John Sweeney

johnsweeneyCCV/AD & Utility Fielder

CCV Recollections

I was hired in early 1989 by Brent Sargent in the Office of External Programs.   As I recall in those early days, Beth Chiquoine, Judy Fitch and Steve Gerard were the mainstays with Laura Lind-Blum coming along shortly after.   At the time, OEP hosted the Training Opportunities Program (TOP) and  Assessment of Prior Learning (APL).

My position was Grant funded under a U.S. Dept of Education program called School, Colleges & Universities Program (SCUP).   The challenge was to create a dropout prevention program for at risk 9th & 10th grade high school students that included a summer camp component.   Rebecca Kaiser assisted me with this effort as we created the Vermont Partners in Education Program (VPIE).   For several years I ran a VPIE1 license plate on my old Volvo and recall certain parties at IBM a little miffed at our choice of moniker since they had their own “PIE” program (unbeknownst to us at the time of our naming).  While the program met most objectives, we were not able to achieve self funding and it morphed to the Vermont Education Partnership Program (VEPP).

In order to meet a new federal mandate for commercial drivers,  I was assigned to develop a  statewide training program for all drivers who needed or already had a commercial driver’s license.  We developed curricula,  hired experienced commercial drivers from all over the State, trained them as instructors and then set up workshops Statewide.  The program was completed in 19 months with over  5000 drivers passing the required examination.  Then came an assignment  monitoring Vermont’s GED and Adult Diploma programs after the results of a financial audit suggested that someone outside the Vermont Department of Education temporarily administer the programs.  Claire Daniels and Jessie Baker provided invaluable assistance in that task.

Several of us, now in Training Support Services (TSS), completed Zenger Miller instructor training and together we attempted to provide employee development workshops to various Vermont Businesses in the late 1990s.  Unfortunately, the CCV administration at the time concluded that we needed to bring in more $$ in order for this to be a cost effective effort.  In the end, TOP (or TSS) was essentially gutted and I moved on to a roughly 6 year stint in the CCV financial aid world.  In that effort, I survived Anne Dodge’s concept of ” Pile Management” — that being multiple stacks of financial aid applications that covered every level surface in her office including the floor and Maria Calamia’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) chaos which only she could decipher.

To break some of the tedious nature of FA work, I created the fictitious position of CCV Athletic Director which was wholly supported by then President Tim Donovan.  On retirement in 2006, Pam Chisholm presented me with a baseball cap with a CCV AD logo which I wear proudly to this day.

Jack Anderson

Former CCV Assistant Academic Dean for Student Services 1989 – 1994
Presently, CCV Faculty member at the Morrisville Academic Center, 2006 – 2013

I started working full time at CCV in August, 1989 as the Director of the Student Support Services Program (TRIO) and was hired because I had written a number of TRIO grants before and the CCV grant was due soon.

What a wonderfully welcoming place to work, I had my best ever supervisor, Barbara Murphy,  Academic Dean and 12 outstanding Coordinators of Student Support who would be working with me from all 12 sites.

The grant writing process began immediately, that’s fine, now who is my secretary who will be typing the grant for me?  We don’t have secretaries and most everyone types their own work, and here is a shared laptop that you an work on.  It was loaded with DOS.  What is DOS I asked?  Are you familiar with computers and have you used them before?  No I have not.  That’s OK because we have a computer class in Montpelier that starts tomorrow.  So how did the computer class go?  Hmmmm, I don’t get it.  That’s OK, because there is another class tomorrow.  This time I got it, and I was able to use the laptop and a wonderful woman, Marion, who worked at the other end of the hall, volunteered to type and edit my work electronically.  Whew, what great support for a new employee!

1989 was mot my first employ with CCV, I taught a class in 1972, Creative Approaches to Education.  At that time the tuition was optional and there was no pay for faculty.  AT that time I was an administrator at Johnson State and the class took place in my office.  What I did receive from that experience was a class of six who were very much interested in education, and especially one student, who became a full time teacher at BFA in Fairfax, Shirley Opstrup.  She was later recognized as the Vermont Teacher of the Year, which was super for her, however the best part for me was, we, and our families have been the best of friends for over 40 years.

Working at Wasson Hall, CCV’s “corporate headquarters”, in Waterbury was interesting because many of the college-wide meetings took place there, so I got to meet many people right down the hall from my office.  Another very pleasant ritual that happen once a month at Wasson was a “potluck birthday party” for everyone who’s birthday was in that month.  This certainly did a lot to develop strong esprit d’corp among the staff.

In my days at CCV it was common for various groups and committees to meet once a month, and these meetings would usually last from 9:00 AM to about 3:00PM.  These long meetings were intended to lessen travel for all and to allow time for planning and organizing what that committee was charged with.  Well organized meetings were productive and any that were not, got the word.  “If I am going to drive up to Waterbury  from Bennington and not get anything done, you can count me out.”  Needless to say any of us who planned and conducted these meetings, always had this in mind as we plan what the meeting was to accomplish and who was responsible for what.

Early on I realized that  CCV people were very committed to the college’s mission and to one another in a supportive team mentality.  I observed that the most successful people at CCV were highly work centered, and the focus was on supporting our students and making the college a successful place, and that reputation was “out there” in all of the 12 communities the college served.  Then, and now the commitment to student learning and support are the key ingredients that keep new students enrolling with successful conclusions, whether they graduate or transfer.  CCV’s ever increasing enrollment and graduating classes is a tribute to the quality of education CCV gives it’s students and is indeed the “word on the street” that… “keeps ‘em comin’”.

When I retired from Vermont Tech in 2006, I started teaching classes at Academic Center in Morrisville, and over this short time I could cite many success stories that would be interesting and could easily document students change and growth.  But the one story that I like the best is about Nate, an Iraq veteran who came to my Dimensions class with some PTSD and certainly a no-nonsense outspoken and fairly entrenched approach to everything.  Nate laid it all out and in language that was more fitting for an angry pirate.  It even encouraged some of the other male students to think they could get away with it too, despite my constant reminder that such language was not appropriate anywhere and especially in college classrooms.  Nate got better, but still needed reminding about his choice of adjectives.

Nate showed up in my class the next semester and I was glad of it.  We spoke at the beginning of the class about using appropriate language in class, and he said he’d give it his best try. He made it through the entire class without one swear word.  On the last day, we had a potluck lunch and enjoyed the last opportunity to socialize as a class, and Nate hung back to help clean up.  He said after we cleaned up, “Did you notice that I didn’t fucking swear once during your class?”  I responded, “Yes, I did and that is just one example of your growth here.”  The last I heard about Nate was he enrolled in the nursing program at Norwich University.  It is my observation about students, if you can visibly see some growth in them, you know they are open minded enough to learning new and even complicated things.

A Toast to Six CCV Presidents

Presented by David Buchdahl, then Director of Institutional Research and Planning, aboard the cruise ship Ethan Allen, on the occasion of the dedication of the new CCV Winooski Learning Center.

June 4, 2010    

Just this morning, I was thinking that as someone who has worked for CCV since 1983 and has reported directly to four of the six past presidents here today, I might appropriate for me to say a few words about the contributions that each has made to the college.

So it’s been my pleasure to be thinking about these wonderful people for much of the day, and now my even greater pleasure to share some of these thoughts with all of you.

Because two of these presidents had already receded into the mythic past before I began my years at CCV, I thought I’d borrow some mythic metaphor to describe their special contributions to the creation of the college..

First of course, there’s Peter Smith, the founding president of CCV, whom we can now imagine as CCV’s Prometheus.  Prometheus, you may recall, molded the first human beings out of clay and is as close as the Greeks come to a creator God. Peter created CCV from the clay of his own Vermont roots, and we will never be able to thank him enough for the gift he gave to his native state and the way the college continues to give to each succeeding generation. A visionary, a dreamer – he did something that can only be done once, he began it all.

Then came  Myrna  Miller — maybe the most mythic of all CCV’s presidents- whom I  liken to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and the arts – all of which she needed to establish CCV on solid footing during her tenure as president. Myrna came to CCV when the college was ambivalent about its self-identify – caught between a mission of transforming the world and being simply a college.  It was Myrna who said, we better concentrate on being a college which meant we better have a curriculum, we better have some normal looking degree programs, (not just the famous “individualized degree” that was the darling of CCV’s original founders); and we sure as hell better have some clear standards about what it means to earn a CCV degree.  Bravo! Myrna used her wisdom, her passion and her warrior skills to make all this happen.

And  here is where I stop with mythic references – for I started working at CCV in 1983, so came to know the next presidents as ordinary mortals – although each one extraordinary in their service and contributions to CCV.

I met Ken Kalb in April of 1983 on his first tour of the college when he began his tenure at CCV.

Whereas Myrna had said (in so many words), “We better look and act like a college if we’re going to be a college,” Ken said, we better act like an organization if we want to survive as one. Ken took a loose, fairly disorganized federation of sites and turned it (sometimes kicking and screaming) into a unified network of twelve sites.  He organized the budgets, wrote the strategic plan, signed the policies, and kept us all looking forward instead of day-dreaming about the past (or saving the world!)

After Ken made his surprise announcement of retirement at a President’s Council meeting on the anniversary of D-day in 1991, (he knew he was dropping a bomb), Mike Holland arrived from Oregon about 9 months later.

I took Mike on part of his tour of CCV sites – and I believe he was wondering if he could get back on a plane to Oregon.  Because unlike the building we dedicated earlier today in Winooski, the buildings that CCV occupied in 1992 (all still rentals, by the way) were a ragtag collection of storefronts and walk-ups – undersized, ill-furnished, poorly lit, handicapped inaccessible, and basically an embarrassment to this newcomer from Oregon where community colleges looked like real colleges with big campuses and lots of nice buildings. But he toughed it out, urging us to develop a new vision of CCV as a comprehensive community college, which for him meant a college with technical programs and serious workforce education.  To say he met a lot of resistance both internal and external would be a huge understatement, but if you look at CCV today, you see Mike’s vision fulfilled.

Barbara Murphy took over after Mike Holland departed (yes, back to Oregon), and she brought with her a commitment to developing leadership from within and promoting CCV with style and grace to Vermont communities statewide. It was through Barbara’s strong and steady presence that CCV finally gained acceptance among our peer colleges, including the development of our historic articulation agreement with the University of Vermont.   It was also during Barbara’s tenure that we saw CCV’s enrollment grow as never before.  A lot of this growth resulted from Barbara’s strong advocacy for CCV as a college for traditional age students, paving the way for our active engagement with high schools throughout Vermont. Here again there was resistance to this new direction for CCV, but Barbara was adamant that recent high school graduates deserved a seat at the CCV table just as much as anyone else.

When Barbara was named president of Johnson in 2001, Tim Donovan became CCVs next president.  Tim was uniquely qualified for the role. He had worked in the Vermont State College system 1980 and had reported directly to all the previous presidents. Hence, he brought an understanding of the college and the president’s job that guided us during his eight-year term.  Tim combined a love of technology, a love of finance, and most of all a love of people that made him in turn a president much loved by everyone at CCV.  Beginning back in 1994 when he reported to Mike Holland, Tim turned his attention to improving CCV’s physical plant, an effort that reached its culmination with the dedication of our fantastic new building in downtown Winooski.

And now Joyce Judy assumes the leadership of the college, again someone uniquely qualified, having served as provost for the since 2002 and as acting president for the past year.  From a site coordinator in Springfield, to dean of students, to provost, Joyce has been a steady presence at CCV and a trusted and respected colleague. All of us who know Joyce  have no doubt she will distinguish herself as one of the best presidents CCV has been fortunate to have.

So let’s raise our glasses to this remarkable group of leaders and visionaries, who all contributed so much in shaping this wonderful college into what it is today.  We thank you, we love you, and we wish you all the best.

David Buchdahl

Former Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement, Regional Director, Academic Dean,
Director of Institutional Research and Planning

There were no computers.  There were also no deans, no financial aid counselors, and no site office managers.  It was 1983, and I was starting a new job as a Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement (yes, CIA) in St. Albans.  Like all ten other CCV sites (Rutland hadn’t opened yet and Winooski was brand new), we had a secretary (the now legendary Maryellen Lowe) and two other coordinators who taught me everything I needed to know about my new job – Pixley Tyler Hill who was the first coordinator hired in St. Albans and Joan Kaye, one of five Student Service Coordinators hired to teach the first Dimensions of Learning classes which had been created just a couple of years earlier as a special course for CCV’s adult students, then about 90% of our student population.  Plato’s “Republic” was already part of the standard reading in Dimensions, and Joan’s classroom, a dark-paneled windowless room in the back of our site was aptly called “the cave”.    It was one of two classrooms in the site — the other an open space, also with no windows, was where we taught Degree Planning Seminar, a one-credit course where students were asked to demonstrate how their CCV learning contributed to competence in ten different areas, including self-awareness, mechanical competence, and moral david12 copyreasoning.  Ah, those were the days!

The site itself had most recently been a women’s clothing store, so the only windows were in the large lobby, formerly the “showroom.”  My office, separated from Pixley’s by pieces of particle board nailed to 2-by-4s, had been a changing room.  It was four by six, and it was there, that I began to learn how much students needed and desired what CCV had to offer – local, affordable, accessible higher education.  We take it for granted now, then it still seemed like a miracle!

It was a simpler organization in those days.  As I said, no computers and many fewer positions than exist today.  Sites had a secretary and one, two or three coordinators, and there were about a dozen other people who worked in the central office on the second floor of a bank building in Montpelier before we moved to Wasson Hall in Waterbury where we stayed for nearly 30 years.   When we registered someone, we filled in the information on those old multipage carbon forms – with a white one for the student’s file, a green one for the business office, a yellow for financial aid, orange for the registrar and pink for the student.   If you could remember which color went where, you were qualified to be a coordinator!  We coordinators wrote down the cost of all the courses – about $30 per course, added the $10 registration fee and told the student to go pay at the front desk.   I’m sure there was financial aid available, but I have no recollection of how students went about getting it.   Seemed to me most students scraped together the $50-$100 they needed for the semester, but no doubt my memory is faulty.  My first week on the job (January during registration – yes, the practice of CCV starting new employees during registration is an old one) – I got caught in a snow bank delivering course lists to stores up and down Routet 7 from Milton to Swanton and back to St. Albans.  I don’t think we mailed course lists in those days – it seemed easier to have new employees who didn’t know how to do anything else go and deliver them.  And I got to sell books, too.  I drove down to Milton High School where we offered some of our classes. (There were almost no classrooms in CCV buildings in those days.  We thought it was a virtue to save taxpayers and the state of Vermont money by utilizing public school classrooms in the evening when they were not in use.  It severely limited our ability to offer daytime classes, but that didn’t seem like a problem at the time, and there was nothing we could do about it anyway. )  So I sat in the lobby of Milton HS with boxes of books that I lugged in from my car, and as students came in looking for their class I intercepted them, told them I could sell them the books they needed and where there classroom was.  It all seemed to work fine, except when I couldn’t make change.   Then I’d arrange to meet the students during their first break, having run in the meantime to the closest convenience store to get the change I needed.  Nothing to it.

Among my most enjoyable memories from my earliest days at CCV were regional coordinator meetings, when coordinators from the northern region or the southern region would get together to discuss a variety of issues.  Remember there were no computers, so no e-mail, and no way to easily transmit information unless you wanted to rely on the US mail, which of course required that someone laboriously type a document, and have copies made and mailed to a site, where a circulation tab could be attached to it and then handed to the first person expected to read it and so on until it was read by everyone in the office.  As you can imagine, not much mail ever got sent.  So the way we were kept up on the things was to attend a regional meeting once a month where we would sit around a table and hear from our regional director about whatever we needed to know.  And because some of us were driving considerable distances to attend the meetings, they tended to last all day – beginning around 9:00 and ending around 3:00.

The atmosphere of those regional meetings when the college was still young and restless was an odd mixture of encounter sessions, laugh-ins and deep seriousness.  Most of us coordinators were relatively new to our jobs (the longest-serving was Kathi Rousselle who had started the CCV site in Newport in 1975) and we all had a very real sense that we were making everything up as we went along.  So we argued about everything, laughed constantly, trusted that we couldn’t fail, and had a sense of ourselves as continuing the revolution of the Sixties in the hills of Vermont.  We were the rebels tunneling under the walls and into the halls of the higher education establishment, filled with the promise of educating all the Ritas of the world for whom CCV offered liberation and enlightenment – out of the caves of illusion into the light of knowledge.  Ah, what a glorious mission we shared!  And if we had to drive through blizzards to attend these regional meetings, well, all the better to prove ourselves worthy of our great and noble cause. We’d stumble into the back rooms of local restaurants, shake off the snow, pull off our boots, and take up the business of creating a college that could change the world.   We would talk and talk and talk and then drive home still absorbed in the ongoing topics of conversation   There were no computers.