Potash Hill

Focus on Faculty

Faculty Q&A

Junior Hannah Noblewolf sat down with religion professor Amer Latif in November to talk about ritual, diversity of opinion, and manifesting peace through waving. You can read the whole interview.

Hannah: What about Marlboro made you want to teach here?

Amer: I knew looking at Plans of Concentration that Marlboro was the kind of teaching place where, even though there’s no requirement to publish, I would continue to grow and learn throughout my time here. And I just feel every year like I’m becoming a better learner. Also, over the last few years I’ve started utilizing rituals in class. The primary one is starting with silence— or at least a way in which we mark the beginning and end of class, and clarify for us the importance, the value, and the gift of having the space to be able to do this.

H: It’s really nice to have that in academic settings. It’s a 10 a.m. class, we’re all tired, we’re all just running up the hill, so having that minute to center ourselves is really special. It’s validating that you care enough about our ability to absorb what’s going on that you’ll give us that time for ourselves.

A: And one of the things I find, especially in our class this semester—and it inevitably happens in other classes too—I feel like we’ve created a space where we can really push each other. And I feel very comfortable being able to push students to a degree that I don’t think I would have had the skills to do a few years ago.

H: And it still feels like a very respectful space, even when we are challenging each other.

A: Yes. Yes.

H: Which is really hard to do. “

Focus on Faculty

Writing and literature faculty members Geraldine Pittman de Batlle and T. Wilson were among the first to read Saving Hamlet, the time-traveling Young Adult novel by Molly Booth ’14, and give it two thumbs up.Most Americans have no idea that the majority of reservation communities are among the poorest in our country, and that their inhabitants are living in third-world conditions,” says photography professor John Willis. In September and October, John had an exhibit of photographs at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center titled “House/Home, A Work in Progress,” reflecting on the sub-standard housing he has encountered on Native American reservations. Last fall John also spent several weeks at the Standing Rock water protectors’ encampment in North Dakota, in support of their action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, including one trip with three students. Learn more.

A one-act play written by theater professor Brenda Foley was named one of 10 winners of Sky Blue Theatre Company’s 2016 British Theater Challenge, chosen from hundreds of submissions from around the world. Titled Fallen Wings, Brenda’s play was produced and videotaped at the Lost Theatre in London’s West End this December, with a professional director and cast, as part of the company’s annual play festival. “Fallen Wings continues my artistic and research focus on narratives of women and creating opportunities for underrepresented voices to occupy the stage,” says Brenda. Learn more.

“Development is essentially about the importance of relationships,” said Debra Askanase, management faculty member and core consultant in Marlboro College’s Center for New Leadership. Debra and two other management faculty figured prominently in the annual conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northern New England Chapter (AFP-NNE) in Portand, Maine, in November. Leading consultant and trainer Andy Robinson delivered the keynote address, and Joe Heslin and Debra presented a workshop on communications and marketing titled “Do You Matter?”

In October, Spanish language and literature professor Rosario de Swanson presented a faculty forum titled “Sung with Ink and Paper: Nicomedes Santa Cruz and the African Strand in Peru.” Reflecting on the work of Afro-Peruvian writer Nicomedes Santa Cruz, especially the poem “Ritmos negros del Per.,” Rosario finds that the poet claims blackness and African roots as pillars of Peruvian culture. “Santa Cruz opens the door not only for the recognition of Afro-Peruvians as peoples whose history and struggles have contributed so much to Peruvian culture and society, but also for the decolonization of Peruvian history and culture,” she says. Rosario was also one of 15 Vermonters appointed to represent the state to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last summer. The state advisory committee makes recommendations concerning statewide and local civil rights issues, from racial profiling to housing discrimination. “As an immigrant from Mexico who has gone through a lot, I am keenly aware of these realities,” says Rosario. “But, serving and giving back is my way to be joyful and thankful for everything that has been given to me.” Learn more.

“Everyone in our community has a voice,” says President Kevin Quigley in a video featured as part of a Chronicle of Higher Education series exploring aspects of campus leadership with movers and shakers in academia. In this edition of the On Leadership series, the Chronicle’s Jack Stripling chats with Kevin about Marlboro’s distinctive system of community governance. “In higher ed, when most of us talk about shared governance, we talk about trustees, faculty, and administration,” says Kevin. “In the Marlboro context, we include students.” Learn more.

“The Vermont Commission on Women is a critical resource and advocate for Vermont women and children,” says Kerry Secrest, who was re-appointed to serve an additional four-year term on the commission in August. Kerry is a management faculty member at the graduate school and founder of the Women’s Leadership Circles of Vermont, a program of Marlboro College’s Center for New Leadership. Learn more. In January the college had a book release party for Kerry’s chapter in the new book Leading and Managing in the Social Sector, published by Springer International. Co-written with Marla Solomon, director of partnership programs for Five Colleges, the chapter is an analysis of the Women’s Leadership Circles of Vermont.

“Democracy depends on ordinary individuals to make complex choices, to know the value of things and not just their cost, and to weigh those values against each other,” said writing professor John Sheehy, in a rousing vindication of the liberal arts at Convocation last August. “Citizens in a democracy must be able to make good arguments, and to recognize bad ones.”“The workshop table can feel like Thanksgiving with somebody else’s family, which welcomes you but laughs at jokes you don’t understand,” says writing professor John Sheehy. In January, John published an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Taking the Fight to the Page,” describing his experiences teaching the summer writing intensive that brings veterans and civilians together to write. “Between Hemingway and James we, soldiers and civilians, try to make truth out of stories, which are all we have to make it out of. We have things in common. We have all loved, we have all lost brothers, sisters—albeit some violently and far too young.”

In November, ceramics professor Roberto Lugo was one of 46 artists from across the U.S. to receive an unrestricted $50,000 fellowship from United States Artists. “This will significantly impact my work,” said Rob, who has received national attention for his work combining visual arts traditions and stimulating new conversations around cultural tolerance. “I will be able to create a new body of work and have the financial ability to work on aspects that were previously unavailable.” Learn more. Rob was also featured in Remezcla, in a profile by Michelle Threadgold ’07, and in a series of podcasts from craftschools.us.

Oxford Classics Fellow Isabella Grunberger-Kirsh presented a faculty forum in October titled “Ausonius the Loser: A Gaulish Poet on the Brink,” referring to the forgotten fourth-century poet of Bordeaux. While Ausonius’s oeuvre consists of self-pitying verses composed by a failed politician at the edge of the decaying Roman Empire, Ella’s talk aimed to restore some of the poet’s authorial dignity. “I explore the possibility that Ausonius knew precisely what he was doing in reinventing himself as a provincial loser,” she says. “His refusal to comment openly on the afflicted empire offers us an opportunity to view the fall of the Roman Empire from a fresh angle.”

In October, philosophy professor William Edelglass was elected to the board of directors of the International Association of Environmental Philosophy. His recent invited talks include “What Counts as Philosophy? Rationality and Practice in Buddhist Traditions” (Brooklyn College); “The Practice of Place: From Pilgrimage to Cosmopolitanism” (The Sitka Institute); “sKu rten: Painting and Sculpture as Religious Technologies in Tibetan Buddhism” (Barre Center for Buddhist Studies); and “Why the Bodhisattva Isn’t Satisfied: Buddhism, Happiness, and Ethics” (Smith College). Among other recent publications, William has a chapter on “Mindfulness and Moral Transformation: Awakening to Others in Śāntideva’s Ethics” in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Indian Ethics. He also continues to teach regularly at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts.

 Seth Harter, professor of Asian studies and history, heads up the dragon dance celebrating the lunar new year and ushering in the Year of the Rooster in January. The celebration also included calligraphy, tea, and plentiful dumpling making (and eating). Photo by Clayton Clemetson In October and November, art history professor Felicity Ratté presented a series of lectures at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Dummerston, Vermont, on the art and architecture of the Islamic world. Titled “What Is Islamic Art?” and examining everything from the five pillars of Islam to modern adaptations of Islamic art, the series was designed as a way for non-Muslims to learn about Islamic culture and history.

In November, art faculty members Tim Segar and Cathy Osman participated in a group exhibition at A.P.E. Gallery Northampton, Massachusetts, titled “Forget What I Said.” Also featuring the work of William Brayton, Brenda Garand, Carol Keller, Joe Smith, Deborra Stewart-Pettengill, and Erica Wurtz, artists who have known each other for many years, the show provided the opportunity to create a visual dialogue across the disciplines of collage, painting, and sculpture.

In June, history professor Adam Franklin-Lyons gave an invited talk at the Vermont Midsummer Medieval Summit at Norwich University, titled “Political Information and Communication in the Crown of Aragon: Collaboration & Control.” “By late in the 14th century, the kingdom of Valencia was woven together by a dense web of ambassadors and runners who could move information between cities and courts at surprising speed,” says Adam. “The level of formalized communication allowed for new practices of information dissemination, collaboration, and secrecy at multiple levels of government.”

Caleb Clark, faculty member and chair of the MA in Teaching with Technology program was chosen to participate in the Vermont Leadership Institute class of 2017. A program created by the Snelling Center for Government, VLI seeks out, honors, challenges, and develops a select group of Vermont citizens each year who have the potential to provide the leadership needed to address issues of statewide significance. Caleb is one of 24 fellows selected this year on the basis of their professional achievements, demonstrated interest in the community, and capacity for leadership.

In November, visiting French language professor Frederique Marty presented a faculty forum titled “Translation and Religious Propaganda in Renaissance Europe.” Frederique explored how the vernacular was used by the Jesuits to counter the rise of Protestantism, specifically to diffuse the story of the Virgin of Loreto and carve a space for Marian devotion in Europe and the New World. She argued that although Jesuit authors such as Orazio Torsellini in Italy and Louis Richeome in France have taken all the credit, the role of the anonymous translator cannot be underestimated.