Kathi Rouselle

Kathi Rousselle, Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement, Newport and St. Albans Academic Centers

I was interviewed for my job at Community College of Vermont by six or seven people–seems like the room was filled!  They asked me questions that made me tell them how great I was.  I left feeling, “No way I’ll get that job!”  Told my mother it was a terrible interview and wouldn’t get the job.  Then the phone call came telling me that I got it!  Total shock!  I started 7/1/75.

The office was on Main Street in Newport, over the Passumpsic Bank.  Two other people worked there, an office manager and advisor.  The office was pretty shabby, and Rosey (my husband) and I laid new flooring and did some painting. kathiR2

One morning I awoke to hear that there was a fire at the bank.  I raced down to check it out.  The firemen weren’t letting people in the building, but somehow I got in. Maybe I knew the fireman!!  I needed to get student degree plans out of there.  In those days, degree plans were HUGE (some stored in suitcases).  There were no duplicates so if they were lost, they were LOST.  I got them and headed back out of the building.  I took a lot of heat from Rosey when he heard what I’d done!

In February of 1979, after opening a few classes, I was home watching the news.  Laying on the couch, a report came on that the Legislature had cut out all of CCV’s funding.  At the time, we were a single line item in the budget. Over the next weeks, I was amazing to see students taking charge to get CCV’s funding back.  They wrote so many letters to editors in various newspapers and made contact with their legislators.  It worked!  Funding was restored.  The other two people were laid off and Lisa Daigle-Farney was hired as Office Manager.

In 1980, Myrna Miller was our Dean (President).  She needed to bring our budget down so Coordinators got about a 3 week notice that we would be on a 10 month contract.  We would be off mid-June to mid-August.  At first, it was a shock and I was upset about it.  But I had a fair amount of vacation time.  At the time, staff was paid for vacation time not used. In the years to follow, I LOVED having summers off especially after having my son.

Myrna made lots of changes at CCV.  She got CCV on the road to being “a real college,” although it took many more years for the public to see us that way.  She is one of the reasons that CCV is still here.  She is a very wise woman!

In 1980, CCV received a TRIO Student Services grant.  Roger Cranse (Director of the program) developed the Dimensions of Learning course.  Coordinators were hired to teach the course and advise students.  They were all split between two sites.  Leonard Foote was hired In Newport part-time and St. Johnsbury part-time.

Ninety-eighty was the first time that CCV had money left at the end of the year.  The staff and our families were treated to an overnight at Tyler Place, a resort in Highgate Springs, owned by Pixley Hill’s family.  I understand there were a few Administrative Council meetings held there later on.  I’ll just say “What happens at Tyler Place, stays at Tyler Place!”  (Pixley was a Coordinator in the St. Albans Academic Center.)

I was in Newport for twelve years.  During that time we moved three times.  The third office was in the State office building.  Probation and Parole and the courthouse were on the first two floors.  My office was great because I could see Lake Memphremagog.  We only had two classrooms so used the local high school for most classes.  George, the Director of Adult Ed at the high school, “hated” CCV so Lisa and I dealt with constant challenges.  Between George and Eva Warner (Director of Newport’s Adult Basic Education who also hated CCV) life could be hell!

Coordinators set up all courses, hired instructors, registered students, did financial aid, did Veterans Administration paperwork with vets, ordered books and, of course, other duties as assigned.  Each site also sold textbooks to students.  Of course, there were not any computers so everything was done on paper.  I used to keep track of course placements on large sheets of paper on my wall.  I had a notebook with each student’s name, what needed to be done for financial aid, courses they were taking, etc.

I needed to follow-up with students regarding their financial aid paperwork.  I took the bad debt list personally and would go to student’s homes to collect their SAR or whatever paperwork was missing.

In 1987, Rosey was hired at Missisquoi Valley Union High School in Swanton.  OMG, I was freaked but also very excited for him.  I found out that there was going to be a Coordinator opening in St. Albans.  I contacted Tim Donovan who was the Director there at the time.  I was able to transfer to St. Albans (the first transfer in the college).  We moved to Swanton in August, 1987.  I still worked in Newport that fall.  My son, Tim, and I went to Newport on Monday mornings and came home Friday nights.  I was taking David Buchdahl’s place in St. Albans.  (David had become Regional Director, then later Academic Dean and Director of Institutional Research and Planning.)

When I arrived in St. Albans I worked with Maryellen Lowe, Joan Kaye, Pixley Hill and Penne Ciaraldi.  Penne was the first Financial Aid Counselor hired at CCV.  It was great not to worry about financial aid.

Pixley left CCV in June, 1988 to work at her parents’ resort.  Dian Ulner was hired to join CCV.  Carol Vallett joined us as CCV’s first coordinator to develop and facilitate Technical Education at CCV.

In St. Albans we were located on Main Street where Howard’s Flower Shop is now located.  Parking was metered and between staff, students and instructors, we paid the meter maid’s salary!  There were only two classrooms and one small computer room (six computers).  In 1992 we moved to our present location built just for us by Jim Warner, a local developer.  We could not own buildings so Jim was our landlord.  Andy Dufault was the contractor who built the building.  He is my neighbor at camp!  We were in seventh heaven in our new space.  There were so many classrooms, including a science lab.

For a few years, students had the opportunity to take a CCV course on the Trinity College campus for one week.  This was CCV’s Summer Residency Program.  It gave our students a chance to live on a campus for one week in the city of Burlington.

My students were always very special to me.  It was so wonderful to see them grow and flourish at CCV.  I never went to a graduation without crying!  I have had many students go on to be very successful after leaving CCV.  I miss them!

CCV has the best faculty!  Having part-time faculty keeps CCV flexible and able to meet student and community needs.  Our faculty  teach at CCV because they want to pass on what they know from years of experience in the working world.  They care about their students and work hard to help the students be successful.  I miss them!

In the fall of 2002, CCV coordinators started advising External Degree Students through Johnson State College.  For me, it was something new and I loved doing it!  I enjoyed the successes and the challenges.

Over the years, I worked with seven Presidents, 20+ Directors and many wonderful and dear colleagues. It is the best place to work.  Every day was different and such life-changing things happened for our students.  Oh, yeah, and it was fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I retired from CCV on June 28th 2013.

Jim Warner

St. Albans Academic Center’s Building/Space based on an Interview with Jim Warner as told to Maryellen Lowe, Assistant Registrar (ret’d)


For many years one of the greatest problems CCV faced was issues with space.  When I first started as a CCV student in 1979 and as a staff member in 1981, CCV’s space left a great deal to be desired.  I first came to CCV when it was located in a storefront on Main Street in St. Albans.  Class in the building was held in a large open space to the right just after entering the building, where traffic was feet away from the class; a second space was similar but smaller further back in the building.  A third class at night was crammed into what was a daytime office.  The single actual “classroom” was small, cramped and had two unheated walls, which made for an arctic winter atmosphere from November to March.

The next building where CCV located was literally next door to the old one.  It had three actual classrooms…a definite step up.   However, one was relatively small, and the others were not by any means large.

Most classes were held off the premises in local high schools, elementary schools, church basements, and anywhere that could be found, including on occasion in a private home.  I had a class that latter way.  CCV desperately needed space.

It was Jim Warner, a local developer, who came to CCV’s rescue.  CCV originally came to Jim’s attention when, even before the two buildings mentioned above, Jim rented two 10 X 10 rooms to the college.

Later it came about that he and David Buchdahl, one of CCV’s academic coordinators who later became a regional director; our academic dean; then Director of Institutional Research and Planning (now retired), started to talk about CCV’s space.   This happened, at first, because David recognized the overwhelming need for new space.  Jim came on board.

As a result of further discussions with the college, Jim began to develop a property on South Main Street a few blocks from downtown with CCV in mind as tenant.  Andy Dufault, a local builder was chosen.  Soon a foundation was laid and a building began to take shape.   Consultations between college staff, Jim and Andy led to a space that was ideally suited to the college’s needs.  Excitement reigned as the building progressed.  It was one of the best days for the academic center, staff and students, when the new building was occupied.

This was an innovation for CCV.   At this time it was mandated by CCV’s charter that the college could not own any physical plant.  No academic center had ever had space which was specifically tailored to its needs.  The building was lovely; it gave the St. Albans Academic Center a true identity.  There was green space, lawn and trees, surrounding the building giving it a campus ambiance.  One phrase finally disappeared from students’ lexicon.  Before it was not unknown for a student to come and tell us, “I’m here to take a few classes then go on to a real college.”  With the new building that phrase disappeared.  We took on the ambiance of the real college that we were.

Another “gift” as a result of Jim’s effort was that for the first time over time, most of the classes could be held in our own space, and even occasionally in good weather on the lawn under the maples trees Jim planted to create a campus atmosphere.  The students were more than pleased.  Often our students had a poor (to say the least) experience in high school.  When they came to us and took a class, it was difficult when it turned out that that class was often held in the high school where they believed that they were failures and were so unhappy.  It now became easier for students to see and experience the college’s identity and their part in it.

Ultimately, the college bought the building.  This, too, was a first.  That initial charge in the charter stating the college could not own any physical plant was changed.  Since that time CCV has had other buildings both built and owned by the college, for example, in Winooski and the Upper Valley, and other space was built to our specifications and rented as in Rutland.

All of these were great changes and of vast importance.  Jim Warner was both a trend setter and a boon to the college.  It may have been a mutually beneficial business relationship, but it paved the way for a great change in CCV’s operations and outlook and view of itself.

For all of the above, Jim is an important person to CCV.  While all this may have happened in any case, that it happened when and how it did is in large part thanks to Jim.  He is definitely an important person in the history of the St. Albans Academic Center.  This includes myriad small ways in addition to providing new space.  Jim always made a contribution to a fund that assisted students in need.  It was not uncommon to find a bushel basket of apples and/or cider for the student lounge in the fall from him and homemade candy for staff from his wife, Ginette for Christmas.  It was also not uncommon in the spring to see Jim in the parking lot sweeping up the grit that was laid for traction over the ice in the winter.  How many landlords do that?  I am also sure that this last paragraph will embarrass him, but it deserves to be said.

Thank you, Jim!

Joan Kaye

Coordinator of Student Services, St. Albans Academic Center

Probably most of the “old timers” are thrown back into some kind of nostalgia at the sight of the CCV building in Winooski.  What a stunning distance has been traveled!

joankaye2My journey began in 1980.  I had been talked into teaching a class by Pixley (Hill, Coordinator of Instruction and Advisement, St.. Albans Academic Center), who could and still can, talk anyone into anything, I was hooked.  Not ever considering myself to be a teacher, I could never have envisioned myself in front of a class,

Yet, there I was working with the most amazing, engaged, and enthusiastic students.  CCV provided the venue to make this experience possible.

When I became aware that the St. Albans Center was going to add additional staff, I wanted to be part of the CCV family, if possible.  Possible was a big if.  My background was social work, and the day of my interview was hot and windy; my job was with the local home health agency, and the last meeting of the day was with the family doing the milking.  Yep, I arrived wind-blown and fresh from the barn.  As I waited for my interview, Michael Sawdey (another coordinator) was leaving.  He was totally professorial; three piece suit, briefcase, and trim beard.  Despite the odds, I went to the interview.

As I found out later, there was another position opening, one for a student support coordinator.  Happily, along with non-traditional students, non-traditional staff was part of CCV.

This was the beginning for me, an experience that was always challenging, rewarding and NEVER boring.  Our program, under the directorship of Roger Cranse was charged with the development of a course of study that would serve as an introduction to college, academically structured, as well as designed to build confidence in students, often with limited educational opportunity.  Dimensions of Learning was a grand experiment.  Many ideas were floated, soared, popped and fell, added and subtracted, but the finished product worked and worked well.  Dimensions still lives, and being involved in its development was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.

As for my other memories of CCV, circa 1980, here goes:  store front offices, classroom space begged from anyone willing to have us, other duties as assigned, advising students, hiring instructors, financial aid, selling textbooks, commuting to other offices, etc., etc.  It was a verrrry wide range of activities.  So much has changed, yet what has remained a constant is providing a quality education within the community for students who otherwise might not have this opportunity.  The other constant is the dedication of staff and instructors.

I could write pages about my memories of students.  What amazing, courageous people many of whom soldiered on despite innumerable obstacles to receive that precious diploma.  Some people weren’t able to reach that goal, at least not yet, but I don’t think there was a student who wasn’t enriched by the CCV experience.

Ray Lambert

CCV Faculty, first Academic Coordinator in Bennington Academic Center
September 20, 2013

CCV in Bennington had no building site when it began in the early 1980s.  It began at 324 Silver Street, my residence, and the phone number was my home phone number.   As I recall, Tim Donovan from the CCV offices in jlambertMontpelier called me to ask if I would be willing to be the Bennington CCV coordinator.  It was the last week in August.

Fall courses were to begin within two weeks.  What were the courses to be?  We decided that introductory computer courses might be appropriate.  Within a week there were newly 40 students enrolled so it was necessary to create two course sections.  Who was the instructor to be?  That had not really occurred to us.  So I contacted, Danny Kane, the computer instructor at Mount Anthony Union high school who willingly agreed to teach the two course sections.  That was the beginning of CCV in Bennington.

After three semesters someone else became the coordinator in Bennington at a site which was on Main Street in a one room setting.  Courses were taught at Mount Anthony Union High School.  Later on CCV offices and some classrooms were set up above the Chittenden Bank building at Putnam Square in Bennington.  After that the current Site at 324 Main Street was rented and subsequently purchased and refurbished.  So the beginning and continuation of CCV in Bennington was at 324.  It’s an historic number in CCV history.