In this post we recognize Susan Perkins, the Academic Dept. Coordinator for the Psychology Department, for her 25 years of service to Middlebury. Susan shares with us her favorite hobbies, the love she has for her family, and some of her fondest Middlebury memories. Read on to learn more about Midd from Susan’s point of view
What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?
My husband (Gary) and I were co-managers at Lazarus Department Store from 1984-1990. We worked alongside my mother, Helen Haerle, who purchased the store and the brick building (now the National Bank) from Stan Lazarus. We have lived in Weybridge, since 1980.
What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?
During the last 25 years: Biology Department Administrative Associate (1990-1996); Assistant to the Director of Academic Facilities Planning (1996-1998); Assistant in Academic Administration (1998-2004); Assistant to the VPAA/Provost (2004-2009); Department Coordinator for Psychology & Geography (2009-2014); Department Coordinator for Psychology (2014-present).
I also worked at the college a bit, prior to 1984: Assistant Department Secretary for Political Science and Sociology-Anthropology (1982, temporary P/T); Department Secretary for Religion, Philosophy, and Teacher Education (1982-83, temporary P/T); and Department Secretary for Political Science and Sociology-Anthropology (1983-84, permanent P/T).
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 1990, the most significant things happening in my life revolved around our family. Our son, Bryon, was in 7th grade in Middlebury; and our daughter, Mandy was in 6th grade in Weybridge. My husband and I were both starting new careers (within 2 weeks of each other!) after deciding the clothing retail world was not going to be the best fit for us–no pun intended. J
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
The most significant things happening in my life right now are still with our family! We have 3 grandsons (Tyler-8, Dylan-7, and Rowan—born on 6/2/15…just about the time we were leaving the 25-year Club Induction Reception!) Gary and I also took a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to the south island of New Zealand (March 2015) where we backpacked, bicycled, white-water rafted, and kayaked.
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 first learned to love yoga, when I took classes offered by a current student at the time, Zubin Mistri. I also have participated in the American Cancer Society “Relay for Life” event, from the beginning when student, Ross Lieb-Lappen, organized the first very successful event at Middlebury College.
What is your fondest memory or experience that you’ve had while working at Middlebury?
Some of my fondest memories are from the old Science Center. When Joyce McAllister retired as the Chemistry Dept Coordinator, the staff in the building had a going away lunch for her. We decided at that lunch that we should try to get together more often…not just when someone leaves the college. So, from that point on (~1992), the Science Center staff started having monthly lunches–we called ourselves the “McAllister Group” in honor of Joyce. Our beloved friend/colleague, Ann Broughton (Physics & Geography Coordinator), kept the lunches going with regularity through about 2006. There are very few members of the original group still around, but the MBH version of the McAllister Group still tries to get together once or twice a year.
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?
I’ve always enjoyed the positions that I’ve had, the people that I’ve worked with, the students I’ve gotten to know, and the friendships I’ve formed. I’ve always been treated with respect and felt like the people around me appreciated my work.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
I plan to retire sometime within the next 10 years, so I have more time to spend with my husband, our children, and our grandchildren. Some of my pipe-dreams are to further explore the US and Canada with my husband— I’d like to travel cross-country once on our motorcycles, once on our bicycles, and at least once with our grandchildren (in a car)! We’d also like to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, and maybe the John Muir Trail…and who knows what else!
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
One of my favorite places is to sit in the Adirondack chairs on the lawn surrounding Hadley Barn—it’s a beautiful, quiet, relaxing spot. I also love looking out my office window or the Great Hall to the Adirondack 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?
I have been lucky to have a number of mentors here: Randy Landgren, Jim Larrabee, Michael Geisler, Alison Byerly, Tim Spears, and each of the department chairs that I’ve had over the years. They each have helped me grow, and given me the confidence to achieve higher goals.