25 Years @ Midd with Mary Ellen Bertolini

In this post we recognize Mary Ellen Bertolini, Writing Center Director & Senior Lecturer at the Writing Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research, for her 25 years of Service to Middlebury. Mary Ellen shares her interests, reveals her favorite spot on campus, and tells us her favorite College memory. Read on to learn more about Midd from Mary Ellen’s point of view.

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

Before working at Middlebury College, I was a high school English teacher in Middlebury and in New York City. In Middlebury, I had also been a school board member and a member of the board of Civil Authority and a private writing tutor, and I taught SAT prep courses. In between, I had two daughters and spent about five years as a full time mother. I learned more about teaching in the time I spent at home with my daughters than I had learned before or that I have learned since.

What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?

I am currently Writing Center Director and Senior Lecturer, Writing and Rhetoric. I have been also been:

  • Associate Director, Writing Program
  • Assistant Director, Writing Program
  • Acting Director, Writing Program
  • Acting Director, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research
  • Acting Director, FYSE Program
  • Director, Office of Academic Support
  • Faculty Co-head,  Wonnacott Commons

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?

In 1994 both my daughters were in high school; I had completed a second Master’s Degree at BLSE, and I was eager begin a new career at Middlebury College.

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

  • I have two wonderful adult daughters, one of whom, Francesca, is a Midd alum (’00).
  • I am still married to John Bertolini, also retiring this year. John joined the faculty in 1975.
  • I recently published an article on Jane Austen’s Persuasion and gave an extended talk on Persuasion at the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America this fall. 
  • Last spring, I traveled to Venice with my daughters and then last summer traveled to London and Edinburgh with my husband and daughters.

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? 

I still have the same interests—reading, watching films, attending theatre, enjoying art, cooking, and traveling.  I have been able to travel to many wonderful places attending conferences for the College, and I have returned to visit some of those places with my daughters. I have had a world of books, films, theatre, and art within reach here at Middlebury College.

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

My fondest memory would have to be my daughter Francesca’s graduation in 2000. She was a double English-Italian major; my husband was Chair of the English Dept. at the time, and he awarded her degree to her.  Other wonderful moments include bonding with faculty and staff at the Writing and Teaching Retreats and bonding with students in my “Writing to Heal” course.  Finally, I remember the excitement of moving to the new Davis Family Library and helping to launch the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.

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 seems like a family to me. Faculty and staff care about students and each other.  It has been a wonderful place to spend 25 years.

What are your plans for the next 25 years?

Voltaire tells us “We must cultivate our own garden.” I am retiring soon, so I intend to cultivate my garden physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  More practically, I am looking forward to Septembers with no responsibilities.

Do you have a favorite place on campus?

I love the Davis Family Library, and one of my favorite places is the third floor seating area, looking east to the spectacular view of the Green Mountains.

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?

Kathy Skubikowski hired me, mentored me, and gave me the opportunity to grow. We worked together for many precious years. In addition, I would say that every member of the Writing Program and the CTLR past and present has helped, guided, and influenced me over the years. These colleagues gave me the courage and confidence to dare to do things I did not think possible. Finally, my husband John Bertolini has been a tremendous support to me in work and in scholarship.

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

Find someone on campus that you can trust to help you decide when to say yes and when to say no.

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

Long before I was born, my godfather was a frequent summer attendant at the Middlebury College Italian School. He died before I was five, but I like to think he has been watching over my career at Middlebury for the last 25 years.