Spring Update

My posts since joining Champlain College have been less frequent than in the past. I recognized that I needed a different voice for the blog, but I have struggled to find it. I have talked to many people about what the president’s blog at Champlain should mean, including a visit to Professor Tim Brookes’ publishing class last November to hear students’ advice on how to effectively use the blog. Their suggestions were solid – make sure the blog links to my other social media tools (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and ensure I had a point of view. Rhetorically, what was I trying to do with the blog?

The best ideas from the students were grounded in their understanding that something special is going on here at Champlain College. They chose this place because of the Upside-Down Curriculum and our professional focus. Since arriving, they feel we have fulfilled the promise we made to them, and they want more people to know about the distinctive education available at Champlain. We are not right for everybody, but for students seeking immediate immersion in experiential learning that exposes them to what it will be like to work in their chosen field, we are a wonderful choice. 

This weekend and two weekends from now, we will welcome hundreds of admitted students to campus to help them understand why Champlain may be the place for them to embark upon their journey to lead meaningfully better lives. We have immersive, educational and fun activities planned for the students and their families. We hope to bring to life what they have read about Champlain, and to give them a sense of what makes Champlain special. More than anything, we want to help them understand if we are a match. To that end, I share some of the things going on in the past month to give a flavor for what life is like here at Champlain College. 

Student Events of Note

March kicked off with our ninth annual Elevator Pitch competition. Fifteen finalists, broken out in three categories of five students each, pitched their new business ideas, sought a job interview, or attempted to get funding for their non-profit idea.

Our Student Government Association (SGA) hosted their annual Leadership Dinner, recognizing student leaders throughout the college. This event is a wonderful send-off for the outgoing student leadership team.  SGA has flourished in past years under the guidance of Dr. Michelle Miller, Associate Provost, and Dr. Chuck Bashaw, Assistant Professor in the Core. Elections for our new SGA leaders have taken place. I look forward to working with new SGA President Logan Rice, Vice President Maggie Bean, and their Cabinet. I also thank outgoing President Kirby McThompson, VP Lucas Bienvenue and the outgoing Cabinet – it has been wonderful working with you and seeing your strong leadership over the past year.  

Champlain’s Women of Color Affinity Group, ‘Shades Of Me,’ presented a celebration of black women activists and pioneers, showcasing past and present black women who have found their voice and influenced their world. Our students’ performances were moving and powerful.

We are also excited to report that we have 95 students studying abroad this semester, including 31 in Montreal and 38 in Dublin.

Diversity and Inclusion

The College hosted the annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium on Monday, March 7th. Led by volunteer coordinator Carin McCarthy from our Graduate Admissions team, the day demonstrated Champlain’s commitment to women leaders.  Moni Basu, a CNN reporter, was a particular highlight for participants.  Ame Lambert, Chief Diversity Officer, and Maggie Melvin, Assistant Director of the Center for Service and Civic Engagement, have concluded the listening sessions regarding the Women’s Center and proposed a path forward to President’s Cabinet.

Academic Affairs

Continuing Professional Studies continues to report strong enrollment growth, counting over 2,500 students (compared to slightly less than 2,000 in fall 2015.) I will be attending an event in Washington, D.C. in late April entitled “Federal Workforce 2020: Turning Today’s Experience into Tomorrow’s Talent,” celebrating the one-year anniversary of our partnership with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Senator Patrick Leahy and OPM leadership will join us.

At our April board meeting, current Trustees will be asked to approve our new program in Data Analytics. The development of this program highlights the best of the Futures Initiative – faculty from IT&S, Stiller, CCM and Core collaborated to create a strong offering under Dean Robert Marino’s leadership. The program will enable students to develop competencies in programming, statistics, machine learning, data munging, and data visualization.

Faculty hiring for 2016-17 academic year is going well.  Four candidates in the Division of Information Technology and Science have accepted our offers to fill both new and replacement lines. Core division and CCM have each confirmed hires of new faculty and the Stiller School of Business has also secured a one-year visiting Marketing faculty member. I continue to be pleased by the quality of applicants for our open faculty positions.

Career Collaborative and Advancement

Members of the Career Collaborative and Advancement teams attended a variety of events at the world’s largest game developer’s conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Recruiters such as Sony Playstation, Ubisoft and Warner Brothers connected with 20 job-seeking seniors and alumni during Champlain-only meetings.

The College’s Spring Career Fair took place on March 28th. For the first time, the College had an employer wait list, which exceeded 20 companies. A new offering, Career SMARTalks, has been added to students’ career preparation and learning opportunities. With Vice President Leslie Averill’s guidance, Director Tanja Hinterstoisser is upping our game in student career success, an area where we already enjoy significant differentiation from other institutions.  

Strategic Communications

The Strategic Communications team continues to be effective as convener. Vice President Katie Hawley has formed a Key Communicators group, bringing together representatives from Marketing, CPS and Advancement offices, to identify ways to further leverage existing institutional efforts. The default mechanism of working in silos is beginning to shift and conversations about the need for collaboration are now happening daily.

A new structure for undergraduate social media has been developed and is moving into place now under the umbrella of Strategic Communications. A professional staff member is coordinating a team of student workers who create engaging social media content, while also monitoring and responding to social media activity about the college.

People & Technology

Under Vice President Mary M. Lee’s leadership, we are making significant progress on the College’s Information Systems Master Plan. Additionally, Mary is beginning to develop a People Strategy for the College. Both of these efforts build on the Physical Plant master plan that has served us well and will position our efforts for sustaining success.

I look forward to seeing you on campus soon.  Until then, thank you for all you do to advance Champlain College.

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