If you missed one of the many live events, you can catch it here. Recordings will be posted as they become available. Check back soon.

Welcome from President Laurie Patton

Hello and welcome to our virtual Fall Family Weekend!

I’m Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury, and it’s my pleasure to share this exceptional place with you. Every year at Fall Family Weekend, we welcome parents to the Middlebury family and invite you to participate in activities that give you a window into your students’ experience at Middlebury. I’m sorry that we can’t welcome you to campus in person this year, but I hope that you will join us online as we bring Middlebury to you through our website.

We’re a full month into the new academic year, and so far everything has gone remarkably smoothly. That’s largely because you and your students have been so conscientious about following the quarantine rules before and after their arrival at Middlebury. The students have been wonderfully cooperative about wearing masks, physical distancing, and doing whatever it takes to make the most of this semester while keeping everyone safe. My team and I are both proud and grateful.

On this website you’ll find an array of webinars, videos, slideshows, and more—all designed to give you a sense of the Middlebury experience. I want to extend a special invitation to join me for a presidential leadership panel focused on student life and featuring A.J. Place, associate dean of students for residential life; Sujata Moorti, vice president for academic affairs; Miguel Fernández, chief diversity officer; Mark Peluso, medical director of Parton Health Service; and Barbara McCall, executive associate director of health-and-wellness education. Other special presentations include a panel discussion about the innovative ways to teach our faculty are employing this fall, a live star-gazing event coming to you from our observatory, and a student panel on internship opportunities.

This is not our typical Fall Family Weekend and not the way we had hoped to receive you. But we will be together again, and our celebration will be all the more joyful for the isolation of the past months. As we navigate these difficult times, our community and the care we take of each other is more important than ever. I’ve been inspired by our students, faculty, staff, and by you—our students’ families.

I look forward to seeing you in person when that’s possible. In the meantime, be well, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’re sorry you’re not here on campus this weekend, but I hope we’ll see you on these very lawns in the near future. It’s beautiful right now, and we’re thinking of you.

Featured Events

Welcome from President Laurie Patton

Hello and welcome to our virtual Fall Family Weekend!

I’m Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury, and it’s my pleasure to share this exceptional place with you. Every year at Fall Family Weekend, we welcome parents to the Middlebury family and invite you to participate in activities that give you a window into your students’ experience at Middlebury. I’m sorry that we can’t welcome you to campus in person this year, but I hope that you will join us online as we bring Middlebury to you through our website.

We’re a full month into the new academic year, and so far everything has gone remarkably smoothly. That’s largely because you and your students have been so conscientious about following the quarantine rules before and after their arrival at Middlebury. The students have been wonderfully cooperative about wearing masks, physical distancing, and doing whatever it takes to make the most of this semester while keeping everyone safe. My team and I are both proud and grateful.

On this website you’ll find an array of webinars, videos, slideshows, and more—all designed to give you a sense of the Middlebury experience. I want to extend a special invitation to join me for a presidential leadership panel focused on student life and featuring A.J. Place, associate dean of students for residential life; Sujata Moorti, vice president for academic affairs; Miguel Fernández, chief diversity officer; Mark Peluso, medical director of Parton Health Service; and Barbara McCall, executive associate director of health-and-wellness education. Other special presentations include a panel discussion about the innovative ways to teach our faculty are employing this fall, a live star-gazing event coming to you from our observatory, and a student panel on internship opportunities.

This is not our typical Fall Family Weekend and not the way we had hoped to receive you. But we will be together again, and our celebration will be all the more joyful for the isolation of the past months. As we navigate these difficult times, our community and the care we take of each other is more important than ever. I’ve been inspired by our students, faculty, staff, and by you—our students’ families.

I look forward to seeing you in person when that’s possible. In the meantime, be well, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’re sorry you’re not here on campus this weekend, but I hope we’ll see you on these very lawns in the near future. It’s beautiful right now, and we’re thinking of you.

Presidential Panel

Get an update on the fall semester from President Laurie Patton and members of the Middlebury senior leadership team.

- So as you know, we are one month into the new academic year and knocking on wood up to date, it’s gone remarkably well. I know that you and your families, your students played a key role in making that possible and I really can’t say that strongly enough. I wanna thank you for quarantining with your students, which we heard many were doing, encouraging them to take recommended precautions before and after their arrival and supporting them as they deal with restrictions that the pandemic has required. I got to greet many of you as first year students came on board with us, as well as all the students with their families in the second round. And it was really wonderful to connect with you and hear about your own experiences of COVID-19 as we live through this pandemic together. Midd families, Midd parents are amazing and I’m so grateful for everything that you’ve done to contribute to this successful opening. And I don’t have to tell you that this is a challenging year for colleges around the country. We are really fortunate to be in a state that has been remarkably successful in responding to the coronavirus. As you know, I’m sure Vermont has one of the lowest positive test rates in the country. 1.42%, according to a recent report, Middlebury’s test rate has been much better than that. And I think the thing that might be helpful is for me to talk a little bit about what has made this successful so far with a huge caveat that humility and as Dr. Mark Peluso speaks about frequently, respect for this disease is the only way to move forward. So tomorrow we are prepared just for everyday and going one day at a time because we never know what will tomorrow bring. But the reasons I think that we’ve been able to stay open so far a bit have been the following; that our students have really been very good about following the return to campus rules. And that has enabled us to have the exceptional test results since the beginning of the semester. We’ve only had two students test positive they’ve fully recovered, we have no cases of COVID-19 on campus right now and I’m particularly proud of how our students have taken responsibility for their actions. I would also add that I think our seniors are playing a particularly powerful role. They remember what their friends went through last spring when we closed and we did not have all our protocols in place nor did the nation or the world. And so they are really wanting to stay as part of this year and engage on campus as much as they possibly can even if that’s a changed experience. I also think we have a great relationship with the State of Vermont and the town of Middlebury. We are in contact with the Vermont Department of Health almost on a daily basis. We are also in contact with the governor’s restart commission who works very collaboratively with higher education and I think that has made a real difference. We also have, as Colleen mentioned, an amazing leadership team that you’re going to meet they have done phenomenal work and I couldn’t be more grateful. Our faculty and staff have pivoted and adopted many times over the past six months to prepare for this unprecedented fall semester and ongoing development of the COVID crisis. Sujata Moorti VP for academic affairs will share insights into our faculty and how they’ve adjusted their teaching techniques and schedules to meet the needs of students here on campus and provide still a truly Middlebury education. And also how we are meeting the needs of those who can’t be here because of health concerns or restrictions on travel. The other thing I think that has helped us up to this point is that students really wanted to come back and are really determined to do what’s necessary to keep the college open. And I can say that from first person experience I’m teaching an in-person only course this fall, it’s called Who Owns Religion, that’s about controversies in the study of religion and after my first class and continually even now, even in this mid-semester when everything feels a little more routine, students continue to thank us all for bringing them back and sharing our learning community and creating learning community with them. And just again for me personally, it’s been heaven on earth to be back in class with these brilliant young people. I’m also delighted to see how students are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them to get experience outside of their classes and prepare for their future careers. I’ll share some news with you this past summer we funded more than 275 internships. One example, our interns at the Sustainability Solutions Lab worked with the Nature Conservancy in China to conduct research on U.S national parks which will be used in planning a new park in Baishanzu. They also reviewed best management practices for shellfish aquaculture in North America to help make Chinese aquaculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly, which is such a wonderful thing to be able to do even in the midst of a crisis. And this fall, students at the lab are piloting what they’re calling a sustainability consultancy. The goal of this program is to help student organizations and college departments advance the goals of our climate action plan, which you’ve heard about in the past, Energy2028 and enhance overall sustainability. We are trying as much as we can to keep moving on all of our big strategic goals, one of which is of course, Energy2028. And related to that, of course, is that the ability to manage and address complex problems and find workable solutions is a hallmark of Middlebury and our students and our graduates and our families. Many of the most complex problems that are facing us today, climate change, disease, international conflict, systemic racism and the global refugee crisis, just to take a few examples, do require solutions that transcend political and national boundaries. And we are global citizens and ethical citizens who cross intellectual, cultural, and geographical borders. That’s our vision statement literally. And we believe that understanding the world has never been more urgent and I believe Middlebury to be the most globally engaged college in the country. I’m very proud of that fact and that our combination of liberal arts and sciences, our Schools Abroad in 18 countries, 37 sites, the Language Schools and the Bread Loaf of School of English and our Institute of International Studies in Monterey, all of these areas offer unparalleled opportunities for students even now, even in COVID, to explore other countries and cultures and perspectives. We feel an educational obligation to remain global even as the world is shutting its borders and I think that’s such an important piece of Middlebury’s soul. I wanna also touch briefly on one of the key challenges facing the United States and many other countries right now. We are turning a page, we certainly did this past summer in American culture and recognizing and addressing systemic racism. We recently reaffirmed Middlebury’s commitment to anti-racist practices and to advancing anti-racism initiatives that are concrete and intentional and will allow us to transform our campuses. Through the action plan for anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, we will engage the entire Middlebury community in fostering more access, equity, inclusion, and full participation in the life of our institution for students, staff, faculty and alumni. And we’re also focusing on departments and students’ awareness and our upcoming trustee meeting will be fully focused on questions of equity and inclusion and we’re very excited about that. Miguel Fernandez, our director of our office for institutional diversity, equity and inclusion, will be talking about this in greater detail today. So with that, I will turn it over and introduce and begin a conversation with the members of our leadership panel and encourage you to post questions for us in the Q&A function below you on the screen. We’re first gonna hear from Mark Peluso, our director of Health Services and college physician and our chief medical advisor. Then Sujata Moorti vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, followed by AJ Place, associate dean of students for Residential Life. Barbara McCall, executive associate director for health and wellness education. And Miguel Fernandez who is our VP for institutional equity and inclusion. And Colleen Fitzpatrick VP for advancement will moderate the Q&A when we are finished with our panel. So Mark, I’m gonna turn to you for the first conversation in question, I want to make sure Mark appears so we get…there he is. Hi there, so I’m gonna just jump in with one that I’m sure you’ve heard a lot and it’s one that we grapple with every day because you’ve been really amazing about creating the rules that we live by now. We have had success so the questions now coming up in our regular ongoing life, why is Middlebury still being so vigilant when Vermont has such a low number of cases? And I’d love your thoughts on that.

- That’s a really good question Laurie, thank you. I think the way to start answering that is to look at a college in it’s surrounding community is an isolated system, put it in a box but it’s a very complex system. I like to think of chaos theory when we’re looking at complex systems that any cashier would say that any small alteration in a complex system can have unintended consequences. And I also think of the second law of thermodynamics and go back to my physics and that disorder will always increase. And so when I put those two things together, I think about our congregate living setting which is complex and that we need to do things to make sure that we maintain an orderly state and so to do that, we have to remain vigilant. In real terms, it wouldn’t take much for a case to get into a congregate living setting and to have multiple cases and more spread. We have mechanisms ready to go to contain that, just like we’ve had two student cases and we even had an employee case and that there were cases in our local community recently. And so we know it’s around, that COVID’s around here and we do have the mechanisms to contain it. But I also think about the asymptomatic spread and that we have a larger than one would imagine vulnerable population in our community. There are lots of students that come to college with medical conditions and they take immuno-compromising medications and they could be someone’s neighbor and not even know it. And we have to be thoughtful that things could deteriorate…not deteriorate, things could get chaotic rapidly and we have to be thinking about the impact on our vulnerable population. So for those reasons, because things can deteriorate or evolve quickly, I think we have to maintain a high level of vigilance. And Mark, many people credit you and Jen Kazmierczak with the success that we’ve had so far whether it’s been the testing center, our healthcare protocols and rules and so on. And so that’s great, I think sometimes when people think of folks in administrative roles, which you have been thrust into as a battlefield promotion, sort of sitting behind their desk, making decisions all day. I know that that’s not what you do but I think it would be really helpful for people to hear you describe your day. Like what, what do you come across every day since you are in the midst of this crisis like nobody else?

- Yeah, that’s a great one. Today I woke up and instantly clicked on a test results that yesterday. And so oftentimes what I’m worried about or thinking about what are the testing results and so far, they’re all great and we’re still waiting for some to come in, we’re still in that 24 hour window. And then it is typically meeting with, we usually start the day with emergency management team meetings. That’s the team that looks at sort of operational issues and trying to troubleshoot some of those operational issues. And you start the day and from there, it’s subcommittee meetings typically on Zoom, trying to work at and anticipate things that might be coming our way. So exiting students is really a hot topic right now and getting students off campus safely when November 20th comes around. And then we sometimes even take a further view of how we’re gonna bring students back. And so it’s a lot of Zoom meetings, I am doing less medical consultation than I normally do, but I am available certainly to the health center staff for that there are complicated cases that they wanna consult on. And yeah, that’s generally there, a lot of Zooms, a lot of email and meetings, meetings, meetings.

- And running across the street to the testing center when we’re doing our targeted tests. And I know your constituencies vary, you work with parents, you work with students, you work with the Vermont Department of Health, you convene the Vermont Department of Health’s webinars every week. So all of that is all in a day’s work. Quickly before I move on, I would also love to hear, and I’m sure families would too, about your concerns about health and safety and how they affected the decision to hold our decision to hold J-Term remotely and start classes on March 1st.

- Yeah thanks, I shared the concern raised. We talked about this at our weekly department health meetings many times, it was on the agenda many times. How to bring students back. And every college is unique. Middlebury has a J-Term, some schools don’t. And then I think looking at really the entry and exit of students as being the most vulnerable period not just for our community but for the country as there’s a mass migration of people and we know that movement can spread the virus. And so Middlebury along with the other Vermont institutions and our NESCAC peers as well cause we meet with them frequently too, all share the concern that having multiple arrivals and exits would present a problem for our communities. And that could be for spring break, it could be for a J-Term and a Feb break. And so it seems most prudent to just have one entry and exit for each semester. And that would be the safest and reduce the vulnerability.

- And our governor is real clear that for the month of January, he doesn’t want higher ed holding classes which kind of makes the decision straightforward at a certain level.

- Yeah absolutely, the cold and flu season. The start of the spring semester will be different than the start of the fall semester. The weather will dictate that. And so cold and flu season is happening, we’re bringing students from all over the country now they’re moving in a cold and flu season situation. Even if it is and I don’t wanna say just the flu because the flu can be serious but even the flu, we still have to work each and every one of those individuals up for COVID, which requires a room quarantine and support and that’s important. If we can reduce overall illness on our campuses, that’s a good strategy. The restart team for the state is really concerned about having cold and flu season impact COVID and housing, people will be indoors more because of the weather. And for those reasons, having delaying a start into February for some schools, rather than having students come back in January was recommended by our team of medical that meet with the restart committee. For Middlebury, because we have a J-Term, it was a break to make that remote and just have students come back in for the spring semester. And I hope it will create some opportunities for students to learn in a different way.

- Yeah, I think that’s absolutely the case and they will be coming back of course earlier mid-February to follow our protocols and so on. So Mark, I’m sure people wanna circle back with you but now I’m gonna turn to Sujata Moorti, who has been shepherding and cajoling and supporting and inspiring our faculty on any number of levels. And one of the things that I’d love to hear from Sujata is sort of daily life for our faculty as they really try to keep students engaged in and out of a Zoom classroom. And so we’d love to hear from you a little bit about what faculty are doing to keep their students engaged. Those faculty who are teaching online, 50% of them are in hybrid or in person, 50% online. And just related to that is how do you see J-Term and spring term classes working? Any differences in terms of fall and spring and a smaller question, but I think one that a lot of people ask and that is how we manage in classes that require lab work.

- Hi everyone and thanks Laurie. I hope everybody can hear me fine. Welcome to Middlebury even if it’s online. And I think Laurie, this has been such an interesting semester, it’s been challenging, but really interesting. None of my colleagues has phrased it as eloquently as you did that being in the classroom is heaven on earth but the message I’ve heard repeatedly and one that I can echo from personal experience is how excited and actually relieved faculty are to be back teaching. And so, as you know Laurie, faculty spent months over the summer planning their fall courses. They learned a whole new set of skills, especially the ones teaching online. They participate in workshops to figure out the range of new technologies such as Panopto, Canvas, Padlet, Loop, and so on. They’ve also collaborated with colleagues from across the country to understand discipline specific practices. So now, in terms of online teaching, we faculty have a new vocabulary and speak what in a pre-pandemic world would have seemed like an alien language . So one of the things that we have been negotiating is figuring out how to replicate the immersive classroom experience given our current health and safety regulations. And I think I can assert very confidently that our faculty have created a new set of teaching principles and practices. And I’m going to give you just a couple examples. So a colleague in chemistry has converted her lab courses in a way so that both remote students and those who are on campus can participate in the same experiments. Collaborating with a nationwide group of scientists who are practicing frugal science, she’s now using Zoom to teach students how to use specific equipment and using the students who are in person in the lab to teach the right way to conduct certain experiments. So one of my students from Pakistan who’s enrolled in another science course was super excited on Monday because he was mailed some equipment which allows him to understand the phenomenon of spectroscopy while he’s taking classes in Karachi. So I think in terms of lab classes, we are sending students equipment and this is true for the arts as well. And then other kinds of in the humanities and social sciences, faculty are using different technologies to create community within online classes. For instance, there is a technology called Kahoot that allows faculty to use the format of trivia games to assess learning and to do this in a fun way. Others are using a software such as Jamboard to replicate the experience of students working in groups on a blackboard or on a whiteboard. In short what faculty are doing is creating new strategies to ensure that their classes remain engaging, inclusive, and accessible. They’ve tried to make the screen time feel different from the passive experience of watching something unravel on screen. And I think they’ve been really successful at that. Yeah, should I say something about the in person experience Laurie?

- I think absolutely. And then just touch a little bit, you already mentioned the sort of lab experience and frugal science being a form of science that doesn’t necessarily take all of the expense of the equipment in the lab, but tries to do it a little more sustainably which I think is such a wonderful movement. So you spoke a little bit about that, but a little more on what you see happening for J-Term and the spring would be great for families to hear as well.

- Sure, so I think I was surprised in a real reversal faculty have become really popular with students this semester . Students are craving one-on-one meeting time with faculty and so what we have tried to do is modify some traditions. A signature feature of our first year seminars have been shared dinners and a number of informal meetings outside of the classroom. And we went into the semester thinking that this would be impossible at this semester. However, faculty have been working with the dining services director Dan Detora, to come up with a radical solution. So now that we’re in phase two, faculty and students are able to collect food from the dining halls and then they meet students outside or within a space within the dining halls. So even faculty who are teaching their first year seminars as online courses, are engaging in this practice meeting students who are residing on campus and sharing meals with them. And the only difference between the past and now is that everybody has to maintain distancing protocols. The other major modification has been office hours. Previously, I remember sitting in office hours and twiddling my thumbs waiting for students to come to my office hours. Now, most faculty are pointing out how crowded their office hours are. Many of them are holding office hours outside in distanced Adirondack chairs and faculty, even the ones who are teaching online, are coming into campus to meet with students and talk to them, not just about courses but just how they are experiencing living on campus. In terms of labs I’ve mentioned frugal science and people are figuring out that the smartphone is the best device that we could have to help with those kinds of experiments. But faculty who are teaching on campus are also conducting in-person field trips. And so the woods around campus have become primary sites where our faculty in biology are teaching students the effects of climate change on our forests. And so faculty are now taking smaller groups on these field trips and this has turned out to be really effective for both faculty and students, they’re getting the exercise and learning at the same time. And along the same lines of innovation I think for winter term some of the things we’re trying to do is we’re going to have regular classes the same as before, but we are deeply aware that eight hours of Zoom are maybe a little excessive. So we are trying to come up with these large thematic courses where we will have speakers come in and speak to students. We could have our shared screenings of films, of performances, but then the students will also get discussion groups where they meet in small cohorts and address issues like let’s say climate refugees, contemporary urgent, global concerns. So I think those are the things that will make J-Term different.

- Yeah and I know we need to move on, but I also know that you’re thinking with your faculty about what constitutes the immersive experience. You know, I think spring was okay, can we just continue and keep our education moving and learning, fall was can we provide a Middlebury experience? And now we’re doing what we do always at Middlebury which is conscientious improvement, self-improvement, self-critique, self-improvement. So that active engagement on what constitutes the best immersive experience I think will be crucial for both the fall and the spring.

- Right and I think I’ll just give one quick example, faculty are now retooling themselves to think about experiential learning strategies in their classroom. And one such example is going to be project-based learning. So faculty are incorporating project-based learning elements so that students can work collectively on projects and then present them to a larger public. So we are training students now, or at least the hope is, that we will train students to become public intellectuals from their first semester on campus.

- That’s wonderful and very much in the spirit of Middlebury and the kinds of things that we’re trying to do with faculty as well. So all right, thank you so much and again, I’m sure people will circle back to you. I want to turn now to AJ Place, who is…there he is, hello. So there are lots of folks who I’m sure have already engaged you on this big question which has kind of become a national question of what social life on campuses is like now. What are the activities and programming in the college? How much can you do given all the limitations that we’re dealing with? What are student organizations doing? How are they offering to build community and engage students and how are students themselves finding ways to connect to exercise, to stay healthy? So just dive in and tell us those stories.

- Yeah absolutely. Thanks everybody, I’m excited to be here with you today and President Patton thank you again. AJ Place I serve as the associate dean for residential life and currently as the interim dean of students also. In my work, working with students is absolutely one of the best parts of my job. And in talking with them, I will tell you that they are so grateful to be on campus currently, it’s all we’ve heard from them over the past five weeks for the most part, with gratitude being together after so many weeks apart has really been truly amazing for them and I think they’re feeling very grateful for that. Of course, there’s some unique challenges of this term, giving the restrictions from the state around keeping six feet apart. And that can absolutely make it hard for some students. And I also wanna add, before I jump into some of the activities that this is traditionally a very challenging time for new students as they are getting acclimated to campus, the newness and excitement of orientation and the start of classes has worn off, it’s not as shiny anymore. Students are turning in their first big tests, midterms, etcetera, experiencing those for the first time and really trying to figure out who they are, who they wanna be at Middlebury and with whom they want to spend their time. And so I think I just wanted to preface some of this to acknowledge that some new students may be struggling and that’s really normal even given very normal, even in a non COVID time. And so in thinking about social life and what I’ve seen on campus these past five weeks I wanted to describe a little bit about what it looks like. And I’ll start by talking kind of about a typical evening. We’ve had really amazing fall weather which has been a great blessing. And if you were to wander around campus on a weekend night as I have done a number of times over the past five weeks, you will see students everywhere sitting in small groups, outside, under tents, using the Adirondack chairs, playing ping pong and other games in residents hall lounges, that is a really big one, I’ve seen a lot of students doing that regularly, out exploring The Knoll, which is our organic garden on campus, spending time together, really connecting in small groups. It’s been amazing to have students back, they’ve brought some incredible vibrancy and energy to campus that we hadn’t really seen since early spring. There’s also a lot of formal programming going on so the Middlebury College Activities Board known as MCAB has sponsored events such as virtual escape rooms, trivia nights, etcetera. The student activities team and student organizations offered Dunless Day, which was a play on Lake Dunmore last weekend, which offered food trucks and lawn games, sand art, a student DJ. And we saw lots of students joining and coming to that throughout that event. And there’s also been canoe trips and sailing and hiking. For some upcoming events, just so folks know what’s on the agenda coming up, there’s outdoor movie nights each night on the weekend. There’s two movies being offered tonight, exactly two movies being offered tonight specifically. Regular tea times, there’s a yard sale event this weekend. There’s an “Among Us” virtual game event happening, sunrise hike and one of my favorites which I think is really exciting is we’re even bringing some puppies to campus for students that are looking to have some snuggle time with animals which I think is often actually really popular. The dining team has been bringing food trucks and ice cream trucks. And we know that students get very excited about food options so they’ve been really loving those. Our residential life teams have been hosting game nights and snack nights, spa nights, minute to win it contests, bonfires and they’ve also been working on connecting students across first year buildings for the Battell and Allen students that are living in those buildings. They offered a program to connect them across those two buildings. We had 70 students sign up in just the first day alone. So students are clearly craving these opportunities and we have a long list of events that are also being scheduled for the next five weeks. In terms of exercise, they’re running, they’re walking, they’re hiking the TAM, the fitness center is open now, the spin club is offering three free classes a day and I know the dance clubs have all held their auditions and are working on performances. And so it’s been really great to see that happening.

- Yeah and I know both in arts and athletics, obviously curtailed in a major way. Student athletes are able to do socially distance workouts and that’s it right? And same for the arts, they’re only able to work at a socially distanced way with a lot of curtailment and yet there’s a kind of creativity in that space as well. And it sounds like students have been creative. We also know that student life hasn’t been perfect on any campus and you are in the hot seat in that space. But I’d love to hear a little bit about how you’re holding students accountable in your office and what that’s been like. I’m sure it’s been tough and it’s an unusual season around student behavior and those questions. So tell us a little bit about your experience of the last month.

- Yeah absolutely and you’re exactly right that it’s a tough part of the job. And I will say that for the most part, students are doing really well. They are keeping distance, they are wearing their face coverings and by large, we have them to thank for really keeping us moving through this term in safe ways. So they’ve been doing really well and I wanna highlight that. Since the beginning of our planning for students to return, we’ve really emphasized the fact that we are in “a all in this together” moment and I think COVID has also shown all of us the importance of community health, looking out for one another, etcetera. And so since students arrived on campus, we’ve been speaking to them about being in this altogether time and their responsibility to engage respectfully with one another when concerns come up. We’ve given them social scripts in our training programs to help them help each other to meet these critical health expectations. We’ve had staff members that have volunteered to be present on weekend nights, walking around campus talking and walking in our community’s off campus where off campus students live. We’ve heard from students specifically how great it has been for them to see those staff members and be able to connect with them. And that’s not always sufficient as we know, so we’ve had to put into place a specific COVID disciplinary system in process and it has as its primary goal the mitigation of potential risks that may be introduced into the community. And our response is proportionate to the level of potential risk, a particular behavior might introduce. It’s also consistent with the governor of Vermont’s guidelines for reopening of colleges. The governor specifically called for us to be swift and decisive in our actions. And so in responding to behaviors, including removing students from campus if they violate our health pledge in ways that introduce a significant potential for risk. As I mentioned, our responses are proportionate to the potential level of risk introduced into the community. So what this looked like is that a report comes into the Office of Community Standards which is staffed by members of our team, they investigate an alleged behavior and if they find a student responsible, they look at the sanctioning matrix that we designed to focus on risk mitigation and a possible potential level of risk when they assign a sanction quickly. You can find that matrix on our website, it’s available. And there’s an appeals process for serious sanctions that currently comes to me as the appellate authority. And again, we’re charged specifically by the governor to do these rapidly so we can maintain health and safety for everybody. And of course we wanna maintain and be mindful of fundamental fairness of our process, that is always a value we hold and also respond to the specific charge from the governor. And that’s what we’ve been doing.

- And you’re really in the hot seat, both in terms of creating all the creative fun, amazing moments of connection as well as these harder times. Well I think, again, I’m sure folks will come back for some questions and conversations with you AJ but it’s very much a related topic which is health education on our campus. And I’m gonna turn now to Barbara McCall for some further conversation around this question that all the issues and scenarios that AJ just described for us, we’ve got this national narrative you’ve heard me opine about it. And the way that students are being represented in our national narrative is that college behavior is less than positive. That’s real, in many ways that’s true, but there’s also this whole other narrative about the success. We’ve seen one or two stories about that, but we have so many stories to tell. We convened a group of health education, it was called the Health Education COVID Taskforce to really focus on education first around questions of health. And you were one of the major designers of that, the leader of that, so how would you say your or our health education approach has allowed us to be successful? How has it contributed to our success overall?

- Great, thank you, President Patton. There are a number of approaches that Middlebury has used I think, to be successful during this pandemic when it comes to student buy in, public health messaging and education. And I think the three that come to mind and hearing you describe this is really the use of our student leaders as credible messengers, our commitment to regular surveying, and then our ongoing comprehensive health education plan. So we know that students turn to each other first, whether we like it or not, as colleagues and staff and as parents, perhaps with questions, concerns and to regulate their own behavior. And what we did was capitalize on the strong peer to peer relationships that our returning students had with each other this fall and provided extra staff support and training to our student leaders and peer educators who arrived in that first wave of students who came to campus in August. We shared with them sort of a behind-the-scenes look at how and why we were using educational strategies to address COVID-19 in our community. And we invited them to be our prevention and accountability partners like AJ described. We gave them skills and support to step into those roles as our partners. It’s not just enough to invite them or tell them they are our partners, we knew that we needed to give them time, staff supervision and concrete skills and tools to use. From the very beginning we’ve emphasized that this time presents challenges we’re facing together as a community, as many others have said and we truly believe that empowering students to be part of the solution instead of just assuming that they are at the heart of the problem, has been key to our success and our efficacy on campus so far. We’ve also regularly asked students about the challenges they are facing. We want to be relevant and realistic in what we are asking of them and in the tools and the content that we are providing, AJ mentioned those social scripts. We want to make sure that we are speaking to students in a way that they can hear and in a way that they can then use with each other. So we’ve asked them routinely what information, skills and tools do they need to be safe and successful at Middlebury and how prepared and confident do they feel to engage in the behaviors that we’re asking of them to protect their individual and our community health. Each time we survey students we’ve been using that feedback to influence the next wave of educational materials so that we really are meeting our goals of being both relevant and realistic and student informed. Those waves of education themselves are sort of the last strategy that I wanted to share to keep and maintain open lines of communication and willing engagement with our students. We know that sharing an idea or an expectation or a skill only one time, doesn’t help any of us learn a new way of being or adapt to changes in community. So we need to use multiple channels, multiple mediums to communicate with our students regularly. And that’s helped us create multiple doses of vital education on platforms that students go to and look to for credible information and that meet the needs of all of the diverse kinds of learners in our community. Engaging students as our partners, this regular evaluation and refinement and then our multi-dose multimedia campaigns, I think have really been the foundation of our successful health education approach to not only support behavior change as we have all adapted to new ways of being, but also to really keep our mind and our eye on increasing and maintaining community health and safety, which is our ultimate goal this semester and for the rest of the year.

- So Barbara what I really am struck by is this idea of this question. How confident and prepared do you feel for this health expectation, this health behavior? And framing the question that way it means students are like, actually I need more preparation, bingo, you know what you need to do as a health educator or no I don’t feel confident, bingo, you know that part of what you need to do is build that confidence by providing tools and practices and so forth. So I think that’s such a great way to frame the question, especially for our students for whom those questions are always big questions as you’re forming a self between 18 and 22, but even more so now as you’re forming a COVID self. Who knew that that would be part of our challenge. I know that mental health particularly has come up a lot for folks, concerned families, isolation, questions of connection we heard a lot from AJ on what students are doing to make that difference. Those food trucks are everywhere, I have a lot of walking meetings, socially distanced walking meetings and I ran into one without my wallet but they gave me a wonderful sandwich anyway so I was happy about that. But they are very popular. So I’m seeing some of the exercise, walks and regimes but the mental health question is real. I’m loving it if you could talk a little bit about how we’re addressing that and what are we doing?

- Absolutely, so I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here that we of course are thinking about student health holistically and absolutely thinking about student health beyond COVID-19 testing and physical health services that are in response to COVID-19. So it’s important I think for parents and families to know that all of our student health focus offices are up and running this year to support that holistic health and that we’ve launched some new resources and really created new ways to access resources that I think are really helping students get what they need from us at this time. So in August, we launched MiddTelehealth which provides 24/7 access to on demand medical and mental health care, as well as scheduled medical care, mental health care and health coaching is brand new. And MiddTelehealth is available to all of our enrolled students. For those studying outside the U.S. right now our clinician licenses are restricted. They still maintain that ever important access to the 24/7 mental health component of MiddTelehealth. And that’s on demand, it’s called “Talk Now” and it is exactly like what it sounds, Students can download the app or visit it from a desktop, click on Talk Now and they’ll be connected to a licensed clinician to talk about whatever is on their mind. If it’s a crisis situation the clinician will handle it with them. And if it’s not, if it’s just that I’m lonely, I’m homesick, I’m confused, I’m feeling overwhelmed today, students can call and talk to someone right away to talk about those kinds of things. MiddTelehealth has also increased our access to thousands of clinicians across the country, so that no matter where a student is or what time of day it is, they can get the care of mental health or medical that they need and have those records added back to their electronic health record here on campus where we consider their healthcare home. MiddTelehealth has increased our access to clinicians with specialties and interests that build and expand on those campus based staff that we have here and giving students more autonomy and choice when it comes to selecting a clinician that reflects their identity perhaps or looking to discuss a specific concern. It’s important to know that 39% of the mental health and medical professionals through MiddTelehealth identify as providers of color and that MiddTelehealth will be available to students 24/7, 365. So during our break, after the November 20th campus departure, J-Term, spring term for the rest of the year and ongoing beyond that. In addition…oh go ahead Laurie.

- Just to kind of make sure folks knew that our counseling center is also open and going full tilt with all their regular meetings and so on.

- They are yes, perfect, thank you for that lead in. So in addition to the capacity MiddTelehealth is giving us, we’ve also made significant changes to our campus-based staff clinical services. Students are increasingly using our online health portal to complete forms, schedule appointments, get their needs met and are meeting with clinicians via Zoom and college counseling has a brand new service model this fall that provides same day appointments for any student who would like to work with a staff counselor completely eliminating wait lists, which has been huge, we know that wait lists are something that many college campuses are facing when it comes to mental health services. That’s not something that we are having to manage right now which is fantastic. And lastly, I just wanted to mention that we’ve embedded mental health resources and skill based trainings in groups out into the community, which means that we’re taking information that used to exist only behind clinical walls and bringing it to students where they live, learn and study and informal and even peer led educational settings. So this includes the launch of our mental health peer educators who are running small group programs called Project Connect which are focused on increasing mental health protective factors, like connection resilience, relationship and communication skills. And again, we’re leveraging the power of peers to work with each other, to have positive connections and build quality relationships, which we know insulate against those negative mental health outcomes. So we’re looking at promoting mental health instead of only just responding to it. The programming efforts out in the community also include counseling groups and workshops where students can come together who are managing similar challenges, seeking similar skills or have shared experiences under the facilitation and the supervision of a staff counselor. So we’re thinking about mental health holistically and contextually within COVID-19 and thinking about all of the different ways that we can both respond to it when students are in crisis or struggling, but also promote it so that students have those protective factors when they need them as we all continue to manage a challenging time.

- I think that’s great and part of what I so appreciate about this time, as challenging as it is, is isolation and feelings of isolation are part of a student’s experience in so many ways as they go through college in a regular time. And the fact that we’re being as aggressive as we are and thinking about ways to mitigate that and enhance increase in a sense of belonging is so important and my guess is that we’ll take a lot of those skills into whenever we move back into a life that look like pre-March, 2020, so I appreciate that. And a reminder that promoting effective relationships is one of our frameworks for our strategic plan. We see it as a strategic move to continue to try to build those skills for the 21st century. So thank you for that and it’s really that sense of belonging and effective relationships that inspires our new action plan, which I will turn to Miguel to speak about a little bit. Miguel, part of what we know for our BIPOC students for particularly the page turning experience we had in America this summer with all of the different folks really working together to fight racism. We know that that sense of belonging is so important. We just had a meeting with students, with over 180 students I believe, attending to speak with us about these questions of equity and inclusion. And we have a very interesting campus, we have amazing heritage of inclusivity for its time and yet we’ve been challenged by being in one of the most white states in the country. When class is in session we are one of the most diverse with Burlington places in Vermont and that brings exhilaration, it brings excellence, it brings a sense of a vision of what America and what higher education can be and it also brings deep challenges. And I know the equity, the action plan is designed to push us to the next level. And I’d love to hear you describe it a little and I know you described it so beautifully for students last night.

- Thank you Laurie and hello everyone. Yeah so we’ve been involved putting together this action plan on diversity, equity and inclusion over the past couple of years. We started out with a climate assessment and we brought in outside consultants. We’ve done a number of studies in the past on our own but we brought out some outside consultants because we wanted to get a different perspective so that we weren’t repeating what we’ve done in the past. And I think if you continue to study yourself you have certain blind spots and unless you get a different perspective, you won’t see the whole picture in a sense. And we built off of the results of that, that group came in and interviewed people in small groups and larger groups through surveys, studied our materials and then provided a significant report. We didn’t base the action plan simply on that report however, we looked at many others. We wanted to get as many voices as possible into what the Middlebury experience is like what the climate is like on campus, what the issues are what the barriers are to an equitable education. And we come through all of that information, we produced a draft, we shared it with a lot of stakeholders on campus, among them faculty, staff, and students, different committees, different departments, different student organizations. And we got really good feedback from a lot of them. The plan ended up focusing in on five different areas. One is focused on faculty and staff and we look at our work in recruitment and hiring, how are we diversifying our faculty and staff, how can we do better, the onboarding, how we bring them on board around development trainings that we do in anti-racism and to address bias and these kinds of things and very importantly, issues of mentoring and retention. The second section of the plan is around students, again recruitment and our financial aid approaches development again, how students are exposed to how to engage in challenging conversations et cetera and how we are supporting our students. We dedicated a whole section to fostering and restoring community. And how do we prevent, acknowledge and respond to harm when it occurs? In the climate assessment we’ve we discovered that there was a great deal of concerns around issues of accessibility, not just about the built environment, which we have our challenges in Vermont in a very hilly campus with very old buildings, but also in the classroom. And in all kinds of different areas of accessibility around learning disabilities, challenges of this sort and what we can do to improve in that area. And finally, the last section is about transparency and accountability, how we communicate, how we report on our diversity, share our data and also around assessment and planning, accountability and these types of issues. So that’s kind of the plan in a nutshell and we also have a timeline as to how we want to roll this out moving forward over the next five years. Of course, this work is never done, we don’t look at this as a finished product, rather, we’re trying to look at it as a live document, we expect people to make recommendations, we will tweak a lot of the strategies that are in there. We will also expect to see new strategies and just this week we had a number of proposals from students that we are now considering and have acted on a couple of them already. And I expect that we will incorporate more, I expect to see initiatives from the faculty and from other parts of campus as well.

- Yup, that sounds…it’s been inspiring for me to work with you on these issues and one of the things that I will say is that accelerated dialogue I think, is one of the keys for us in terms of feedback and real time really engaging with students and their concerns. I’m wondering, do you think that Middlebury’s different around questions of inclusivity in this semester, both because of the summer and what happened in the United States over the summer and because of COVID? Just talk a little bit about how you experience the student energy now in relationship to constructive ways forward on these really tough issues.

- Yeah I do think we’re in a different place this semester. I think this summer as we saw the events pan out and actually the reaction across the United States to be perfectly honest, the activism that came out, a new sense of awareness of issues for a lot of people. For a lot of people, there was nothing new, they’ve been dealing with these issues for a lifetime, but for others sort of kind of a revelation in some ways and a great deal of activism across the country. So we sort of expected that to come on to campus. And I will say that the big difference this semester has been an expectation on our part to be engaging actively on issues and an expectation to be heard and for us to solicit opinions, feedback from the black, indigenous and people of color communities specifically and to work very hard on what the barriers are for them and to work on a more equitable education and campus environment in particular for those communities. And that feels different.

- That does, I would agree with you completely again, so much more to follow up on, but I know we want time for Q&A from our wonderful families. And so I am going to thank all of our panelists for engaging up to this point. And then what I’d like to do now is turn it back to Colleen Fitzpatrick will be posing some of the questions that we found in our Q&A box.

- Thank you Laurie, so, so many questions in our Q&A box and I am afraid we won’t get to all of them. I’ve been trying to group them so we can go through them fairly efficiently. And the first area of concern that is expressed in multiple ways has to do with whether or not there will be more in person classes in the spring semester. I think this might be a question for Sujata. So there are variations on this, for instance, will you guarantee that at least one of the classes for every student will be in person? Will there be more in person labs? Will first year students have a chance to have at least one in person class, multiple folks indicated their first year students did not. So that is an overriding concern for many parents.

- Sujata.

- Thanks Colleen. I think faculty are grappling with this. I am grappling with this question and one of the things we are definitely planning on doing is having more in person components to classes. One of the big constraints have are the space constraints. We have the health regulation that mandates that there has to be a six foot distance which has limited our classroom capacity tremendously. And then the other thing that has also happened is even when we do have in person classes, we have had to put in new HVAC systems which have made it hard for people to listen carefully. So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to think of other ways for faculty to interact with students in person, perhaps not the entire class being online and then having, making sure that at least once a week faculty meet with students.

- And also, just to add, when we have this classification that is both helpful and not helpful called hybrid and what hybrid means could be anything from a mostly in person class with one discussion section every month or something online or per week. Just something that’s mostly online with one in person. So I think Sujata is exactly right, we’re sort of breaking down that hybrid category to make sure that what constitutes when we say hybrid as a bureaucratic classification that what we really want is as many in person components as possible to that hybrid.

- Thank you, another set of questions did have to do with health and safety and testing. So I’m gonna ask Mark there are some parents who are still asking why the decision not to come back for J-Term, so that’s question number one. And then we have a couple of questions about whether we’ll increase testing when we’re in the winter months and whether students will be tested before they are sent home, to be sure that they are COVID free. So that’s three questions in a row to Mark.

- I love those questions, thank you Colleen. I’m gonna tackle the last one first, testing for students to go home. We are ready to go if every student needs a test in order to go home. Currently if we have the prevalence rates, the low COVID rates that we have, we’re not anticipating doing that. Our health commissioner actually advised against that. And the students will be coming from an area where there just wouldn’t have been an infection. However, if rates rise, we have teed up a testing clinic to test all students that week, it is ready to go if we need to use it. There are some students that will have some testing requirements either international students or I think there’s some states that actually wanna test for students to come back. We’re looking at the names of those and it changes so frequently, we’ll have it ready at the time. As we get closer to the end of November, we will test those students if they need to and we will do a normal level of testing that week anyway so there’ll be lots of testing slots if students need them. I know that some families will be worried about is it safe for the student to come home and be around more vulnerable family members? If they’re coming from our campus, if we have the prevalence if we send everyone home today for Thanksgiving break, they would be in a really good, good place. Even if someone did have a negative test on a Monday or Tuesday and left on a Friday the risk still exists to expose them to vulnerable people, whether they have the test or not. And so prevention measures should always prevail. In terms of testing, I’m sorry Colleen the first two questions, give me the bullets again.

- The very first question had to do with clarifying once again why not J-Term, why no J-Term.

- That’s actually the restart committee and the governor and the governor’s office basically saying no one back before the first of February. The science behind that has to do with reducing the numbers of entries and exits off of college campuses cause that is the most vulnerable period for schools. That’s where the cases can spike and we’re trying to reduce that risk. And then the middle question Colleen had to do with will we be doing more testing in the spring semester? We’re not anticipating that.

- As far in the coldest months when we bring this—

- Right, we’re not anticipating that we have the ability to ramp up testing or ramp down testing depending on prevalence rates. We anticipate doing more symptomatic testing which we don’t do at our testing center, we do it at the health center. So if a student is having symptoms they come to the health center to keep them out of the asymptomatic population at the testing center. We’re ready to do that but if we did need, if we did start seeing more cases we would certainly increase our weekly testing and we are prepared to do that.

- Thank you Mark. We had a flurry of questions as Barbara was speaking about mental health and so I’m gonna pose a couple of these to you. There is mentioned that counseling sessions are only 25 minutes and whether…

- Colleen you’re muted.

- [Laurie] Colleen you’re muted.

- Whether that 25 minute period is long enough. There was also a question about the limits on first year students and the number of friends they can bring into their space. And the fact that that’s really stressful and is there an answer to help them with that situation?

- Right, absolutely, I can take the first part of that and then maybe I’ll ask AJ to help me with the second question. So yes, part of the new model at counseling to increase immediate access has been to reduce the length of session times and so they are 25 minutes. And what that means is that a student who calls can get a same day appointment. It also means that at that time the student can say, can I schedule to come back tomorrow? The answer will be yes. Can I schedule to come back next week? The answer will also be yes. And so the student also has the option at the end of that session to take a look at a menu of options. So we’re sort of moving away from our traditional, every student should be seen for a 15 minute session once a week and an ongoing way to ask the student what do you think you might need? If a student would like to have a longer 15 minute session they can absolutely get on the schedule for that. If they’d like to try a group and talk to other students who are feeling challenged by social interactions or who are also first year students, they can go that route. If they aren’t finding somebody in our counseling staff on campus that they’re having a fit with, they can look on Telehealth and see if there’s a provider that better reflects their identity or has a specialty that they’re interested in. So what we’re really trying to do is put the options and the menu in student’s hands to say you know what’s going on for you, here’s a menu, let’s work together to figure out what the next step might be in the next day, the next week for the rest of this semester or the rest of this year. So yes, appointment times have shortened and that’s what folks are getting when they call to make an appointment, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t make more appointments or that they can’t request a longer session. All of those are options for students.

- Thank you so much more Barb that’s super helpful.

- [Barbara] Oh great.

- Do you want AJ to take the other question about the limit on the number of friends and then I have several other social life questions for you AJ?

- Yes, let’s turn those to AJ.

- Yeah, absolutely. Well, just to say it’s certainly no limit on the number of friends a student can have, there is a limit on the number of students they can have in their space. And that’s because we need to keep in mind the six foot of space, the preventative measure that is really, that Mark I’m sure will nod to, that is really critical in keeping our community safe. And so as you can imagine, residence hall rooms are pretty standard across the country and ours, a lot of them fall into that. And so keeping six foot of space in between people can be challenging in those smaller spaces, but each residence hall especially in the first year areas have lounges that they can go and hang out in inside. There’s lots of outdoor spaces, the Adirondack chairs are still out and we’ve been slowly reevaluating those and expanding them. So just this week we went up from plus one, the number of students in a room, beds plus one, two plus two and so slowly turning that spigot as we move through our phases. So we’ll continue to evaluate those but really we need to, again, think about the preventative measures of keeping space. And just to add on, students can have four close contacts and so that’s something for them to keep in mind too as they think about their little circle of friendship on who’s a close contact versus who do we still need to keep space with?

- Great, well you mentioned Adirondack chairs. And so we have a question about whether Middlebury might consider more fire pits as it gets colder, keeping the Adirondack chairs on campus and having folks have more opportunities for the informal social hangout space that you just mentioned.

- Yeah, absolutely, I know that that’s in the docket to continue to work on. They are very popular every year and especially this year. And so I know that they are gonna be out longer than they have in the past to make sure that students have that access and we’re working on fire pits. That’s also a question with the town that we will be navigating as fire pits and burn permits in the town are regulated. So that’s something that we are definitely working on and I know that students are a big fan on. And there’s also, just to name it, some indoor fireplaces that students have access to in a number of their lounges in their residence halls. And that’s something that can be put into place as well and that they can use.

- Thank you.

- A couple of questions that are arts related for you and I don’t know if you’re the right person AJ. One regarding the prohibition apparently on singing that there aren’t opportunities for students to sing. And can you address that? And then dancing, that students can get together for dancing in groups of 10 and the comparison was to athletics where teams could be bigger than that and if they’re outside and masked, why a limit on the dancing? I don’t know if you’re the right person for those questions. I’m happy to try, President Patton did you have something there? It looked like you were jumping in.

- No, I was just gonna add something about that. I’ve tasked a team to AJs earlier point informally very informally calling it Project Copenhagen which is to make the way people live outdoors in Copenhagen in the winter, they get blankets when they sit outside, there are lights everywhere so we wanna be able to have the full winter carnival effect this year so how can we create a kind of winter wonderland part of our campus as we live in the winter months or mostly it’s gonna be March and then part of November. So the team has already been charged and they’re working hard on it. Sujata you might also be able to check in and Mark with the dance versus athletics question.

- Mark why don’t to go first and then I will follow up.

- Sure, on the singing notes, there are some guidelines. It’s through the National Federation of High Schools actually…suddenly there’s a fly right on my head. National Federation of High Schools on singing and combining that guidance with the reports coming from the CDC on outbreaks that have occurred with groups singing together have raised some concerns. And Jeff Buettner, the chair of the music department, has done a great job, put together a really great safety plan to to address those concerns. And we spoke with Jeff, I wanna say maybe two weeks ago, it could have been last week and there really just isn’t really an update to enable that to be done safely. That’s because of the projection, the exhalation and typically the static nature of people singing. That’s different than people being outdoors running around because they’re moving, there’s more air flow with the movement and there just haven’t been as many outbreaks or report of outbreaks but there have been reports of outbreaks associated with singing groups, which remains a concern. We continue to look at it, Jeff Buettner, Professor Buettner has done just a really great job putting together that safety plan. But as far as wind instruments go it’s the same, they were still concerned about wind instruments, aerosolizing vapor and spreading COVID in those environments. Even with covers over the wind instruments, we know it’s a challenge and it actually goes into the Theater Department too. I talked to Alex Draper I spoke with him last Friday night. Talking about how can we get his voice classes moving forward without having these masks and the amount of distancing that’s required, it has to be outdoors, he preached some challenges. So we continue to look at those issues very closely. I’ve really been impressed with the faculty’s ability to address those. In terms of dance groups, comparing two athletic teams, I think the 10 person capacity is really for any group that doesn’t have an ongoing supervision component. So the athletic teams are highly regulated and I know sometimes students walk by a field and see athletes running all over the place but those drills are highly orchestrated to maintain at least six feet. And the groups may be a little bit larger but they really, really are regulated and a coach has to be present, they’re designed specifically. The dancing, while you might let students gather in larger groups and do more. That would violate our gathering size and could lead to more, if a student did have an infection, could lead to more students being exposed and then it multiplies as they get into the conduit living settings. So for right now, we’re gonna maintain that strategy, but I just wanna tell the we’re always talking about this stuff and looking for ways to make it easier and better for our students.

- Thank you Mark, I really appreciate that. I realized that we are already over time but there were several questions having to do with when students are leaving and arriving and in particular, some questions about international students. So the first question, we’ll go to the first question which is, are there any groups of students who will be allowed to return prior to February 24th, 25th? And then on the questions of international students, would it be possible for some to stay through exams was one question. The other is what will we do with international students and other students who are not able to go home for all or at least part of the very long break that we have? So that multiple questions about coming and going and maybe that’s AJ.

- Yeah, I can certainly the freshest one in my memory now Colleen is that last one. And so for students that have a need to stay over break they should be in touch with their dean, there’s gonna be a petition process to stay over break if they need to. And so there’s gonna be information, excuse me, information coming out about that shortly. So students will get emailed about that, but they should definitely be in touch with their dean. Can you repeat the other ones?

- So one of the others was international students. Would it be possible for them to stay through exams on campus rather than going home with the rest of the students? That was a very specific question.

- Yeah, good question and Mark I think you were also part of this planning on the schedule of ending up right before the Thanksgiving break.

- Yeah, I think that would be possible. The deans will have a sense of what is possible for each individual students. Because the break is so long and because I think it’s gonna be fairly isolating here over a break, unlike a typical winter break, I think we’re trying to encourage students to strongly consider going home. If an international student, if it’s a challenge to get their academic work done during that last week because of travel considerations or internet access or other issues, the deans are certainly equipped to answer those questions and work with those students.

- Great and then finally any students who will be able to return prior to February 24th, 25th, are there categories of those students?

- Yeah, my understanding is that we’re planning right now for students that need to do in person research to return and be able to return for the J-Term. And so there’ll be a small group of students that we’ll be able to work with their faculty and I’ll look at Sujata for that, but I believe for that person research there’s gonna be a small group that returns for them.

- Right, and I think it’s going to be starting February 1 to stick with the mandate state regulation. So there are multiple other questions that we haven’t had a chance to get to. As I mentioned at the beginning, what we will do is have those questions inform the frequently asked questions posted online on the fall family weekend. I apologize that we can’t get to every single question in this format but it’s been fabulous to see the real strong interest that parents have in understanding deeply our decision making process and ensuring the goodwill and the good health of our students. Laurie, did you wanna close with some comments?

- I just wanna say a couple of things. First of all if there ever was a moment that reaffirms my commitment to what I call collective genius, which is really creative solutions that communities come up with, it’s this moment. And it’s because of your work with us that we’ve been able to be as successful as we’ve been. And also to say that small colleges in general and particularly small rural colleges, are really showing that this can be done and I think that has to do with the kind of creativity, connection and control that is possible in the kind of educational environment that Middlebury offers and so interestingly, this time has really underscored the strengths of this educational model in the United States. And families like you are a part of that incredibly powerful educational model. So I wanna thank you for that as well.

- That concludes our event today, I wanna thank everybody as Laurie said for participating, and please do go to the fall family website @fallfamilyweekend website, see all of the other wonderful things that are happening and hope to see you online if not on campus at some point within our lifetime, thanks very much.

Faculty Panel

Four Middlebury faculty members share how they have adapted their teaching to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic.

- So hello, everyone. Good afternoon. My name is Amy Collier. I’m the associate provost for digital learning at Middlebury. And part of my work involves leading a group known as DLINQ, which stands for digital learning and inquiry, dealing partners with faculty and students on various forms of digital learning. And this summer, we worked with faculty across Middlebury’s programs to prepare for what we knew would be a unique fall. And this included more than 60 workshops on technology and pedagogy, five two-week sessions of camp design online and hundreds of one-on-one consultations with faculty. And I’m so excited today to be hosting this session featuring the innovative and expressly Middlebury approaches that faculty have taken to their fall courses. So here’s how today’s session will go. We will hear from the four panelists, who I will introduce in a moment. They’ll each speak for approximately eight minutes, and then we’ll have lots of time for Q and A afterwards. During their presentations and afterwards, during the Q and A section, you can add questions for these folks to address using the Q and A function that’s below the screen there. So there’s a little Q and A button. You can click that and go ahead and start submitting questions whenever you’d like. I’ll keep an eye on that Q and A and collect your questions and then post them to the panel when it’s time. So let’s go ahead and get started. Today our panelists are Professor Jeff Bittner, Christian A. Johnson, professor of music and director of choral activities; Professor Louisa Burnham, professor of history; Professor Michael Sheridan, who’s a professor of anthropology; and Professor David Allen, who’s assistant professor of biology. You will hear each of them describe some of what they’ve been doing this fall. You’re gonna hear diverse perspectives and approaches, maybe even some lessons learned, but more importantly, it’ll be clear from their experiences, how much our faculty care about their students, how much they care about their learning and their experiences at Middlebury. And it will be clear how hard faculty have worked this summer to prepare for the fall. And it will be clear how creative and diverse and talented our faculty are. And with that, I will turn things over to Professor Bittner.

- Thanks so much. Well, welcome everyone. I am thrilled to be able to talk to you today about changes in teaching in our new environment. As Amy said, I’m the director of choral activities and I teach music courses in the Music Department. So my main thing is singing and that means getting a lot of people together in a room, pretty much close together to sing. And a couple of important things to remember are that singing produces more aerosols than speaking and they go farther. So I think it’s fairly common perception now that choirs can be problematic when it comes to all things COVID and not to dwell on that too much, I thought I would dwell of course on my solutions because here we are singing and in a lot of places, we are singing safely. And of course the main goal has been to figure out, how can we sing safely? How can we sing such that if we thought someone in the room had contracted the virus, the rest of the people in the room could actually emerge safely. Now the answer is yes, but not for long. So I’m gonna talk a little bit about what I’ve done. What I typically do, of course, is bring a bunch of people into the room and we begin interacting in an immediate space, much like a discussion section might be, but with the element of singing, there is something of a social element that’s always happening. People are always making sound, they’re always interacting. And so preserving that side of things has been as critically important as perhaps what you’d call the quality of the product, how well we are singing, how great our music might sound and so forth. It’s what it means to us and what it means to us to be together. So early on when we left campus and we went remote that was the thing we were able to hold onto and Zoom kind of buttressed or buoyed us for a while. Coming into this fall, and as Amy mentioned, a summer’s worth of research and study and so forth, we came up with ways to approach our teaching in that somewhat of a direct way or somewhat of a similar way to what we had been doing before. Now, for me specifically at the College, for example the College choir, which is a main part of what I do. I usually have about 40 students in a very large space that seats 800, and we sit side by side and we do our thing four hours a week. Now I have the group limited to 30, broken into groups of 10. They are spaced 12 or more feet apart. And we rehearse for 45 minutes tops, twice a week. So that gives 90 minutes. So a few major things have changed that seemed like negatives in that we’re together less. That’s the main thing, we’re together less but we’re also farther apart. Musicians usually wanna get closer together, as close together as possible. And we can’t, we’re going the other way. And then, and we simply can’t be together as long. So our ambitions are tempered a bit. Now on the plus side, there are some things that we have learned. Delivery of information, kind of like this, what you might call the lecture side of things. When I want to tell students a little bit about a piece of music that we’re singing to help us understand, that typically happens now in videos, including musical guidance. So I can post a score on a video and play along with a little bit, discuss the music. I can actually go a little bit deeper than I might have time or the moment to do in a rehearsal and provided the students a jump on to that, they get inside of my study and my research a habit a bit. And so, that’s been a unique outcropping of this that’s really quite positive and something that I’ll take forward. Online use of music tutorials and things has been commonplace for a long time actually. But even when I just mentioned sharing more intimate details of a piece of music that is something that some people have been doing online for some time. So there is a model and incorporating that into my teaching, I think is something I’ll be taking forward. To really show you what it’s like, I have a little video prepared and I will talk at points during this but for a few minutes, I’m going to share evidence of my life in the past a couple of months, sort of soaring highs and the lows that we kind of trowel our way through on a daily basis. The video features two major issues. I mentioned the space issue. We’re spaced far apart and you’ll see that. But we are also, as I talk, I’m gonna begin to share my screen. We are also going to see me doing something I usually don’t do a choir rehearsal, which is setting up microphones. So the room is now going to house or host 11 people, myself, and 10 students. And we’re all going to be in front of a microphone. ♪ Listen listen listen ♪ No space at the top. It sounds staccati. This is my singing mask, has a little more space than their masks. They have the awkward issue of a microphone placed right in front of their face. Couple of feet away. That’s the idea. I think you could have a little bit more aggressive intent with it, a little melody. One, two. What can we do to make that a four bar phrase when there’s actually a rest in between the soprano and alto parts? What’s gonna connect it? Yup, and what can they do? Under normal circumstances in a rehearsal, I can’t hear what they’re saying on the other side of the chapel. There’s no way. So we are all wearing headphones that are plugged into the same system microphone. Careful, careful. So that everyone has each other’s voice in each other’s ear. One, go. Bingo, everybody, one, two. That allows me to keep up. And to try to maintain the pace that I’ve been able to keep in a typical rehearsal, I can stop. I can say something. Everyone hears me clearly. I don’t feel I need to yell. They can hear each other in a more direct way That said, that’s not why we sing. We don’t sing to use headphones. We sing to make a big loud sound. So we have to figure out how to balance this in the ear thing with the room sound. And it’s very different with different numbers of people and being so far apart. Two, three, one. Now this is one choir, but technology allows me to record each group. This is what it sounds like with both groups. That’s really the second group is singing with the recording of the first group while they’re being recorded. The multi-track video. I’m going to pause it and move ahead just a little bit to my last segment, ‘cause I know time is closing. So with this segment, you’ll hear a different ensemble. This is four people very far apart. We are actually attempting detail work on a piece of music and you’ll hear just a different sound of it with this piece of music. We each need to hear very clearly what is going on with each other’s voices. So the technology really is making this possible. That’s really nice. Does it feel good?

- [Students] Yes. So that last comment is just to show that they love doing what they’re doing. They’re very, very happy to be able to do what we’re doing even under these circumstances. So thank you very much.

- Hello, everyone. My name is Louisa Burnham. I’m in the History Department and every fall I teach a class called the Making of Europe and in the Making of Europe it’s a class where I really try to make everyone love history. That’s kind of what I do. And I’m a very enthusiastic sort of, I move around a lot. I talk a lot. I try to have an ebullient room. And the problem is that when we’re being remote with each other, it’s just hard. Every Zoom session is exhausting. I can find we put in more energy than we ever do, doing anything else. And so last spring, I found that when I was working with my students, when we had to go to remote, I missed a couple of things. Once I missed that kind of a room and that kind of energy. And I also missed spending time with my students because I was doing things asynchronously. And so this semester I decided that I needed to do some synchronous work because otherwise I was really gonna be unhappy. And I also really needed to make that ebullience, that excitement in a different way. So DLINQ taught me how to make a more interesting Canvas website. And so, I spent a whole lot of my summer doing this and the idea was to give a lot of excitement to each subject that we worked with. And so I set it up with the Sainte-Chapelle right there up at the top. By the way, Making of Europe goes from about, we do a backwards glance at Rome and then we go up to 1648 and I’ve set this up with a nice little grid here just so that it was a little more interesting than making the typical Canvas modules. And so what I’d like to do is I’d just like to quickly show you one of my modules. And I figured why not? Let’s go for what I just spent my entire week doing which is to say week six cause I have to be a week ahead of them. We had sections this morning on Charlemagne, but I spent a whole lot of my time this past week working on getting something called The Three Orders set. And so my idea with this is really to have all kinds of things, both very serious things. So we only meet in sections once a week. So what I would have called lecture before is now these asynchronous readings and videos, and I set them up here so that they can see what’s coming. And so, there’s always a welcome video. In this case, I’ve got a an introduction to the whole work of the week as a whole. And then, because this idea of the three orders is that there are three orders. Those who fight, those who pray, those who work. I did a series of mini lectures as I call them. They’re always under 15 minutes and put them out there, so that they were able to listen to them. And then next Friday, we will all get together. And we’ll be talking about that. And I do take a lot of care at doing things like putting a cool picture from the Latrelle Salter when we’re gonna talk about those who work or when we’re talking about those who pray we’ve got Hildegard of Bingen right here. And just anything like that. And then I do things that are sometimes a little bit silly. If you’re going to talk about medieval ordeals and there is no better illustration of that then Monty Python’s Witch Village scene, you know? If you know, she’s a witch, how do you know she’s a witch? Well, she turned me into a newt, and that whole scene is actually incredibly good at talking about and a medieval ordeal. And it has a bonus of a medieval logical syllogism that goes on, which is just awesome. So I do the stuff too. And then each week, we’ll have some kinds of assessments. We’ll have something that is a new project for me, using something called social annotation software where students collaborate in writing comments on different texts. And I’m still a little uncertain about it, but I’m kind of enjoying doing it. And I think the students are enjoying doing it as well. But then at the bottom is I have to say the part I love the most as one does, which are all the fun things for every week. And my idea was to give that kind of energy that I try to give in the classroom in other ways. And sometimes it’s dumb little things like how to make a Mott-and-Bailey meme, but then it might be a story about an archeological dig with a nun who had Lapis Lazuli in her teeth from the Middle Ages. Or it might be more about the Bayeux Tapestry, which you might’ve seen is all over this website for this week. Or it might be something a little bit more serious. And throughout the semester, I’ve been emphasizing the theme of travel, and also emphasizing the idea that we have to expand our idea of what the Middle Ages were all about and how we can expand our idea of in particular, that it was not just this white world up in Northern Europe. And I came across an article about a Nubian king who was in Constantinople in 1204. And so I decided, okay, I’m gonna write that up and put it in a little thing that people can take a look at and found a good image. And then at the end of the semester, all of the things that have to do with travel will become a possibility for one of the lectures on the final exam. So my idea here is to bring together a whole lot of different stuff that I’m enthusiastic about. And then I hope my students become enthusiastic about as well. And it also helps me because I have fun and I hope that that comes across to my students as well. So that’s about what I have to say. I’ll leave you with, you know, with a pretty picture of Hildegard of Bingen.

- Okay, so I’m up. Hi, I’m Mike Sheridan and I am intensely jealous about the awesome graphics that we just saw and that’s not what I’m gonna be giving you basically. I’m gonna be talking about my experiences in the spring and in the fall. I teach anthropology and a lot of anthropology is students interacting with the text and then interacting with each other and interaction has been pretty rough. So in the spring, when we went all remote the two major experiences that stand out from the spring for me are first, my learning curve was 85 degrees. It was steep and hard. I was learning how to make videos in Panopto. And I have risen to my level of incompetence, and I can make a video, but it takes me a very long time. But the most important thing that I noticed was that students were scared and lonely and they really needed a place in class to connect. And so every class meeting became a a regular ritual that I think it was across the U.S. but for us, it was called Rosebud and Thorn. And what that meant was that as we went around in a group, each student would take a turn saying for this week, my Rose is and that was something beautiful that happened to them. My thorn is something difficult that happened to them. And my bud, my hope for the future, is this, and that sharing really got them bonded together like I had never seen in a class. I think part of it was going through a crisis together but I had expected my classes to fragment. I had expected that I would be dealing with several dozen very lonely people, but that’s not what happened. They connected. And the results of this were really amazing. I’ll post this in the chat if I do it correctly, but in in my theory class typically… Okay, it’s there now you guys can go have a look at it, if you want to. In my theory class, students do some kind of case study where they apply anthropological theory to something that they observe and observation suddenly couldn’t happen. So instead of not doing that exercise, the students came up with a great idea. They did a big group project applying the theory that we’d been studying to their experiences of COVID-19. And it led to a big group project of pretty good quality, enough that I wanted to put it on our website as a working paper. And I’m still seeing that the footprint of that exercise now. I’ve got six of those students in another class now, and their command of theory is the best I’ve ever seen in any cohort. And I think it’s because they went through that experience together. What I’m doing this fall is a blend of in-person and Zoom instruction. So I’ve got Mondays, I’ve got two in-person classes. Wednesday is one in-person, one Zoom, and then Friday is a Zoom discussion. And the big change I made for these classes was that I threw out the old syllabus because I had relied on hard copy textbooks. And I was worried that if we went remote again that we would lose access to library materials. So I decided everything needed to be an ebook that we had in the library that the students wouldn’t have to have the choice of either buying or needing to get that hard copy from course reserves. So everything became an ebook. And that meant a lot of my summer was spent reinventing my syllabi. We talk a little bit about my Africa class. So that class is 26 students. Typically, I like to lecture on Mondays and then we do a group activity Wednesdays and then we have a discussion Friday. Group activities became difficult, but I’ve come up with a low tech, but it seems to work solution. Students are placed six feet apart, and I can’t make them. I don’t want to make them be in small groups where they can have discussions. So our work-around was I put up a big Google Doc on the screen of the classroom, and then students have their laptops and they all log into that shared screen. And then they can type to each other while they are in their six foot apart seats wearing masks. And even without speaking to each other, if they don’t want to because someone is maybe in their group, but 12 feet away and they couldn’t hear them. They can type to each other. And the it’s sort a group discussion that leads to text and suddenly I’ve realized this is a great way to produce notes. This is a great way to produce a record of what we’ve done. And the students say that they’re getting better notes from doing it together than they would have if they had done it themselves. So I think I’m probably gonna keep that. The other experience I’ve got is in my senior seminar, it’s called Anthropology of Development. And it was going to be an exercise of students reading about anthropology and development, but then having partners either in the community or in Vermont state government with whom they would do some kind of applied anthropology development project. That didn’t work. That couldn’t happen because we don’t want them leaving campus. So my fallback was something that has worked out spectacularly well. I brought in 10 guest speakers, all of whom are alumni all of whom now work in the development industry. And every Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting in which my students interview the guest speaker. So the speakers don’t prepare a thing. They Zoom in with us, and then they do a Q and A, and the students have to figure out how to ask questions that get answers from the speakers that allow them to write papers that synthesize what they’ve read with what the speakers say about their experiences in this field. And I am amazed. It works really well. The alumni are without even having done the reading referring to some of the same concepts that are coming up in the text, which is great. It sounds like I planned it, but I actually hadn’t. So overall I’m finding that having some remote teaching leads to these new capabilities that I didn’t know about, and that I think when I get back to the regular teaching that we all dream of, in that far off land called the future, I’m probably gonna keep a lot of this stuff that I don’t want to go back to normal. I want to go back to picking and choosing what’s better and what makes some of this engagement and the kind of teaching that we do here, different levels and kinds of engagement. So I started my spring as deeply frustrated as everybody else about being remote. But at this point, I can’t say that I like it. I miss the classroom, but I can see the advantages of the skills that we and our students are picking up in new ways of interacting. So I guess the silver lining in this big cloud. And with that I’ll hand it off.

- Thanks, yeah. I also don’t have any nice videos, like Jeff and Louisa, so happy to follow Michael. But my name’s David Allen. I teach in the Biology Department and this semester I’m teaching a biostatistics and experimental design class and this class is required for majors. And so, because of that, I really wanted to make the class open to students who are on campus and off campus. But it is a class where, you know, the hands-on is so important when you’re thinking about how to design an experiment and then actually conducting those experiments to generate the data to illustrate the statistical concepts. So yeah, like my colleagues, I thought a lot over the summer about what was gonna work best and how to, you know, compare to that sort of like triage of the spring semester really reflect on how I could make this work. So what I’m doing is I have asynchronous lectures where two 20-minute lectures that get into sort of either the principles of experimental design that we’re talking about, or the statistical tests that we’re talking about. And those actually, I had been thinking a lot about this idea of flipping a class even before and this is sort of like forced me to do it. And that I find actually really works, especially for some very technical concepts of how do you do anova and how do you set up the data to do it? And what is the code to do it in the statistical programming language we learn. And I think that then it really helps for a video. A student can pause it and then try to work it through on their own example. And then like, okay, now they’re ready to play it and describing in a nova over and over and over. I actually think that that video helps. So we have those two asynchronous lectures. Then we meet synchronously for like discussion sections or group work or where they work on problem sets. And so that’s the whole idea of like this flipped classroom where they can watch this technical discussion of how to do these tests on their own. And then what’s helpful about doing things together is working on problem sets or working through examples or discussing different concepts in experimental design. So we have two of those a week as well. And then we have both in-person and remote labs. So I have some students who are taking in-person labs, and then for the students who are remote I’ve either mailed them the supplies if they’re off campus or they pick up the supplies. And so that’s been fun too. And so they then like post their updates of the labs on Canvas. We’re growing these little brassica fast plants that grow up very quickly and can grow in really easy conditions. So every student is going to be growing these. We haven’t started this lab but these plants in their dorm rooms or at home. And I think that actually again illustrates some really interesting ideas in statistics. So we’ll all be doing an experimental manipulation where we’re growing under two light conditions, but then there’s tremendous variation across our dorm rooms, the temperature. And that is really interesting. How do we deal with that variation statistically? And that’s actually really important if we’re thinking about like a multi-site vaccine trial. So when you have a trial you wanna do it at multiple sites because that variation is interesting. And so we can really think about block design or multiple site design and how do we deal with that variation? So like my colleagues I’m really seeing some sort of like some silver linings in this and how can I use use these constraints, but to illustrate interesting aspects of the class I’m teaching. So yeah, I’ve emailed them some supplies for a lab on growing these little plants. We’ve done a seed dispersal lab, a pollination lab. And so yeah, that’s what I want to talk about. Yeah, yeah. And so I really did force me to think about what are the key concepts that are important for this topic. And so how can I really think about what do I want these students to learn? And obviously it’s important thinking about interpreting scientific results. So how can you read a scientific paper and think about how the experiment was done? Obviously, we’re gonna be thinking a lot about vaccine trials and interpreting results for that. And so, that makes it that much more compelling as well.

- Great, thank you everyone for sharing what your very diverse approaches and all the work that you put into it. It’s wonderful to hear. So it is time for Q and A, and we don’t quite have any questions in the Q and A box yet. So if you are hoping to ask a question, please click the little Q and A button at the bottom of your screen and type your question for the panelists. In the meantime, I’ll prime the pump and ask a little bit about your thoughts on community building in this new environment. So over the summer, we heard a lot of faculty concerned about and very interested in making sure that community was a key part of their courses this fall. So I’m curious what community looks like in your class this fall. I’ll open it to anyone.

- I’ll go with a couple of things. The restrictions on numbers of singing affected my first year seminar this fall. We spent some time on Zoom in discussion of readings and concepts that of course doing some writing but we spend time singing. The point of that part of the semester course, being that singing together and anything from “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to a pop song that the students want to bring and share with the class, develops community across the ensemble. We can’t do that all at once. So the class is split in half, and I’ve managed to find time to do that. So I’m exploring ways that we can hear each other. I can record one class and the other class, so to speak can hear it. But in the choir, in the larger group of the students kind of took it on themselves. They have study groups. So they take the principle of community that they remember and now they just go outside and they’ll be in the vicinity of our rehearsal hall while another group is rehearsing and maybe before dinner or something like that. So there’s a bit of a frustration of how to get people together that in some ways is overcome by being able to see each other’s faces without masks on Zoom and hear each other’s voices when all put together. And then there are the students themselves working out ways to get together. It’s like the effort also replaces a little bit of the reality or the eventuality that we used to have so easily.

- What I’m finding is that no matter what I teach, they want to talk about COVID or they need to talk about COVID. And so I’ve built a lot of ways of talking about COVID and community into what we’re doing in both classes. So it’s too early for any scholarship on COVID in Africa to have come out, but I’ve got them reading an entire book on responses in a rural Sierra Leonean village to Ebola and what happened to that community during that pandemic and what can we as readers learn from that? So I think I’m finding what’s building community in my classes is the topic of community, I think.

- I’ll just say it’s the hardest thing. And it was the thing I worried about most this summer. And I’ve always had this weird little thing where I put groups, the class groups in classes together, in what I call tithings, which is a thing from a Medieval English village. And so, and I’ve actually found that the tithings work really well on Zoom because you can put them in those little breakout rooms you know, and as long as you’ve got them set up right it works brilliantly. I put them into tithings practically the second we get to class and it’s become something that works much better than I anticipated.

- Yeah, I’ll agree with Louisa that it’s very hard. I have these two in-person labs and obviously that makes it a lot easier in those students. I really crave that in-person lab community. And for the other students, I do find these communities building up in the synchronous like problem set where I do let them work together. And so if two of them seem, or three of them seem to be like in the similar place with that assignment, then I’ll put them into a breakout room and they can work on that, the problem set together. But it’s true.

- Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Terry Young asking, what has replaced students dropping in to see you during office hours?

- I’ll answer that one. I love Zoom office hours, and that was true actually even in the spring. I actually used all my synchronous time, the time that I had because we weren’t expecting to go remote or anything. I use that all as office hours. And I told students that they had to come see me twice or something like that. And they would drop in and I said no waiting room, no anything, just drop in and I’ve done the same. Well, I haven’t done the same thing. I don’t have that synchronous time but I have hours during the week that are my office hours. And some of them were a little more formal. I say, okay, if you really have something private you wanna discuss with me, then, you know, Thursday is your good day. But Mondays, I just say, drop in. Everybody comes in and you know, it’s been fun. I actually love talking with them. I had students last spring who showed up every day, every office hours just because I think they needed that community and they wanted that community. So I love Zoom office hours.

- Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Thomas Gavin asking, how are you finding the students’ level of involvement and inquisitiveness during distance remote learning as opposed to class when classes were in person? Who would like to take that?

- Yeah, I’ll jump in on that. I definitely think that it’s harder to maintain that level of engagement. And I think in the spring I tried to just go and give my normal lectures through Zoom and the engagement and inquisitiveness really dropped off. And so over the summer, really thinking about what was gonna work and what wasn’t gonna work. And I can’t just give the same lectures personally that I was giving before through Zoom. And so I think this semester, I’ve felt like it’s rebounded and that through some combination of students just buying into the what we have to do, and my improvement in this sort of pedagogy that the inquisitiveness has come back and I’ve been excited about it

- In a sense that’s why I have those fun things down at the bottom. My idea is that the idea is to try to build a little silliness because I think silliness can be a great way to get community going. And I’m ridiculous. So, you know, I believe in being silly in class and so get a Monty Python thing going and I think it helps it helps bring on that inquisitiveness, but it is hard.

- One thing that I found is that students are eager to make this work. And at the beginning of the semester, I laid out that it’s gonna be hard that we’re all sitting apart. Like in one of my classrooms I’m in Twilight Auditorium for my seminar. 12 students in a room that holds 105 seats or so. And so five, six of the seats are zip-tied shut. They cannot get together, even if they wanted to. So I challenged them to say, we need community here to have really good learning experience. You guys need to really talk to each other. You need to respond to each other’s posts on the Canvas discussion board and make comments to each other. And you need to swap rough drafts of your essays for a peer feedback, even if you think it’s not good enough to share, you still should, because we need that extra level of engagement to get that energy to get past our separation and they’ve responded. They really are rising to that challenge, I think.

- Sorry, I was looking for my unmute button there. Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Thomas Gavin again. How are you finding your experience as compared to the post COVID exodus classes in the spring earlier this year? So you all have compared a little bit in what you were saying before. What are some other characteristics you might use to describe the difference between the spring and the fall? Well, I’ll point to just real quickly. For what I work with students, the community is a major aspect. And so in the spring, we had to be entirely Zooming everything, and you can’t have a rehearsal Zoom. It doesn’t work. So it was all about the social connection. And actually that spilled into the summer where I then reached out to alumni. And throughout the summer, weekly, we had current students and alumni meeting to just be together. And I was like the rosebud and thorn kind of thing. That was the most meaningful check-in that there was. Now those students want to be together. So it’s a tricky comparison for me, and that I really change if we are remote, my teaching is completely different. If we are in person, it’s now just completely more stressful than it was before. And it takes three times as long, but it’s still zeroing in as also as mentioned earlier on really what is necessary. And there’s this constructive thought to that. But I think that the idea of going remote again or the question of what’s coming up in the spring semester I don’t anticipate more people gathering. I don’t anticipate, so to speak, opening up but I anticipate maintaining and then discovering more of what we can do within the circumstance we have.

- One thing that I’m noticing is that my students don’t seem to want or need the rosebud thorn right now. When I ask them, how are you guys doing? Or I ask sometimes to get them to be more expressive about people not having a good experience. I say, how are the other people around you doing? That way they don’t have to talk about themselves. And overall, they are reporting that things are going okay. And I haven’t done any rosebud thorn since back in the spring. I’m keeping it in the back pocket in case we need it. But I’m getting a lot of positivity from my students.

- This might be a question maybe just for Jeff. Others may want to weigh in. Sally Merz asks will you be able to find creative ways to perform in person for the greater community or hold live theater productions?

- It’s a bit of a mix. We’re gathering as a performing arts chairs and divisions in the coming weeks to respond to what is happening on campus and see what is possible. Not very much different. We may be able to have a performance that has a very small audience. It really depends on who wants to perform and whether or not there needs to be, or would like to be an audience. On point, we canceled our winter term musical, which typically happens in February because first of all, the campus will be remote but we also can’t have an audience. So the opening of that will be slow. And I am hesitant. I will not rush it at all. And I think my colleagues feel the same. We may be able to have a guest artist or a solo person with a few people in the audience or live to Zoom, something like that.

- Jeff, I really want to come hear “The Palestrina.”

- Yeah, that is this fall. I might offer a few things in the spring. I should mention both with music and with theater a lot of performative things were moved to the spring. We just shifted classes in plays and performances to the spring. So it may be a rather rich experience. All of my performance this fall will be Facebook premiere watch parties, but then like our coursework sometimes you can observe later and rewind and all that. And then maybe in the spring we can do something live that combines both.

- Wonderful. Thank you. Speaking of the winter and spring we have two questions related to those semesters upcoming. Liz Parker and Ellen Austin are asking about more information about what you’re thinking for the winter and spring terms. So Ellen in particular is asking, she’s saying she’s unfamiliar with J-Terms. So how might your formats adapt for that? And then Liz is asking about spring

- I’m not teaching J-Term this year. So I’m hoping never to have to do J-Term by Zoom because that’s just doing hours of Zoom, but I’m sure that my colleagues are working on good solutions for that, but I will say the spring I’ve been thinking a lot about the spring and I have classes that are going to involve research, both two classes, one with a big research project that’s collaborative. And then the other one is individual research projects. And I’ve just been thinking a lot about how I can make that work, both synchronously, asynchronously, and how to use the abilities of what I’ve been using this semester and how to put those things together. But it’s something I think a lot about and hope that we can make that work, but I’ve learned a lot. That’s the thing, I’ve learned so much. And that’s amazing in how it’s making me think about these things.

- Yeah. The announcement for winter term and spring, were just in earlier this week. And so I’m beginning to think about my classes for the spring and winter term. Winter term will be all Zoom, but in the spring I’m teaching intro bio, which is a big class of 36 students. And so I’m going to have to do the lectures online but thinking about some in-person and some remote discussion sections just to hope to have some interactions with the students. And then I teach a forest ecology class where really the the heart of that class is trips outside to the surrounding woods. And so I think it just depends on fan limits and whether that’s gonna be possible or will be just all walking to woods around the campus which luckily there are some beautiful forest around the campus as well.

- I’ll probably keep the format that I’ve got now because I’m happy with what I’ve got this fall. And I think it’ll work for the spring, except for what happens if my environmental anthropology class fills? If it fills to 35 then I’ll be online and that’s not the way I prefer it, but it depends on how much demand there is, I think. If it’s only 20, 25, then I’ll probably continue to have some in-person teaching within Zoom discussions. So for me, it depends. Jeff, how about you? Oh, go ahead, Louisa.

- The one thing that I’ve been thinking about is, how I wanna have, although I’ve liked some of the things I’ve done, I wanna have more synchronous time and it’s gonna be over Zoom because I’m not gonna be teaching on campus but I intend to sort of keep that time so those sort of hours that are gonna be mine and some of it I want to devote to that kind of drop in thing like I did last spring and for others I really just wanna be able to hold more discussions. I don’t expect to use that time every class time because there’s lots of other stuff that I’m gonna have them doing but I really I miss them. So I wanna make sure that we have even more of that time, that face time.

- Awesome. So one question I have that I want to pose to you all. You all have mentioned at different times things that you’ve done that you’re thinking about keeping. And so I wonder, thinking beyond even the spring, what are some things that you’re taking away from this experience that will continue to shape how you teach going forward? It might be technologies, it might be approaches it might be pandemic-related learnings, but what are some things that you’re taking away with you?

- Yeah, I guess I sort of mentioned this before this idea of flipping the classroom where some things that we typically lecture could be done very easily through a video where students can watch it on their own time and of some of that instruction really doesn’t have to happen with me in the room. And so some of my colleagues have been doing that and I’d always sort of like, “Oh boy, that seems cool. I wanna try it, but this is actually got me to do it.” So I’ve learned the technology to make the videos and see where those that’s an effective learning tool. And then the idea being that once you come back into the classroom you just have more time for interaction and for student questions and for work discussions or group projects. And so now that I’ve really gotten into that pedagogy and learned the tools that I’m definitely gonna bring forward with me. I’m going to let my Luddite membership lapse and I’ll be incorporating a lot of these technologies into what I do from now on. I found it was kind of fun making the little videos and, you know, you can be goofy in a new way. And they’re kind of a blast to make, you know? I start every single one of them off like, “Hello, historians!” I don’t know. I mean, I think like David I think I’m gonna keep some of the flipped classroom thing going in some ways, because I like it. I like that a lot.

- Yeah, I have to echo all of that. I think that by preparing a video that shows a little bit about a piece of music, it helps me to have everyone think about something outside of their specific participation. What is another person doing in this? And then if I can take it a step further in the future by requiring the students to do, I can be a little bit more adamant about the importance of this and the importance of what I’m presenting where it would be simply me standing there and saying that in the classroom or in the rehearsal, but in the rehearsal especially if we don’t wanna talk much. Wanna get down to experiential learning and this will be helpful. The technology will probably help me because as you saw with everyone with a microphone in front of them I don’t do this, but I can single them out. I can go back and listen and figure out just what are you doing? But with my smaller group, I can post that to them on a private site and they can evaluate themselves. That’s a really powerful thing that is an academic tool certainly. So it’s a bit of still reforming. How do I do that? I’ve been getting out of, yeah, the way I’ve always done things but it’s pretty exciting to think of quality that can emerge from it and the agency for the students.

- So I have one more sneaky question to ask you and then I think we’ll start to wrap it up. And Jeff, it does look like there’s one more question for you that you might be able to answer in the chat from Kim Kiner, so I’ll just point that out real quick. So my sneaky question is you have an audience of parents here. And so I wonder if you might have some advice to give to parents about things they might advise their students or any guidance you might provide to parents on what’s going on right now and what to talk to their students about. Hey, I’ll start. Just to give you one more second. One thing we know from research on online and hybrid education is that student perception of online and hybrid education impacts their experience of it, so if they believe that their experience is going to be less beneficial to them than an in-person experience, it’s likely to be. And so, you know, one thing I encourage parents to talk to their students about is changing that mindset, reframing the experience as a unique once in a lifetime experience that will be a lot of learning of different sorts. So that’s one piece of advice I give to parents is talk to your kiddos about reframing that experience for them. So I’ll hand it off to somebody else. So I think that no matter what we’re teaching we’re actually teaching how to cope with stress, how to cope with crises, how to adapt, how to be flexible how to be patient. And sometimes that comes up explicitly in a class, I think. I think that my advice, but I’m really advising myself because my kids are also going through this flexibility and patience. And then when you think you’ve hit your end of the rope, add more rope and keep going and be patient with yourselves. Cause what we’re doing is really hard and keep on keeping on for the sake of the kids is of course something we really need to do to give them that sense of normalcy and a sense of a purpose in their lives and being the grown-ups around these kids with that patience while we’re also stressed ourselves is hard work. So patience, fortitude, courage, we’ll get through. Well, we have hit pretty much the end of our hour. I want to share with you all that you panelists that we have lots of comments in the Q and A thanking you both for today’s panel and for the amazing hard work that you’ve been doing to prepare for this this unusual experience of teaching during a pandemic. So on behalf of the parents attending, I want to thank you for all that amazing hard work and for the things that you do on behalf of the Middlebury students and wish you the very best as you finish out the semester and start preparing for winter and spring term as well. So may it be healthy and happy for all of us. And thank you parents for attending. What a pleasure to have you here. And we look forward to continuing to work with your students and again, health and happiness to all of you as we move forward. Thanks, everyone.

Summer Internships Panel

Middlebury students share their transformative internship experiences and advice on finding the right internship. Hosted by the Center for Careers and Internships.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thanks everyone for coming and welcome from the Center for Careers and Internships, also known as CCI. I’m Cheryl Whitney Lower. I’m the associate director for internships and early engagement. And I’m joined here today by six Middlebury students who have agreed to share their stories about their internship experiences. Peggy Burns executive director for CCI will join us at the end of this session for questions. And then Rachel Connor is in the background. She’s our colleague at CCI and she is working this webinar. So we’ll have a Q&A section at the end. So feel free to write your questions in the Q&A section that you’ll find at the bottom of your screen. Before we get to the panelists, I’d to give a brief overview of internships and CCI’s internship programs.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So many people know that internships have become increasingly important part of a student’s college experience. An internship is an opportunity to gain real world skills and experience by working for an organization, being mentored, and learning about different career paths. Supporting opportunities for experiential learning is a strategic priority for Middlebury. And Middlebury and CCI are committed to making these opportunities available for every Middlebury student.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Employers and organizations love our students because their Middlebury education has taught them to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, strong writers and collaborative team members. They have learned to conduct research, analyze texts, and data. They are smart and they can apply their liberal arts learning to their work and to larger world issues. Internships often result in our students having more clarity about how they want to spend their time at Middlebury, what they want to major in, what classes they’d to take, what kind of senior research they want to conduct, what issues they want to learn about, or get involved with as well as helping clarify their goals for the future.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
All the while they are building networks of people who can help them pursue those goals. Most Middlebury students do internships, lab experiences, or other experiential learning opportunities before they graduate, many do two or more. There are lots of windows of opportunities for students to participate in internships. So they don’t need to feel pressured to do one during their first summer or every summer. One of those opportunities at Middlebury is winter term. When students can participate in internship and earn credit for it. Most students are doing their internships during the summer. These summer internships are not for credit. We have a platform called Handshake where we have thousands of internships posted, and we have many, many other places for students to find internships. At CCI we have seven advisors who can work with students to find or create the right internship that fits their interests.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
The advisors all specialize in different areas, arts, media and communications, help professions in the STEM fields, business and finance, law, policy governance and consulting, social impact and education. If your student is interested in politics or medicine or international development or theater or studying glaciers in Alaska, we have an advisor for that. And if students have no idea what they want to do, that’s perfectly fine. We start with wherever students are and take them to the next step, helping them determine their interests, plan, explore, build their story and prepare for the future. We also have peer career advisors who can work with students to get them started, craft a resume or cover letter and answer questions. And we have a huge network of Middlebury alumni who are eager to advise students and help them find opportunities. Mid to mid is our alumni networking platform that connects students with alums for short term advice or for longer term mentoring relationships.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
There are lots of opportunities for students to find paid internships. The database I mentioned Handshake typically has about 65% paid internships and 35% unpaid internships. We recognize that some internships that students want to take part in are unpaid. So CCI offers internship funding grants in the summer for students with unpaid internships. We have $1000 grants for first year students and $3,000 grants for older students. This money comes mostly from alumni donors who recognize the value of internships and want to support our students.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So now I’d really to get to the main part of this session and have our panelists tell the stories about their internships and what they’ve learned. I think from hearing their stories, I think you’ll see that there’s a rich display of experiences that they’ve had and what that will also demonstrate the breadth of opportunities available to students. Before we get to these questions, I’d just them to introduce themselves. So panelists I’ll call on each of you in turn, please introduce yourself with your name, your year, your major, and a couple of things that you’re involved with on campus. So Steve, can we start with you?

Steve Cayetano:
Yeah, definitely. Hi everyone. My name is Steve Cayetano. I am currently a junior, I’m part of the class of 2022. My major in Middlebury is neuroscience and I’m also on the premed track. Some organizations that I’m involved with on campus is Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribeña, it’s a cultural org that tries to enrich cultures based in people who identify as Hispanic, Latinex or Caribbean. And we try to promote a safe space and a cultural space for anyone to enjoy at Middlebury.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you and Mary.

Mary McCourt:
Hi everyone. I’m Mary McCourt. I’m a senior Feb Middlebury. So I’ll be graduating February of 2022. I’m an economics major and I’m double minoring in political science in American studies. On campus I am the social chair for Middlebury Women on Wall Street. I run the TMT group for Middlebury’s Student Investment Committee and I’m also a peer career advisor at the CCI. So if anyone has any questions about what the PCA’s can do, happy to answer them.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Okay. Thank you. And Jack.

Jack Allnutt:
Hi everyone. I’m Jack Allnutt. I’m a super senior Feb, so I’m on my last semester here at Middlebury. I’m an architectural studies and environmental studies joint major. And on campus, I am very involved in the habitat for humanity community engaged projects that we worked on, with design, affordable housing for Addison County and Virginia. So that takes a lot of my time. I’m also on the log rolling team. That’s fun.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you. And Francoise.

Francoise Niyigena:
Hi everyone. I wish I could see everybody’s face, but it’s really nice to have everyone to join us today. My name is Francoise Niyigena and I’m a senior graduating 2021, hopefully. But I am doing a double major in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in education studies. And my biggest passion is empowering young people. I’m hoping to do that through rethinking education systems. In terms of my involvement on campus, I am the co-director for the SG Diversity Equity and Inclusion this year. I’m also a social entrepreneurship fellow at The Center for Creativity and Innovation. I’m a Bold Women’s scholar. And finally, I’m a student on the student advisory council for the psych department.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you, Nate, how about you, go next?

Nate Gunesch:
Yeah, absolutely. I’m Nate Gunesch. I am a senior here at Middlebury. I am a political science major. Here on campus I am involved in a couple of different things. So I’m involved in something called Dolci, which is a student pop up restaurant on campus. Hasn’t been operating this year. It’s a little bit hard for students to be running the show in the dining hall but that’s a really cool opportunity. I’m also involved at the knol which is the college’s organic farms. So I’m one of the interns out there this fall.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you, Nate, and Slone.

Slone Parker:
Hi, you all. I’m Slone. I am a junior and I’m double majoring in biochem and history. So I used to row with mid crew, but since I’m not on campus this semester, fortunately I can’t. And I’m the secretary of the American Chemical Society branch at Midd.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you very much. Okay. So now we’d to hear your stories about this summer and what you learned and how internships connect to your academics and plans for the future and any wisdom you’d like to share for other students. And of course, I’m sure in your storage, we’ll probably hear about how COVID-19 impacted your plans this summer. So I’ll just say what the order’s going to be, and then I’ll call on you. So Francoise, we’re going to start with you and then Slone, then Jack, then Mary, then Steve, then Nate. So Francoise, we look forward to hearing about your story and your summer.

Francoise Niyigena:
All right. Thank you. So I guess I’ll start by mentioning that in terms of the different opportunities I’ve had, because obviously I’m a senior and graduating soon. So I’ve been lucky and privileged to have different opportunities from the CCI. And a lot of it has been around education and I’ve been looking for opportunities around organizations that are doing rethinking education in a way that they’re providing more alternative education opportunities. So this summer I actually was going to do an internship in Australia, but that got canceled with COVID. So I missed out on that. I was out here trying to figure out, okay what do I do now? I was going through Handshake and trying to figure out how last minute thing. And I came across an opportunity to work with Team4Tech and Team4Tech actually partners with the CCI, so, which is awesome.

Francoise Niyigena:
It’s an unpaid internship, but we get a stipend of $1000. And so Team4Tech partners with nonprofits from different countries across the world, but really with organizations and schools that are providing tech ed solutions for underserved communities. And so this year we partnered with an organization in Malawi, one in Rwanda and one in Kenya which was great because I also got to work with about 24 girls in Rwanda. I was working on three teams, but I think the ones I was most excited about was working with the girls, one on social innovations that they were all working on. And so I had the opportunity to be their mentor and then the other one was kind of guiding them in the whole college application process. So I guess challenges with that was time difference because these girls were in Rwanda and I was here in Middlebury and it was about seven hours’ time difference.

Francoise Niyigena:
But the other piece of it was also just access to resources because not all of them had access to internet or computers, even though we had to do Zoom calls or WhatsApp calls. I was challenged to be creative around that. I ended up studying a YouTube channel because I was thinking, well, I want this girls… I had a couple frameworks that I wanted to work with them through. I was hoping to really work directly with each of them, but didn’t know how to make that possible if I couldn’t connect with all the groups or all the girls at the same time.

Francoise Niyigena:
So I figured, well, YouTube channel, they can watch these videos ahead of time. And then when I can I’ll check in individually or two or three of the girls when I can and when they’re available and depending on what resources they have access to. I think that worked great. So yeah, just learning to be flexible along the way and my schedule is very, very flexible too, because sometimes they were available at 10:00 PM and other times not available at 8:00 AM and so, we didn’t have a fixed work schedule, but I also really appreciated just the challenge to be creative in the process. Yeah.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Okay. And does that connect at all with your academics or what you’re thinking about for the future?

Francoise Niyigena:
Oh yeah, absolutely. So in the future, I’m really wanting to work with young people. A lot of, I guess what I want to do is thinking about my own education experience. I feel my own my education experience was very wrought learning, rigid education system. I feel it takes so much away from young people in terms of being innovative and just really untapping their full potential. So what I wanted this to work with young people I was doing over the summer in terms of social change or supporting them and figuring out what opportunities are out there and figuring out their strengths and how they can tap into the different opportunities. And then in general rethinking education systems to integrate things like social change, innovation, emotional intelligence, and so on. And I’ve had opportunities to do that in my other internships for the summers before this one.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you very much. Yes. It seems you’re making a big impact in education already, and I’m glad that you found that opportunity. So Slone you’re up next. We look forward to hearing about your experience.

Slone Parker:
Hi everyone. So originally I had planned to do research over the summer, but unfortunately it was also canceled. It’s a little bit of a theme here. I also am a premed like Steve, so I had a shadowing opportunity and I was really excited about that also got canceled. So I was in a bit of a panic kind of toward the end of the spring about what I was going to do this summer. So fortunately I’m subscribed to the CCI’s healthcare emails in which they email out several opportunities on a semi-weekly basis. And so I read through some of those CCI emails and I’m also subscribed to this company called Volunteer Match, which I would really highly recommend signing up for it because it finds volunteering in your area.

Slone Parker:
And if you put in some of your interests, it can find topical volunteering interests. So I was able to look through those two and meet with Hannah Benz, who is the healthcare advisor at the CCI. And we talked through some ideas that I had about what good volunteering opportunities might be for me and how I could get involved. Because I really wanted to do something that would help out with COVID because as hopefully a future healthcare professional, I thought it would be a really important thing to be involved with. So I actually was really happy that I ended up changing my summer plans. So I volunteered with the North Texas Red Cross and did online work for a COVID vaccine dashboard company. It’s called COVID-.org. If you want to look it up, but basically it lists out clinical trials of vaccines that are currently being held, if you want to volunteer to participate in one of them, sometimes they’re recruiting healthy volunteers.

Slone Parker:
So I would really recommend looking that up as well. But yeah, I thought the opportunities were really incredible. I got to help some underserved communities with the North Texas Red Cross, and also there is a blood shortage right now, especially with COVID, it’s actually making it worse. And it was really interesting to apply things that I learned about healthcare actually at actually at Midd. So over J term Midd has an internship, an EMT internship program that partners with the Middlebury regional EMS. And over the span of J term, which is just one month in January, you are trained as an EMT and you end the J term with taking the test to become licensed. So because of that experience, I was able to actually really help with the North Texas Red Cross prepping blood stations and also talking with donors about how COVID affects people’s health and proper health care precautions to take.

Slone Parker:
So yeah, I really thought that was an awesome way, integrated things I had learned at Midd. And it also was topical for my healthcare dreams. My second internship kind of opportunity was with the COVID Dashboard, which really helped me apply everything I had learned in mid classrooms about chem and biochem. I am a biochem major, so it was really cool actually reading through real clinical trials and how researchers are currently testing COVID vaccines and therapeutics medicines, and being able to translate those things to a wider audience. So more people can know about what’s really going on and where we’re at with research on COVID. So overall I’m really thankful for having this opportunity because I think I was able to make the most out of a summer that really probably shaped everyone.

Slone Parker:
And I felt I was able to make a difference even in spite of COVID. So I would really recommend looking into things that you’re interested in. The CCI has all sorts of emails and things on their websites for opportunities in your interest areas. So looking into those things and applying early, it’s always a big help. Thanks.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So thank you for mentioning all those Slone, and I’m glad that you also mentioned the winter term internship that you’ve taken advantage of before, and also glad to hear your plug for donating blood. So thank you. Jack, how about you?

Jack Allnutt:
Yeah. So to give a little bit of context to my summer internship this past summer ever since I had this semester off my first semester of college when I had nothing to do, the only job I could find during that time was a construction labor job in which I was doing residential remodel framing and construction labor.

Jack Allnutt:
And I really actually found it very satisfying to be building tangible things with my hands. So throughout my time at Middlebury, I’ve pursued things that have allowed me to make really tangible, physical changes to the world. So I’ve been working with the Habitat for Humanity Chapter and designing these houses. And I also participated in the Zero Energy School Design competition, which took place, it was J term of 2017. It was a student led project in which we had really interdisciplinary students that were from a number of majors and we all came together and designed net zero energy school.

Jack Allnutt:
And in the process of that, I actually met my mentor for this past summer internship. His name is Addison Godine. And he’s the guy who actually designed one of our solar decathlon houses on campus and he’s a really inspiration person to me.

Jack Allnutt:
I just reached out to him this past summer after I had been living in the solar decathlon house, I had applied earlier and had this very personal connection to him because he had helped with this project that we worked on and which we actually got first place in US Department of Energy. And then, that’s kind of my trajectory into this experience. I was really excited, last spring I was going to be onsite working as a project engineer and also design intern.

Jack Allnutt:
So it was really excited to be onsite and actually guiding… He’s starting is this modular construction company now called Live Light Buildings that I was working for, or that I had arranged my internship for. I was going to be onsite, really making sure that everything got built and producing construction documents for him. That didn’t really work out. I didn’t end up being able to be in person, but as I attended to a remote internship, his entire company because of COVID had to really make substantial pivots to the residential sector instead of, he was going to be designing modular hotel buildings that were factory built, really high efficiency, volumetric modular buildings. But he ended up having to completely change his entire business plan because in the startup world, a lot of people are realizing that, “Oh hotels aren’t being developed anymore and now we need better housing.”

Jack Allnutt:
So seeing how fast things changed remotely was really interesting. And I think over the course of the internship I was really amazed by how much you can do with just a laptop. It’s disappointing that you can’t be out on site really managing things in person, but just with Excel and all these building modeling software and the Adobe Suite, which is great to know that you can produce a lot for the company. So I was glad to be able to contribute throughout the summer and because of COVID and the lack of funding that the company had, I wasn’t able to secure a paid internship. So I was really grateful that CCI was able to step in at the last minute and make sure that I had the funding to do this and work with a guy that I was hoping to work with in the future.

Jack Allnutt:
Everything is so influx now that can’t really know for sure, but yeah, I think I kind of wished throughout my time at Middlebury I had gone to the CCI more frequently because I have a lot of my search for jobs that I’ve done independently. I could have probably found some very interesting experiences earlier on, but I definitely think reaching out to people where you cannot through any experience that you have at Middlebury, trying weird interdisciplinary projects and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or whatever organizations you can on campus will connect you with some interesting people and reaching out to alumni is always a good idea. So, yeah.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Great. Thank you very much. And Jack, I know in your reflection this summer, you wrote about an experience that wouldn’t have been possible if the situation hadn’t turned your internship into remote, where you were given a half an hour notice that you could participate in a conference.

Jack Allnutt:
Yeah, I do think the anonymity of Zoom culture that we’re in right now is definitely not something to be overlooked. And the fact that someone me if I were in person walking into an in person conference we were pitching our idea for our startup to develop affordable housing for the city of Boston. Because they have a massive housing shortage problem there. And we were pitching our ideas for zero energy modular concepts and coming from a liberal arts background, a lot of people will see that your credentials if you’re not… You don’t have a master’s in architecture then it’s hard to really get into a lot of these things. But the anonymity of the Zoom background, you can just jump into a conversation with professionals and they don’t know that you’re an undergraduate with no really technical experience in their field. I was able to learn a lot from them and participate and contribute my ideas. So yeah, that’s definitely something to take advantage of you end up in a Zoom or internship in the future. So yeah.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you very much. Okay, Mary you’re next.

Mary McCourt:
Thanks Cheryl. Over the summer I was fortunate enough to secure a full time well paid internship at Siebert Williams Shank, which is a largest minority and women owned investment bank on Wall Street. Well, I’m not able to discuss exactly specifics of the clients we worked with I can say that investment banking, we were raising capital for large companies, many of which you would know of off the fortune 500 list. And something really interesting about what I did was I joined a very small team of about six people. And in my first week on the job, the first year analyst who was supposed to be kind of my big sister, unfortunately had to leave due to the Visa restrictions and she’s an international employee. So while she was absent, I had to take on her responsibilities and to really step into that full time role from day one.

Mary McCourt:
So a lot of it was drinking out of the fire hose, but being able to learn from senior level management and also working with a small team, we were able to cover a lot of the product groups of investment banking. So I had exposure to investment grade capital markets, leverage finance and equity capital markets, which is very special because most other banks you’re covering one of those sectors, but I had a lot of really great exposure. Other specific things I did, I helped work on pitch books to get more clients, did a lot of Excel modeling, working in the Bloomberg terminal, getting Excel certified. I also wrote our capital markets monitor every day. So I would read the Wall Street Journal, write up a one page report using Bloomberg data and send it out to all of our clients. And it was awesome knowing that my emails were going out to heads of companies all over the US.

Mary McCourt:
In terms of finding my internship, I think so for this one, I was actually able to get it through a family connection, but I think speaking about my internship with Morgan Stanley next summer will be more helpful.

Mary McCourt:
So recruiting for investment banking is very, very rigorous and there’s a real formula that goes to it. Essentially, you need to know that you want to do investment banking by the end of your sophomore year. And had I not been in a Middlebury woman on Wall Street or student investment committee and going to the CCI, I definitely would have missed out on these deadlines. So kind of some advice around finding an internship on Wall Street, definitely subscribe to our SLO newsletters that come out every Sunday. It kind of gives you a picture of different events that are happening, banks that are coming to visit. It helps you know how the process is moving along, getting your resume up to shape.

Mary McCourt:
Your resume, your elevator pitch are extremely, extremely important when looking for a job on Wall Street and the CCI send really great resources to be able to keep up with the extreme process. I also found out a lot about internships to go into diversity events and again, banks coming to visit on campus and recruiting. I am a PCA, so I do work with the CCI. I specifically help students with their cover letters, help approve them, help them start search for internships, give them advice. So definitely the PCA’s are a really great resource to have. I spoke to the PCA’s who are now on Wall Street when I was a freshmen and sophomore recruiting and they were very helpful. And then in terms of COVID-19 and my summer internship at Siebert William Shank, our intern class is usually between 10 and 15 students.

Mary McCourt:
Because of COVID, they cut that class down to two interns. So it was only me and one other intern, the other 10 to 12 students lost their internships. So I was fortunate enough to keep mine, and then we were also moved remotely. So it was very difficult technical wise, just because there’s so many regulations around investment banking, having what you have in front of your computer is very strict. Was not allowed to have headphones in, can’t have your phone out. But other than that, pretty tough trying to mimic a Wall Street trading floor remotely. And then I was motivated to do this internship because I’m interested in finance. I actually had my Morgan Stanley internship before I got my Seabird internship. So that just goes to show you how accelerated the processes having Morgan Siebert almost a year and a half before the internship actually starts is pretty crazy.

Mary McCourt:
But other than that skills from Middlebury liberal arts, I think because we don’t have a finance major, it puts us at some disadvantage, but I also think Middlebury’s liberal arts education really teaches us how to learn communication skills, writing, which are all really, really important. And if you look back on the things that I did at Siebert, I was writing capital markets updates to our clients, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a finance major. You really need to know how to write them. You don’t want to send out writing that’s bad to your clients.

Mary McCourt:
And then it definitely enriched my plans for the future. I know I want to do investment banking and I’m glad to know what it’s like before jumping into a more serious internship next year.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you for all that advice, Mary, and we’re very glad to have Mary as one of our peer career advisors. And in fact, she was just on the Zoom drop in hours that we call quick questions where students can drop in and get help with resumes. So right before this Zoom session, she was doing that work. So Steve returning to you next, and I believe that this summer internship had some relationship to something you did during winter term.

Steve Cayetano:
Yes, definitely. So this winter term, during J term, I was able to have an internship for the month of January, thanks to the help of professor Jessica Holmes who’s in the econ department. And keep in mind, I’m a neuroscience major. So I really don’t get involved with econ at all. I’ve just been curious, but I’ve never taken a class.

Steve Cayetano:
So I actually found it through one of my friends that was also considering taking one because she was offering many internships. And the internship that I was able to get into was working with a nonprofit organization in Vermont, it’s called The Mum Program for Quality in Healthcare. And in during January, I was on tests with sending out a mental health survey to all mental health professionals in Vermont and surveying if they were up to date with suicide prevention specifically. I was tasked with writing a report updating and monitoring the survey.

Steve Cayetano:
So I can see how many healthcare professionals are answering the survey, who hasn’t had training in some five years when he’s to get updated training and accessibility of training and so forth. I also directly contacted those mental health counselors to see if they can try and persuade them to take the survey. And the Vermont program from quality and health care really was something that I resonate with in the sense of their values, because they want to ensure that everybody no matter who lives in Vermont is able to access quality health care regardless of their background. With my premed passion, I really want to go into the healthcare field, not necessarily just to become a doctor, but to help underserved communities really have access to quality care as well. That’s one of my passions, public health policy, and which is why I was so excited to take that internship during J term.

Steve Cayetano:
So moving forward during my spring semester at Middlebury I got a call from the director of VPQHC and they actually wanted me back to spearhead a project that the director has been wanting to do for a while, which was to create a database for both the health regions in Vermont and see what types of healthcare are available within certain health regions. Middlebury’s a health region in Vermont and there’s 13 other ones. But I was tasked with focusing on one specific region in Vermont for the summer. I had created database using Microsoft access. I’ve never used it before. And during the summer I had to basically self-teach myself because the director was always, she’s very busy and no one was really able to directly help me. But if I reached out to anybody in the office, I was able to really get the help that I needed, any advice that I needed as well to help create the database.

Steve Cayetano:
But it was also refreshing having that position to spearhead a whole project by yourself. I think I was able to really apply my liberal arts education into this. And Middlebury has given me so far with writing, research, and compiling all this into a very structural database so that anybody can use it. My main goal was so that I can create the database so that the common Vermonter can give it to a state legislator, can have access to it and have ease of access to easily find what type of community health clinics are in the Middlebury region? What types of dental offices are there? Are there sufficient amounts of mental health counselors within the area? It was a really great experience.

Steve Cayetano:
For the most part the internship was flexible. I didn’t really have to worry about if I had to be in the office or be remote. Most of my work was going to be on a laptop. So it was a very flexible experience. I didn’t really have to worry where I was thankfully, but it did help a lot when I was in the office.

Steve Cayetano:
I was able to safely travel to Vermont and stay there for a month. Obviously following state guidelines and being very precautious. But it was really refreshing as well, being in an office setting, being with other professionals that are really passionate about wanting to provide health care to Vermonters. And it was just nice that they also wanted me back since my experience and the work that I did during January. It was nice to see that all your hard work can really bring you back opportunities with people that are in your field. And so it was really motivating and this experience really and encouraged me to pursue a career other than a neuroscience career, but to pursue a career in public health policy developments that people can really have access to these healthcare resources and no matter where they come from.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you very much, Steve. And thank you for that important work that you’re doing in Vermont and on behalf of Vermonters. And just one of the points you brought up, I hear over and over again from interns about they’re in their internship and being asked to do something that they’ve never done before, but because of your Middlebury’s skills and your approach to the liberal arts, you teach yourself how to do it. I know employers are impressed over and over again. So obviously they were impressed to have you back, so great. And we’re going to finish up with you, Nate. I know you were involved in some really interesting research and policy this summer.

Nate Gunesch:
Yeah, definitely. Thanks Cheryl. So I had a bit of a funky experience. I think everybody getting situated this summer. I mentioned in the brief introduction that I’m currently an intern out at the Knoll, the organic garden on campus. I was slated to be the summer intern at the Knoll actually. And that is a job that I lined up very early basically in the winter, last winter. But of course everything got a little catawampus as everyone has noted. And so I sort of went back to the drawing board started putting the CCI resources to use in a way that I really hadn’t in the past. Most of my past work experience, in fact, all of my past work experience has been service industry stuff or construction. I’ve always been sort of hands on professional type of guy. So I’ve done a lot of stuff in restaurants over the last several years, but this summer I knew I really wanted to use my mind a little bit more.

Nate Gunesch:
So in light of a COVID-19 I used Handshake and was able to find a position with the Center on Terrorism Extremism, and Counter Terrorism, it’s sort of small, fairly new think tank that has sprung up out of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Like I said, I found a position with them through Handshake, got in contact with the supervisor there. It turns out he was a Middlebury grad from a few years ago who was a policy major who had the same advisor as me in the policy department and went abroad to the same place that I did. So it was really a good example of how sort of useful some of those connections and the network that we have here is. So I really hit it off with him well and was able to line up the internship.

Nate Gunesch:
It ended up being a great position. I ran for a few months this summer, I was able to do quite a bit of really neat research. Because it was remote, I was quite independent. So I really got to use a lot of the research and writing skills that I’ve developed here at Middlebury over the last couple of years here and put them to good use. I would check in with my advisor once, maybe twice a week, get put in the right direction and then work sort of seven or eight hours, the hours that worked best for me, very independent, it was really nice. And ultimately got to do some really cool research projects. So I think the most sort of pressing one was a project we did on Boogaloo movement.

Nate Gunesch:
So I don’t know if anyone is following the news this summer, but the Boogaloo movement is a far right militia group that stood up a lot of trouble at various Black Lives matter protests over the summer. My supervisor and I did some really cool hands on research. We were on Facebook and Twitter late at night, tracking these guys communications. And then looking at the way they would talk to each other in the comments of a Facebook post, they were sending maps of Minneapolis back and forth. It was really, really interesting to be involved in such not literally boots on the ground because we had to be remote, but it seemed like sort of boots on the ground online research, it was pretty neat. And we were able to get published, get referenced by some pretty big profile newspapers.

Nate Gunesch:
And yeah, I ended up having a really good experience, got to do a couple of more projects I’m a little bit more passionate about with them. So really it was funky getting there, but once I had the experience, I had a really wonderful time, and I was really glad to as a poly psych major I’ve been interested for a long time in eventually getting a position maybe not necessarily in Washington DC, but perhaps doing something with policy oriented, think tanks, or various nonprofits, or NGOs. This was a really good dipping my toes in the water.

Nate Gunesch:
I enjoyed doing research with the think tank, getting to know the atmosphere and environment of a think tank. And yeah, it was great. It had a lot to do with my previous research interests, a little bit of overlap with the senior thesis that I’m writing this year. And hopefully next year I’ve already started looking toward positions at think tanks and similar like policy oriented groups. So it was really good experience to get into the field that I am excited to get into. And I’m really glad it worked out. I had a great experience.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you so much, Nate. So yeah, that sounds like a very different from what you had planned, so to work in the organic garden. So and I think that’s a theme that we’re hearing among all of you, as well as many of the other students that we funded or that we know did internships this summer, that things weren’t working out at the beginning of the summer, but our students are really innovative and creative and created new opportunities for themselves.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Sometimes having something totally different sort of points you in a new direction or opens your horizons to things that you wouldn’t have expected if you had done what you had planned. So cheers to all of you for taking advantage and making the most of it and really making the most of your experiences.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So I’d like to thank all of you panelists, you were fantastic, and I’m thanking you for your inspiration and wisdom and advice. I’d want to just end with one last question to all of you. If you could please share a lesson learned or a piece of advice for future interns, and this could be kind of quick and I’ll just run off the order. So who’s who I’m going to call them, but it’ll be Jack, then Francoise, then Steve, Mary, Nate, and Slone. So Jack starting with you.

Jack Allnutt:
Oh boy. So yeah, I’d say, like I said, I touched on earlier the anonymity of Zoom culture is definitely something to be taken advantage of. Even if there’s something that’s a conference or an event that you might not be directly invited to, just be looking for things that you can learn from and share your ideas because it’s a rare opportunity, but also yeah, I’d say reaching out to alumni is always very important. And yeah, I think there are a lot of really interesting people in any fields, but I’ve gotten to know various and are always really excited to talk to you and whether they have a job to offer you or not nowadays they can usually guide you in the right direction you’re trying to go.

Jack Allnutt:
So I’m glad I started really early last year in the process of looking for a job. Even if you’re really unsure of what you want to do, where do you want to go, just talking to alumnus can give you a sense of what things are like in the real world beyond Middlebury. I think there’s a lot to learn from alumni. So yeah.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you. Okay. Francoise.

Francoise Niyigena:
I would just say I think that’s something that Jack mentioned earlier, but reach out. I think that you might find that maybe the internships that you want to do is not something that already exists, that you might find on Handshake or really anywhere on a site that says, “Oh, here’s an internship that is open or a job opportunity.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t do what you want to do. I think I found that a lot of the opportunities I ended up getting into were maybe I had an idea or a project in mind, but I looked at different sites and couldn’t really find something that excited me, but I did find a few maybe organizations. And I was, this organization doesn’t say they have an internship position or a job application.

Francoise Niyigena:
I mean a job position, but I’m still going to reach out to the founder of this organization. And my first internships, my first year and my sophomore year, I actually just ended up reaching out to the founders and CEOs of these two different organizations. And I told them, “Hey, this is what I’m passionate about. This is how it connects to what you’re doing. This is what I would like to do with you all this summer, is that possible?” And they actually emailed back and were very excited.

Francoise Niyigena:
So I essentially ended up designing my own internship, but with guidance from them. And I think that is something that you can do, but I don’t know how often you hear people say that. Something that I learned during mid-co from a Middlebury alum, this Middlebury alum basically saying you either be the CEO or reach out to the CEO. I think basically what he meant was you don’t have to be limited by what job opportunities or internship opportunities are out there, open, but maybe you don’t find an opening, but that’s something you really are passionate about and you still reach out to those people and tell them what you want to do.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Okay. Thank you. On to you, Steve.

Steve Cayetano:
I think one piece of advice just going back to me using a new software program that I never used before. Going into an internship it’s easy to like get intimidated by a task or a new challenge, but honestly you got to embrace it. And you’ve just got to make sure that your resources are available and reach out when you need help, because it honestly does help.

Steve Cayetano:
You’re not alone handling this task. With me, it was, I could have easily said you know what? I don’t think I can do that, but now I ended up saying, being confident about it and taking it head on because it allowed me to put a new skill let’s say on my resume. But more than that, it was able to show that I was able to teach myself in something and be proficient in it in the end and produce something that’ll make under director or my employer very happy. At the end of the reach a common goal.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Great. Thank you. That’s good advice, Mary.

Mary McCourt:
I’d say the key to getting an internship is networking, whether that’s in finance or anywhere else. A piece of advice that was given to me about networking was it’s not necessarily who you know but it’s really who knows you. And just a quick little anecdote. The first internship I had was actually in an oncology office and the way I ended up getting that was I was working in a hockey shop, sharpening skates, I’m covered in dirt, sweating, I’m in sweat pants, don’t look great, definitely do not look professional.

Mary McCourt:
One of the customers I was working with noticed my great work ethic, awesome attitude, and just started talking to me about what I wanted to do career wise. And back then I thought I wanted to do premed. And he said, well, listen, I know you’re making a minimum wage at a hockey shop right now, but I have a friend looking to get an intern in his oncology office. Would you be interested? So you never know who’s watching, literally take everything you do as if you have an interview because you don’t know who’s going to open you up to what opportunity.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Great. Thank you, Mary. Nate.

Nate Gunesch:
Yeah, this is a lot of good advice. I’ve been writing these down. I think something I really learned this summer it was a good lesson in intrinsic motivation. Like I mentioned, sort of in two ways, right? So one, because I have worked so much in the past doing things like working in restaurants, waiting tables, working in catering and stuff. I definitely had sort of put the internships and the some of that professional networking type stuff on the back burner.

Nate Gunesch:
But I think that in the end, that was okay because I was willing to sort of push myself when it came down to it. As Mary pointed out in certain fields, you got to push yourself a little earlier, if you’re doing IB or consulting, but in a lot of fields, know your deadlines and then don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get the perfect internship every time. And then once you do get it, even if it’s independent, even if it’s a little funky in some ways, really push yourself to make a lot of whatever experience you’re having, it could be not what you were expecting. But it can end up being a really good opportunity for growth. It can be a really good opportunity for networking and you can learn a lot from it. So again, it’s really important to not put too much pressure on yourself at any point. And then when you do get the opportunities that you get, take advantage of them and really push yourself, don’t just rely on other people motivating you.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Okay. Thank you, Nate. And we’ll end with you Slone.

Slone Parker:
I would have to say if you’re looking for an internship, make sure that you meet with your CCI advisors in the field that you’re interested in. I think I cannot think of a more helpful resource for pre-meds then Hannah Benz.

Slone Parker:
I remember I met with her because I was actually looking for some shadowing work or an internship. And she found Middlebury was funding specifically, Texas pre-meds to… It was like a very, very niche internship, Texas pre-meds to shadow this really well known Texas doctor. And it was a very niche internship, but there’s so many things that Middlebury offers that are very niche and sometimes it can be difficult to find on your own, and I cannot stress it enough meeting with the CCI advisors is so helpful for organizing yourself and finding new opportunities.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
Thank you, Slone. And thanks to all of you. That was just really excellent advice. We’re going to have to write all that down so we can share it with others too, but obviously this recording will be available to students as well.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So thank you again. I know I’m inspired by hearing all your stories and how you pivoted this summer. And I think as Francoise said that whatever your interest is, you can really develop your experiences and build your story while you go through Middlebury. You’ve all just demonstrated that you all have very unique interests and that you created or built experiences for yourself.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
So thank you to all of you and to our audience thank you for your participation today. Whether you’re watching live or watching in the future. I want to assure parents who are watching that CCI is here for your students. We are part of their support network at Middlebury. And for students, we’re always here for you to help you with exploration, decision-making, planning, preparation, and more. So wherever you are in your process, we’re here to help always whether we are remote or in person. So we’re going take you to the next step and help you explore what’s next. And now our CCI executive director, Peggy Burns has come on and we’ll open up the floor for questions. So feel free to write questions in the Q&A and it can be either of us answering or directed to any of the students. So Peggy have you?

Peggy Burns:
Yeah, there’s just one big thank you.

Cheryl Whitney Lower:
It’s a thank you not a question.

Peggy Burns:
And also too, I just wanted to echo what Cheryl just said as well. I mean, first of all, thank you students, what a fabulous job this was and how much we appreciate you doing this for families, but then also to hear your stories and how you’ve pivoted. Cheryl and I have the privilege to read hundreds and hundreds of the evaluations of our funded interns. And it has just really been extraordinary the way that you have pivoted and how resilient you were and just how it just all seemed to work out.

Peggy Burns:
Thanks to your perseverance. Also, Cheryl mentioned before we at CCI are part of the stellar Middlebury advising family, we’re advisors, we’re connectors, we’re educators, we’re mentors. So families who are students are in good hands, I can promise you that.