September 2019


By Matt Heller

Executive Editor

When classes began in late August, Saint Michael’s College, like many higher education institutions across the nation, welcomed an incoming class that fell short of expectations, along with an ongoing budget deficit. 

President Lorraine Sterritt declined to comment on the number of students in the class of 2023, explaining that the school wants to avoid having multiple different numbers published. The final number will be released October 15 as part of a census that will be sent to the federal government. Sterritt did say, however, that the school year started with fewer students than she would have liked. 

Additionally, Sterritt said the school’s deficit for Fiscal Year 2019 is projected to be around $2 million.

Regional Trends

Declining enrollment has been a trend at St. Michael’s in recent years. In 2014, 2,065 full-time undergraduates were enrolled at the school, highlighted by 610 first-year and transfer students, according to statistics obtained from the college’s Institutional Research. Four years later, in 2018, enrollment had dropped by 396, with only 1,669 undergraduates, including an incoming class of 478 students. 

Declining enrollment isn’t just a problem for St. Michael’s. The population of high school students in the Northeast, where Saint Michael’s recruits students, is decreasing. From 2010 to 2017, the number of high school students in the Northeast declined by about 200,000, according to the United States Census Bureau. And the numbers will keep going down. 

The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education predicts a decrease from 610,000 Northeast high school graduates in 2017 to 562,500 in 2031. This leads to increased competition between schools to recruit from the limited pool of students. The number of high school graduates in the foreseeable future will continue to decrease, a factor colleges are watching closely.      

“The days are gone when you can lay back and have students come to your door,” Sterritt said. For St. Michael’s, this reality has evoked a need for more advertising and recruitment. Sterritt mentioned that the school is advertising on public radio, television, billboards, the Boston transit system, and the school’s newly rented coach bus, sporting a bright purple knight logo. 

Sterritt has also promoted new academic programs and a new Center for the Environment as investments intended to attract prospective students.

Undergraduate enrollment declined by 396 students from 2014 to 2018. First-year and transfer enrollment have also seen a decline from 610 in 2014 to 478 in 2018. (Graph by Matt Heller)

Recruitment Strategies

With most of our students coming from the Northeast, the school is looking to expand recruitment both domestically and internationally. According to this academic year’s Admission & Enrollment Profile, 74 percent of St. Michael’s students come from New England, including 31 percent from Massachusetts and 15 percent from Vermont. However, from 2017 to 2018, Vermont saw more than a 10 percent population decrease in people under the age of 18, ranking the state last in the nation. Massachusetts decreased by more than three percent, according to an analysis of census population estimates. 

“We are certainly looking towards places that the population is not having a dramatic decrease as it is in New England,” said Michael Stefanowicz, director of admission. This pipeline development method is one of the ways the school hopes to target the right prospective students. The school has also employed a search program that helps target students with SAT, ACT, and survey question responses that match our general student profile.  

Some staff was laid off this summer and positions vacated by retirements have remained unfilled. However, the Admission Office has added two regional representatives, according to Stefanowicz. One is based in Worcester, Mass. to sustain reach in the primary market, while another is based in Annapolis, Md. in an attempt to build a secondary market. Additionally, the school has two international admission staff, including Kevin Spensley, who has recently spent time recruiting in Japan. 

St. Michael’s currently has representation from 37 countries, according to the Admission & Enrollment profile.  

Kristin McAndrew, St. Michael’s new vice president for enrollment and marketing, assumed her position on September 9. She brings experience from her time as director of admission at Saint Mary’s College and the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame University, arriving at St. Michael’s in a time of change. (Photo by Matt Heller) 

“We can’t be this place that’s just up in Northern Vermont. We have to be a place that is global in perspective,” said Kristin McAndrew, the new vice president for enrollment and marketing. 

McAndrew, whose first meeting on-campus upon the start of her position was with President Sterritt, was told to write a “new and robust” international recruitment plan. McAndrew was most recently the director of admission at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. She has dealt with similar declining enrollment as director of admission at Saint Mary’s College, as well as nationally-declining enrollment for MBA programs during her time at Notre Dame.

“What made me choose to come to St. Michael’s is the fact that every member of this community that I’ve interviewed with is committed to being a part of the solution… it’s a campus problem that the whole community is going to tackle together,” said McAndrew. 

One of McAndrew’s new relationships will be with Institutional Advancement to garner alumni support. She said the work of the two offices are “inextricably linked,” as a better connection with alumni can bring in more money and help spread the word to prospective students. 

With fewer high school graduates to recruit from in the Northeast, St. Michael’s has targeted secondary markets where the youth population isn’t decreasing as fast.  (Graph by Matt Heller)

Why choose college?

In the eyes of a prospective student, tuition is a major factor. According to the College Board, the average tuition and fees for a private, non-profit, four-year college rose to $35,830 in 2018-19. According to the St. Michael’s website, tuition for the 2019-2020 school year is $45,050. However, with most students receiving financial aid, the 2017-2018 average net price for full-time beginning undergraduates was $31,323, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In that same year, 1,754 undergraduates received grants or scholarship aid, totaling over $42 million, averaged at $24,153 per student.

The popularity of alternative, often cheaper options such as trade schools, has grown as a result of escalating college costs. The U.S. Department of Education reported a rise from about 9.6 million trade school students in 1999 to about 16 million in 2014. 

Given these trends, institutions must prove to students why they should invest in a college degree.      

“I’m confident college continues to be the very best investment somebody can make in their future. We need to really be able to show and tell what you get for investing in yourself and attending a place like St. Michael’s,” Stefanowicz said.

While President Lorraine Sterritt said she is proud of the school’s retention rate compared to peer schools, recent years has seen the rate drop below that of both Middlebury College and the University of Vermont.  (Graph by Matt Heller)

Institutions must also be able to retain the students they enroll. In 2018, St. Michael’s had an 84 percent retention rate, according to Institutional Research. This means that 84 percent of incoming students enrolled in the fall of 2017 returned in the fall of 2018. By comparison, Middlebury College had a retention rate of 96 percent, and the University of Vermont had a retention rate of 87 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In the past year, Southern Vermont College, Green Mountain College, and the College of St. Joseph all struggled to meet financial demands with their accreditor, the New England Commission on Higher Education, and ultimately closed their doors. According to Inside Higher Ed, Southern Vermont had a deficit of around $2 million, approximately the same as St. Michael’s. The school had to lower enrollment numbers and made the decision to shut down. 

“I think it’s unfair to compare ourselves to [Green Mountain College] or to [Southern Vermont College] because they really are in a completely different experience,” said Stefanowicz, noting endowment, the composition of the student body, and a more rural location as factors that set these schools apart from St. Michael’s. According to the St. Michael’s College website, our endowment is approximately $85 million, compared to endowments of less than $4 million for each of the three schools that closed. Despite this advantage for St. Michael’s, other Vermont institutions, including Norwich University ($209 million), the University of Vermont ($405 million) and Middlebury College ($1.1 billion) have much larger endowments.  

Sterritt referenced the new branding language regarding doing well and doing good when she talked about the school’s future, noting that many colleges are facing financial challenges and must innovate.

“For Saint Michael’s College,” she said, “ that is preparing students to do well in their chosen fields and inspiring them to do good in the world. There will always be a market for that.”          

While St. Michael’s has a larger endowment than the three Vermont colleges that closed, it is significantly less than that of other Vermont higher education institutions.  (Graph by Matt Heller)

Criminology, health science, and public health offer alternatives

By Meg Friel, Executive Editor

In addition to eager first years and a trickle of new staff, three new faces are moving into St. Michael’s College this year: the majors of public health, health science, and criminology, along with a change in the studio art major.

These three new majors hit the curriculum this fall and are available for all students to declare, but not for everyone to begin taking introductory classes. Public health and health science are under way in terms of classes, with new courses now associated with the major, including anatomy physiology, a course in ethics and psychology of health and illness. However, criminology courses won’t be available until next fall. Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffery Trumbower who oversaw the new majors being added, and said he considers them another factor in St. Michael’s re branding.

“Public health comes in two versions, a BA and a BS,” Trumbower said. “Students coming in and existing students are able to declare them right now. Criminology is something that was just passed by the faculty and the board of trustees.”

The new majors have a sense of familiarity on campus already. Criminology, for example, is related to the crime and justice minor at St. Michael’s. Students looking to involve themselves in more specific fields of crime, such as law enforcement, often had no choice but to declare a major such as in sociology or psychology. Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair Robert Brenneman helped piece together a plan for the criminology major and propose a course list for the new major, detailing six new courses in addition to those already in effect that fall under the umbrella of criminology.

“After a few years of fielding questions and advising students who were interested in law enforcement, I decided that we needed to try and serve those students better,” Brenneman said.

“Spring of 2019, the administration came to me and said, ‘We would like to explore a criminology major; how much work and resources do you think we would need to do that well?’ I came up with a back-of-the-envelope sketch of what we would need, and then I spent the summer creating a proposal with specific courses.”

In the past, if students at St. Michael’s had an interest in pre-med, they would typically choose a major such as biology, according to Associate Professor of Biology Paul Constantino. Now, students are able to choose the health science or public health major.

“There was a real desire by students, especially prospective students that were coming here, about a health science major,” Constantino said. “Even though we’ve been very successful in the biology students going through, a lot of students who were coming here wanted something that was more tailored towards medical school or vet school. “ He also mentioned that many students expressed interest in a program around public health so they instituted the major.

In addition to these three majors being added, the studio art major also changed to an “art and design major,” incorporating more elements of graphic design, and integrating a relationship with the media studies, journalism, and digital arts department (MJD).

“We’ve long had an art major, and students can still do it but we’ve changed the name of it to art and design, and we now have a new graphic design course that’s required in it,” Trumbower said. “We’ve been searching for a full time person who is going to raise the level and number of courses we have in design, and that person is going to serve both the art department, but also MJD. We want students from each program to visit the other. It’s a new focus on that major, and it’s a new emphasis on, in addition to studying traditional art, design and graphic design in a very formal way.”

Trumbower said he hopes to keep the liberal arts aspects of St. Michael’s prioritized, while still attending to students’ needs and adapting to the demands of an ever-changing career climate.

“One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education is that you’re able to be adaptable later,” Trumbower said. “We still want that. At the same time, we’re recognizing that offering things that have this more specific connection to a career path will help us attract students.”

By Lorelei Poch

Environment Editor

Once Barry Von Sleet, Saint Michael’s grounds staff member, makes his run-through cleaning the grounds, you may see Casella Waste Systems pick up trash and recycling in large                       blue trucks, or perhaps you have visited Green Mountain Compost via an Environmental class. In either case, in order to ensure your cans do not end up smushed into the ground or the precious aluminum of which your cans are made of is not wasted by getting dumped into a landfill, understanding the process of how your recyclables are picked up, sorted, and broken down to be repurposed is crucial.

The most important thing to understand about recycling is that it is market driven, said Marketing & Communications Manager at Chittenden Solid Waste District Alise Certa . So if you recycle properly and empty and rinse your containers, MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities) will be more likely to supply buyers who manufacture repurposed items. 

Know what is recyclable; since the Bottle Bills were passed statewide starting in the 1970s when hard seltzers and ciders were yet to exist, they are not included in the cans that are redeemable. So you can’t get money back for them, but you can still properly recycle them to minimize waste of such a reusable resource.

Certa emphasized that it is just as important to know what should go into your recycling bins as it is to know what goes into compost and trash. The process is complicated, however, there are simple things college students can do to help the workers at your local MRF sort the materials speeding by on the conveyor belt. Act 148 will be passed in 2020 which will make putting food scraps in the trash illegal, because identical to aluminum it is a reusable resource. According to Certa, “Not even a very small amount should be wasted.” 

The process:

In the heart of Williston not far from the Burlington Airport, the beverage cans which students tossed nonchalantly over their shoulder amidst the weekend party scene enter a transformation that saves limited natural resources from being permanently extracted from the Earth.

This process can be seen through the MRF (Material Recovery Facility) Tour, a free look into what happens to your recycling after it is placed into a bin. It is here that all those recyclables that Von Sleet picked up along with the materials collected from bins on the side of streets and dumpsters from colleges get dumped on the huge concrete slab floor. 

The recyclable materials start this complex journey toward reuse when they are poured onto a large conveyor belt and undergo frequent checkpoints to avoid contamination, like greasy Leonard’s pizza boxes, from continuing through the process with genuine recyclables such as White Claw Hard Seltzer cans. First the cardboard gets filtered out by large spinning rubber disks, similar to the shape of throwing stars, which, according to tour guide Lauren Layn, flick the paper goods off the belt like “licking your finger to turn a page”. 

The rest of the items continue through the process where the Bottle Breaker smashes the glass products, so those green Heineken beer and cheap Barefoot rose bottles, and sends them on their own route where they are pulverized and filtered through fine then course screens. This glass, after being pulverized several times, can be repurposed as a ground layer to road construction when paving. 

Meanwhile, the paper is whipped up to another conveyor belt which allows the containers to bounce down. To avoid contamination this paper and container sort process happens twice throughout the path to reuse, however, the machines can only do so much. It is ultimately the workers, like Von Sleet, who are responsible for the quality of the materials compacted and sent to manufacturers. Workers sort paper by type (such as Office Paper, Cardboard, and Newsprint/Magazine/Catalogs) and containers by composition (such as Mixed Plastic Containers, Plastic – “PET” better recognized as plastic bottles, Plastic – “HDPE” (Natural) and (Colored)) and remove contamination while an “electromagnet” attracts steel cans. 

Recycling falls down the conveyor belt to be further sorted then compacted on Wednesday, September 11. (Photo by Lorelei Poch)

Even though there are several workers observing the conveyor belt at a time, an average of 2.5 blue bins worth of recycling travels past them each second, so contamination is inevitable. Once the workers have done their best to remove non-recyclable materials the Baler compacts the sorted materials into huge cubes ready to be picked up for resale. Recycling is market driven, so these massive blocks will remain in the MRF until manufacturers become interested in buying these materials.

By Lorelei Poch, Environment Editor

Did you know that Saint Michael’s has geothermal heating and cooling systems installed underneath the library lawn, as well as storm water retention walls, rain gardens, and solar panels spread throughout campus? If you’re an avid ultimate frisbee player or find yourself in the library most days, you have most definitely walked on top of or by these eco-friendly initiatives perhaps never knowing they existed. But with the college’s establishment of the new Center for the Environment, signs will be placed around campus to inform the community of the green initiatives. The Center will be up and running soon to work on more projects like these underground systems to make our campus a greener and more sustainable school.

“The vibe, if you will, is one of togetherness and community. One of do good, do well,” says Kristyn Achilich, Director of the Center for the Environment, using the new branding language of the school. And yes, that also means there will be fewer plastic forks accidentally composted and ending up on the 300’s field.

The Center, born last spring to create a more educated and ecologically inspired campus, will help the campus become greener and more sustainable, Achilich said. The Center serves as “…a physical and contemplative space to build partnerships across existing programs in order to challenge and empower our students to become environmentally conscious citizens as leaders, advocates, scientists, and humanitarians,” Achilich added.

This project will be under the direction of Achilich who believes, “The initiatives to support these systems need to become more robust, and there is great opportunity for student engagement.”

Students can find the physical home of the Center for the Environment in St. Ed’s 126 where they are encouraged to ask questions and chat about internships, research, and projects.

Despite the “new” title, the Center will be continuing to encourage environmental actions and practices on campus by utilizing partnerships with already established clubs and offices such as Green-Up, the Farm, and the Sustainability Committee. Doug Facey, Chair of the Sustainability Committee here at Saint Michael’s, said that a past sustainability project of installing signage around campus with the intention of educating the community about ecologically-friendly systems will be picked up and carried on by the new Center.

Facey explains that these signs can create an interesting talking point for tours, potentially enticing students in SMC’s environmental initiatives and providing visual evidence that the Saint Michael’s campus is indeed working towards being green and sustainable. Achilich agrees, as she says the college’s focus with the new Center is to engage prospective students while retaining current ones. For these reasons, the Center came with some seed money. However, Achlich reveals the plan is to “move away from the culture of ‘do more with less.’” Instead, she plans to actually do less with less by deepening experiences on campus rather than creating new ones.

For Students like ECO-rep Gabby LaRiviere ’21, who plans to be involved with the Center for the Environment, it is a welcomed addition to campus culture. “I think of sustainability and being ecologically aware as a creative process. I think once we all are geared towards that way of thinking, it’ll fall into place,” LaRiviere said.

By Meg Friel, Executive Editor

As St. Michael’s confronts diminishing enrollment, we applaud many of the school’s efforts — from hiring a new vice president for enrollment and marketing, to rebranding. Even the new rented purple bus is worth noting. Other efforts, however, don’t deliver. In an age where social media dominates the eye of the phone holder, the “Nominate a Knight” campaign is not enough.

Alums and current students are asked to “nominate a Knight,” or encourage a high school student to look towards St. Mike’s. We don’t think this is enough. And apparently, we’re not the only one. Searching #nominateaknight on Instagram, an empty page stares back. The “Nominate a Knight” movement is half-hearted, something that the marketing team put together in a fingers-crossed kind of way In reality, we’re not sure many students are willing to publicly serve as ambassadors for St. Mike’s. Being in college, there’s a struggle to keep close relationships with the best friends from high school, much less the freshman we merely smiled at on our way to class.

What truly feels like good marketing is not to nominate a knight, but instead, show WHY St. Mike’s is magical. Good marketing isn’t cheesy, but genuine. Scroll through our Instagram and smile at the photos of student athletes marching their way down Church Street as a part of Pride festivities; quotes from roommates and friends of their real St. Mike’s experiences; profiles of professors that have helped us grow over the years. These photos are the heart of St. Mike’s. A social media presence such as this, with interaction with their audience, is strong.

We need to use, exploit and expose, all of the things that are keeping us above water in order to attract more incoming students. Show students interacting with professors. Show friends laughing as they cook dinner together in a townhouse, run-down but alive with love, before they walk out to sit on their beat up patio chairs outside as they chat with their neighbors down the row. Take us on a live tour of the campus, to all of the cracks and crevices where we find peace throughout the day. These are the things that make St. Mikes real, and make us never want to leave.

PHOTO BY ANGELINA O’DONNELL Cameron Smith ‘20 painting a new piece for the Art Hop

By Addy Bourgelais Staff


As Cameron Smith ‘20 started his senior year, he piled even more on his plate by participating in the 27th annual Art Hop in the South End of Burlington, Vermont. Hundreds of artists participated in this event, contributing many different forms of art including mixed media, sculpture, photography, and digital art. Smith contributed to the show with six of his oil paintings, close-ups of faces in a realistic figurative style.

Before the launch, Smith said he was feeling some anxieties, not about his art being shown to the public, but about not having his art in his own hands. “People can like or dislike your work and that’s just art,” he said. But what he did worry about was the paintings getting damaged or stolen. Artists who chose to participate in the Art Hop have to register and rent the space the art will occupy. Before the event, the South End Arts and Business Association (SEABA), collects works from the registered artists. The artists can also participate in the juried show, which is a large collection of works gathered from artists who submitted their art in an open call.

Leading up to the show Smith was not informed of where his art would be featured, and this created a sense of anticipation.

“When I came Friday night I was super excited to find it, it was like a scavenger hunt almost.” His art was shown off of Howard Street, which is the hub of activity during the Art Hop. The Howard Space is a large building made of winding hallways, a multitude of stairs and about ten ways in and out, so finding Smith’s art was a scavenger hunt.

The 45 businesses participating in the Art Hop sprawled across the South End of Burlington, from City Market on Flynn Avenue to The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Main Street, therefore not knowing where to go could seem intimidating, but Smith had a positive outlook.

Smith started at Saint Michael’s College as an Environmental Studies major but became a double major as he began exploring art. “Sophomore year I took Foundations of Art with Will Mentor, and he saw what I was doing and said ‘Become an art major.’” If Smith had chosen another school he would not be where he is today, “Saint Mike’s felt like home.” Smith mentioned if he had gone to a bigger school he might have gotten lost in a sea of thousands of other students, and a professor may not have noticed him. Will Mentor described Smith as, “Visually literate. He has that ‘it’ factor that is not easy to describe. His work evades an easy reading,” said Mentor. “I admire his willingness to experiment.”

When Smith went to the Art Hop last year, he did not think about participating, but when he realized how close he was to being thrown into the real world this year, as a senior, he jumped on the opportunity to get exposure and experience showing his art. Brian Collier is another Art Professor who has experience displaying his work to the public. Collier is aware of the highs and lows of shows and says, “I have just done the best I can as his [Smith’s] professor to help him develop his vision and technique as an artist. I’ve also worked to help him develop skills to present himself and his work professionally.” Collier has hopes for Smith, along with all his other students. With Smith specifically Collier says, “ Cameron’s quiet determination has led to this achievement and I’m sure he has many more to come.”

When the Art Hop weekend came to a close Smith reflected, “There was a lot going on. Everybody was just super excited to just see art.” With this experience behind him, he is excited to see what the future holds. He does not see this show being his last, with anxieties of graduation coming up he says his goal is, “Trying to get my art out there as fast as possible and just build my resume so in the future I have this background I can build off of.”

His work is still being shown at 56 Howard Street, Burlington, Vermont until the end of September. To look at more of Smith’s art click the home button below.

By Talia Perrea
Visionary Editor

While St. Michael’s College is a pretty accessible campus, there are things that can still be done to help improve the accessibility. Antonia Messuri, the Director of Academic Support Services here at the college, believes in taking it “one door at a time.”

This is a good place to start said Joel Ribout, associate director of Facilities,Planning and Construction. This year alone his team has already added in an automatic door opener to the mailroom, and are about to add one into the front doors of McCarthy Arts Center in the upcoming weeks.

In a perfect world Ribout would love to be able to buy more snow removal equipment, replace the walkways, and have two elevators in every building, so if one breaks they still have a working one.

Currently the school doesn’t have the budget, to help Ribout’s perfect world come to life. He said he’s doing what he can with the budget he has.

Renovations around campus aren’t the only things that can be done to help students with disabilities. Leslie Turner, Testing Center Coordinator, says it’s nice to give people the option to ask for help, such as asking if someone wants you to carry their bag or push their wheelchair. She recommended reaching out to students who you see that are struggling, to see if they need any help, and to make eye contact when addressing other students.

Patrick Standen, an instructor of philosophy, also had a message to share about accessibility. “If you remove the attitudinal barriers, you will remove the architectural barriers,” Standen said. He explained that if you change how you see the world and think about it, everything else follows. “If you believe people with disabilities have an equal right to be and have access to education and all those resources, then suddenly you will find the way to make it happen,” Standen said.

By Meg Friel, Executive Editor

In a tucked away corner of the Durick library basement, hiding between cream colored shelves stretching far above my reach and filled with dust coated books and tired looking boxes, I found myself sitting in front of one especially tired looking box, labeled “St. Edmund.” Although St. Edmund died in 1240 near Pontigny, France, he remains at St. Michael’s in both spirit and in the flesh.

Relics, pieces of sentiment kept from a saint, can range from places a saint has visited, articles of clothing they have touched, or if you’re really lucky, parts of the saint themself. The archives play home to dozens of artifacts from yearbooks to old football trophies, but if you look hard enough, you can find pieces of flesh from St. Edmund himself, encased in layers of protective plastic and boxes, delicately preserved despite the hundreds of years since St. Edmund’s death.

“It’s a little piece of flesh, which we call a first class relic,” said Rev. David Theroux, S.S.E. “If it’s touched the body of a saint, it’s a second class relic. There’s a lot of second class relics out there – first class relics are more rare.”

Archivist Elizabeth Scott takes me through the rows of shelves, scattered with carefully lain journals and seemingly endless rows of folders thick with notes from faculty meetings collected over the decades. Scott’s eyes land on the box labelled “St. Edmund” and we find our way back to her work table. Delicately placing the box in front of me, Scott smiles as she begins to unveil the relics. The small, speck-sized pieces of St. Edmund’s body sit encased in beautifully detailed glass and velvet. One relic of St. Edmund that stands out – a cylinder-shaped container no bigger than my forearm, carries significantly larger pieces of flesh and underneath, a signature from a bishop stating it’s legitimacy.

“That one right there, that is Saint Edmund’s (skin) – that isn’t the oldest piece here, but it’s pretty old,” Scott said. “That is actually from his body, it’s skin and ribs.” The pieces of flesh are kept within glass and plastic containers, carefully keeping the frail pieces of pale skin preserved.

“From a religious study point of view, Edmund was pretty significant in terms of the development of spirituality,” Father David said. “Edmund was involved in resolving it and bringing it to a peaceful conclusion as archbishop of Canterbury. He was a great saint at the time.”

The relics have been collected over a number of years, however, one of the most memorable relics came to St. Michael’s in the 1950’s – Saint Edmund’s arm.

“The arm used to be on campus, and it went from France to America,” Scott said. “They had some new cloth made for it. They used to take the actual body (of the saint) on saints days and people would venerate it. The arm became detached. The arm had been separated for quite some time when the Edmundites sold Pontigny, and they got permission to bring that arm to America.”

“There’s all kinds of stories as to how the arm came off and how it got out of France,” Father David said. “We like to tell the story of one of our priests smuggling it out — that’s not the case, but it’s a good story. It was a time when the saints, relics or pieces of their bodies would be disengaged from the body and used as a relic someplace else. That seems to have been the case with Edmund, as there’s a whole set of relics in the archives here.”

Although in 2002 the arm found a new home in Mystic, Conn., it used to be kept in the chapel here on campus, on full display for anyone who wanted to pray to it.

“The arm was on campus through the late fifties early sixties,” Scott said. “It was in the chapel. People could go in and kneel and venerate the arm.”

The relics now kept in the library are available to students to view. Sign up for an appointment through the St. Michael’s College website under the “Library” tab.


by Victoria Bradford

Staff Writer    

Many students think of the natural area, a protected piece of land across Route 15 from Hoehl, as a secretive, off-limits space. Declan McCabe hopes that a new art exhibit, slowly melting into the earth along the nature paths, will encourage students to explore the land.   

What is art? Can we challenge the ideals of art? These are questions artist Nancy Winship Milliken wants you to walk away with after experiencing her installation “Earth Press Project: Dispatch from Gaia” in the Saint Michael’s College’s natural area.  

Her project is a collaboration with professors Declan McCabe, Brian Collier, and Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNiord. Five stanzas of deNiord’s poem “Dispatch from Gaia” have been imprinted into blocks made of clay and other materials from the Champlain basin, baked by the sun. Throughout one month, these blocks will break down and return to the natural landscape. 

“Mother’s singing to us now in a loud-soft voice, ‘Put your ear to the air and ground and sea,’” the blocks once read. Walking down to the sculpture’s exhibit, “Mother” is the only legible piece of art left after weeks of rain and scorching heat. 

“We extracted the earth and now it will dissolve back into the earth,” Milliken explained, explaining the meaning of her piece. 

When approached by Collier about a project that promotes sustainability, Milliken, who typically conducts site-specific work, was inspired by the sights and sounds of the natural area surrounded by local flora and fauna.   

“After walking the property with Brian [Collier] and Declan [McCabe], the idea of the transformation of the land, and how changes can happen, I thought should be represented in the work,” Milliken said.

Milliken’s “earth press” approach works through baking the clay and imprinting the words using through pressing in old typeface. 

“If you follow through from beginning to end this particular form of art is extremely sustainable and is literally designed to go back into nature,” said McCabe, who has a lead role in stewarding the natural area and emphasizing sustainability. “Literally if you go down and look, it is falling apart. The rain is just taking it apart grain by grain and it won’t need to be removed  because the weather will literally put it back into the ground. And because it’s native clay, you’re not risking bringing any invasive species in with it,” he said.  

Milliken mentioned the importance of the collaboration between her, Collier, McCabe, students, and other artisans. “One of the outtakes is collaboration and how accessible we are not just by ourselves, and that this project was made with interns and other artisans. We all came together for this project and we’re sort of combining poetry and sculpture and natural resources.” 

Milliken said her piece represents the ephemerality of the earth and our thoughts. She typically doesn’t want the viewer to take something home with them. In other words, she doesn’t want them to anticipate a specific outcome after viewing the art. “I hope it is open-ended and that there’s thought about not only our earth and vulnerability of our earth and of our thoughts and words, but also what is art?” 

“You know this is not a stone sculpture or a steel sculpture that will last forever. It’s challenging the notions of art,” she said. 

You can see the time-lapse of the project’s return to Earth on October 3 in the McCarthy Art Gallery along with a reading by Chard DeNiord. 

September 6- 8 rang in Burlington’s 27th annual art hop. Artists from all around huddled together downtown to display their art and give curious roamers a chance to see inside studios, for a unique
experience behind-the-scenes of artists’ work. Students of St. Michael’s had the opportunity to attend the Art Hop and capture the magic behind it.