25 Years @ Midd with David Bain

Bain2In this post we recognize David Bain, Senior Lecturer in English and American Literatures for his 25 years of service to Middlebury. David shares how his career as a writer and editor brought him to Middlebury,  his memories of the friends and colleagues that he’s met here, as well as his plans for the future. “Wonderment” is just one way that David has described his time at Middlebury, read on to learn more about Midd from David’s point of view.

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

I was a full time writer in New York City for ten years, and before that an editor in publishing houses. My involvement with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference began, though, in 1980 with a fellowship, and continued on the faculty every summer thereafter, and that built a connection with Middlebury. My wife and I decided to relocate to the Champlain Valley, bought a farmhouse in Shoreham in April ‘87, and then serendipitously found jobs here, me in the English Department on a one-year replacement contract.

Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, Vermont

Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, Vermont

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?

Lecturer, and then Senior Lecturer.

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?

During my first year, 1987-88, we started a family (our first child, a daughter, was born in Oct. ’88; then our son, in Mar. ’92). When not teaching, I was writing two books—one on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, one on the transcontinental railroad.

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

Writing and publishing continues, thank goodness, now edging into the e-book world. Music is an equal passion (as it’s been my whole life)—performing solo at 51 Main regularly, and in several bands all over Vermont. I recently marked ten years as a single parent (my wife, Mary Smyth Duffy, formerly of Chellis House, died in Sept. 2002), and I’m still very much involved in the day-to-day parenting of my two children, now in their early 20s.

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

The community – students, faculty, staff—has been such a mainstay, and such a fount of inspiration and fulfillment and gratification. I can only produce a montage to answer your question: my little girl humming and dancing around the May Pole, my little son flailing and careering across the arena ice in a Winter show; a line of smiling friends and colleagues stretching far past the McCullough door waiting for me to sign their copies of the Bicentennial History; a line of concerned and loving friends and colleagues stretching out onto the porch of Sanderson funeral home after Mary died; lunches in the Proctor faculty lunchroom, Holiday party swing dancing, friends giving talks or readings in Starr’s old Abernethy room or in Mead Chapel; Bread Loaf in August at the Writers’ Conference or in September at the year’s first faculty meeting, when we regroup; the Chellis dedication and the Hillcrest Environmental dedication; the light in my students’ faces.

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?


What are your plans for the next 25 years?

Write, teach, play music, paddle kayaks, see new places, know new people.

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

Today’s Abernethy Room in the Axinn Center, and the rocky hillside outcropping between Gifford and Monroe Halls.

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?

Bob Pack and Sandy Martin hired me because of Bread Loaf and my professional background in editing, publishing, and writing, but they were taking a gamble, of course. Nick Clifford was always kind, and John McCardell was unfailingly supportive, as was Ron Liebowitz. Special friends—Karl Lindholm, Brett Millier, Paul Monod, Jan Albers, I could produce such a list—some of you teach and some of you keep the place from falling down or grinding to a halt, and really, you all know who you are, and your friendship has enriched my days.

Instructor and students, on the lawn between Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall.

Instructor and students, on the lawn between Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall.

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

Meet, know, befriend, and learn from everyone here regardless of what they do, and be kind to the next newcomers.

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

Just my sense of gratitude and wonderment.