By Matt Heller

Executive Editor 

When the State of Vermont Natural Resources Board approved the plan to demolish Founder’s Hall last month, it did not give the green light for the school to start taking down the original building of Saint Michael’s College right away. After the November 12 approval, a 30-day appeal window began.  

Sara Dillon ‘77, who heard about the plans to tear down the building about a year ago, said she was speechless when she found out and will appeal this most recent decision. 

“Once you knock down that building and it’s gone, I think you’ve really lost the soul of the college,” Dillon said.

In her request for party status, Dillon said that the school has neglected the building and that an independent and objective assessment of the Founder’s was absent. However, in 2009, Hartgen Archaeological Associates conducted a report on the building, determining it to be in poor condition with major deficiencies. Additionally, Joel Ribout, Associate Director of Facilities, said a 2011 report on the building was conducted by an outside structural engineer, a mechanical engineer, and an architect.    

Workers stand on scaffolding around Founder’s Hall in 1907. While the state has granted approval for the building to be demolished, there is an ongoing 30-day appeal where no demolition may occur. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s Archives)

Founder’s Hall, built in 1904, was once the entire college. In recent history, the administration has occupied offices on the first floor, with students living on the other three. The building has been vacant after administration’s departure this past summer. 

In 2014, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation reviewed the project and recommended to the Act 250 program that it would have an Adverse Effect, Not Undue. According to Laura Trieschmann, State Historic Preservation Officer, this means that the demolition will have adverse effects regarding historic resources, but essentially, there weren’t any alternatives.  

Act 250, Vermont’s land use and development law, seeks the “Not Undue” status by mitigating adverse effects. In terms of Founder’s Hall, this means saving and restoring the Annex, as well as preserving the cupola. According to Trieshmann, a restoration of the building would essentially be a reconstruction. While reconstructions aren’t rare, they do degrade historic integrity and can be costly.  

According to Ribout, Founder’s demolition will cost around $750,000 and will be conducted by Casella Waste Systems. With additional permitting and engineering fees, the total project cost will be around $1 million. This is significantly less than a restoration of the building, which, Ribout said, would cost between $10 and $20 million. 

In the event that the building stays, Dillon has ideas such as turning it into an admission center or an archival display, even if this costs $10 or $15 million.

“Further annoying me, [the administration] pitted the students against the building. I’m not against the students, I just think it’s a separate stream of money,” Dillon said. While there are historic preservation grants available through the state, they are capped at $20,000. 

The Society of Saint Edmund offered communal support for the demolition. A letter signed by Superior General Very Reverend David G. Cray says that the Edmundite contribution to the school has been spiritual and intellectual, not architectural, and the heart of the college is in the people, not the buildings.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re at this point, talking about a historic building this way, but I get the challenges. The priority is to educate, not preserve buildings, and it’s very difficult to do both,” Trieschmann said. 

While she couldn’t think of any specific examples of colleges tearing down their original buildings, Trieschmann said it’s not necessarily a rare occurrence. She mentioned that the University of Vermont and Middlebury College are regularly challenged to provide maintenance to their historic buildings to meet current standards. 

“A lot of schools are short changing their maintenance so that it’s costing them more to fix a building than it should. They’re having to look and say, ‘Is this a building we can either deaccession or do we just have to tear it down?’” she said. 

Dillon will have until December 12 to appeal the decision. If granted party status, she could request a public hearing and shift her argument to the merits of the building as opposed to why she should be considered an interested party.  

As the building continues to stand unoccupied, the school still has to heat the inside to prevent burst pipes, Ribout said. As time goes by, it will become more and more evident that the building is not being used. 

“Having something sit there and become apparent that it is not coming down, I think is worse than having it come down now,” Ribout said. In the absence of a successful appeal, Ribout hopes that the building would be down in March and the cupola would be preserved in place by the spring. 

That’s the last thing Dillon wants to see.

“If they go ahead and demolish it, I will be very, very angry for a very long time because it all seems so unnecessary. That’s poor planning over a long period of time and poor management, in my opinion,” Dillon said.

Conflicting voices over cupola preservation

Ribout said the college intends to preserve the cupola, the structure found at the top of Founder’s as well as on the college’s logo. However, without a full understanding of its condition, the school has agreed to work with the Division for Historic Preservation on a restoration project that would act in the interest of both parties, and therefore satisfy stipulations of the Act 250 permit. This means that if the cupola is not in good condition, complete preservation may be compromised.

Trieschmann said the cupola is to be saved and preserved. If not, she said it would re-open the permit. In the November 12 land use permit issued by the state, one section states that the school should remove the belfry (cupola) in a way that it can be preserved and viewed by the campus community. It also says that the school should consult with VDHP for a final preservation plan. 

By Matt Heller

Executive Editor

After being referred to as “Res Hall 4” since being built, the newest residential hall on St. Michael’s College campus will soon be known as Cronogue Hall. This comes three years after the death of Father Mike Cronogue, a well known and beloved figure in the St. Michael’s community. 

Cronogue, who wrote the founding grant for Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE), served as the first director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice and also served for two terms as the Edmundite Superior General.  

This year’s second annual “day of giving” through institutional advancement was in honor of Cronogue. The event raised $415,000 between the Feast of Saint Michael on September 29 and the day of giving on November 19. Fundraising will continue until reaching a half-million, said Jen Conetta, Director of Annual Giving. 

The Society of Saint Edmund began by donating $500,000, then asking Institutional Advancement to match this value. The money, which goes to the St. Michael’s Fund, is unrestricted and can be used operationally throughout the fiscal year. This is different from money in the endowment, which is invested, so not all of it can be spent. However, some of the money was donated as pledges, which will be paid in installments over the next few years.  

Members of all graduating classes from 1956 to 2023 donated money, according to Krystyna Davenport Brown, vice president of Institutional Advancement. 

“The only reason we did this was because of Father Mike, it’s the only reason that it did so well,” said Father Brian Cummings, Vice President of the Society of Saint Edmund.

According to Cummings, many people wanted to take action right after Cronogue’s passing. However, he and other Edmundites thought it would be best to let some time pass before formally honoring Father Mike. When he brought up the idea to fellow Edmundites to rename the residence hall in Cronogue’s honor, they were all in support. The executive committee of the board of trustees was in favor, allowing the idea to come to fruition. 

“I think when you name a building after somebody, the intention is to keep that there for a long, long time,” Cummings said. 

“Father Mike was such a big part of the student experience and community. A residence hall is where students live in a community with one another, so it seemed like a really fitting way to honor his legacy here,” Conetta said. 

According to Davenport, the formal renaming ceremony may occur during the 2020 reunion, from May 28 to 31, but no date has been finalized.  

By Matt Heller

Executive Editor

Journalism: the relentless pursuit of the truth for the public good 

What would the world look like without objective journalism? Where would you get your news? How could you trust it? 

Many people today question the validity of mainstream media, denouncing everything that doesn’t fall in-line with their beliefs as “fake news”. A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, said that today’s notion of fake news has become an excuse to delegitimize factual reporting. This seriously harms the flow of information when the credibility and reliability of journalism are impacted. 

We live in a society that largely allows the unrestricted flow of information. Wrapped up in the Bill of Rights, freedom of the press is one of the most concrete rights that we have as citizens. It’s hard to find anything else that has endured without change for the past 228 years. 

In many parts of the world, journalists work every day in fear, reporting in societies where the government will not allow news that questions authority. America’s free press is a role model to the rest of the world, so actions taken against our system influences and affects people across the globe.

Not all news is good news. Frankly, there is not enough good news in the world. But we have the protection of the constitution that says we can report on this bad news. And we must. Pretending struggle, crime, loss and other hardships doesn’t exist, or choosing not to talk about them, undermines the duty of the journalist and the expectation of society. 

We came to St. Michael’s because we saw something in the school that would lead to the betterment of ourselves. We have stayed here because we love the school and the surrounding area. But as in any situation, there are times of disagreement and disappointment among peers in the greater campus community. Like any publication, the Defender must acknowledge these concerns, whether it’s a decline in enrollment or the presence of racially-targeted events on-campus. We honor and respect our ability and freedom to provide you with this coverage in a way that we hope promotes further knowledge and discussion.

You don’t have to be a seasoned journalist to bring awareness to societal topics. Sometimes, a fresh perspective is the best perspective. This semester, the Defender only had seven editors. This, simply put, isn’t enough manpower to provide you with the caliber of news reporting that we strive to put out in each and every issue. When our staff decreases in size, the different facets of campus and the broader community that we can to reach are also cut short. 

The publication needs your voice. These are desperate times in the world of journalism, but there is hope. 

If you value writing that seeks the transparent transmission of information, consider the opportunity to help. While the main goal of a newspaper is to provide its readers with the news that impacts their daily life, we also value creative writing that has similar impacts.  

We would love to have you, as a member of the St. Michael’s community and a member of a free press, to help continue our relentless pursuit of the truth for the public good.

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor

Saint Michael’s College heard Tuesday that the State of Vermont has given the green light for the demolition of Founder’s Hall. District Environmental Commission #4, which serves Chittenden County, issued a land use permit to allow the removal. This permit also authorizes the construction of walkways and a new lawn area. Founder’s Annex will be preserved. 

The college will also remove the belfry atop Founder’s Hall in a way that it can be preserved and viewed by members of the college community, according to the permit that was granted.

As part of the permit, the college must do the following before the demolition of Founder’s Hall takes place:

  • Document and list eight buildings in the State Register of Historical Places: Jean Marie Hall, The Center for Women & Gender, Observatory, Cheray Hall, the Quad Complex (Ryan Hall, Alumni Hall, Lyons Hall, Joyce Hall), Alliot Hall, Nicolle Hall, and the Chapel.
  • Develop a Multiple Property Documentation Form that will include a statement on the history of the campus as well as documenting the architectural and historic significance of the newly listed historical buildings.
  • Conduct an Archaeological Resource Assessment for the campus.
  • Complete a Historic Research Documentation Package for Founder’s Hall.

The permit process was lengthened in part because of concerns from an alumnus. In August and September, Sara Dillon ‘77 filed a request for party status and requested a public hearing. The commission denied the requests because it determined that Dillon failed to show why her interest differed from that of the general public and because she does not own adjoining property to the college, nor does she live or work near the school. Dillon was one of three documented alumni who voiced concern over the demolition of Founder’s Hall. 

It is unsure when the demolition will begin, but a message sent on Monday by Associate Director of Facilities Joel Ribout stated that the walkway between Cheray and Founder’s Hall would be closed for the week to run a new electrical service to the Annex. The permit outlines that all work should be completed by October 1, 2023, unless an extension is approved. According to the application for the permit, the demolition will take a year. 

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor

As of the mid-October census, there are 392 first-year students, and 427 new students including transfers. 

Graph by Matt Heller

While the administration had predicted low enrollment this year, this is the first time in recent history that an incoming first-year class has been below 400. While exactly 400 students were enrolled at the beginning of the school year, the school lost 8 students between then and when the census was compiled. This brings St. Michael’s total undergraduate enrollment down to 1,556 students.  

A class that is more than 50 students smaller than last year’s incoming class and 183 students smaller than 2014’s incoming class can also spell financial problems. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average yearly price a St. Michael’s first-year student who was awarded a grant or scholarship paid was $31,323 in the 2017-2018 school year. Multiplied by 51 students, this is nearly $1.6 million the school got last year but did not this year.   

Of the 3,967 total first-year applicants for the class of 2023, 83 percent were accepted for fall 2019. Only 12.1 percent of those who were accepted enrolled. 

Since the 2014-2015 school year, the number of faculty at St. Michael’s has been decreasing. This trend aligns closely with the decrease in total undergraduate enrollment. 
(Graph by Matt Heller)

Tenured faculty to teach increased course load 

Tenured faculty members will now be required to teach more classes. Associate and full professors with tenure [see “Tenure system explained”] now have a 3-3-3-3-3-4 load. This means over the course of a three-year period, these faculty members will teach three courses for the majority of the semesters, and teach four courses during one semester. This is an increase from teaching just three courses per semester.  

A faculty member can choose to teach the fourth course in a semester, or they can teach a summer, winter, or “SMC First Class” course, as well as faculty-led trip, to fulfill this requirement. 

Assistant professors who are not tenured will still teach a 3-course load per semester, and full-time instructors, who are not tenured, will continue to teach a 3-4 load.  

“In our financial situation, we need to do some things to cut costs everywhere,” said Jeffrey Trumbower, Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

Jeffrey Trumbower, Vice President of Academic Affairs, has been at St. Michael’s for over 30 years, experiencing firsthand changes in professionalism and students’ seriousness regarding career preparation. 
“You can’t have your reality be one thing, but the world looks at you as a whimsical place where archangels are flying around. We hope that the marketing message aligns with the reality of what people are experiencing in coming here,” Trumbower said. 
(Photo courtesy of Mark Tarnacki)

Trumbower said these increased teaching requirements are a final piece of work towards cutting costs. For example, a professor who teaches summer courses gets paid to do so. Now, every third year will count for the fourth course, meaning they will not get paid extra, saving the college money. 

Also with an eye towards reducing costs, scrutiny has been placed on courses that have an enrollment of fewer than six students. These courses will continue to count as a 4-credit course for students but will count as only 2 credits for a faculty member’s teaching load. Professors who consistently teach these low-enrollment courses will be exempt from the new 3-3-3-3-3-4 requirement.  

Department chairs and program coordinators receive monetary compensation and course releases for their administrative work. While this will stay true, there have been reductions in compensation, according to Trumbower. 

Additionally, some programs have reduced the number of classes they offer, and some have combined classes, all in an attempt to prevent a high number of low-enrollment courses.

Health Care Administration Minor

An unsuccessful search for a full-time professor to teach upper-level courses for the health care administration minor means the school will no longer offer the minor. According to Trumbower, students who are health science and public health majors interested in administration can minor in business. An elective for the business minor can be an intro-level healthcare administration course, a class that is currently offered.

Trumbower explained that health care administration professors can be hard to come by, as they often make more money in their profession than they would teaching.  

There are no current plans to reopen a search for a professor to teach the upper-level courses and allow the minor to be offered.

Tenure system explained

The change of faculty requirements applies to associate and full professors who have tenure. But what does all this mean?

Generally, a “tenure track” professor is hired as an assistant professor. They then go through a probationary period of about six years, at the end of which they can then apply for tenure. The tenure review is an extensive examination of their teaching and scholarship. If they get tenure, they have a position at the college as long as the program in which they teach is offered, with a few minor exceptions.

After a number of years as an associate professor, they can put together a portfolio and apply to become a full professor, which is an increase in money and status. Tenured professors undergo a fifth-year review, where they put together a portfolio and are reviewed by a committee including the dean of faculty and the department chair of the program they teach in.  

Adjunct professors are contract-based by the courses they teach. Adjuncts can teach no more than two courses a semester, but may teach a summer or winter course, totaling no more than five courses per year.

This is a revised version of the original article. It was originally stated that the Board of Trustees voted to increase faculty requirements. While the Board did discuss this during their October meeting, the final decision was an administrative action.

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor

Every time a vehicle leaves through one of St. Michael’s three exits, a camera records the license plate number. Cameras are also rolling near almost all card-access entries on campus. At the Robert E. Sutton Fire and Rescue station, dispatchers such as Matthew Thompson ‘19 have an eye on the monitors that play live security camera feeds from across campus. These measures are only part of those addressing school-wide safety issues. 

There are over 200 security cameras on-campus, according to Doug Babcock, director of Public Safety. Some of these cameras record large areas such as the 300’s field, while others focus on single hallways. There are, however, some places where cameras are purposely not placed. This includes residential hallways in which there is a common bathroom, typical of most first-year living accommodations. 

A license plate reading camera attached to a lamppost neat McCarthy Arts Center. Cameras at all three exits have the ability to read plates. While it is not directly connected to a database to identify the vehicle and owner, a manual search can be done through St. Michael’s database, or the footage can be given to local law enforcement. (Photo by Matt Heller)

“You as a student have a reasonable expectation of privacy right outside your bedroom door, and we will not violate that by putting a camera there,” Babcock said.

Incidents can be missed when there’s not a camera around. On October 20, a racial slur was written on the first floor of Ryan Hall, and because Ryan is a residential hall with a common bathroom on each wing, there are not any cameras in the hallways. 

Between September 27 and 28, when Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, placed stickers around campus promoting their cause, security cameras were in the area, and the footage is currently being reviewed by the FBI.

“Someone might feel like their privacy is being violated, but other students would feel safe. Past putting [security cameras] in freshman dorms, I don’t think there’s a violation of privacy,” said Vanessa Bonebo, secretary of student life for the Student Government Association.

The effectiveness of security camera systems came up as a topic of concern at the October 22 Student Government Association meeting. Bonebo said the cameras are not of good quality and students need to call out administration. She reported this year’s sticker incident, and thought the Public Safety dispatcher wasn’t taking her seriously, and noted that an Assistant Director and Resident Director on duty had to take down some of the stickers themselves.

 There are no federal regulations, nor any state regulation in Vermont that requires the use of surveillance systems on college campuses. So, this is up to the institution’s discretion, and they must decide how to use these systems properly and ethically. 

According to Babcock, few departments on campus that have access to their cameras. Departments within the college and any outside entities must go through Public Safety to obtain the footage. The college may decide there is no need to release the footage, in which case the department or other entity would not be granted access. 

“We have firmly admonished our readers that they need to be beyond ethical, policy as far as those who have access to the footage, when they’re revealed, they have to be very careful, beyond transparent in my humble opinion,” said Robin Hattersley-Gray, Editor-in-Chief of Campus Safety Magazine, a national publication produced for those involved in security at hospitals, schools and universities.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), photos and videos of students are educational records, subject to specific exclusions. Therefore, Hattersley-Gray recommends institutions should have a policy that outlines appropriate reason for use, who will have access, how long the footage should be stored, and how it should be destroyed, among other recommendations.

Addressing incidents

 In terms of the stickering event, there’s not a lot of legal action that can be taken. Since none of the words on the stickers constituted a hate crime, the only likely charges that the perpetrators could face would be unlawful mischief, a misdemeanor. This would simply cover the labor to remove the stickers. 

If it was found that a St. Michael’s student wrote the racial slur in Ryan Hall, little information could be released, only that the incident occurred and it was taken care of by the administration. Public Safety is working with Student Life to reach out to those who live in the building.  

“Maybe if this campus felt like a community for all, it wouldn’t be such a problem, people wouldn’t be reacting the way they are,” Bonebo said, expressing the need to take preventative measures. 

Doug Babcock, director of Public Safety, says that the strength of the college comes from the students. There are only so many public safety officers, he said, so the students must believe in the institution and the mission of the college. 
(Photo by Matt Heller)

Theoretically, if all problems were limited to the first-year class, according to Babcock, all 427 of them have had just over 10 weeks as a St. Michael’s community after 18 years of experiencing the world in different ways. Despite this, only one person thought it was ok to write a racial slur in a hallway.  

“I want to offer some context and say that may not mean that the world and St. Mike’s are horrible places,” Babcock said. “We do need to continue to work and we must be advocates for people that are affected and impacted,” he added, noting that incidents won’t cease to exist, and the community must be able to respond and address.  

Bonebo, however, would still like to see more openness on Public Safety’s behalf, especially when it comes to investigations, as well as improved immediate responses to incidents.

For Babcock, catching a suspect only satisfies part of the concern. “The rest is that it happened or how the community responded. And that’s the part I really need to get right, and that we as a college need to get right,” he said.   

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor

On Sunday, the Saint Michael’s College men’s basketball team suffered an 84-48 loss against the University of Vermont in front of 2,838 in a packed Patrick Gym. St. Michael’s, fresh off a 103-64 loss to the University of Connecticut, had their second straight game against an NCAA Division 1 opponent. They started the game strong, taking a 7-5 lead 2 minutes in after senior Jordan Guzman’s 3-pointer. But luck soon ran out; 2 minutes later it was 14-7 Catamounts, and by the half, UVM was up 55-22.

Guzman led the Purple Knights in scoring with 14 points, in addition to 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Freshman Kasai Brown followed with 12 points and 7 rebounds, but also 7 turnovers. Senior Eli DeGrande had 9 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. 

Five Catamounts scored double-digits, led by sophomore Ryan Davis with 17. Senior Anthony Lamb, who is one of the 50 players in the nation to be placed on the Naismith Trophy watch list, saw 15 minutes of action and scored 5. The Naismith Trophy is awarded to the best college player in the nation. Lamb is also on the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award watchlist. The Catamounts are expected to win the AmericanEast conference and have the potential to make a run in the NCAA tournament. 

Purple Knights coach Eric Eaton, in his first season, wasn’t too happy with the way his team played. “The level of competition in my guys’ hearts tonight was really disappointing,” he said.

Eaton said he wants to see more toughness and pace out of the team, but thinks they will be playing their best basketball come February. As a new coach, he doesn’t refer back to previous years for reference, but did mention it is hard to lose a guy like Levi Holmes III who could score 20 points per game.

St. Michael’s will open up their regular season against New Jersey’s Caldwell University on Friday at Assumption College. 

Photos by Matt Heller

Top left: St. Michael’s #5 Thomas Jackson III attempts a three against UVM #12 Bailey Patella.

Top middle: St. Michael’s #2 Kasai Brown and UVM #4 Robin Duncan fight over possession on the floor.

Top right: St. Michael’s #21 Jason Heter attempts to float a shot over UVM #35 Ryan Davis as #14 Isaiah Powell watches.

Bottom center: St. Michael’s #2 Kasai Brown drives in for the lay-up.

Bottom left: St. Michael’s #5 Thomas Jackson III is defended by UVM #3 Anthony Lamb.

Bottom right: St. Michael’s #30 Jalen Gorham, #23 Jordan Guzman, #33 Walker Storey, and Assistant coach Chris Manning head back to the locker room after a disappointing 84-48 loss.

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor 

Around 10 years ago, students began taking four, four-credit classes each semester, the same system that is in place today. That meant most faculty taught a 3-3-3-2 course load, which means they would teach three classes for three semesters and then only two classes for a fourth semester. Over time, stresses such as faculty constraints under a tightening budget led to a 3-3-3-3 system, according to Professor William Karstens, the chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee.  

Now, there is a chance that additional requirements will increase faculty loads. During open forums, the majority argued that a 3-4 or even a 3-3-3-4 could be detrimental to the well-being of the faculty. While nothing has been decided upon, a decision is likely to come this week, according to Karstens. 

“We’re trying to work on something that tries to minimize the amount of extra work that has to be done, in the midst of solving issues of getting more students on campus and stuff like that,” Karstens said. 

William Karstens, professor of physics and chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, acknowledges that an increase in teaching requirements could be detrimental to faculty, but the committee is working to better distribute responsibilities.
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

When requirements were increased to a 3-3-3-3, some faculty thought that it would eventually go back to a 3-3-3-2. After a few years, it was clear that due to budget constraints and declining enrollment, this was not going to happen. 

Either way, an increase in teaching requirements will require faculty to make sacrifices. For Karstens, it’s a tradeoff with the high demands, and that’s what the committee is trying to help with. 

“We know we have to step up and do something because of the stressors we are undergoing, and it’s just how are we going to do it in such a way that spreads the pain as fair as possible and not overwhelming what’s already a pretty packed plate,” Karstens said.         

An added course in a semester involves more than lectures in the classroom. “There’s homework, assignments, discussions, and meetings with students. That’s where I think the true learning happens, and we don’t put a time limit on that, nor a limit of effort,” said Dean of Faculty Tara Natarajan.

“As people get stretched further, the things that get dropped off the plate are the ones that aren’t in the contract,” said Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, who, outside of teaching, is the treasurer for St. Michael’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the faculty advisor for the school’s chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, and an instructor for the Adventure Sports Center. She worries that there aren’t enough faculty to fill positions, and she worries about what will be cut first due to the limited personnel. 

“Social justice pieces [are] not what we are contracted to do, so that’s what’s going to get shorted,” she said.   

Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, believes that a greater social phenomenon of increased productivity affects what professors are able to do outside of their contracted work. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Natarajan said she is currently involved in faculty searches for several departments, including political science, sociology, criminology, environmental science and studies, biology, and art and design.     

Like Karstens, she acknowledges there’s a problem, but is hopeful that dedicated faculty can pull through. Over the summer, an ad-hoc committee was developed to help better allocate resources. 

While Natarajan believes faculty need time away from school, it’s far from a conventional job. 

“It’s not just a nine to five. I call it getting on the running train that never stops.”

For some professors, however, it’s just part of the job. “I wouldn’t call it stressful. I’m here to teach, so I’m going to teach,” said physics professor Alain Brizard, who teaches both physics courses and core science courses.

With all the talk around the number of courses and time spent, quality of work can get lost, especially when it comes to interaction with students, say some faculty. 

“We’ve made a big mistake, in my opinion, as a culture, in believing that productivity is more important than quality… that quantifiable output is more important than quality connections and quality expression,” Siplon said.  

The quality connection and expression usually comes in the form of interaction with students, especially those that come outside of the classroom. In the end, faculty hope that the existing stress and increased workload won’t deter these relationships with their students. 

Dean of Faculty Tara Natarajan re-invented the Dean of College position to facilitate better conversations with faculty that can help the administration understand how they feel. 
(Photo by Matt Heller)

“A lot of people feel pretty stressed at this particular moment in time. We’re professionals, we try not to let it affect what we do with our students. But I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough time, and we’re working hard,” said English professor Elizabeth Inness-Brown. 

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor   

When Alain Brizard, one of only three faculty members in the physics department, talks about physics students, he doesn’t use technical jargon present in his recently published work on gauge-free electromagnetic gyrokinetic theory and perturbative variational formulation of the Vlasov-Maxwell equations. Instead, he calls them unicorns. “Sometimes I think that a physics student is like a unicorn. They’re very rare, but if you go to a place and you ask ‘Do you have any unicorns?’ and the answer is no… something must be wrong, they can’t attract unicorns,” Brizard said.

English professor Elizabeth Inness-Brown, chair of the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee, led the review of the three at-risk programs. 
(Photo Courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Last spring, the administration proposed a cut to three programs: Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL), French, and Physics. The abrupt proposal gave little time for the programs to respond, said Elizabeth Inness-Brown, chair of the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee (CEPC). So, a summer committee was formed to review them. Each at-risk program compiled a report, and so did the CEPC. Last week, all four reports were sent to the president’s office. Details of the report could not be released at that time.

Despite the proposal, Inness-Brown said she has a positive outlook for the three programs moving forward. There was a similar consensus among the three at-risk programs. 


Professor Alain Brizard said that the size of our physics program allows for opportunities that other institutions can’t offer.  
(Photo Courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Brizard acknowledged that the physics department has a small enrollment, usually only two or three new majors a year, but this allows for opportunities other institutions can’t offer. Just this past summer, three physics majors were accepted to nationally-competitive internship programs at places such as the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. 

In addition to teaching courses in the major, physics professors teach core science classes. After professor John O’Meara’s departure last year to the Keck Observatory, the physics department started counting classes as half-classes for professors. While they still count as four credits for students, it allows the professors to continue teaching core science classes as well as the physics courses. 

Brizard, who thinks the caliber of physics students reflects on the college as a whole, said the termination of the program would have rippling effects, even on his competitiveness in research. 

“[Physics] looks like an easy target, but when you look closely, then the implications are sometimes a little more nuanced than just saving money… just because we don’t have unicorns,” Brizard said. 

He recently met with a consulting agent who is helping the school to market in an attempt to highlight what the program offers. In the future, Brizard hopes to see three to four majors per year, as well as seeing more minors coming from the other sciences and programs such as education. 

Professor Benjamin White, the chair of the MATESOL program, said the program began to make progressive changes before administration proposed to cut it. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

As for the Master’s TESOL program, a program that runs both on-campus and online, changes were being made well before the administration proposal. In the past two years, the number of MATESOL courses being offered in a calendar year has been reduced from 32 to 23. 

“To be fair, the administration has been working with us, and it sounds like they’re going to be providing a little more support on the marketing side,” said Benjamin White, director of the MATESOL program. 

The program currently has an international presence, highlighted by five Fulbright students from countries such as Nicaragua and Sudan, but White said he wants to work with agencies that provide these students to obtain even more. According to White, the MATESOL program usually has between 40 and 50 students. 

Other MATESOL programs in the area have struggled as well. The School for International Training in Brattleboro has moved away from on-site MATESOL programs, and Marlboro College recently graduated their last students in the program.

“The MATESOL program has been around for a long time here, it’s one of the oldest MATESOL programs in the country. So it does seem like a core part of the institution and obviously, we would hate to lose it, so we are doing what we can to keep it healthy,” White said.  

Professor Peter Vantine, chair of the French program, hopes their new policies and continued offerings of extra-curricular activities helps the program to survive. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)


Professor Peter Vantine, the chair of the Fench program, said he was not surprised when he found out that the program was in danger of being cut because smaller majors are under more scrutiny. Currently, there are only about 10 French majors, with 12-16 minors. Last year, the program graduated six majors. Only one of them had declared the major before enrolling. According to Vantine, French is commonly doubled with another major. So, while students might come to St. Michael’s with an interest in French, they don’t declare it as a major right away. 

Similar to the MATESOL program, the French program had plans to adjust even before the cut proposal announcement was made. One of the required classes, Literary Studies in French, was switched to an elective, and students will make up for it by taking another elective class. Additionally, one advanced elective that is taught in English can now count for the major. The largest change comes with two new classes, Business French and French for Health Professions, two-credit courses that will alternate every semester.

In addition to these structural changes, Vantine highlighted the extracurricular activities of the program. The French club hosts activities including film screening and trips to Quebec every semester. Additionally, academic study trips led by French professors have increased in number, including a trip to Senegal led by professor Laurence Clerfeuille this upcoming winter. 

While factors such as proximity to Quebec and the language’s growing popularity worldwide assists the program, other decisions such as the dropped requirement for second-language for bachelor of science programs have reduced enrollment in French courses.

“I don’t know what administration is going to decide, but I have optimism for what we’re able to do in French. We’re highly motivated to serve our students well,” Vantine said. 

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor

Protests in Hong Kong have meant changes for St. Michael’s students who hope to get an internship through the Freeman Foundation this summer. Over the past two summers, St. Michael’s has sent students to Hong Kong, but due to ongoing protests over an extradition bill that would allow authorities to send citizens to mainland China, the committee that oversees the internships decided to send students to Singapore next year. 

“I think Singapore is still going to be an outstanding opportunity for students to get real-world workplace skills for eight weeks in a major international city,” said professor Jeff Ayers, a coordinator for the internship program.

While Tokyo was a top option to replace Hong Kong, Singapore was chosen due to the 2020 Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo.  

While no one knows if the protests would turn violent during the time the students stay in their internships, the committee didn’t want to take chances. “It’s not about what I think or what we think. It’s what parents think,” said professor Robert Letovsky, who also coordinates the program. “We can’t control perception.” 

Sophie DeFries, a senior biochemistry major, spent her time doing pharmacological research at the University of Hong Kong. While the protests didn’t affect her daily life, it did play an impact on some decisions. 

“For example, on the weekend we had to be diligent about what we were doing and where we were going or else it was easy to get stuck in sticky situations. One time we accidentally found ourselves at the same MTR station that had a protest surrounding it,” said DeFries. 

This past summer, 11 students from a variety of majors spent time interning for businesses, nonprofits, and universities. 

The experience went beyond his career interests, Diego Calderon, a senior business major who interned at a tech startup, said. “There are many social cues and norms that students need to experience in order to be open and adaptable to a more globalized world.”

Letovsky said he is hoping 10 or 11 students will be sent to Singapore from May 31 to August 1, 2020. 

The application, which is due on October 25, is open to all current sophomore and juniors who will have spring 2020 residency on-campus. 

Students receive 4 credits, and St. Michael’s waves the fee for a summer course. Most of the $7,000 scholarship allotted to each student goes to the Academic Internship Council, which helps place students into their internships and houses them. Most airfare charges can be covered within this budget as well.


Contact Professor Robert Letovsky,   


 Director of Study Abroad, Peggy Imai, 


Thailand trip canceled due to air quality concerns

Political tensions in Hong Kong caused the Global Citizen Internship Program to switch its location to Singapore, but it is not the only study abroad program at St. Michael’s that is dealing with locational issues. 

The Education Abroad Network canceled the Thailand 2020 semester trips to Chaing-Mai over air quality concerns. While this wasn’t St. Michael’s decision, Director of Study Abroad Peggy Imai said problems like this sometimes occur, but instances such as Hong Kong and Chaing-Mai are quite rare. While the school still could have sent students to Hong Kong, the Academic Internship Council recommended against it.

“Our level of risk aversion is higher than some other institutions,” Imai said.

While student safety is the school’s top priority, other factors such as whether insurance will cover a program, also plays an important role in decisions.