goes off, it’s summer, it’s dark, and well, that’s just too early. I drive to campus, and park behind Kenyon Arena. All facilities staff park there, so the incoming guests can park closer, and we walk to the Service Building, not talking a whole lot. I’m mainlining coffee. The walk towards campus feels a bit like a fish swimming upstream, as most of the senior class is walking away from campus, towards Alumni Stadium to watch the sunrise. Both sets of people, though, look a little bleary eyed and tired. They get to go take a nap later.

The work day starts at 5, with all hands walking the campus picking up any trash we may find. It’s never really all that bad, more like sweeping the front porch before 6000 guests arrive. We walk our snow shovel routes, with others dispatched to hot spots. I like this time of day, the calm before the storm. I also like ending up near the stadium as the sun rises. The shouts, whoops, and hollers of the graduating class as the sun comes up quickly gets subdued, and all becomes quiet, maybe as the reality of the light of day hits-it feels like an end, and a new beginning for them.

At 6 or so the swarm of workers descend to the commencement site, the main quad below Mead Chapel. The tents were erected previously in the week, including the main tent, technically called the clamshell. Some in Facilities spent part of yesterday setting chairs in front of the tent. It’s a delicate balance. While it’s nice to have some of the many many thousand chairs we need to place already up, we could spend a large chunk of the morning drying them off from dew or, even worse, rain. Towels work best, although we have resorted to backpack blowers in the past.

My day begins in earnest as well. My job is to set up the flowers in front of the commencement tent. There is a giant seal of Middlebury College right in front of the stage, and 300 red geraniums are placed at the base. First secret exposed? I leave them in the trays, and mound mulch around them to make them look like a planted bed. All life is a stage.

 

To give you some idea of how long Facilities plans the commencement ceremony, I first get asked to order the geraniums in September. I say you bet, but I don’t worry about them all too much. (perhaps I shouldn’t be writing this?) I buy the geraniums from a local wholesale grower, so 300 is just a tiny little drop in the bucket. It doesn’t even make a dent in the greenhouse. He gets the stress though, and the fact that they have to be right shade of red, so he doesn’t pick on me too much when I’m ordering plants 9 months in advance.

While I’m there working, I’m also watching the second coolest job for the day, the hanging of the flags. Behind the tent, hanging off of Voter Hall, are flags of every country represented by the graduating class. I was told we had to buy 9 new ones this year. I counted 59 flags when they were done, but I was supposed to be working, not counting, so there may have been more. They use a lift truck, 65′ boom, and I bet it takes them a good hour or two. One year, someone in Facilities that was attending the festivities looked up, and noticed one of the flags was for the Boston Red Sox. Oh, the horror, and the humor. Mostly horror, but we had to admit it was pretty funny. We got into the student’s room, where he thoughtfully leaned the correct flag against the wall after he leaned out his window and made the switch.

The lift truck hanging flags

I also rent some shrubs to do a fake little planting where the tent guy lines get staked in front of the clamshell. When I first arrived on campus, I noticed a plethora of White Potentilla and Dwarf Garland Spirea planted here, there, pretty much any little corner. You see, they used to come buy them off me when I worked up the road at Greenhaven, for the very same purpose I now use Ivory Halo Red Twig Dogwood (not white flowers, but a pretty variegated leaf). I don’t want to fill the campus exclusively with a plant that looks for great for two weeks in the spring, so I just rent them and bring them back to Greenhaven the next week. They don’t make a habit of it, but I still have a little bit of influence. (I also tend to help a customer or two while I’m there-old habits and all)

There is a huge amount of activity taking place around me. It’s too much for a blog post, it could be it’s own blog. The brunt of it, though, is chair setting. Some chairs get set the day before, but the bulk are set this morning. And by bulk, I’m talking thousands. We have a tractor trailer we keep filled with chairs, I think it’s about 4000. The trailer is parked on the road, and trucks and gators are used to ferry them to the setters, following the lead of the string setters, who assure the chairs are placed in straight lines.

Seriously, we use string and stakes to set chairs. Not because the person setting chairs is a civil engineer, although that helps, but because looking at 5000 chairs set out, well, they just NEED to be straight. For a great video picture diary of chair setting, view the pictures taken by the communications department of the (very wet) day before.

The early arrivals for the ceremony begin arriving around 8 or so. There’s a couple key places to sit, and they usually go first. One  is the area around a Red maple, which offers some key shade most years. The other isn’t in the chairs at all, but up the hill towards Gifford, where the day beforehand the landscape department sets all the Adirondack chairs out. Watching commencement while reclining in a comfy chair? Oh yeah, that’s the way to do it.

Graduates start arriving soon as well, and get staged east of Old Chapel. I usually run into Matt Biette, the extraordinary head of dining, for the first of several times today, handing out water and breakfast sandwiches to the seniors. Starch and re hydration-Matt’s a genius.

Time to pull out, get out of Dodge, and pretend we aren’t even there. Some years, the landscape department goes and pulls weeds, radio close by. I have another semi-official job, though, that of weather-boy. Luther Tenny, Chair General (you did click that link on chair setting above, right?) calls me occasionally, wondering what the weather radar looks like. I’m the local weather geek, next to Luther, who is in an information tent on site, so isn’t close to a computer. I was watching this year by Android phone, as it was a spectacular day to pull weeds. The year Bill Clinton was the speaker several thunderstorms were forming in upstate New York, and I was freaking out. 6000 plus guests, and a storm on the way? I deferred to the experts, and called the National Weather Service in Burlington, who thought I was nuts, until I explained just exactly why I was calling, and they set my mind at ease. It rained for about 3 minutes, and then the sun came out and all was well. So, really, I’ve never seen the ceremony.

11:30 all the workers start traipsing up the hill towards Mead Chapel, where we get fed. All parents and graduates get fed by Matt Biette and crew, and that’s another blog post all together. Middlebury has an amazing home-grown dining service, and the food is great. They are brave feeding the landscape crew before the guests, but they certainly cook enough. Second Matt sighting-right below Mead Chapel telling guests walking up the hill that food is on both sides of Mead, and the lines are never too long. It seems like almost every student stops to talk to him.

The lure of the food works, and the chairs and stage empty soon enough, and facilities goes berserk in reverse. It’s easier to take things apart than put them up, and the chair trailer fills again. We also store chairs all over campus, so trucks are dispatched to places I haven’t even seen yet in my 5 years here. It’s a logistical nightmare, and always goes off without a hitch. I take apart the flowers, and plant them in the coming week by Admissions.  We’re done by 3 or 4 PM most years.

Breakdown

Library Learning Lunch – June 22nd

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Staff Council is aware that many Middlebury College staff members do not know that they can use the Library’s resources just as students and faculty can. So, as part of its ongoing series of Learning Lunches, Staff Council is grateful that Brenda Ellis has agreed to offer a (re)introduction of some of Davis Family Library’s resources to interested staff and faculty members.

The Learning Lunch will not only help staff members become aware of some of these resources, but will also showcase what’s new in the Davis Family Library now that the contents of the former Music Library have been moved in. We also have a new search method for finding answers to your research needs (“Summon”), and more!

Please join us as Brenda shows us what’s new (and not so new) about the Davis Family Library and its resources!

Wednesday, June 22, noon until 1pm
Room 145 of Davis Family Library

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.