Thank you to Alex Chapin

After 14 years at Middlebury College supporting the curricular use of technology, Alex Chapin will be moving on to fill the role of Executive Director of Academic Technology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This is an amazing opportunity for him, and we wish him all the best.

On Friday, a group of us met to congratulate Alex and share some of our thoughts and experiences. It seems only fitting that some of these be shared in this blog. Please feel free to comment and contribute your own.

From Mary Ellen Bertolini:

I don’t exactly have an Alex story.  Instead, I have two apologies.

First to Alex:

I am sorry not to be there today to bid you fare well. You will be with me in my class this morning because I will probably be using a technology you taught me. You will be in each class that I teach for a very long time.

To everyone else:

Please forgive me for writing a really nice letter in support of Alex. What was I thinking? Was I insane?  It will be hard for us to lose Alex’s expertise in technology. More difficult than that will be losing the gentleness and generosity of Alex’s soul.

Alex, may this new opportunity bring you all the happiness you deserve.


Mary Ellen

From Órlaith Creedon:

Alex Chapin was my first contact on campus after having arrived. I attended a seminar for new faculty members on technology led by Shel Sax. To be honest, I was out of my league. The other faculty members — physics, media studies, geology, geography — were very familiar not only with the programs but with the terminology at play. Alex came the first afternoon, and as soon as he began speaking, it was as though a translator were speaking in my ear. Alex’s approach is hands-on and derivative in a non-patronizing way. He has a sense of what faculty members need to do in order to meet student expectations: he is the missing link, of course, because — often — the faculty member doesn’t know how to make that technological link between “savoir” and “faire.” Alex is always at the ready — for both advanced AND JUNIOR faculty (j’insiste là-dessus!)– and no project is either too small (“how do i upload my file to middfiles?”) or too big (migration of email systems). In short, Alex has served as both assistant and liaison, as representative and tutor. He will be replaced with difficulty, and missed greatly.

…and not just because I still fear WordPress!


From Nancy O‘Connor (retired faculty leaving in Florida by the Gulf of Mexico now!

I don’t exactly have a “story” to recount about Alex, but I do remember, as chair of the department at that time, interviewing him when he came to campus what? must be 17 years ago or more… I was very impressed with him at the time, and felt immediately that he was someone who would not only be very competent in his job but huge fun to work with. I was right: Alex has not changed. he has always been a workaholic, always eager and enthusiastic about whatever he was doing or trying to talk you into doing (usually successfully); infinitely patient, he never complained or even seemed to notice when you asked him the same dumb question every couple of months. He was immensely helpful to me and to the French Department in helping us to set up our on-line placement test and many course websites. He will be sorely missed, but our loss is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s gain. Au revoir Alex, merci, et bonne chance!

From Brigitte Humbert :

I don’t have any specific stories about Alex, but I just want to say that every time I needed his help (and that was many times, sometimes even during the week-end when I had problems with video or audio exercises for class) he was always ready to help and quick about it, and I appreciated that so very much.

From Armelle Crouzieres-Ingenthron:

I don’t know how I am going to function without Alex. Alex knows everything and always has an answer that I can understand! I especially appreciated the fact that he was so patient with my very, very basic questions about the French Placement test, access to course websites, Segue, Measure, Moodle, or WordPress, or whatever new platform we were using. Alex and I arrived at about the same time in the late nineties at Middlebury College. I am going to miss him tremendously, but I am very happy for him and wish him all the best in this new position that he truly deserves. Stay in touch, Alex!

From Carrie Rampp:

Thanks for sharing this news with me. How great for Alex! I’ve racked my brains trying to come up with a great amusing anecdote…and nothing compelling was coming to mind other than what follows….hopefully it works…I have to say, its a pretty true sentiment! Hope all is well.

A library colleague at Middlebury once said to me he had finally figured out Alex. It had taken him a long time, but he had it! He said, when Alex says something like doing a particular project would benefit faculty or would improve student learning, he’s not just talking about Middlebury, he’s talking about the WHOLE WORLD. Man, he’s a big thinker! He’s an idea guy.


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