To Friends of Champlain College:
We are finally enjoying a cool snap in the morning, and our students are making the transition from cargo shorts and flip flops to pullovers and hiking boots. Here is what has been going on since my last update:
I began move-in day on August 26 for our 650 new first year students as I have each year, helping students and their families move into the residence halls. I wore a t-shirt printed with “President” on the back, and I enjoyed the conversations with parents about how much they appreciated their students coming to a small school where everyone is willing to pitch in to help with the transition into college. I also welcomed 60 transfer students and their family members to Champlain in a new program focused on commuter students. The commuters appreciated the attention and opportunity to make connections with fellow commuters.
Our orientation leaders, peer advisors, resident assistants, faculty and staff enthusiastically welcomed our new students and families with service and care. Convocation, which represents the official start to our students’ academic careers, featured an inspiring speech from Champlain’s 2016 Distinguished Citizen Mark Redmond, Executive Director of Spectrum Youth Services, and an equally spirited set of remarks from Lyman Professor of the Year Warren Baker. A special thank you to the trustees who attended Convocation and helped us welcome our students: Nicole Carignan, Laura Dagan, Neale Lunderville, Michael Metz, Mark Neagley, Ken Palm, Peter Stern and Jon Wettstein.
While faculty and staff helped our new class navigate campus successfully, the Enrollment Management team started hitting the road to recruit the Fall 2017 class.
This past Saturday, the College hosted the first of two Open House events targeted at Fall 2017 prospective students. Over 300 guests and approximately 100 prospective students joined us to hear what makes Champlain a great college. Our next Open House is on October 14-15.
Enrollment in the Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) division continues to be a strong. With three weeks until the Fall admission deadline, the overall CPS enrollment for Fall 2017 is on track. We have 2,644 CPS students enrolled. On average, students are taking an additional credit per semester compared to Fall 2016, which bodes well for getting students to completion faster. Faster course completion correlates with increased persistence and degree attainment for adult students.
Last Tuesday Allyson and I traveled to our Montreal campus, which served as host to the United States Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, and his wife, Vicki Heyman. We participated in a student-led tour of the facilities and joined in a classroom discussion. The Heymans and we then traveled to a game design firm, Minority Media, which has been a strong internship partner for Champlain. A print reporter from Journal de Montreal covered the visit, noting the role that the Montreal campus plays in students’ decision-making when choosing to attend Champlain.
I am pleased to share that Champlain’s community-based service learning endeavors have been reimagined this summer. Christina Erickson, Champlain’s Director of Service and Sustainability Learning, has moved to the academic team and, specifically, to the Education and Human Studies Division. Under the direction of Dean Laurel Bongiorno, Christina will steward the renamed Center for Service and Sustainability to focus on faculty-led service learning opportunities throughout the College.
Attending the Faculty Sabbatical presentations is one of the highlights of my year. It is energizing to see faculty at the top of their game sharing their professional passions and hearing how it will inform their teaching.
The new Women’s and Gender Center is up and running in Skiff Annex, under the direction of Maggie Melvin. A formal celebratory opening is slated for October, allowing time for students to be directly involved with the planning. Nina Knorr ‘16, who some of you heard as our student Commencement speaker last year, has joined the Center as an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer.
This year many of our professional development efforts are focused on changing practices and habits to deepen our inclusive culture. Staff volunteers from the Division of Student Life are conducting professional development training for their faculty and staff peers regarding the use of gender neutral pronouns and meeting the needs of transgender students.
The College has reached our first contract agreement with the adjunct union. I am pleased that this three-year agreement is a win-win for the College and our part time faculty and provides for market-rate compensation. The implementation of the contract is now underway.
In early August, the College hosted the Alumni Homecoming Party in the Champlain Art Gallery. This past weekend, eighteen members of the class of 1966 gathered for their 50th reunion. I enjoyed a spirited Q&A session with the alumni before their dinner. Many of them took advantage of the opportunity to tour the campus earlier in the day. They reminded me that when they attended Champlain, the only buildings on campus were Joyce, Freeman and Hamrick Halls. Hamrick used to be located where our IDX Center now sits. Our team is rolling out more alumni engagement activities across the country, and we are pleased by the strong alumni interest in continuing to engage with the College.