Connie Yandow

Academic Coordinator, CCV (retired)

ConnieYWhen I was hired, I was the first full time CSSS (Coordinator of Student Support Services) the Newport site had had.  At that time, the pay for the coordinators was under discussion, CSSS being on a step lower than the CIA (Coordinator of Academic Instruction). I am not sure why the distinction existed, except that there was a teaching component required of all CSSS – teaching Dimensions of Leaning I every semester.  At the end of my first fiscal year with the college, the pay changed and both coordinators were placed on the same pay step. The focus of the position was on basic skills courses (scheduling and hiring instructors as well as supervising them), academic support in the form of tutoring,  and new students who needed to be placed in those courses as well as working closely with Reach-up workers and providing support to their clients who became our  students.  In addition, all basic skills testing, scoring and placement was done by the CSSS.  In the beginning, no testing or enrollment in basic skills was mandatory for students, just highly suggested. When I began, my mandate was to try to get every new student tested and placed correctly, so my mantra became “take the tests and then we will talk about course selection” and basic skills testing became mandatory in our site.   As a result, I became known by our current CSSS director as the “queen of basic skills.”  CSSS has their own director, even though they also worked under a regional director.  Under that director’s guidance, meetings were held to discuss basic skills testing, how Dimensions I and II were to be taught (including instructor training as more faculty and fewer CSSS taught the courses), creating a college-published text book for Dimensions of Learning (I later became the editor of this text), and curricular changes and refinements in the basic skills courses/curriculum.  As enrollment in the college as a whole grew, so did the CSSS job, encompassing supervision of other curricular areas and advising a more varied group of students.  As a result of that, teaching no longer was a required part of the job.

On my first day I was handed a pile of registration forms and quickly thrown into the excruciating job of calling students to inform them that their chosen class(es) had been canceled and help them choose other(s).  Knowing nothing about what requirements there were, or the students’ abilities or past achievements, I spent a lot of time doing research and calling students back.  I was also quickly initiated into Newport’s famous or infamous “bathroom wall” course layout.

In the Newport office at the time was a very large women’s bathroom, whose walls were marble, just off the front of the site and the hall that held the coordinator’s offices.   One such wall was the largest, clearest space easily accessed by all staff, so the site office manager and secretary posted every course on its own sheet of paper, and during registration, students names were entered on those sheets.  The principle behind the wall was that the courses were easily viewed – this was long before computerized registration and site course numbers – so the coordinators could see how courses were growing or not, and have a solid handle on what needed to be bolstered or canceled.    I attended many “bathroom meetings” with the other Coordinator  (and sometimes other site staff and regional directors) to discuss course enrollments.

The Newport site was housed on the third floor of the state courthouse building – on the first floor was Probation and Parole and Motor Vehicles, second floor was the actual courtroom, and third floor was CCV.  There were times when staff and students got to ride in the elevator with prisoners in shackles and later, when security tightened, all were wanded and searched before being allowed to enter the upper floors, including the president of the college on her first visit to Newport’s site. In addition, when the court was short jurors, our students were stopped on their way in and preempted, sometimes on the first day of classes.

After a number of years in the state courthouse, CCV Newport outgrew its space and was offered the opportunity to become a resident of the new State building that was being constructed on Main street, facing Lake Memphremagog, just at the other end of the main block.  Even though the site was moving a city block away, the planning for the move was quite an undertaking; and I, Nan Conley (Reach-up Coordinator),  and the Site Office Manager, Lisa Daigle-Farney, did most of the logistical planning.  In the new site, Newport was originally going to have almost half of the first floor, with classrooms facing the lake, offices facing the cement retaining wall and a very large library space.  The library space was scaled down and integrated into the main part of the classroom layout when it became apparent that the college’s library would become more centralized and computerized, meaning that each site’s book collection would be small.  As the building was constructed, staff from Newport made many visits to see how things were progressing and to have some input into the layout of the site.  We even had an instructor evening in a restaurant across the street from the building with a tour of the site as the highlight.  When the time came to move, Lisa and I had a multi-page plan for how things were going to happen.  The move-in was scheduled during the week before spring semester began, so we were moving in ice and snow.  Unfortunately, I was unable to physically take part in much of the actual move – I was able to pack up my office; however, my final role in the move was to direct traffic in the new site as the furniture, office machines and other office materials arrived.  Finally, we were pretty well settled in and ready to open for business on the first day of class, spring semester).  What an exciting time – even today, the site has the best views in the college, with most classrooms and the student lounge facing the lake and a balcony for staff and student use once the weather warms.  I have even held meetings and classes on it in the summer.

Carol Vallett

Research Associate Professor
University of Vermont

Coordinator of Academic Services, 1991-1999

I interviewed for and was hired as a Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement with CCV St. Albans in August 1991.  At the time, the site was located at 81 North Main St., the current home of Howard’s Flower Shop.   The building was similar to many other CCV sites in use in that era—downtown location, very limited parking, cramped for space and in our case, few windows which made for a dark interior with an environment that was cold in the winter and really hot in the summer.


There was a tiny reception area where the secretary-receptionist worked, a small office for the office manager and two crowded classrooms on the first floor along with a miniscule room with a few computers (aka-the computer lab).  A steep and enclosed staircase lead to the upstairs where there was a maze-like corridor that eventually revealed six irregularly sized offices for the remaining staff.  I was hired into a new position as a fourth coordinator and assigned to a long and narrow office that looked out on Main Street.  It was just big enough for a desk, a chair and a visitor’s chair. But it did have a lot of shelving built on the walls.   About a month later I found out that my office had a previous life as a book storage closet and was quickly clean out and repurposed as an office before I was hired.

Parking for the staff was in the alley of the building that could fit maybe four cars.   This involved a delicate car ballet around staff arrival and departure schedules.  As all of the parking was metered in downtown St. Albans at that time, I chose to park a few blocks away, up a hill so I managed to get in a nice walk each morning.  A walk that was sometimes not so nice in the winter.

The lack of interior space meant that we were limited in what functions could occur at the building (none really), what equipment could be in the classrooms (not much) and how many students could be in the classrooms (I think 12 was the maximum for one room and maybe 8 for the other?).  I don’t recall much being accessible via our current ADA standards, but I do remember staff moving a small wooden ramp in and out of the front door area when we expected a visitor who might not have been able to make the step into the building.

Dawn of a New Era

I didn’t realize at the time I joined CCV, but I had the incredible good fortune to be part of a new era for the College.  Within a year or so, each and every staff member had a desktop computer and, more exciting for the St. Albans site, a new building was being planned!  This wasn’t a move to another storefront building along the downtown row, but rather a new building, built by James Warner, a local developer, specifically as an educational site for CCV.  I believe that Mike Holland was still the President and Tim Donovan had recently been assigned to a new position heading up technology, and then eventually facilities.  CCV was beginning a growth phase and St. Albans was to occupy the very first building custom built for the College.

David Buchdahl, the Regional Director at the time and the site staff (Mary Ellen Lowe, Judy Putnam, Kathi Rousselle, Penny Lynch, Dian Ulner, Janet Dooley and myself) were all involved in the planning and layout of the one story, 10,000 square foot building.  Located at 142 S. Main Street, the building was to have plenty of office space (each with a window), five classrooms (including a computer lab and arts/science room), a combined library and study space, student lounge (with vending machines) and an instructor room.  And central air-conditioning.  But best of all, were two amenities that incredibly improved our working lives—a kitchen and a sizeable parking lot!

I believe the new building did much to contribute to the site’s growth since we could offer more daytime courses, we were fully accessible to students and we became much more visible in the community.  Most importantly, I think our new and up-to-date space sent the message that CCV was a growing and thriving institution and our students deserved to learn in a modern and technically connected environment.  The site became a showplace for a few years; in fact I recall that we even hosted a Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees meeting.

Since then of course, CCV has improved its facilities in all locations beyond our wildest 1991 dreams!  Even though I left CCV for a position at UVM in 1999, I was so pleased to attend the dedication of the beautiful, functional and enormous CCV Winooski building in 2010.  It clearly sends that message that CCV has arrived as an institution.

I recall as a coordinator, a new student once told me that she’d like to take a few CCV courses and then someday attend college.  My response to her: “We are a college!”  There is no doubt that CCV  now  clearly sends the message not just through facilities but by its publications, programs and people that it is indeed a college and one that garners a great deal of respect from the Vermont community.  I’m proud to have been a part of CCV and still marvel at the dynamic and thriving culture of the organization and the success of its students, faculty and staff.

Bill Harrison

In the Fall of 1988 I applied to the Community College Of Vermont (CCV ) in Montpelier to teach a Psychology Course.  I went to the CCVbillH2 office to be interviewed by Eric Sakai and somehow got the job. The office was over the Lobster Pot Restaurant and during the interview the enchanting smell of “fresh “ fish floated throughout the office. I subsequently got to teach the class in what I recall as one of only two classrooms in the office.  The classroom I was assigned had the added attraction of having a bathroom next to it that could only be reached through the class room. There was also no door on the bathroom but a very attractive curtain separated the two rooms.  This made for a wonderful situation during breaks and when students from the computer room and other class would knock on the door wondering if they could interrupt to use the bathroom.  Coupled with the refreshing ambiance of the “fresh” fish from below, my first experience was interesting to say the least.

At the time I was still an active member of the Regular Army preparing for retirement.   Periodically I would go into the CCV office to pick up material and the Office Manager, Joyce Prosser, and Secretary/ Receptionist , Brigitta Dahline, constantly made fun of my “shined shoes.” Both became students in future classes and remain friends to this day.

After retirement from the Army I went to work at Norwich University but continued to teach for CCV at High Schools, Churches, Hotels and Senior Citizen Homes in Montpelier and at various other sites throughout the State and of course over the “Lobster Pot.” In 1991, I applied for a Grant Position with the Vermont State Colleges Office of External Programs (OEP) administered by CCV and led by Brent Sargent.  The Grant was a cooperative venture in partnership with the State Department of Education. After they ran through all the applicants they decided to interview me.  The State guy didn’t like ex- military folks.  With nobody left they hired me, and the state rep and I got along fine.  A year later Judy Fitch, a Coordinator of Assessment Services and future good friend, applied for a Coordinator of Academic Services position in Montpelier.  She was hired and my boss Brent encouraged me to apply for the Assessment Position as it was also administered by OEP and I had an assessment background.  After another fun filled interview I was hired at the going rate of about $1.98 an hour.

Over the next 13 years I remained the Coordinator of Assessment Services.  I had the chance to visit all CCV sites twice a semester and feel the ambiance of other sites not just Montpelier.  Cramped dilapidated offices and classrooms were rampant but today that seems like another world compared to the sites and technology that we presently enjoy.  I continued to also teach and after CCV retirement I began teaching the Assessment of Prior Learning course both for the Montpelier Site and Upper Valley as well as various Psychology courses. I also taught in Burlington and Morrisville.  To this day, I still continue at the Montpelier site.

I’ve had a great time and met some great staff as well as fascinating students. It initially seemed to me that the military culture and culture of CCV could never mesh but I was wrong.  Both institutions have a mission statement and for the most part both work professionally and ethically to fulfill that mission.

After teaching at several other institutions I can say that I have found CCV students to overall be the best I’ve encountered. CCV has made a difference in so many students lives and helped make them successful  in both their professional and personal lives. Watching the light bulb turn on in the eyes of a student in a CCV classroom, sometimes for the first time, is a truly rewarding experience.  Hopefully CCV will be able to continue its unique model and rewarding mission far into the future.

Ruth Fish

former site office manager, Rutland Academic Center

I first started in the Rutland CCV office which was located on the fourth floor of the Service Building in the heart of downtown Rutland across from the present WalMart.  The year was about 1987.  Looking for part time employment, I read an advertisement in the Rutland Herald for part time office work in a growing educational environment.

ruthF2I had never heard of CCV and was unaware of their presence in the community or state. But I applied and met Alice Fee, Office Manager, and Michael Kolesnik, Advisor, took the office test, and met with Betty Matkowski, the Regional Director.  I was hired, and when Alice Fee retired about a year later I became the Office Manager which was a job I held until I retired in 2000.

The Service Building was a step up for the Rutland CCV as their previous facility was the old jail on Center Street.

CCV shared an office with Castleton State College’s evening program in Rutland.  We shared office space and classrooms on the fourth and fifth floor.  At the time CCV had approximately 200 – 250 course placements a semester, and most of the students were taking one maybe two classes.   Almost all the students were adult learners, as CCV had not developed a following of traditional-aged students.

In those days there was little testing to determine the preparedness of students wishing to enroll, and there was no financial aid advisor on site.

Registrations were done by hand with multiple carbon copies going to different offices in Waterbury–business, financial aid, plus the site’s copy and the student’s copy.  I cannot imagine having to do that with today’s large number of students enrolling each semester.

True to what was touted in the want ad, the Rutland CCV did grow and prosper to the point that we were outgrowing our ability to handle classes and serve the students.  It was time to find a new location in Rutland.

Betty led a group looking for a facility that could support our burgeoning site.  We looked at about three or four locations and finally settled on the Howe Center on Strongs Avenue just down the street from the Service Building.  The Howe Center was at one time the home of the Howe Scale and Foundry business.  It had closed and the massive property was purchased by Joe Giancola, who was transforming the many buildings to suit businesses looking for a home.  When we first looked at the space he was offering us on the third floor, we could look through the building and see the mountains to the west of Rutland.  The space needed A LOT OF WORK, but Joe was willing to work with the college and their architect to set up office and classroom space to meet our needs as well as much needed parking space for our growing number of students.

We hired a moving company to transport us down the street.  Tim Donovan, the then computer specialist, came to Rutland with several of his computer people to move our lab to the new facility.  We moved on Friday and were open for classes that Monday

The one unanticipated hitch was the fact that the railroad tracks ran between our building and the parking lot.  At times about 8:30 p.m. a 25 to 30-car freight train would park in front of our facility.  Students and faculty had to walk to the front of the train or cross between cars (which was a no-no) to reach their vehicles.  Joe often promised to have school buses available to transport people to their cars.  He did come through on that promise one time when CCV, Castleton, and St. Michael’s College were having a Chamber of Commerce mixer at the site and the Castleton President decided it was time to leave; but the train was between her and her car. I don’t know where he got the school bus, but than Joe is an institution in Rutland.

Somewhere in this time frame Apple computers and e-mail arrived.  Any time there is new technology there is a learning period; but as we adjusted to the new way of doing business, it gave us the ability to reinvent our procedures.  By this time we had about three student advisors, a financial aid counselor, and a full-time secretary; and the site continued to grow.  Each year we would see enrollment increase and our summer enrollment would be equal to what we once had during the regular semester.

Our evening enrollment was increasing as well, and we were still sharing classroom space with Castleton although their program was on the decline at this point.  Some of our evening classes were now being held at the local high schools.  It is hard to develop a feeling of belonging to CCV when a class is off campus.  Both teachers and students are not happy.

As we continued to grow, it became obvious we needed more space, and that was when we moved to Evelyn Street–still in the heart of Rutland.  Mark Foley, had purchased a building which he totaled gutted and rebuilt into a two-story facility complete with large computer lab, and science lab.  The staff had an opportunity to have input into the design, and again the architect worked with the school and Mark to come up with space for the staff as well as students.  We were now beginning to see a shift in the student demographics.  We had five advisors, a financial aid advisor and two secretaries.  Students were screened and not allowed to take advanced classes if they could not meet minimum requirements in English and math.  This was helping students to succeed and helping to reduce drop out rates.  We wanted our students to succeed.

I retired in September 2000, just after fall registration.  That semester Rutland reached the magic 1,000 course placements.  Tim Donovan complete with champagne and some of the Waterbury people came to help us celebrate and gave me a grand sendoff.

I was always proud to be associated with CCV.  So many students came through the doors, and it was always wonderful to watch them grow and leave a different person with a new perspective on life.  I was also amazed at the quality of student work.  Many of our teachers were able to bring out the best in their students.  Over the years in talking with many instructors they indicated that they enjoyed teaching at CCV because they found students to be responsive.  Having instructors who enjoy their students and work with them is beneficial for both parties, and is a recipe for success.

Rutland CCV now has its own new imposing building in the city, and it is an important part of the downtown community.

Janice Couture

One Family – The Couture Family’s Connection to CCV

Please take a few minutes to visit Room 406 the next time you are in Winooski at CCV’s Academic Center.  This classroom was the first one at CCV Winooski to be dedicated.  An engraved photo of Alfred V Couture and his wife Marguerite M Couture memorializes this Burlington couple.  Alfred and Marguerite were both born in 1910.  The photo identifying the classroom was taken on their 48th wedding anniversary in 1980 and was chosen by their children who sponsored the room.  Alfred was a hardworking family man who generously served his Church, the City of Burlington as an Alderman, and the State of Vermont as a State Representative.  Marguerite was a woman of faith, a devoted housewife, and a caring mother of nine who always found the time to serve others.

janiceAlthough Alfred and Marguerite were not directly connected to CCV, many of their children, in-laws, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have innumerable connections with the Community College of Vermont.  Strong and long-lasting relationships between the Couture family and CCV have been established on many levels.  Joyce Judy and Susan Henry were the positive forces in solidifying these connections.

During your visit to Room 406 in Winooski you will enjoy the 3 original paintings which decorate the room with much grace and poise.  The beautiful oil painting of rhododendrons was painted by Kathleen Couture who is sister-in-law to Alfred and Marguerite.  Kathleen is an accomplished artist who raised 8 children; she completed high school at the age of 50 and then began her Liberal Studies Degree at CCV in the 80’s.  Although she did not complete her degree Kathleen still speaks of CCV with pride.  At the age of 85 she continues to speak of her CCV experience.

The floral watercolor painting was donated to CCV by Deanna Couture, wife of Paul who is the oldest son of Alfred and Marguerite.  Deanna is a retired Mater Christi Elementary School art teacher and an accomplished artist.  During the summer of 2006 she took a Landscape in Art class with Robert Huntoon.  Two other family members in the class were Rachelle Couture, granddaughter of Alfred and Marguerite and Janice Couture, daughter of Alfred and Marguerite.  Janice’s oil painting of the tulips is the third painting in the classroom.

Among the nine Couture siblings five of us were/are among the CCV faculty in Burlington/Winooski.  Paul Couture, the eldest son of Alfred and Marguerite was an electrician by trade.  He accepted to teach a course in Industrial Electricity while working with CCV students who needed to complete the course for their Technology Degree.

Bernard is the fourth son of Alfred and Marguerite.  He was a high school teacher who taught 3 generations at Winooski High School during a 30 year period.  He taught Basic Math at CCV usually as a substitute faculty member.

James is the sixth child of Alfred and Marguerite (the fifth son).  He had a career in the US Air Force as a pilot; he also taught at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.  At CCV he taught Basic Algebra for several years.   His daughter, Kimberly is Math Curriculum Coordinator for the South Burlington School District who taught Calculus at CCV in Winooski.  On several occasions her Dad Jim, substituted for her in class.

Gerald, Alfred and Marguerite’s sixth son, retired from National Life Insurance.  He has been teaching Basic Algebra to CCV students for more than 17 years and wishes to continue for many more.

And I, Janice am the fifth child and the first daughter of Alfred and Marguerite.  I began to work for CCV-Burlington in 2001 as a Coordinator of Academic Services.  My science background provided me with the skills required to oversee the Tech Degrees, The Massage Program, and the Science courses.  From my first few days on the job I developed a strong attachment to CCV.  I love the people with whom I worked.  They are open-minded, respectful, caring.  They are committed to the students, and to the work.  Their work ethic is professional and exemplary.  Team work is exceptional.  Team spirit is life-giving, supportive, empowering.  This Team IS the CCV to which we are attached.

Among the team members with whom I worked are Dee Steffan who at the time was our Lead Coordinator.  Dianne Maccario, Sharon Hopper, and Mica DeAngelis were College Elders whose wisdom enlightened group decisions.  Anita Long, Marianne DiMascio, and Amy Stuart brought creativity and innovation to a dynamic team.  Melissa DeBlois and Katie Mobley lived generous energy and high level organizational and efficiency skills.  Jody Albright and Gail Albert were inspiring as they worked with high school students.  John Devino and Rick Leete brought their personal experience with skill and commitment to the students.  During my 10 years as a Coordinator the Team has grown to include the added talents of Angie Albeck, Ian Boyd, Jen Garrett-Ostermiller, Dana Lee,  Aimee Loiter, Tuipate Mubiay, Erin Meenan and Shelley Jurkiewicz.  Relationships continue to grow between Team members and the Couture family.

CCV’s Mission was my own life-mission:  to respect, to care for, and to serve others, especially those most in need.  My siblings and I are the recipients of excellent formal educations which provided us with many opportunities in life.  I quickly understood and wanted to contribute to CCV’s Mission of access to education for all Vermonters.  I embraced CCV and all that it represented.  I wanted to spread the “good news” and I took every opportunity to make CCV known.

During my 10 years of service at CCV I encouraged everyone I knew to take classes at CCV.  I spoke of my large family; they were often the first targets of my enthusiasm.  Among my nieces, Renee and Christine Couture (daughters of Paul and Deanna) completed Associate Degrees at CCV.  For Renee it was a post-bachelor degree.  Christine enjoyed her experience at CCV and sent her two daughters, Gina and Mia Franzoni (great-grandchildren of Alfred and Marguerite) who also completed Associate Degrees.  Gina then completed an EDP degree at JSC; Mia still has a couple of courses in EDP.

In addition to the above mentioned nieces, Rachelle and Rebecca Couture (Gerald’s daughters), Ashley Durand, and Michelle Murray took courses to transfer credits to other colleges.  Kylie Drouin took a required psychology course for admission to the Doctorate Program in Psychology/Forensics in D.C.  Another great-granddaughter Kaitlin Letourneau completed a post-bachelor certificate while her sister Emile Letourneau transferred class credits for her bachelor degree.  Bailey Devoid continues the family tradition by her dual enrollment during the fall 2013 semester after she completes Intro to College Studies this summer of 2013.

A large family also means a large pool of friends and acquaintances.  Many, many are the persons who came to CCV because of contacts and personal invitations by me or by other family members.

One of my sisters-in-law, Annette was among the first CCV students when she took a French course at the Mill in Winooski.  Another sister-in-law, Doreen Couture took a watercolor class with Jean Cannon.  Among the courses I have taken at CCV are Landscape in Art, Drawing, Multi-Media Applications, Digital Photography, and my most recent Class Piano.  I expect that there will be others!

Gail Tisseur is a family member by association.  She shares in my admiration and commitment to CCV both inside and outside the classroom.  Gail teaches Basic Math in Winooski and St. Alban’s.   Since I left my full time position as Coordinator I have joined Gail and my brother Gerald as faculty.  I continue to teach a class in Human Biology in Winooski.

In this Spirit of Gratitude to our parents, Alfred and Marguerite Couture, and in solidarity with one another we decided to express our connections to CCV by sponsoring a classroom in the new CCV building in Winooski, Room 406.  When you realize the number of Coutures and other family members with direct and positive contact to CCV it becomes evident that the attachment is deep and intertwined.   It is our commitment to family and our commitment to CCV that we want to share with others in a concrete and visible manner.  We want to help others earn an education.

I think it was during our first family visit to the new building in Winooski that my then 96 year old aunt, Sister Beatrice Couture (sister to my Dad, Alfred) became convinced that I was president of CCV and did all the work that made CCV operate.  I tried to convince her that a Coordinator’s role is one of many and not a position of such responsibilities.  Joyce was not threatened!   Aunt Bea witnessed my commitment and dedication to CCV.  At 99 years old, Aunt Bea remains interested and continues to read the CCV Newsletter.  She now realizes that I am retired and not President of the College.

We, family and CCV friends celebrate our connections to CCV with an annual “Bove’s Spaghetti Supper” at CCV Winooski.  Four generations of Coutures and CCV personnel celebrate family, friendship, education, service, and gratitude.  Approximately 40-50 persons from family and from CCV enjoy an evening supper together.  We share life events and happenings.  We remember our parents, Alfred and Marguerite Couture.  In a spirit of enthusiasm we remember one another; we remember CCV and its Mission of Service and Access.

August 10, 2013

The ARB Chronicles: 1983 to the early 90s

When is linking statement not a linking statement?
David Buchdahl

I had been at CCV two years in 1985 when I was invited to be one of two Coordinators of Advising and Instruction who sat on the Academic Review Board, or the A-R-B,  or sometimes just the “arb”. The ARB was the precursor to the present-day Academic Council; and in those early years of the college, it was a small, seemingly select group.  There were just seven members: two regional directors, the director of student services, the registrar, a clerk and two coordinators who rotated on and off with two-year terms.  We had two primary responsibilities – (1) to review and develop all needed academic policies and degree program requirements and (2) to review students’ degree plans. The ARB met on the first Thursday of each month to handle its first assignment, and the third Thursday of each month to review degree plans, which always seemed to me its main business.  In February and March, and sometimes April and May too, both meetings were devoted to degree plan review. We even had what we called degree plan review marathons, which could last twelve hours a day with pizzas delivered  to keep us all going.  In those days, by the way, the President’s Council only met once a month.  How this reversal took place is, of course, another story.

In those years, Nancy Chard, director of the old southern region, was chair of the ARB and ruled meetings mostly with an iron fist.  If you disagreed strongly with Nancy, you did so at your own peril- subjecting yourself to public abuse and private revenge.  Yet everyone respected Nancy’s bed-rock dedication to the mission of the college, and coordinators, at least, were cowed enough by her to not even think about disagreeing.  Roger Cranse, on the other hand, the man who gave the college Dimensions of Learning and the ARB an air of erudition, loved to disagree with Nancy at every opportunity, so that ARB meetings often became an amusing test of will between these two titans.  At least that’s how I perceived things as an innocent newcomer when I joined ARB.

Before there was an ARB, degree plans were reviewed by local degree plan review boards, so it was a big deal when this critical function was centralized and the ARB came into being. In those days, all degree plans were “individualized,” which meant that students could take pretty much any courses they wanted to, as long as they could show how their learning provided competence in ten different areas – which included such things as aesthetic awareness, interpersonal relationships, manual and physical competence, self-awareness, communications, cultural awareness, community relationships, creative competence, relationship with the environment, analytical competence.  Of course there were many standard choices that students employed to demonstrate competence in the different areas. One of my personal favorites was the use of Introduction to Computers to satisfy mechanical competence – presumably because you could insert and eject 5 – 1/4’   floppy discs into the old desktops, or, later, prove your skill with a mouse.

A key job of the coordinators in those days was to teach a one-credit course called, what else, “Degree Planning Seminar,” where students learned about the competence areas and how various courses could be employed to demonstrate learning in each one.  Students would then develop a “preliminary” degree plan that would be reviewed by the ARB.  One of the things the ARB struggled with constantly was setting deadlines for the submission of both preliminary and final plans and what to do with all the students who every year missed the deadlines.  Oh how we agonized over such matters!  Plans were reviewed by a pair of ARB members prior to meetings (delivered before computers—b.c.—by pony express in large manila envelopes), then presented with evaluative comments to the whole ARB at the meetings.  Stacks of degree plans were piled everywhere around the room – (you could actually hide behind a stack of them if you wanted); and we dutifully proceeded to review each one and pass judgment.  Oh, the horror!

By far most intriguing or ridiculous thing about degree plans, depending on your perspective, was what we called “linking statements.”  Linking statements were short two or three sentence paragraphs intended to explain how a student understood the connection – the link – between the courses in their plan and a particular competence area.  Every degree plan began with a goal statement, followed by ten pages, each one with a linking statement at the top and a list of the courses selected by the student to develop competence in that areas.   I wish someone had a tape of ARB reviewing degree plans and debating how or if, or to what degree a linking statement actually demonstrated a link between courses and competence areas. Mind you, many of these linking statements had already been rewritten and improved by coordinators who understood the hurdles that students faced in getting plans approved by the ARB. They knew all too well that it was not usually the courses listed on the page that made the difference between approval or rejection, but the quality of these trifling linking statements.  Sometimes, in desperation, ARB members would edit a statement right there in a meeting, then return it to student and coordinator with a note that said, effectively, “Here, write it this way.”

I served on the ARB continually from 1985 until 2007 when I transitioned from an eleven-year stint as academic dean (Nancy Chard was actually the first person at CCV to have that title) to be the college’s first director of institutional research, a position I held for six years before my retirement in 2013.  I’m can’t remember exactly when during those intervening years we did away with degree plans and their cursed linking statements, but I can assure you no one was the least bit sorry to see them go.