Fall 2014

Editor’s Note

If you picked up this publication and said, “What the…,” let me assure you that you are indeed holding the latest issue of Potash Hill, the illustrious magazine of Marlboro College. The new design for this Fall 2014 issue is the result of months of research, constituent outreach, and mindful contemplation, which you can read much more about on page 20.

For now, suffice it to say that our intention has been to maintain the same simple, elegant, intellectually stimulating, and nostalgically sincere experience that you have come to expect from Potash Hill. Some of the additional attributes we have gained in the process you will notice right away, such as the introduction of more color images and typography. Other things may take a little longer to appreciate, such as moving your letters to the front of the magazine, where they can inspire you to engage more with the content.

The new design afforded the opportunity to introduce new elements, such as the Clear Writing sample on the very first page, and a striking, full-spread, no-place-like-Marlboro image on the following page, which we are calling Up Front. The news section, still called On and Off the Hill, includes a jaunty Q&A probing the mysteries of a beloved faculty member, and Alumni News kicks off with a full-length alumni profile.

Perhaps the most comprehensive structural change you will find is that Potash Hill will now include content from the college’s admirable graduate and professional studies programs, based in Brattleboro. This has been a long time coming, and has been foreshadowed by Marlboro faculty who have taught at both campuses, Marlboro alumni who have gone on to further their education at the graduate campus, and shared community events that have happily reinforced the fact that we are, after all, one community.

Indeed, if you did not pick up this publication and say, “What the…,” you may very well be associated with Marlboro through the graduate school and reading Potash Hill for the first time. Whether you are a first-time reader or a longtime devotee, I welcome your comments about the new design, new arrangement, and the content in this issue.

Philip Johansson, editor

Inside Front Cover

Potash Hill
Published twice every year, Potash Hill shares highlights of what Marlboro College community members, in both undergraduate and graduate programs, are doing, creating, and thinking. The publication is named after the hill in Marlboro, Vermont, where the undergraduate campus was founded in 1946. “Potash,” or potassium carbonate, was a locally important industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, obtained by leaching wood ash and evaporating the result in large iron pots. Students and faculty at Marlboro no longer make potash, but they are very industrious in their own way, as this publication amply demonstrates.

Editor: Philip Johansson
Photo Editor: Ella McIntosh
Staff Photographer: Elisabeth Joffe ‘14
Design: New Ground Creative

Potash Hill welcomes letters to the editor. Mail them to: Editor, Potash Hill, Marlboro College, P.O. Box A, Marlboro, VT 05344, or send email to pjohansson@marlboro.edu. The editor reserves the right to edit for length letters that appear in Potash Hill.

Front Cover: Guess who’s coming to dinner? In this detail from her Plan of Concentration exhibit, Ayla Mullen ’14 seeks to push the boundaries of home and family. You’ll find other reflections on the relationship between humans and nature in this issue’s features on river otters and the commodification of Vermont, as well as in Matthew McIntosh’s editorial on “The Deep Value of Forests." Photo by Elisabeth Joffe 

A recent short video titled “This Is Marlboro College” demonstrates many of the qualities that make Marlboro unique, in the words of students and faculty. Find it front and center on our new website or on YouTube.

Marlboro College Mission Statement 
The goal of the undergraduate program at Marlboro College is to teach students to think clearly and to learn independently through engagement in a structured program of liberal studies. Students are expected to develop a command of concise and correct English and to strive for academic excellence informed by intellectual and artistic creativity; they are encouraged to acquire a passion for learning, discerning judgment, and a global perspective. The college promotes independence by requiring students to participate in the planning of their own programs of study and to act responsibly within a self-governing community.

The mission of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies program is to offer responsive, innovative education of the highest standard in professional studies in the topic areas of management, technology, and teaching. The educational practice of the graduate program fosters the development of critical thinking, articulate presentation, coherent concepts and arguments, superior writing skills, and the ability to apply creative, sustainable solutions to real world problems. 

Up Front

This work suggests an opportunity to retell the story of our relationship with the materials we build our lives out of—to break the boundaries of domesticity and reconnect with our natural context. Thus the formal, human sphere of the dining room is infiltrated with the unruly detritus of the organic world. If we understand the wild to be our heritage, and we have allowed domestication to prevail in the present, where (and with whom) shall we sit in the future?

—from the artist’s statement of Ayla Mullen ’14



Clear Writing

Er Haßte das Ungefähre  

That part of your curriculum that is called “Clear Writing” is one I am aware of, and of which I wholly approve. You may not know quite yet, because it’s habitual here, how extra-ordinary such an expectation is, how fortunate you’ve been to study in a school where close attention to expressiveness continues to be paid. Where your teachers are your colleagues and engage in the same quest.

It’s difficult to say a clear thing confusedly or a confused thing clearly, though I may just have managed to do so. Take it as an article of faith, I mean, that there’s a nexus established between clarity of thought and clarity of diction, and that a thing worth saying is worth the saying well. As the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Er war ein Dichter, und haßte das Ungefähre." Neither my German accent nor my German is impeccable, but I translate this line to mean: “He was a poet, and hated the approximate.” Or, “despised the inexact.” “Clear writing” asks you to do so, and it’s a credo by which I hope you all will continue to live.

Whether your course of study is dance, philosophy, or history, whether you make a life in language or law or computer science, I trust the lessons learned will be with you enduringly. That’s what we mean by commencement of course, and the cliché is no less true for being often uttered: the word is oxymoronic, both a beginning and end. May each day be a commencementas well as a completion for you all.

—Excerpted from the comments of Nicholas Delbanco, Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, who received an honorary degree from Marlboro College at this year’s undergraduate commencement. See more on commencement.  

Photo by Devlo Media


Rear Window: An inspiring tale of Marlboro lore from Tim Little ’65

“Javed Chaudhri and I shared a room in Mather, where the dean of students’ office is now. I woke up early one morning, in my bed over in the corner, and there was a man’s butt coming through the window. It was right there, up close. I don’t know how I knew it was a man, but I did. He was fully armed, and he was taking aim at a deer that was over at the future site of the music building, which didn’t exist yet. And he was going to shoot the deer, bracing himself against my window.

“So, of course, what do you suppose I did? I said, ‘Hey, what do you think you’re doing?’ I suppose it was dangerous, but I had Javed to protect me. I don’t know if he thought the place was abandoned, but it was 5:30 in the morning and he was hunting illegally: in the twilight but also out of season. He turned around and looked in the window, and looked all weird, and started running down the hill. The road was much narrower then, and it was still dirt.”

What was the strangest thing you ever saw out of your dorm window? If you have a Marlboro memory to share, or any other reflection from this issue of Potash Hill, send it to pjohansson@marlboro.edu.


Taking Sides on Science

I enjoyed the great article by Bob Cabin (“Science Is Not On Our Side” Winter 2014) on the limits of science in resolving conflicts. Unfortunately, the internet has taught us that even definitive science will not dissuade people from believing what they want to believe. One clear example for me was a recent article featured on the website Business Insider “debunking” gluten intolerance as a medical condition, pointing to a single study on the subject. The comments that follow the article make almost no reference to the points made in the study, but instead viciously refer, over and over, to how “irritated” they are with people who claim gluten intolerance. What becomes clear is how many people really want gluten intolerance to be untrue, and are ready to lap up articles that support that conclusion. 

As the bandwagon fills up with enthusiastic appreciators of any science that agrees with their biases, let me swim against the tide here: one study? That’s not science. That’s an experiment. Call me when two studies, or 20, have been done and people actually know something and are willing to talk about it. America seems unable to moderate its a priori logic based on evidence.

—Mike Auerbach ’97


The article “Science Is Not On Our Side” presents a negative view about science. I regard science as a tool that presents a means for dealing with observations and views, and believe it does not represent positive or negative values. It is a bit like saying, “A hammer is not on our side.” It is a tool that it is of great help to a carpenter in his efforts to build things, or it could be used by a murderer to bash someone’s head. One should praise or condemn the user of the hammer, not the tool.

We enjoy living in a heated house. We can turn on an electric light and cook our breakfast with a gas or electric stove. We can watch news on our TV and then ride to work in our car. These benefits would not be ours without science. In fact, as an 88-year-old, I probably would not be living today, since life spans have doubled in my lifetime.

The good in scientific developments has outweighed the bad, and the quality of my life is better than that of my parents. Scientists have provided the tools, but it is not their job to teach others how to use them.

—Richard Stein, father of Anne Stein ’86


Kipling Clarification

I read with great interest your excellent piece on the Kipling symposium last October, which I was unable to attend. As someone who had a ringside seat on the material of the “Kipling box,” I thought I’d let you know that the Just So Stories were born while Kipling lived at Naulakha, not afterwards. Although they were published in 1903, they were stories he made up for his elder daughter, Josephine, with whom he used to go tramping through the woods. In fact, the Father, Mother, and Daughter in the stories are Kipling, Caroline, and Josephine. May I suggest that Fox Butterfield’s article on Marlboro College in the New York Times of May 19, 1992, could be reprised by those who want to get a wider perspective on Kipling in Vermont. The one-page article is part of our Kipling Collection in the library.

—Jaysinh Birjepatil, retired literature professor


Senior Eloquence

I write to tell you how moved I feel by the address given by your senior speaker, Emma Thacker, at the 2014 commencement. I have watched Emma’s address a couple of times on YouTube and have been moved to tears. She spoke so eloquently of the natural beauty of Marlboro and of the spaces that all who live at Marlboro share. I still live in those spaces every day in my memory. We are all so blessed to have come to that “humble little hill in the middle of nowhere.” The best of both worlds: learning so much and living so fortunately in Marlboro, Vermont.

—Terry Woods ’75


The Missing Magazine

I just received notice of the availability of The Marlboro Record electronically. I hope this does not mean I can no longer receive the Record and Potash Hill in magazine form. I have lived 30 years in a home without electricity, and therefore I have never owned a computer. Please do not make my conscientious lifestyle obsolete!

—Stephen Bies, father of Ashley Bies ’05

(Sorry to say we have discontinued the print version of the Record, but will continue to publish Potash Hill in magazine format for the foreseeable future. Both are available online at marlboro.edu/news/publications. -eds.)


Nomen Meum Est Erratum 

I enjoyed reading the winter issue of Potash Hill, but I was curious who this guy Scott Housman is to whom you attributed my quote?

—Scott Hausmann ’76


Code Red

I just read your excellent piece about President Obama’s proposed rating scheme (“Code Red for College Ratings,” Potash Hill, Winter 2014). I can’t help but think the folks in the White House got a bit out over their skis on this idea. Will you be sending your piece to them, the U.S. Department of Education, and others who could benefit from your cogent thoughts?

—Barbara Brittingham, director of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, NEASC

The Otter Side of Natural Gas

By Brady Godwin ’08  
Photo by Jonathan Rader  

When Brady Godwin began his graduate research in Wyoming’s Green River Basin, he planned on studying the biology of river otters. What he didn’t know is that he’d also be documenting the negative effects of natural gas extraction. 

Four years ago I saw my first fracking tower. I was in western Wyoming, driving through wide, lonely expanses of sagebrush on long, empty roads. I was with my graduate advisor, Dr. Merav Ben-David, scouting for river sections that I would survey for river otters. In the distance I saw a large structure towering over the flat plains, and learned it was for extracting natural gas. On that trip I saw many more fracking towers looming over the landscape, but I had no idea the impact they would have on my otter research.

White pelicans are among the many wildlife that share Wyoming’s Green River Basin with river otters. Photo by Brady GodwinAlmost nothing was known at the time about otter populations in Wyoming, outside of Yellowstone. I was there to survey sections throughout the Green River Basin to estimate otter densities. Merav had conducted studies on river otters off the coast of Alaska after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and she concluded that river otters are a sentinel species. This means that, like the proverbial “canary in the coalmine,” they are quick to respond to environmental hazards. After the oil spill, river otters experienced physiological damage and began to avoid areas with the highest amount of contamination. In my project I was to survey rivers both close to and far from intense energy development, in an effort to iron out survey methods and provide baseline estimates to compare with future surveys.

My river surveys closest to the gas fields were the northernmost, in a section of river coming down from the spectacular Wind River Mountain Range. Compared to my other sections, it had a dense and lush riparian zone, the kind of riverbank cover that otters love. This river looked beautiful. Standing on the bank, Merav smiled and said, “Brady, you are going to find so many otters here.”

I wasn’t looking for otters, per se—I was looking for their poop. Otters tend to be too clever to capture with traditional methods, but they do have a high metabolism from swimming in cold waters, so they eat, and defecate, a lot, at places called “latrine sites.” In the lab, we can filter the otter feces we find and extract DNA from cells shed from the animals’ intestines. We identify individuals from these DNA samples, much like DNA “fingerprinting” used as evidence in a crime trial.

Things were looking good. Spending my summers on rivers in Wyoming? I’d landed the best graduate project ever.

Except that I found no otter feces on that northern river. My other sections, with less ideal riparian zones, had abundant sign and feces. After my second unsuccessful survey of that river, I steeled myself and called Merav.

“Yeah…everything’s great. Very beautiful. A moose charged me the other day. Yeah, funny. But…there are no otters on this river.”

“Impossible. Look harder.” 

Now she thinks I’m incompetent, I thought. Great. After my third survey of that river and no samples, I called again.

“Still nothing,” I said, terrified.

This stretch of the Green River supports a robust population of river otters, despite lacking the riparian zone trees they prefer for protection from coyotes, golden eagles, and other predators common in the area. Photo by Brady GodwinShe sighed and said sternly, “I am coming on your next survey. If you cannot find otters, I will.”

That was it. I was incompetent. I was probably out of graduate school. My heart was in my throat for two weeks. When she came out, we searched the riverbanks, scouring the ground and brushing aside willows and grass. When we reached our campsite that night, our raft was devoid of otter feces. Unlike for most people, that was bad for us.

“I’m glad I came out myself,” she said that evening. “I thought I made a mistake hiring you.” That was reassuring, I guess.

By the time we were finished eating, the sun was down, but the lights surrounding a nearby fracking tower made it seem like daytime. The tower bustled with activity. In the morning, Merav said she could feel the ground shaking and was kept up all night from the fracking activity.

After genotyping, we found that this northern river section had only two otters. The other river sections, more distant from the gas fields, had 17 and 19 otters, respectively. Given that the northern river looked so promising and that it was so close to gas fields, we suspected that the incongruous distribution might not be a result of natural factors.

Proponents of fracking point to benefits such as how clean natural gas is compared to other fossil fuels, how extraction within the U.S. reduces our dependence on foreign sources of energy, and how it creates jobs. Dissenters argue that energy companies don’t disclose the chemicals used in the process, and don’t acknowledge the damage those chemicals could cause to the environment. We don’t know what’s being pumped into our ground, and there are no federal laws forcing companies to disclose any of it.

Fracking is a simple process, conceptually, typically involving a cement-cased hole reaching around 10,000 feet below the surface, well below any aquifer. However, the lubricants, surfactants, and other chemicals used are nasty. A scientist in Colorado identified over 700 chemicals in use, more than 75 percent of which are known to be toxic: carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins…they aren’t nice. Many states now require energy companies to disclose chemicals used in fracking, and Wyoming was the first to do so. Still, some chemicals remain secret for proprietary reasons, and companies don’t have to disclose the amounts or combinations of chemicals used.

I suspected that fracking activities, and possible surface water contamination, might have been causing the variation in otter distribution we observed. But I couldn’t jump to that conclusion. I had to rule out other variables. What could be important to otters? Riparian zone habitat? I found no significant difference among sections. Prey availability? Surveys by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department found no difference. Human-caused disturbance? There are GIS data that quantify this—again, no real difference. We found results that suggested otters might be simply avoiding the noise of fracking activities, but that’s difficult to accurately quantify.

“Energy demands will continue to increase, and I know that preservation and conservation are not priorities for many people....Perhaps I’ve become a rather fatalistic environmentalist.” Photo by Brady GodwinFinally, I put conductivity loggers in the rivers I surveyed. Water itself barely has a charge, but many particles in water do: that’s what conductivity measures. Some chemicals used in fracking are very saline and have a strong ionic charge. An unusually high conductivity could indicate pollutants. That’s exactly what I found.

I put two loggers in my northernmost river, two miles apart—between those loggers were extraction operations close to the river. The loggers documented that over a period of approximately five months more than 5,600 tons of “salt-equivalents” were added to that section of river. The actual tonnage would vary if the particles did not have the same ionic charge as salt, but even then, that’s a lot. No expert I’ve spoken with can explain this temporal pattern based on natural geology, limnology, or weather events. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to identify specific pollutants in the water; my proposals for funding those analyses were denied. I can’t definitively say what the 5,600 tons of salt-equivalents were, or even that they were anthropogenic in origin. However, my otter results and preliminary work on pollutants will hopefully provide support for thorough testing of surface waters near areas of natural gas extraction.

Reports of fracking operations possibly contaminating ecosystems are growing. Energy demands will continue to increase, and I know that preservation and conservation are not priorities for many people, which makes challenging these practices difficult. Perhaps I’ve become a rather fatalistic environmentalist in that regard, but what I do stand against is lax regulation of a large-scale and potentially damaging practice.

Fracking seems to have operated largely outside of regulation—I believe that is starting to change. My otter ecology research is one very small regional piece of a very large national issue. But at the very least, the results of my work give us more reason to seriously investigate industrial regulations and practices concerning surface water quality. Given proper monitoring and environmental regulation, the wonderful otters I’ve studied will continue to swim and play here in the warm rivers of summer, and joyfully slide down hills of snow in the Wyoming winters.

As pressure to increase fracking comes to the Marcellus Shale in New York State, close to Potash Hill, I urge us all to keep informed and form our own opinions on the issue.

Brady Godwin received his B.S. in biology and conservation biology from Marlboro in 2008, with a Plan project on the population biology of lemurs in Marojejy National Park, Madagascar. He recently completed his master’s degree in zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, and is planning to pursue a career in non-game biology and conservation. 


Marlboro and the "Vermont Way of Life"

By David Amato '14  

The establishment of Marlboro College by founder Walter Hendricks was part of a much larger movement to construct a new identity in Vermont’s post-agricultural age.

By the time Walter and Flora Hendricks arrived in 1933, and purchased a handful of dilapidated farm buildings at the end of South Road, the town of Marlboro had undergone several dramatic transformations. An older industrial economy had plummeted by the end of the 19th century, and farming was barely hanging on. Most Marlboro farmers had left the town during the 1920s, and when Dr. and Mrs. Hendricks acquired their property, the term “farmhouse” for them would have been more ideological than functional. A 1932 essay by Dorothy Canfield Fisher entitled “Vermont Summer Homes” noted the Hendricks’ acquisition: “An old Vermont Cape Cod cottage-type of farmhouse.”

Barbara and Bruce Cole ’59, in de rigueur post-agricultural fashions, test the boiling sap for thickness in Marlboro’s own sugarhouse.The Hendrickses were neither alone nor unusual in their purchase of a Vermont summer cottage; wealthy out-of-staters snatched up hundreds of such properties in the state throughout the 1930s, as Vermont’s reputation as a vacation destination amplified. By 1950 these cottages, and the towns that they stood in, belonged to a much different kind of Vermont. The Hendricks’ home—and the vision for Marlboro College it came to embody—fit into a cultural and political transformation that was sweeping the entire state.

In 1946, the same year that Marlboro College was founded, the governor’s office established a new magazine, Vermont Life, to promote the state to tourists. Published by the Vermont State Development Commission, the magazine was filled with articles that celebrated the state’s industry and landscape, as well as the hardscrabble identity of “the Vermonter.” It favored profiles of individuals, businesses, and institutions, but in all respects the magazine insisted on a representation of the state as a rural, tough, and above all patriotic corner of the United States. Early issues of the magazine were littered with stylized maps showing off the plentiful ski areas and natural beauty, and reproductions of Norman Rockwell paintings throughout these issues situated the ideal American way of life squarely within Vermont’s borders.

The explicit idea behind Vermont Life was to promote the state as an attractive, and commodifiable, place. The editors worked to selectively craft a state identity and history and to promote those ideas to an outside, wealthy audience. “If you are one of those who has not yet had an opportunity to know at first hand our beautiful countryside, the friendliness of our people, and the ‘Vermont way of Life,’” read Governor Mortimer R. Proctor’s welcome letter in the first issue, “this magazine will be a preview of what you may expect.” In reality, the magazine served as a welcome mat for outside developers and tourists looking to exploit the state’s resources.

The inaugural issue of Vermont Life included articles that sought to draw the state—or at least readers’ perception of it—out of rural isolation and into tourists’ concept of an accessible getaway destination. This reimagining of the state appealed specifically to an urban audience. “Any map will show you that it’s just an easy day’s drive from New York or Boston—two hours by plane,” according to an article by J.E. Hart, entitled “Rendezvous with Summer,” “but nothing I could write and only your personal experience will disclose its particular homespun charm, which is just a little different from the smartly tailored and hand-pressed variety of the usual New England vacation area.” 

Students learn which side of the bow saw means “hardscrabble identity.”The call for attention to Vermont put out by Vermont Life was not an isolated phenomenon. Beginning around the time of the magazine’s founding, the state had begun to accelerate a self-conscious transformation that would draw in different kinds of people, and with them their ideas for how “Vermont” could apply to them as a worthwhile investment of their time and capital. The underlying root of this movement was the state’s rapidly deteriorating agricultural economy. Vermont politicians recognized that if the state expected to proceed into the second half of the 20th century on solid economic footing, it would need to find new sources of revenue. Increased tourism was immediately identified as a possible solution.

But before this solution could be thoroughly explored, the state would require a major infrastructure overhaul. New construction projects, especially those centered on highway and road development, reflected and reproduced the social and economic transformations occurring in the state. Indeed, the transformation of Vermont’s landscape was inseparable from these broader phenomena. In 1955 governor Joseph Johnson sounded a cry for increased development: “I believe the state should extend a welcome hand to all corners of our nation so that people will be encouraged to come here. These folks spend money and this money makes jobs.”

This project of modernization and development occurred simultaneously with the conversion of Hendricks’ South Road properties into a liberal arts college. But land was not the only commodity that Vermont offered. At work in Vermont Life and, increasingly, in state politics, was a positioning of local against outsider, rural against urban, Vermonter against flatlander. The culture and residents of Vermont were being assimilated into charming tourist concepts, and this process extended to the new college in Marlboro. In 1949, Hendricks traveled to New York City with Luke Dalrymple, the carpenter entrusted with renovating old farm buildings into a new college. A reporter from the New York Times caught up with the pair to document their visit: “First Visit to New York Impresses Vermont Campus Sage,” the headline read, “but He Prefers Home Hills—Central Park Trees Just ‘Brush.’” The article summarizes Dalrymple as “a down-to-earth, native Vermonter, with a clipped Yankee twang and a dry sense of humor. He is a man of few words—a five or six word sentence is an oration for him.”

The transformation of Marlboro at mid-century thus fit into a larger economic and social movement occurring in the southern half of the state. The landscape of Vermont—in the span of only a few decades—had rapidly shifted from one of production to one of consumption. As a result of outside pressures, the state’s geography itself transformed into a readily consumable cultural product. The college was certainly not a tourist destination, a state park, or a ski resort, but it developed in a similar fashion and along lines similar to Vermont tourist sites. It stood as both a justification for and a beneficiary of the development projects that sought to modernize the state.

Science professor Buck Turner helps John Kohler ’49 and Ted Havness ’51 apply tire chains for a winter expedition on Vermont’s new infrastructure.As in a Rockwell painting, iconic images played— and continue to play—a key role in mapping out the cultural significance of the college. And no human being was more iconic an image of the hardscrabble Vermonter than Luke Dalrymple. Like a Rockwell painting, the college was a fabrication of the land and buildings and people of Vermont, conjured from an obscure place and infused with patriotic and social meaning. The relevance of the college—indeed, the urgency of founding the college—was framed in the context of democracy in peril. “When democracy is threatened,” intoned Judge Arthur Whittemore at the college’s first commencement, in 1948, “it is increasingly realized that responsibility and participation are the concomitants of democracy’s blessings and it is such institutions as Marlboro which teach responsibility and participation.”

The “identity” of a place is never fixed. Rather, it is informed by competing ideals and representations filtered through the realities of history. In Vermont, this competition has been a constant aspect of the state’s history, especially with regard to the land, which various groups have laid claim to with different ends in mind for several centuries. This process has formed a large part of Marlboro College’s place in the state. Today, when students, faculty, and staff give off-the-cuff histories of Marlboro College, they almost always tell the same story of the farm turned into a college. It is a nostalgic story, one that places the college’s history in Vermont’s pastoral tradition. But really, Walter Hendricks’ “farm” was more of a vacation spot, secluded, less-than-notable to highway passersby, but a piece of local fabric, part of a landscape defined by rich history and memories. 

Hendricks participated in a process, which further developed in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, of identifying the Vermont landscape as a virtuous canvas for expression and independence. By establishing a college in Marlboro, he engaged in a type of work that was occurring throughout the state in various forms, transforming it into something much different from an earlier state defined by agricultural decline. In the process, he opened the door for locals and new residents to arrive at their own definitions of the landscape and its meaning. These negotiations continue today, in towns like Marlboro and Brattleboro, in exchanges between neighbors, in the statehouse, and in the houses and barns converted by Luke Dalrymple.

David Amato graduated in May with a degree in American studies, urban history, and journalism. This article is adapted from his Plan of Concentration, which focused on how the culture and politics of the post–World War II era shaped the built environment. Read David Amato’s full Plan paper, “‘On the Road to Harrisville’: Local Transformation and the Construction of Identity in Marlboro, Vermont.”

Communicating National Identity in Cairo

In a place far from Vermont, but perhaps not so different from it after all, Emma Loftus ’14 explored what the built environment in and around Cairo says about Egypt’s evolving national identity. Emma did her Plan of Concentration in cultural history and urban studies, with field research in Cairo on the spatial impact of the policies of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. “I focus on the legacy of the ‘outward-oriented’ approach to urban planning and development,” says Emma. “The idea of ‘planning for lower-case-O other’ is pervasive in both current and historical contexts in Egypt. I became aware of the threat that this poses to urban public spaces and to the identities of people who inhabit them.” For example, Emma explores how Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square was designed by Nasser’s administration to project a secular national identity, “catering to an international audience and discouraging local and public culture.” 




The Deep Value of Forests

By Matthew McIntosh '17

Photos by Philip Johansson and Noah Woods FS'15Marlboro is fortunate to have more than 300 acres of forest and wetlands, touted in admissions materials as a resource for skiing, hiking, and place-based education. Despite its thick stands of trees and therapeutic peacefulness, our forest has also been logged several times previously. Many students find logging in any form objectionable, and a gross abuse of the land. However, an old adage tells us that the safest forest is a well-used forest. Can’t logging be one of those uses? This year Marlboro is reviewing its Forest Management Plan and, like nearly all issues that matter, logging is far from black and white.

The forest surrounding Marlboro is not “old growth”; in fact, the Green Mountain State has a long history of deforestation. When European colonists in Vermont declared themselves an independent republic in the mid-1770s, they erased taxes on land. This made the verdant hills and valleys particularly appealing to potential landowners, and the deforestation began. However, these colonists quickly learned why the native peoples had chosen to avoid the Green Mountains in favor of the Champlain and Connecticut River Valleys: farming in these parts was arduous.

In 1809, merino sheep were brought to Vermont from Spain, and Vermonters discovered hillside sheep farming and continued the deforestation. The old stone walls that crisscross the Green Mountains date back to this era. Wool was a far more lucrative pursuit than vegetable or grain farming on Vermont’s rocky soils. Within 27 years, 90 percent of Vermont’s forests were cleared to produce wool for sweaters, socks, and blankets.

This logging had impacts in less warm and fuzzy ways, as well. Deforestation led to erosion, and hillside soil ended up in Green Mountain streams, literally choking them of life-giving oxygen. Habitat for countless species of plants and animals was lost. Vermont’s forest ecosystem is still recovering, and new Vermonters have arrived to continue the assault on Green Mountain glory: paving highways, damming rivers, and even building institutions of higher learning.

In regard to forest resources, the “original” Vermonters were not so different from us. The opportunity for economic profit in a world of harsh winters and rocky ground was a no-brainer for our predecessors. Marlboro College faces a similar situation with this year’s review of our Forest Management Plan, as logging has significant financial incentives for a small school.

Although I support the idea of logging as one of the many uses for Marlboro’s forests, I hope you will join me in embracing a sense of deep ecological, emotional, recreational, and spiritual value for the land we are so lucky to have in our backyard. It is a value deeper than a nonsustainable financial boost. When this value is fostered, it will encourage students, staff, and faculty involved in the review to protect the land for the continued growth of a strong, diverse, and important forest. 

Matthew McIntosh is a sophomore interested in human ecology and environmental justice. You can read about his work as a trail steward, and see the video, at his profile

Building Their Own Wings

By Ellen McCulloch-Lovell

Last spring, I watched Marlboro seniors face their fears and dig deep to finish their Plans of Concentration. What struck me most was the bravery with which they took risks—intellectual and creative—and the courage they showed presenting their work and themselves in front of the rest of us—so exposed, so powerful. This courage was clearly demonstrated when they first applied to Marlboro.

Photo by Devlo MediaIn his book Why Teach: In Defense of a Real Education, University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson writes about “The Corporate City and the Scholarly Enclave.” He says most students experience the “corporate city” style of education in their high schools—“production centers that kids check into every day.... And what they produce are credentials.”

And the scholarly enclave? It’s harder to recognize, writes Edmundson. Even in its “most ideal…somebody’s got to keep the books and pay the bills.” But the scholarly enclave is teeming with students “seeking knowledge so as to make the lives of other human beings better.” It’s where we are stalwart about our commitments to writing well, to time in the lab, the studio, and the library. The residents of the enclave, Edmundson says, “are aware of the enormous gap between what humans aspire to and what remains to be done.”

Whether Marlboro College applicants see the college as the community where we negotiate our differences, the secular sanctuary, or the creative laboratory, they are brave to choose it: going against trend, making sacrifices to stay, knowing they’d be challenged and changed. Knowing that they would experience the one-on-one interactions with faculty that create a scholarly enclave. That takes courage.

The corporate colleges claim to encourage students “to take risks,” but Marlboro does even more than that. Where else, but on this creative campus, do faculty intentionally teach how to learn from failure? To paraphrase writer Annie Dillard, time after time, I see students “jump off cliffs and build their wings on the way down.”

As Pearce Pinch ’14 wrote, “Letting the student make mistakes in order to learn is a crucial part of what makes the Marlboro education meaningful.” That’s taking risks, and those risks in the presence of others result in graduates who are stronger for that effort.

The world needs what Marlboro graduates know how to do: write well, solve problems creatively, see others’ perspectives, master knowledge, set high expectations for themselves and others. They leave this school with the skills to close the gap between human aspiration and reality. When they leave this scholarly enclave, I know they will, as the Psalmist said, “go from strength to strength.”

This article is adapted from Ellen’s commencement remarks.


On and Off the Hill

Marlboro takes a fresh look at Potash Hill

Launched in the early ‘70s, Potash Hill has gone through many structural and design changes over the years, but continues to adhere to the principles of clear, original writing by community members and simple, elegant design.More than 80 percent of alumni claim to read at least some of every Potash Hill, but a resounding 100 percent have well-formed opinions about the magazine’s design and content. That was one of the many important outcomes resulting from a multi-stage constituent outreach effort last spring, which led up to the new design and organization of the present issue. Some of the results were surprising, most of them were encouraging, but all of them reinforced the importance of community exploration and the high value placed on Potash Hill by its readership.

The impetus to redesign Potash Hill came about because the publication had remained virtually unchanged for more than 20 years. There was an interest in eliminating the segregation of features by areas of study, which our faculty deemed outdated and out of step with their own interdisciplinary interests. Many were interested in introducing more color images and typography, made possible by the diminishing price differential for color printing. With the recent work on Marlboro’s marketing materials and website, it seemed like the opportune time to explore changes to the college’s flagship publication.

The outreach effort started with a series of three focus groups in March and April 2014, involving small groups of students, faculty, and alumni, respectively, to get a pulse on their opinions of Potash Hill. In each case, participants were asked to reflect on the magazine’s current (now former) format, and consider what other content or design elements they would like to find there.

The focus groups could not be considered representative of all Marlboro constituents, due to the small number of participants (a total of 11), but many of their suggestions provided valuable guidance and direction. For example, all of the groups appreciated the simplicity of Potash Hill, the beautiful photography and artwork, and the quality of the articles. All agreed that they’d like to see more coverage of what faculty are up to, more alumni notes, and more short, digestible articles. 

Opinions were diverse (this is Marlboro, after all) regarding whether the magazine should introduce more color photographs and artwork. Some felt that the black and white was simpler, more calming, and consistent with Marlboro’s frugal nature, while others were clear that color could be more inviting, exciting, and consistent with Marlboro’s vibrant culture. Faced with the fact that the additional cost of color printing is negligible, most participants agreed that adding color could be a good thing, if strict attention is paid to preserving the simplicity of the magazine and not distracting from the content.

Concurrent with the focus groups was an online survey sent to alumni and other supporters of the college. We received 114 responses to the survey, including those from graduates ranging from the 1950s to the most recent decade as well as 25 non-alumni. Respondents reported that their favorite kinds of stories in Potash Hill are “news from alumni” (92 responses). This was followed by “articles by alumni reflecting on their continued work” (85 responses), “news on new faculty and retiring faculty” (85 responses), and “articles on the history of Marlboro College” (84 responses).

Several respondents took the opportunity to point out that the design and content of Potash Hill is superior to alumni publications they receive from other institutions. One respondent said, “Its design reflects the intellectual curiosity, artistic sensibility, earthiness, and intimacy that all comprise the Marlboro experience.” As we moved forward with new design and content ideas, we have felt a clear mandate to preserve all of these attributes. We welcome your comments on how well we have succeeded. 


President Ellen announces final year

Ellen converses with staff from kor group during the “creative collection” leading up to the recent changes in admissions materials and website. Photo by Devlo Media In April, Ellen McCulloch-Lovell announced that she intends to step down from the presidency in June 2015, after serving for 11 years. Ellen’s tenure has been marked by a significant increase in the college’s endowment, an improved campus landscape, increased visibility of the graduate and professional studies programs, and national advocacy for the liberal arts and sciences. 

“This is a difficult decision to make, as I love Marlboro, its intensive teaching and learning, its mission, the value of our work here, the college community, and my relationship with the dedicated trustees, donors, and friends of this institution,” Ellen says. “Everything I’ve been able to accomplish at Marlboro has been with the collaboration and support of this remarkable intellectual and creative community.”

“We are sad to see Ellen step down after so many years of dedicated service,” says Dean Nicyper ’76, chairman of the board of trustees. “Because of her successful and tireless efforts over the past ten years, the college is much stronger than it was when she joined us in 2004. She placed the college on significantly firmer footing organizationally and financially, for which we are all grateful.”

Stay tuned for more complete coverage of Ellen’s legacy at Marlboro in the next issue of Potash Hill


Local colleges form cooperative

In February, representatives from six local colleges met at the Marlboro College Graduate Center to sign a memorandum of understanding launching the Windham Higher Education Cooperative (WHEC). The MOU between the colleges, the first of its kind in Vermont, establishes a cross-registration agreement that allows students to take courses at other institutions, as well as a shared internship program. 

“We wanted, first of all, to benefit our students, and offer a wider array of programs,” says Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Marlboro president. Other colleges in the cooperative include Landmark College, Vermont Technical College, Union Institute, School for International Training, and Community College of Vermont. “We also want to work hand-in-hand with local economic development. We have to understand our roles as some of the largest employers in the county.”

One of the goals of the WHEC is to link student internships with local businesses, thereby benefiting economic development in the region and encouraging locally educated students to stay local. Students at each of the six institutions can expect to see an increase in paid internship opportunities, thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Vermont Department of Labor, as well as more opportunities to receive academic credit.


Beautiful Minds take campus by storm

Students bombard each other with dreams and aspirations on crumpled sheets of paper, an ice-breaker during the Beautiful Minds Challenge symposium. Photo by Philip JohanssonIn April, a diverse assemblage of 23 teenagers visited Marlboro for a symposium and the culmination of the second annual Beautiful Minds Challenge. Symposium attendees were the finalists in the challenge to come up with the most creative answers to the prompt: “Take a road less traveled. Make something that shares your journey.” 

“The students who came to the symposium had a great time, and had a transformative experience they will not soon forget,” says Ariel Brooks, director of non-degree programs. Participating students met one-on-one with faculty, attended a class, and presented their “road less traveled” submissions to a public audience. They also learned creative problem solving through improvisation with Jodi Clark ’95, director of housing, and examined the concept of “journeys” in a round-table discussion with philosophy professor William Edelglass.

“This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life…I can’t wait to be a student here,” says Karuna, from Tennessee. Symposium participants came from as close as Vermont and as far as California, Hawaii, and even South Korea. Eight challenge participants applied to Marlboro as a result of the symposium, and all were accepted for the fall 2014 term.

“There really are like-minded people in the world that want the things I do from school,” says Alek, from Minnesota.

“Even though we came from such different places and backgrounds, I think we all relate to each other, and I wouldn’t have expected that before the symposium,” says Louisa, from Kentucky.

“The best experience of my life. Thank you,” says Saron, from Washington, D.C.

Perhaps a high school student in your life will benefit from the Beautiful Minds Challenge this year, for which the prompt is “Create something out of destruction. Share what you learned.” Send them to minds.marlboro.edu for details on how to apply.

Movies from Marlboro goes to Nantucket

Brad Heck ‘04 and Luke Becker-Lowe ’17 head to the beach with other Movies from Marlboro participants for a shoot on location in Nantucket. Photo by Willow O’Feral Following the success of the first Movies from Marlboro film intensive, film professor Jay Craven again assembled a team of 30 college students (from 10 colleges) and 20 professionals last spring semester to produce a feature film. This year the hands-on practicum shot a film on Nantucket Island, based on Pierre et Jean, Guy de Maupassant’s 1887 story of a family strained by secrets revealed and illusions shattered. 

“Maupassant’s novel broke ground in the late 19th century for its complex psychological characterizations,” says Jay. “It was cited as an influence by writers including Tolstoy and Nabokov, and Henry James called it ‘Maupassant’s masterly little novel’ for its potent themes.”

While Maupassant’s novel was set in Normandy, the film adaptation, called Peter and John, will be set in 19th-century Nantucket. The cast includes 2014 Golden Globe winner Jacqueline Bisset, Emmy winner Gordon Clapp, Christian Coulson, Shane Patrick Kearns, and Spanish actress Alicia Sanz in her U.S. feature film debut.

This year’s Movies from Marlboro program started in January with an expedition to the Sundance Film Festival, followed by seven weeks of study, training, and pre-production work on the Marlboro campus. Participants then moved on to Nantucket for seven weeks of pre-production and production that fully immersed students in the culture and practice of an ambitious film shoot.

“During our 14-week Marlboro film intensive, I saw students reach beyond their grasp to show remarkable strength, solidarity, and stamina, combined with a growing mastery of dozens of new skills, across the board,” says Jay.

One student told Jay she felt “worthy” for the first time in her college experience, because she had been relied upon to provide meaningful participation (and hard work) for something larger than herself. Another talked about experiencing “good stress”—the kind that comes from doing something new, important, nourishing, and engaging, while still under pressure to perform.

“Our completion of the Peter and John shoot marks an important milestone, mostly for the 14-week educational part of the program, which I believe was successful,” says Jay. “Our second big milestone will be to determine whether we have made a good and compelling film. That measurement will have to wait until we’ve completed post-production.”

The previous Movies from Marlboro production, Northern Borders (Potash Hill, Summer 2011), premiered to a sell-out crowd at Brattleboro’s Latchis Theater last year, launching a 100-town tour of New England. “This project is as ambitious for its educational goals as it is for the production we mount,” says Jay. “I believe that this year’s session added to what we accomplished in 2012. And I’m excited to imagine further development.” 


College rises to Real Food Challenge

Students line up for local delicacies at the community dinner following the signing of the Real Food Challenge. Photo by Philip Johansson“I am thrilled to be a part of the solution to our troubled food system,” says Benjamin Newcomb, chef manager at Marlboro through Metz Culinary Management. In April, Ben and President Ellen signed the Real Food Campus Commitment, joining more than 100 colleges and universities across the country. The commitment promises that Marlboro will procure at least 20 percent of the food consumed on campus from local or community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources— “real food”—by 2020. 

“Colleges like Marlboro have to show leadership in our communities by modeling ways to support ecologically sustainable, humane, and socially equitable food systems,” says Ellen. The primary goal of the Real Food Challenge is to shift $1 billion of existing college and university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and toward real food. “Investing in real food not only benefits the daily lives of our students, but also fosters community by supporting the livelihoods of family farmers and other local producers.”

Marlboro’s commitment includes initiating a student-led assessment of campus food procurement using the Real Food Calculator, a tool that uses independently verifiable criteria in four categories: community-based/local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. The challenge also includes a commitment to adopt a comprehensive real food policy, with a multiyear action plan and annual benchmarks.

“The Real Food Challenge permits us to create a fair, sustainable food culture that celebrates the student, the local farmer, and the best of what New England agriculture has to offer—farm to table,” says Ben. The signing of the commitment was followed by a community dinner of mostly regional or ecologically sound foods, part of Marlboro’s events leading up to Earth Day. 


Cambodia connection continues

Students take time out from their studies to greet visitors from Marlboro last winter, during the third service-learning trip to Cambodia in the past five years. Photo by John WillisMarlboro students and faculty have taken three service-learning trips to Cambodia in the past five years, but their commitment to sustainable development projects in the Southeast Asian nation does not end there. In May, participants in the last trip, led by visual arts faculty members Cathy Osman, Tim Segar, and John Willis (The Marlboro Record, Spring 2014), presented a three-day information and fundraiser event in the dining hall about their ongoing relationship with Cambodian communities.

“This was an opportunity for other members of our community to look beyond the cozy green hills of Vermont and support the good work we contributed to on our trips to Cambodia,” says John Willis, photography professor. The group that went in January traveled to Champon Chhnang, Pursat, Siem Reap, and other communities, where they visited schools and participated in service projects, such as water quality testing led by Tim Segar and senior Theresa Chockbengboun. They are quick to differentiate this work from recent reports of disreputable orphanages in Cambodia and groups raising money for development projects there under false pretenses. 

“We raised enough money to build a latrine building for the Khmer Children’s Education Organization (KCEO) school, in the rural village of Ang,” said John. It’s the first latrine they’ve had at the school, which hosts 145 students as well as many other local youths each day before and after they attend the government school. “We also raised some money for the Massachusetts Cambodian Water Project’s work, which provides rural villagers access to clean drinkable water.”

Building on this event, John, Cathy, and junior Matthew Czuba, with assistance from other participants and KCEO’s founding director, are developing a website to continue raising funds for the KCEO school. Students there attend classes in everything from English and Khmer language to computer skills and hygiene. Many of the students are on full scholarship, including some young Buddhist monks, and the rest pay on a sliding scale according to family ability. The school has been essentially self-funded, thanks to founder Marin Him and his family, who have dedicated their lives to the facility’s operation. The new website will allow the school to grow and flourish by raising awareness, seeking support, and promoting KCEO’s mission.

To learn more, or to support Marlboro’s relationship with the KCEO school, go to khmerchildren.org


Clockwise from top left: Carmelita Tropicana and Susanne Sachsse rehearse for “Schwanze-Beast,” performed in April as part of a Vermont Performance Lab residency at Marlboro College. • The Heath Quartet performed in Ragle Hall in April, thanks to retired sociology professor and groupie Jerry Levy. • In April, biologist Getachew Tadesse Eschete presented a talk about how Ethiopia’s changing coffee agroecosystems are threatening biological and cultural diversity. • In February, Goat in the Road Theater shared “Instant Misunderstanding,” part of a performing arts series presented in partnership with Kingdom County Productions. • A screening and discussion of The Hungry Heart, a film about prescription drug addiction in Vermont, was held in Ragle Hall in March, featuring director Bess O’Brien. • Joanna Macy and the Great Turning was screened in May at the graduate center, with a discussion with filmmaker Chris Landry, MBA faculty Bill Baue and Cary Gaunt, and philosophy professor William Edelglass. • Students and staff visited local vernal pools with staff from Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center for Earth Day.

Focus on Faculty

Faculty Q & A 

Robyn Manning-Samuels ’14 visited writing and literature professor John Sheehy in his office to discuss Melville, movie violence, the “passing” novel, and John’s puppy, Eddie. You can read the whole interview.

Robyn Manning-Samuels: Why are you obsessed with Moby Dick?

John Sheehy: When you teach a book—and this is true of many books that I love— there are many books that you can find the bottom of. You teach it once, you teach it twice, you teach it 10 times, and in the end of that you’ve found the edges of it, you know all of the things that are in it. And Moby Dick is not like that. I’ve been teaching it for 20 years, and every time I teach it…there’s a bottom somewhere there, but I haven’t found it. It’s a beautiful book. Eddie, c’mere…give him something to chew…or you can just ignore him.

RMS: As if I could.

JS: But the thing that’s interesting about American literature is the way it sets itself up for failure. The American writers that we canonize, the ones that we come back to, are all people who, in some way or another, set out to write a Bible. I think this insane ambition is part of the American character: to just rewrite history. To start fresh and build some brand new edifice. Moby Dick is actually very referential to the Bible, but also rewrites the relationship between the human being and the universe, or it tries to. And all the best parts of it are where you recognize that and go, “Oh, this is opening some entirely new door.” And all of the worst parts of it are like, “Ah, for crying out loud (laughs). This is so serious; can we just go kill a whale?”

RMS: It’s full of whaling facts too.

JS: Melville is really into how the factual world is just pregnant with meaning. You can never tell what anything means, but you feel this sense that there’s just meaning everywhere. And so he loves to give you this sort of set of facts and then just spin the metaphors out of it. 


Focus on Faculty

Anthropology professor Carol Hendrickson compares Guatemalan togs with biology professor Jenny Ramstetter ’81 at the retirement party for Carol and economics professor Jim Tober in May. “We are so glad the two of us could share the event,” write Jim and Carol. “Among other things, this meant that we could deflect some of the attention and think that the event really was for the other person.” “The goal is to put professional writers and professors in conversation with new writers who are interested in honing their craft,” says John Sheehy, referring to the summer writing intensive launched in August. John worked with Brandon Willitts ’12, co-founder and executive director of Words After War, which provides the opportunity to examine conflict and war through the lens of literature. The writing intensive had the theme of service and active citizenship, and featured an exciting line-up of professional writers, including Jen Percy, Matt Gallagher, Brian Castner, and Maurice Emerson Decaul.

In March, Spanish language professor Rosario de Swanson presented a paper at the Congreso de Literatura Mexicana, University of Texas, El Paso, titled “Feminism, nationalism, and malinchism in the play Judith (1952) by Mexican feminist writer Rosario Castellanos.” Meanwhile, a paper she presented in 2010 was published in the peer-edited compilation titled The Possible Utopia: Reflections and Approaches. Rosario’s paper, “Utopia and dystopia in Salome (1957), a play by Mexican feminist Rosario Castellanos,” was published in volume II of the compilation. “I am very happy because the book gathers scholars from all the Americas and from Europe who are latinomericanistas like myself,” she says.

MAT faculty member Jane Wilde is working with three students and one alumna to introduce “gaming” to local schools, with exciting educational benefits. Susan Briere MSMIS ’05 and MSIT ’10 and MAT students Sally Bisaccio, Mike Beardsley, and Patricia Palumbo have installed MinecraftEdu in their schools, and are exploring the building-block virtual world with students. Jane has collaborated with them to give presentations at Vermont Fest, Dynamic Landscapes (Vermont), and Games in Education (New York) conferences, describing how they use Minecraft to reconstruct historical places, create literary settings, and demonstrate knowledge of math concepts. 

“The type of questions we asked of the Heroscape system and the tools that we started developing were exactly in the style of what would be done if we wanted to understand the stock market, or the ecology of a forest,” says mathematics professor Matt Ollis. He was interviewed by a roving reporter (named “Ollie”) for an online fan magazine about Heroscape, a game of strategy involving dragons and vikings and robots. The interview described using the game as part of Matt’s pre-college summer program and called on readers to investigate “the appallingly unorthodox movement to find educational lessons in the tabletop game we all know and love.”

Theater professor Brenda Foley hams it up with students at the University of the Arts Berlin, where she taught a two-day workshop on Tennessee Williams, part of the Berlin as a Collaborative Model class trip to, you guessed it, Berlin. Music professor Matan Rubinstein taught a workshop on Gershwin and Irving Berlin, and Marlboro students enjoyed an acting workshop and movement class with German faculty. Together with colleagues from three other institutions, religion professor Amer Latif and philosophy professor William Edelglass have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to conduct research on religious understanding. Their cross-cultural inquiry will explore the interconnections between Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and how the distinctive characteristics of religious understanding have responded to different time periods and contexts. The project will culminate in a volume of their findings, shorter works sharing their work with a wider audience, and a weeklong workshop for advanced undergraduates held at Marlboro College in June 2015. “Amer and I are very excited to collaborate with each other and our colleagues elsewhere on this grant, and also with our students here at Marlboro,” says William. “We will be co-teaching a course in the fall that engages the themes of our research and are grateful to be able to share our work with our remarkable students.” 

Music professor Matan Rubinstein describes the integration of skills, craft, and theory of musical study to a group of prospective students at Accepted Student Visit Day in April. Faculty members were in full swing at the action-packed day of academics, four square, cotton candy, temporary tattoos, and serious mingling. French language professor Boukary "Abou" Sawadogo travelled to the Sundance Film Festival in January and published his summary of African-themed and Africandirected films in Film International, an online journal of film culture. In “Africa at Sundance 2014: The Quest for Global Humanity,” Abou focuses on three films that “seek to sound the alarm against oppressive practices and to introduce to the world African figures whose sociopolitical engagement has universal resonance.” On a much lighter note, in April Abou presented his own film, Salut Y’all: African Teachers on the Bayou, followed by a discussion in Apple Tree.

In June, MDO faculty member Kerry Secrest was named Honorary Consul of the Republic of Lithuania to the State of Vermont. “Lithuania has always been a big part of my life, and I am looking forward to helping serve as a bridge between these two parts of the world that I love,” says Kerry, who is a fourthgeneration Lithuanian-American. She grew up going each summer to Camp Neringa in Marlboro, Vermont, founded in the 1960s to preserve the Lithuanian heritage and culture. “The Lithuanian officials I’ve been speaking with are very interested in Vermont’s local food movement and socially responsible businesses, where Vermont is really at the forefront.”

 The term “middle class” has been bandied about so much lately that now everyone wants a membership. American studies professor Kate Ratcliff suggests that, thanks to Hollywood, even the rich enjoy identifying themselves as middle class. “The reality created by the commercial mass media is one in which everyone is middle class,” she was quoted in a U.S. News & World Report article titled “What it means to be middle class today.” “Advertising, television and movies all convey a world in which middle- class affluence is an American birthright.” 

Sociology professor Kat Rickenbacker shares her thoughts on Who Are You People? A Personal Journey into the Heart of Fanatical Passion in America at the Rapid Reviews event in May. Also among Kat’s picks: The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and Don’t Stop Believing: How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life. Last spring, religion professor Amer Latif led a book discussion series on Muslim literature and culture at the Brooks Memorial Library, in Brattleboro. The series, titled Muslim Journeys, included five books ranging from the classic Arabian Nights to the contemporary Minaret, by Leila Aboulela, a novel challenging the perception that Islam oppresses women. In an article in The Commons, Amer said that his goal in leading the series was to “share Muslim voices free from some social issues in order to help others see truths that are transcultural.” The series was presented by Amer on behalf of the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of their Bridging Cultures initiative.

“The successful entrepreneur is someone who knows what to hang on to and is dedicated to purpose,” writes MBA faculty member Will Keyser. Will’s recent ebook, Telling StartUp Stories: Keep the End in Mind, shares his expertise in “StartUp” storytelling, which he suggests is the most effective form of communication available to the entrepreneur. “Data is necessary, but no longer sufficient to sell your idea for seeking sales, or finding funding,” he writes. Will is working on his second ebook, No Surprises: Essential Numbers for Entrepreneurs.  

In May, Spanish language professor Rosario de Swanson was appointed to the Vermont State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Rosario was one of 17 Vermonters appointed to the committee, which will conduct reviews on local issues of discrimination or other civil rights infringements in the areas of justice, voting, housing, and education. Having grown up in rural Mexico, and with a rich understanding of Latin American culture and literature, Rosario has a unique perspective to share on civil rights issues in Vermont.

In March, philosophy professor William Edelglass became the new co-director of the International Association of Environmental Philosophy (IAEP), the global forum for wide-ranging philosophical discussions of nature and the human relation to the natural world. The organization publishes the Journal of Environmental Philosophy, and its annual conference is one of the largest in the world on the subject. “IAEP exposes me to an enormous variety of ways of thinking, which helps me in my own curriculum at Marlboro,” says William, who has been co-editor of the Journal of Environmental Philosophy and a “member at large” on the executive committee for two years. “Seeing new ways of approaching nature is important to me.”

Ceramics professor Martina Lantin presents her findings on sustainable use of pottery materials at Expeditious Earthworks, a rapid-fire mini-symposium on sustainability studies and initiatives in April. The event was one of several leading up to Earth Day, including calculating carbon footprints, planting seedlings, using a composting toilet, and snuggling baby goats.“I like chaos,” says visual art professor Cathy Osman. “I like creating a complex, chaotic, multileveled situation, then trying to find an order within that.” In March, she and colleague Tim Segar had a joint show and gallery talk at Greenfield Community College, in Massachusetts. The show combined Tim’s ceramic sculptures covered in roofing tar (“all the rage at Marlboro,” says Tim) with Cathy’s multimedia collages, all held together by Tim’s wall of hanging striped maples. “The wall alters the way you experience the space, and it has a linear relationship to some of the work Cathy is showing in her collages,” said Tim.

Anyone who has been involved with a nonprofit board knows how hard it is to raise money, and how necessary. Drawing on decades of experience, and tapping an expert team of fundraising trainers across North America, MDO faculty member Andy Robinson and his colleague Andrea Kihlstedt have responded to the need with Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money. This practical book contains easy-to-use training exercises for boards of all sizes and sophistication, developing skills that reduce the barriers to fundraising and help boards make their case. 


Also of Note

True Colors: Students Adeline Banker-Johnson, Matthew Czuba, Dantae Sanders, Rosie Kahan, Lily Kane, and Tommy Arsenault show off new Marlboro College t-shirts. These and other new Marlboro-emblazoned gear are available at ye old campus store, or at marlboro.edu/store. A dance performance created by Marlboro senior Hannah Ruth Brothers ’14 was selected for the gala concert concluding the New England American College Dance Association Conference, held at Boston University from February 13 to 16. The conference was attended by more than 500 students and faculty from 27 New England colleges. Hannah Ruth’s piece, a quintet titled “Landing,” was among the 11 chosen for performance at the gala concert. Hannah Ruth performed the dance with fellow Marlboro students Sophia Romeri ’14, Lily Kane ’13, Erika Klemperer ’13, and Martha Henzy ’13, and music was provided by student Aidan Keeva ’14

Daniel Kalla ’14 was this year’s recipient of the Engaged Student Award from the Vermont Campus Compact. In addition to serving as head selectperson, member of community court, and resident assistant, Daniel co-facilitated student trips for blood donation and hosted campus conversations on positive relationship communication. He also volunteered as a reparative probation panelist with the Brattleboro Community Justice Center (BCJC) and served on a Circle of Support and Accountability for a former prisoner on probation. “He has been a fantastic supporter of prisoner reentry in our community,” says Larry Hames, executive director of BCJC.

“I deeply admire Marlboro’s tradition of allowing students to take ownership over their futures and supporting them in their journey to become leaders, activists, and informed, thoughtful citizens of the world,” says Beth Ruane, Marlboro’s new library director. Beth joined Marlboro in July, after spending the last four years as a librarian at Skidmore College. Before that, she was librarian at DePaul University for five years. Beth received her B.S. in English from Valparaiso University, an M.A. in English from North Carolina State University, and an M.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Jam session: A collection of pickles and preserves in a homemade cabinet was the entry of Amber Hunt, reference and technology librarian, in the staff and faculty show last March titled “What We Do When We Aren’t with You.” Other artsy entries were from Stan Charkey, Max Foldeak, Jaime Tanner, SJ and Vera Muratori, Megan Littlehales ’82, Matan Rubinstein, Carol Hendrickson, Lynette Rummel, Seth Harter, Rosario de Swanson, Randy Knaggs ’94, Emily Alling, and Kyhl Lyndgaard. In March, Marlboro was pleased to welcome Rachel Gravel as the new technical services librarian. “The students here are incredible,” says Rachel, who has a notable passion for cataloging and classification. “They are intelligent, selfaware, and thoughtful, and I love learning about their studies.” Rachel came to Marlboro from Boston, where she is currently finishing her master’s degree in library and information science at Simmons College. She also has a master’s degree in German from Tufts and a B.A. in political science and German from Trinity College.

Lindsay Guido-Williams started as the new career development director at Marlboro in April. She is passionate about helping students pave their way to a career that brings them both happiness and satisfaction. With more than eight years of experience working with individuals on their academic and career development, Lindsay offers strong coaching skills and the ability to support students through self-assessment, career exploration, and job attainment. She has a B.S. in business administration and a master’s in psychology and counseling, and understands how lacking direction in terms of one’s career can affect an individual’s quality of life.

A recent graduate of the Managing Mission-Driven Organizations program, Hillary Boone joined the Marlboro staff as program manager for Benchmarks for a Better Vermont (BBVT) and nonprofit programs communication coordinator. Hillary comes with a firm understanding of Results-Based Accountability (RBA) through coursework and an apprenticeship with lead trainer Anne Lezak. “I’m committed to RBA because it can quickly re-inspire people about their work and the change they can make,” says Hillary. “I’ve been honored to work with nonprofits all over Vermont that are doing really incredible work.” 

“My time abroad definitely helped narrow my focus and give me the inspiration that I was looking for,” says Alex Bobella ’15, who spent last spring semester at Kings College London studying religion through a program hosted by Arcadia University. He was energized by the foreign urban landscape, far from the winding woodland paths of Marlboro. “The churches and mosques and temples that I passed in London gave a certain accessibility to the divine, and the historicity of religious worship, that allowed me to focus my studies in religion at Marlboro and understand what exactly it was I wanted to study.”  

American Gothic: Dakota Walsh ’15 and Selena Torrado Gonzalez ’18 go out in style at the Goth Prom last spring. Jodi Clark ’95, director of housing and also a student in the MDO program, was selected to present a 20-slide “pecha kucha” (look it up) presentation at the Gross National Happiness (GNH) conference in Burlington last May. In her presentation titled “We say I love you all the time in the office. Is that normal?” Jodi explored reinvigorating the workplace by creating a culture of appreciation, trust, accountability, and love. Marlboro graduate faculty member Anne Lezak and Benchmarks for a Better Vermont program manager Hillary Boone were also on the program.

After studying abroad in Morocco for a whole semester, through a School for International Training program titled Journalism and New Media, Julian Harris ’15 decided that it was not enough. He returned to Morocco this summer with renewed focus, so to speak. “I realized that I wanted the photography portion of my Plan to be centered around the concept of the people of Morocco living their daily lives,” says Julian, who is working on a Plan in photography and journalism. Part of his travels included a visit with last year’s Fulbright Arabic Fellow, Abdelhadi Izem.

MDO student Kristy Smith was one of 50 participants at a two-week international peacebuilding conference in Kathmandu, Nepal, hosted by the School for International Training’s CONTACT program. Participants from 13 countries, mostly from southern Asia, worked in teams to examine and understand conflicts afflicting the region, from boundary disputes to conflicts over natural resources. “The primary goal of this conference was to connect a group of people with each other, and to carry these connections back to the work we are doing at home,” says Kristy. 

Student Art

Left page, clockwise from top left: Photo from “Never Know Where to Look,” a mixed media exhibition by Patrick Lancaster ’14. | A multimedia collage by Mairead Delaney ’14, part of her installation on medical violence against women in Ireland titled “Operating Theatre.” | Drums by Michael Schneeweis, from his exhibit of ceramic instruments and other artwork called “Through Sound.” | Detail by Katherine Lyon ’14 from “Reconnect: Ways of Knowing and Relating to Nature,” her joint show with Ayla Mullen.   

Right page, clockwise from top left: Photo by Elisabeth Joffe ’14, part of her exhibit titled “It Takes an Ocean.” | From “Flooded,” a dance performance by Sophia Romeri ’14. | Portrait of Chester Harper ’14 by Pearse Pinch ’14, part of his show titled “Permeable Landscape.” | Detail from “Cocoons,” sculpture and installation by Kristen Wiking ’14.

Undergraduate Commencement 2014

On May 18, a picture-perfect spring morning, faculty, family, and friends gathered to celebrate the 62 graduates of the class of 2014. Senior speaker Emma Thacker brought the audience to tears with reminiscences about Marlboro, and Andrew Delbanco, distinguished American studies professor at Columbia University, delivered a heartwarming commencement address. Dr. Delbanco and his brother Nicholas Delbanco (see page 1), an equally distinguished professor of literature at the University of Michigan, each received honorary degrees. Finally the class of 2014 was regaled by a valediction from Abdelhadi Izem, venerated Fulbright fellow in Arabic language and the first commencement speaker to take a “selfie” at the podium. 

From President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell’s remarks
Patrick Lancaster shares the occasion with his family, including Conner Lancaster ’16. It’s hard to characterize a class at Marlboro, and you defy any generalizations. You didn’t all enter together in 2010. Some of you are graduating after two intense years at Marlboro; some after six, nine, 14 years. What stories, what triumphs you all represent. You are as young as 21 and as old as 45. You include two veterans, a sibling of a graduate, a married couple, a son of a professor. You come from London, Peru, California, and Vermont. You helped build the greenhouse; you served on selectboard. Four of you earned our Certificate in Nonprofit Management and five the TESOL certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. You took out an average of 52 books a year from the library. The national average is 12. Columbia University students check out 45. Of course, our data are probably skewed by Kate and Daniel’s omnivore reading habits.

From Emma Thacker’s senior address
I came to Marlboro because I thought it was beautiful. I visited for the first time on a snowy, cold day in the month of February, and fell in love with the buildings, their roofs caked with snow, the trees covered in icicles, the students walking paths slippery with slush. I loved how small and humbled I felt standing on this hill, just one among many here in southern Vermont. I continue to feel overwhelmed by the beauty of Marlboro, Vermont. There are mornings when I stand on South Road, looking away from Marlboro, at the mountains in the distance, and it is so unbelievably gorgeous that I can’t do anything for a moment but stare in awe of the place that I go to school. The undeveloped landscape— so rare, and so precious. 

From Andrew Delbanco’s address
One of the great things about Marlboro is that it has the courage to be small in an age when so many people assume that big is good, bigger is better, and biggest is best. Yet small as you are, you, the Marlboro class of 2014, represent a significant fraction of all the students in the United States who attend a residential liberal arts college that’s anything like this one. By “like this one” I mean a place where you get to know your classmates, where you not only converge on classes together but share your lives together outside class, where you make lifelong friends, and, most of all, where you get an education—though “get” is the wrong word, because you have learned that you must give as much as you get—that’s not about prepping you for this or that career but is a preparation for life…. 

Robyn Manning-Samuels, Kathryn Lyon, and Patrick Magee celebrate.Now, one of the virtues of smallness is that a college like yours can be what I like to call a rehearsal space for democracy: a place where students, and faculty, learn to speak with civility, listen with respect, and, most important, discover that you may walk into a classroom, or performance space, or town meeting with one point of view and walk out with another—or at least with productive doubt about what you were sure was true. 

Marlboro, with its strong tradition of shared governance, is a powerful instance of how this kind of education works. It’s a kind of education indispensable not only for you but for our nation. I hardly need to tell you that we live—all of us—with an endless cacophony of pleadings and persuasions all designed to capture our money, or loyalty, or vote. You all know what I mean: corporations, political parties, interest groups of all sorts try 24/7 to persuade us of this or that: “Obamacare” is a rip-off that will bankrupt the country, or it’s an overdue act of justice; abortion is the work of Satan, or to deny a woman an abortion is a form of abuse; charter schools are a violation of the public trust, or they are the salvation of a broken public school system; nuclear energy is our only hope for slowing the degradation of the environment, or it is Armageddon waiting to happen. These are just a few random samples of the kinds of conflicting claims between which we must choose or somehow mediate. In this ocean of noise, the only chance we have to maintain a functioning democracy is a citizenry that thinks for itself, and can tell the difference between prejudices rooted in passion and arguments based on evidence.

And that is the hope, I think, that animates your teachers and keeps them coming back year after year to work with you and your successors—the hope of sending you into the world ready for both the rights and the responsibilities of citizenship.

For full transcripts of addresses, citations, academic prizes, and Plans of Concentration, as well as photos and videos, go to the Marlboro website.

Alumni News

Happy Medicine

Marlboro nurtured Lara Knudsen’s critical thinking and independent-minded approach to health care, but medical school and a busy residency, well—not so much. In response, Lara has launched a clinic in Oregon, part of a new wave of “micropractices,” where the patient-physician relationship comes first. 

If you had occasion to go to Happy Doc Family Medicine, in Salem, Oregon, you might be surprised to find Dr. Lara Knudsen ’03 welcoming you at the door. The humble, 300-square-foot clinic has no receptionist, no administrators, no medical assistants, no fancy diagnostic equipment. Just Dr. Lara. Opened in 2013 by Lara and her husband Chris Jones ’05, Happy Doc is their inspired answer to many of the things that are wrong with the current health care system.

“It’s a common theme that many primary care physicians are not very happy with their jobs, and end up feeling quite burnt out and drained,” says Lara. “In a more typical clinic there tends to be a lot of pressure from the administrators to see more and more patients, because that’s the only way to generate income to pay for all the salaries, and the big, fancy buildings.”

In medical school at George Washington University and her residency at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Lara experienced a typical schedule of rapid-fire, 10- or 15-minute slots. She found that physicians typically don’t have much control over how many patients they see, how many are double booked, how much time to allow for thoroughness.

A cartoon collage of Dr. Lara created by Kate Purcell '05 and presented to her when she graduated from medical school.“You end up running around all day like your head’s cut off,” says Lara. After feeling headless for about a year, she realized it wasn’t going to work for her long term. She and Chris began looking around, trying to find examples of physicians who were engaged and excited about their careers, and found the model known as “ideal medical practices,” or simply “micropractices.”

“If you strip away all the expensive buildings and extra staff, and just get back to the basics of one doctor and one patient, then the relationship is strengthened and you have more time to delve into that person’s medical issues and hopefully be a little more thorough. Each of my appointments is scheduled for 30 to 60 minutes. I feel more satisfied because I’m addressing all the things that are on a patient’s mind, and patients feel better because they aren’t asked to prioritize and just pick one or two issues, and then come back in a couple of weeks.”

Lara found that the reception by the community in Salem, including the medical community, has been very welcoming. Her patients are clearly excited about the micropractice model, and eager to share it with their family and friends. Lara has done no advertising, other than word-of-mouth, and she has a waiting list for new patients. But the most gratifying part about her new clinic is getting to know her patients well.

“I have so much more time with patients, as I’m checking them in, or collecting their co-pay, or checking their blood pressure—all that stuff a physician normally wouldn’t do. During that process we get to chat about ‘How are your kids,’ ‘Where are you guys going this summer,’ and ‘How’s work,’ those kind of things that help you get to know somebody. The better you get to know your patients, the more it’s like hanging out with friends—but you’re trying to help a friend with a problem. When a patient gives me a big hug and says, ‘I feel like I’ve just had a visit with a great friend’—that’s the best part of my day.”

Get more information about Happy Doc Family Medicine. Learn if there is an ideal medical practice near you


Class Notes

Class notes are listed by year and include both graduates and nongraduates; the latter are listed under the class with which they are associated. 

THOMAS DOWNS writes, “We now have four ‘great grands’—two boys and two girls. Still play golf and bridge.”

“We are keeping our health and strength,” writes CHARLES STAPLES and his wife Joan. “We enjoyed a warm stay in Hawaii for two weeks.We saw much of cultural interest and history. I managed to get in some body surfing at Hanalei Beach in Kauai. Winter here in Chicago has been colder and tougher than any in my memory, and the cold trend stubbornly continues.We had a 12-day escape in Florida to see old friends and family in Februrary.” Charles was featured in a Chicago Reader article about the Chicago Cultural Center, a historic building he has been working to preserve, and document the preservation of, since 1965. Now that’s perseverance.

R. BOYD THOMPSON reports, “My beloved wife Joanne died November 23— lung cancer, although she had not smoked for 42 years. I have visited with my roommate BRUCE BOHRMANN ’53 in Yarmouth, Maine. Good to see old friends. Say hi to John MacArthur for me. He is a great professor and helped me immensely.”

REGINALD RODMAN writes, “Just published my book Seeing with the Heart and Soul.” The book, called “A well-written guide in reading the Bible,” is based on Reginald’s experiences as a preacher in various congregations.

“Our college connection remains strong,” write BRUCE COLE and BARBARA DRAPER COLE. “Barbara helps in the bookstore occasionally and audits classes.We are fortunate to have biology professor Jamie Tanner and her family just up the hill in our log cabin. The apple trees still produce those huge apples beside Appletree. On-campus life is good—still cutting firewood and remembering the strong influence of life on the hill with faculty.”

In March, Cookie Harrist ’12 (horizontal) returned to Marlboro with Hio Ridge Dance Collective, her collaboration with Delaney McDonough and Caity Richards, for a performance of “Or Shall We.” Photo by Aleksandra Lundina ’17 PENNY SAYRE WIEDERHOLD writes, “Wonderful appeal letter from John MacArthur. I still remember writing as fast as I could so I could get every note down before he erased the board.We’d meet at lunch, and we would go over any work. Best learning process ever.”

“I am almost as old as BRUCE COLE,” writes DAVID DECKER. “Had a nice exhibit reviewed in the Boston Globe. ‘The 3 Graces’ were modeled on Marlboro’s graceful ladies...our Marlboro summer’s musically terrific. South Pond, very refreshing. Cheers.”

JONATHAN POTTER writes, “Still enjoying my teaching at University College at Rockland—currently working with history of theater; next semester I’ll be teaching acting skills. My recently published book on commedia dell’arte is doing well.” Jonathan was making plans for this summer’s commedia performance, Pantalone for Governor. “Hoping for a good cast turn-out.”

“Marlboro remains one of the best things that has happened to me,” writes BUNKY ZIMMERMAN. “Love to everybody.”

JERRY BURNHAM writes, “At long last, my new CD Burnham Would has been released. You can listen and view details.

January found SUSAN WHITING, MAGGIE MARX ’70, JENNIE GREENE ’68, and JENNIE TUCKER in a VRBO home in Poipu, Kauai. “Great stories, good food, and a drink or two,” writes Soo.

JERRY BUZYNISKI writes, “After 12 years, I’ve finally published Enclosure—A Trappist Tale, which could possibly be read in English classes. Or ‘how not to write a novel.’ But…I did it.”

JENNIE TUCKER writes, “Spring has come to the Blue Mountains. Eating from the garden and looking forward to a trip to Boulder, Colorado, with my husband, to witness the wedding of ZARAH THOMPSON ’06.”

“The birds and wine of Chile and Argentina trip proceeded to move from the carmenere, cabernet, and merlots (red wines) of inland Chile to coastal wineries specializing in sauvignon blanc and chardonnay (white wines),” writes SUSAN WHITING in an article in the Vineyard Gazette. The article, titled “Days of Wine andWigeon,” also describes many exotic birds, of course, from white monjitas to red-tailed comet hummingbirds. The co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II, Soo also reported bird sightings from Martha’s Vineyard.

“I currently work at the Brattleboro Retreat, on the adult co-occurring unit,” writes TIMOTHY MAYO. “This is a detox unit for patients with substance abuse and addiction disorders and often with a co-occurring disorder such as depression, anxiety, mood disorder, and/or bipolar disorder.” Timothy had a poem published in the latest issue of Salamander magazine, called “Every Poet Needs a Brother."

RICHARD COUTANT married local poet and recent honorary degree recipient Verandah Porche for a second time on May 3, 2014, in Guilford, Vermont. The couple’s first marriage, in 1979, lasted ten years, but their second union will last, they vowed, “for as long as we live, no matter what.”

In June, the Vermont Center for Photography honored the work of ROGER KATZ (deceased) with a retrospective of a hundred vintage gelatin silver prints, covering a span of time from the 1970s through 2012. The center says Roger “had a distinct ability to capture portraits on the street. His humble and quiet approach to his surroundings lent itself perfectly to acting as a ‘fly on the wall’ as life played out in front of him.”

Poetry in Marlboro: Cate Marvin ’93

In April, prize-winning poet Cate Marvin was visiting Marlboro as an outside evaluator (for Sarah Siebuhr ’14) when she was asked to include an impromptu poetry reading. Cate is the author of World’s Tallest Disaster and Fragment of the Head of a Queen, and professor of English at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Here is a poem from her third book, Oracle, forthcoming from W.W. Norton in March 2015 and printed with permission of the author. Photo by Rex Lott

High School: Industrial Arts
The lesson today is: someone always gets hurt.
Will it be you or another fool? This is a choice.
We provide the tools and materials. The saws,
the wood, nails, and supervision. Fall not now
in love, for it is merely a distraction from your
assignment. Now, create this uninspired name
plaque, build stacks of unstable shelves, lament
your lack of craft as the heat of your lust forms
in vaporous pools on the floor just below your
work table. You thought this class would mean
an easy credit. Welcome to our workhouse. No
one leaves this building whole. Consider now
how this building’s roof’s akin to the lid of a jar,
tightly screwed, and you’re the inhabitant within,
you’re scrabbling at its glass, yet we’ve punched
no holes in that aforementioned lid. Now, make
something! Make something no one can use that
no one wants. Don’t ask why. It builds character.
Someday you’ll look back on these days fondly.
Here are your goggles. There’s the eye-rinsing
station. No, this is not art! Ladies, stand back!
We don’t want you cutting those pretty fingers
off or sawing yourselves in half. This is a man’s
work. You, wipe that smirk off your face. Last
thing I need is one of you girls dying on my watch. 

PAMELA JORGENSEN HIGGINS writes, “We are still running an antique shop on Route 1 in Maine.We travel in the U.S. and England to find wonderful historic and beautiful pieces.” Have a look.

“All’s well,” writes CORNELIA CROCKER. “Enjoying life in Vermont, especially summer. Horseback riding is richly rewarding for me. Hello and hugs to all my college friends.”

THOMAS TUCKER writes, “Climbing up on 35 years of teaching woodworking at the Catlin Good School, a feat I lay to the able mentoring of Gib Taylor and Edmund Ford, and to Frank Stout, whose keen eye informed my own. Had a great visit from FRED GRAY and Ray Huersy in mid-January. Vermont sounds, thankfully, much the same as I remember.”

FREDDY GRAY writes, “In March I got to sing the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ in Berlin at the Marienchor (thank you, Blanche Moyse, for the excellent training—I had no problem keeping up with the excellent German singers). In May, I had the great good fortune to dance in ‘du Printemps’ with Thierry Thieu Niang, who choreographed it last year in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the riotous premiere of Stravinsky’s ‘Le Sacre du Printemps.’ This year was a Vermont Performance Lab project, masterminded by impresarios SARA COFFEY ’90 and KATHERINE PARTINGTON ’09 (Diaghilev in Vermont?).”

Retired professor, published author, and hermeneutics expert DAVID KLEMM was on campus with his two sons in May as an outside examiner for MARK WU ’14. William Edelglass, professor of philosophy, and KIRSTIN EDELGLASS ’95 hosted an intimate gathering that evening at their home for interested students and others to hear from David, who was a student of Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa in the ’70s. The group was riveted as he told one remarkable story after another about his experiences with Trungpa, Buddhism, meditation, Marlboro College, and life. It was an evening that no one fortunate enough to be there will ever forget.

HAROLD ZAKON writes, “Lynne and I spent the summer working with colleagues at the University of Cambridge in the UK. We loved it. I was a visiting fellow at Cambridge’s oldest (out of 31) college, Peterhouse, founded in 1284. Now that’s what I call old school.”

PAUL SKLAR, writes, “My wife Amy and our boys Mason (12) and Daron (4) visited Marlboro this past winter to reminisce.We also started a little company with cell phone accessories we invented: cellhandle.com. Best regards to all.”

Tim Collins ’02 returned to Marlboro in April for another one-man show, an award-winning educational theater piece about sexual assault prevention, rape culture, and masculinity, called “The Script.” Photo courtesy of Tim Collins In the spring, MICHELLE CHASSE HOLZAPFEL shared in a joint show at the Fuller Craft Museum, in Brockton, Massachusetts. The show, titled “The Stories We Tell,” included work by Michelle, Tommy Simpson, and Binh Pho. Michelle also had a 35-year retrospective in the Barstow Gallery, titled “What’s at Hand: Nature, Nurture, Culture, Chance.”

COLIN NICKERSON is a correspondent for the Boston Globe, covering science, after 26 years as a foreign correspondent for the Globe in Africa, the Far East, South Asia, Canada, the Middle East, and Europe.

“Very busy these days,” writes MARTIN ROSENBERG. He was a visiting fellow in art and cognition through the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design. Martin gave a talk there in December titled “What Is at Stake with the Ergonomics of Guitar Design: Fretboard Cognition, Embodiment, and Collective Intelligence,” the subject of a recent short book. “I also have a longer study of jazz and cognition I’m trying to finish for spring,” says Martin. “I love to hear news from the Marlboro community.” He is married to Elizabeth Mazur, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Greater Allegheny, and has three kids: Annie (29) in New York City, Gabriel (19) at Wesleyan University, and Maya (16) at Mount Lebanon High School.

MELISSA METTLER ABRAMS writes, “Our younger daughter, Cece, is leaving to go to San Diego for her first year of college in August. Our older daughter, Haley, is still at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for another two years. So, we will be empty nesters, very different after 21 years of raising two daughters. I have loved having children at home.We are now north of Denver, if old friends want to visit. Just turned 60, yikes.”

LAURA LAWSON TUCKER writes, “Who would have guessed that the theater program I started—with others in Brattleboro—would be alive and well 10 years later. Theatre Adventure of NEYT (New England Youth Theater). Check us out!”

RACHEL EUGSTER’s picture book, The Pocket Mommy (Random House), received a Great Books 2014 award from the Canadian Toy Testing Council, and was named to the 2014 Best Books for Kids & Teens list by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

LINDY WHITON writes, “After 40 years in education and after trying to find work for almost two years, I decided being out of work was a sign for me to do what I’ve always really wanted to do: write, photograph, and help other ‘original mothers.’ I am writing a book called The Strength to Speak; The Courage to Say Goodbye, a photojournal-styled book on women who relinquished babies to adoption. I am very excited about it and hope to interview and photograph 15 biological moms whose stories are begging to be heard. I am looking for a cross-section of women from many different areas with many different experiences of relinquishing their babies and learning to live with their decisions. At this point I am trying to raise money to complete the project. This summer I will write up two of the interviews in order to have models to help fundraise, and I am holding a fundraiser in early August. This project has been very challenging and a real learning opportunity. I’m really enjoying it. I have had two op-eds in Vermont Views online magazine; I will have an article in The Hampshire Gazette out of Northampton, Massachusetts. And I will be writing a twice-a-month column for Vermont Views. I’m happier than I’ve been in many years. This is partially due to the incredible show of support my fellow alumni have shown me. All of my friends and family have been huge helps, and I feel blessed.”

SUNNY TAPPAN traveled to Homer, Alaska, where she surprised DEBORAH MEADOWS ’12, who she knew was working at the bakery owned by MAYA ROHR ’15’s mom. Sunny didn’t go all the way to Alaska just to do that, but it was worth it all the same.

“Greetings from America’s hometown,” writes PETER DUDENSING. “If you ever find yourself at Plymouth Rock, please walk up the hill and come say hello.”

SOPHIE CABOT BLACK recently published her third book, The Exchange, and has had four of her poems in The New Yorker, reports her mother, Linda.

“I’m glad Marlboro is still out there, teaching people to think, and to write— both attributes seem to be in short supply these days,” writes DONALD SAWABINI. “I’m still here inWisconsin, still working with the lovely children and talented staff at Preschool of the Arts in Madison (18 years now), still married to my talented wife, Sheila.Wisconsin is beautiful, even if the political situation here is crap. I miss the green hills, brooks, and country roads of Vermont though. Hope all are well there.”

DAVID DEACON writes, “I married Michelle Osborne in Camillus, New York, June 27, 2014.We are living near Syracuse University with our beautiful dog, Dahlia. I’m adjuncting at a couple of colleges and playing lots of old-time and Irish music.”

Project Atlantic: Mike Auerbach ’97

For their culminating project, students in Mike Auerbach’s Environmental Science and Policy course at Brattleboro Union High School took on the future of energy. Project Atlantic, a collaboration between the Brattleboro Town Energy Committee and Brattleboro-area students, aims to educate the public on its future energy options, using European nations as an example. Based on what they have learned, the students designed a documentary that gives the public information about the latest breakthroughs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, with examples from around the world and around the corner.

“Their model of local energy investigation, coupled with the creation of media to educate town members, is very important, and we are pushing for this to become a regional if not national model,” says Mike. “Nobody is doing this.”

The students, who received Marlboro College credit through theWindham Regional Collegiate High School, unveiled Project Atlantic at the Slow Living Summit on June 5 at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. They presented short films on topics like biogas, district heat, institutional building efficiency, wind and solar, geothermal, and new nuclear technology, woven together by a “news desk” narrative.

“My students have been asked to present at three regional energy conferences, and we are planning to hold trainings in the four surrounding school districts and across New England to show other towns how to engage their students in this type of work,” says Mike. 

SOPHIE LAMPARD DENNIS writes, “My son, Eric Dennis ’14, just finished at Marlboro, having focused on ecology with a Plan of Concentration on mycorrhizal fungi and island biogeography with Jenny, and metal-welding sculpture with Tim. I have been impressed with the academic expectations and rigor of Eric’s work, and was a proud mom when he was awarded the Bob Engel Award in 2013 for his work in natural science. As for myself, I have just completed 15 years of teaching at Landmark College, where I am an associate professor. In recent years, I have been active presenting nationally and internationally, conducting workshops, and publishing. I write and present mainly about pedagogical issues related to working with at-risk college students, for whom there may exist various barriers to learning. You can find my articles online and at my Linkedin page. My most recent work can be found in the journals The Teaching Professor (May 2014) and About Campus (Jan/Feb 2014). My daughter, Coral, is halfway through her Ph.D. in dairy science at the University of Alberta, Canada, and my youngest, Marie, attends the Community College of Vermont. My husband, Dan, remains busy with carpentry, while I am a justice of the peace in Marlboro.”

KATHY FRASER writes, “Tyce and I continue to advocate for trail access.We no longer run the tour company, though any alum out this way who is up for a spin in the Redwoods is welcome to look us up. I’m teaching full time now, and have a K-2 classroom at our tiny, rural school out in the hills. ‘Independent schools for independent minds’ is our motto, and some truly unique, creative, self-motivated people have come through this shoestring operation in its 40+ years. I love the ages I work with and the freedom I have with the curriculum. Still, looking forward to summer, as usual, to get back at the multitude of homestead chores that continue to mount. Our daughter, Maddy, is a second-year at the early-college prep academy about 90 minutes north of here. Carol Hendrickson and John Hayes, you may be pleased to hear I’m finally putting my degree to appropriate use and building a (semi-) subterranean structure: our root cellar/outbuilding will hold our solar system gear and sport a sod roof.”

“We recently moved closer to the beach, and live in Santa Monica now,” writes THERESE TINLING STEPHANO. “I love my work as a clinical supervisor at a community-based mental health agency. I supervise a team of therapists and social workers who assist low-income families. We specialize in trauma-related symptoms, pre-psychotic symptoms, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and ADHD. I miss Vermont and would love to visit.”

“I feel so grateful for where I’ve arrived in life, with a beautiful 6-year-old daughter and a wonderful husband,” writes CECELIA ZAZ BRELSFORD. I still work part time as a birthing nurse at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, allowing me lots of time for life’s other pursuits. My best to all.”

Sarah Grant ’04 visited Marlboro in April to offer a soap-making workshop to members of the Farm Committee and other students interested in smelling nice. Sarah runs Higley Hill Farm with partner and fellow alumnus Anthony Girard ’03, and teaches biology at Wilmington High School. RANDY GEORGE’s Red Hen Bakery hosted the signing of Vermont’s new minimum wage bill in June, representing the small business community. “Anyone who has to buy groceries or keep a roof over their head for themselves or a family knows that these are foolish numbers,” said Randy, referring to the federal and state minimum wage of $7.25. “For myself as a business owner, if I am going to attract skilled people and keep them, we have to exceed that.” Employees at Red Hen make at least $10.50 an hour, the goal of the new state law by 2018.

REBECCA WATSON MOKOS writes, “In September I started my CPE, which I didn’t do in divinity school. I’m hoping to become a hospice chaplain. Sam (10) and Lili (7) are both doing great.”

LOREN TALBOT writes, “My husband Jacob and I were happy to introduce Vander Eros Storm Schuiten to the world this past November. His first “playdate” was with BRAD CARMODY’s son Hudson, who was born just one week earlier, and Auntie KIM ALLEN ’96 has been down to visit too. I have been working as the photo editor of The Week magazine for the past four years, co-chairing a poetry group in New Jersey, and loving being a mother. Old friends, drop a line if you are in the NYC area: loren@ lorentalbot.com.

“Life is good in Austin,” writes ERIK PEARSON. “My wife, Lisa, and I enjoyed visiting with DAVID WILLIAMSON ’98, ALLISON GUPTILL WILLIAMSON ’06, ALEX GREENFIELD ’97, and others. Our kids loved seeing Vermont for the first time.”

JANAN COMPITELLO GUILLAUME recently got married and moved to Victor, New York.

“Returned to Portland after five-ish years in New York City and another four-and-a-half years in New Zealand, where I lived in the Wellington Region and worked for Massey University,” writes JON ROUSSEAU. “My son Liam was born in New Zealand and lays claim to three passports: U.S. from me, Philippines from his mom, and New Zealand because he was born there while we were permanent residents. I’m jealous. Liam is now attending a Mandarin language immersion program, where he just finished kindergarten. Basically, Liam’s life is the most interesting thing about my life. Would love to hear from any old friends I’ve lost contact with or any current or prospective students I could help in any way.”

ELI FISHMAN still lives on the east side of Long Island and works as the exhibit designer/builder for the Long Island Aquarium. “Having a blast watching my son grow up before my eyes, and even more excited to welcome a new addition to our family in November,” writes Eli.

“Still teaching media literacy and English in failing inner city schools,” writes JOSHUA FARBER. “Acting around the edges, too. I was even nominated for a ‘Best Feature Actor’ Mass Critics Circle award for my recent turn in a dress and heels playing Edna Turnblad in a local production of Hairspray, the musical—first time I shaved the beard off since Marlboro.”

“My wife Aiden, son Felix, and I continue to live in Little Compton, Rhode Island, or, as I like to call it, Vermont by the sea,” writes CHARLIE BARMONDE. “I would love to hear from any alumni in the area. I continue to work in clay and am excited that for the first time I am starting to make pure sculpture. For a little while anyway.”

“Still making places,” writes AMY DOMRAD TUDOR. “Come see us at the nonprofit Tasha Tudor Museum in Brattleboro.”

Nahum Brown ’01, who recently received his doctorate from University of Guelph, returned to Marlboro for a talk titled “The Logic of the Burrow: Towards a Philosophy of Nature.” ERIN CASEY HUMAN is living in Omaha, Nebraska, with husband Mike and sons Miles and Julius. She works from home as an illustrator (humanillustrations.com), writes a blog (eisforerin.com), and is currently working on founding a new K-12 school in Nebraska, based on the Sudbury model. She is curious if any current students or alumni went to a Sudbury or democratic school before attending Marlboro…if so, be in touch: erinhuman@gmail.com.

LAUREN BEIGEL MACARTHUR writes, “Our second child, Louisa Barnes MacArthur (named with Luis Batlle in mind), was born on December 2, 2013, a true light in our world. I’m home with the kids, growing boatloads of vegetables for us and for others, and making hard cider with my husband, Jason MacArthur. We sell it locally as Whetstone Cider Works.”

“I am living in Taipei, Taiwan, for at least two years of teaching preschoolers,” writes MEGAN HAMILTON. “Spent summer 2014 traveling in Australia and to Vanuatu, in the South Pacific.”

ALLISON GAMMONS writes, “I’ve been back in Oregon for about a year now, working at Testing Services at Portland State University. In the fall I will begin working on my second master’s degree, this time in history.”

ELIOT GOODWIN and ALLISON LENNOX GOODWIN welcomed their second daughter, Iris Belle Goodwin, on April 4, 2014.

BRAD HECK and WILLOW O’FERAL ’07 were pleased to reach and exceed their Kickstarter goal of $20,000 to launch Arming Sisters, their documentary film following Patty Stein Stonefish’s quest to bring self-defense training to indigenous women across America. Learn more at their website.

RYAN KISH received an M.F.A. from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in May of 2013. “I recently moved to Los Angeles and look forward to painting outside year round. I do keep in touch with Cathy, Tim, and JohnWillis. Saw them all this summer at Raf Kelman’s wedding in Vermont.”

SILVER GERETY and HEATHER GERETY ’08 write, “We, along with our three children, Ezzie (almost 5), Elspeth (3), and Josiah (a year and a half ), are moving to Zambia this year to serve with the Rafiki Foundation.We’d love to connect with anyone interested in learning more about Rafiki and our involvement. You can find Heather on Facebook, email us at heather.gerety@gmail.com, or check out the Rafiki website.

LISA MISKELLY co-runs a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), draft-powered vegetable farm in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania with her partner Anton. “For philosophical musings grounded in the roots of farming, you can read updates about our life and work.”

RENATA CHRISTEN currently works for Seed Savers Exchange, in Decorah, Iowa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s food and garden heritage through saving and sharing heirloom seeds. “We house the nation’s largest nongovernmental seed bank, in addition to rare White Park cattle,” writes Renata. “I am the events and outreach coordinator. Luckily, the importance of seed saving and sharing is gaining traction, as community groups begin incorporating ‘community seed projects’ into their current programming.”

THOMAS DEVITO is living in Astoria, Queens, New York, and works at Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s leading advocate for cycling, walking, and mass transit. “Since starting, I’ve been proud to assist in several big accomplishments, including ushering in the United States’ largest bikeshare system, guiding a series of major street improvement plans through to fruition, and getting street safety issues to the top of Mayor de Blasio’s agenda. I organize Manhattan-based campaigns and now know the borough better than I’ve ever known any place since cottageland. It’s exhausting, but extremely rewarding work.”

CHANNING BICKFORD is living and working in Beijing, China, where he is teaching English, report his parents.

“The anti-GMO movement prefers to cast doubt on prevailing scientific thought in order to influence both consumers and legislators—even if it means misinforming them with discredited studies,” write AARON GOODIER and JOËLLE MONTAGNINO, both employees at the Brattleboro Food Coop. In an article titled “Peace of Mind?” in The Commons, Aaron and Joëlle raise concerns about Vermont’s historic bill to mandate the labeling of GMO products: .

Kyrgyzstani Rock Stars: Lynn ’09 and Will Rowan ’08

Touring has become commonplace for Lynn Mahoney Rowan and Will Thomas Rowan, who started the World Music Ensemble while at Marlboro and are now half of the vocal group called Windborne. But their tour last February was uncommon by any measure: a month in Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola with the American Music Abroad program, run by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Windborne was one of 10 acts chosen from 350 applicants to share American musical traditions with communities around the world, and learn from local traditions.

“The reason this program is so important is that it brings people from different cultures face to face with each other,” says Lynn. Windborne was a natural fit, as they sing music from all over the world, with a strong focus on American folk music. “You get to experience culture through meeting real people, not through what the media gives you, and it went both ways. What better way is there to do that than through music?”

“We were treated like rock stars,” says Will. “People were mobbing us and asking us for our autographs. We were in some areas where people had never seen someone from the United States.” Windborne played to packed houses, collaborated with the members of a local folk ensemble in Kyrgyzstan, and shared the stage with social activist musician Waldemar Bastos at a beachside concert in Luanda, Angola.

“When you are working with these musicians, and we are sharing a stage, it makes you realize that we are not so different,” says Lynn. “It’s very powerful.” 

EMILY KIERNAN writes, “I recently had my first novel published by a small California publisher called Unsolicited Press. Online ordering information, excerpts, etc., can be found here.

ERIN RIORDAN writes, “I’m preparing to move to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Carmel Valley, where I’ll sit meditating in the winter mountains and study Buddhism. I think of the Green Mountains with gratitude for Marlboro.”

Until recently, KENTON CARD was still to be found running naked on the campus trails, occasionally. He is now in California, where he works as a web researcher and writer at Architecture for Humanity’s headquarters in San Francisco. He is also a housing research fellow at Housing California, an affordable housing lobbying organization in Sacramento.

EVELYN ROSE CRAWFORD finished up her program at Case Western Reserve University for her master’s in genetic counseling in June. “I have finished up all of my coursework and my work in the clinic,” she writes. “I am scheduled to have my formal private thesis defense on June 20 and my public thesis defense on the 27th. I have accepted a position with Ambry Genetics, in California, for after I graduate, and will be moving out there in a month or so. My position consists of consulting with clinicians and writing reports for diagnostic genetic testing results. Thank you for all of your support.”

MEREDITH VITALE CANN received her master’s degree in social work, as well as a certificate in aging, from the Rutgers University School of Social Work in May 2014. In addition, she was inducted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society, the national honor society for social workers. Meredith is extremely proud of her accomplishments and greatly attributes her success to the education she received at Marlboro College. “I will continue to hone my skills as a social worker in the future, and shall always be dedicated to social justice and helping others,” writes Meredith.

Eric Dennis ’14 celebrates his graduation with mom, Sophie Lampard Dennis ’90. “DANIEL GARCIA-GALILI ’07 and I are taking care of a beautiful home in South Newfane and an equally wonderful cat,” writes MORGAN BROADFOOT. “Dan’s working on his master’s degree in education while I’m working on prereqs to become a physician’s assistant.We’re both active EMTs and are working toward advanced certification.”

LEVI GERSHKOWITZ is marketing director for Pearlstone Center, a conference and retreat center in the Chesapeake area. He is also teaching for a VisionWorkshops program called Crossing Borders, a youth photography program targeting immigrant and refugee teens in Baltimore.

MERCEDES LAKE lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts, reports her mother, Joan. “She takes classes at Smith, and works at Urban Outfitters. You did a fine job for her at your school.”

LESLIE WILSON began as an intern at the Department of Labor, and is now the Workforce Investment Act case manager for Windham County. “My program (WIA) gives federal money to low-income individuals who wish to take a course, or need funding for anything job-related,” writes Leslie. “For instance, I am currently working with a Marlboro grad; we will be giving him approximately 600 dollars to cover teaching certification testing fees. I am also going to school part time at Dartmouth for public health.”

“Life has been great,” writes EVAN LORENZEN. “I’m working as a designer/ salesperson at a phenomenal screen printing company in Denver. I currently have an art show up this month of some pretty goofy ink drawings and watercolor paintings, and was lucky enough to have a few Marlboro students drop by to check out the show. Besides that, a few weeks ago I got a lot of publicity for a series of tiny, handmade books I’ve been creating. I was lucky enough to be featured on Huffington Post, NPR’s blog, and Colossal (many thanks to Carol Hendrickson, Cathy Osman, and Linda Lemke for getting me involved in bookbinding in the first place). All in all, enjoying the sun and excitement here in the Mile High City.”

CLARE RILEY is now working for the Central Park Conservancy in New York City. “I’m working as a zone gardener, taking care of a piece of ornamental woodland in the northwestern section of the park called the Children’s Glade.”

“I got a job,” writes DANIEL ZAGAL. “I’m going to be working at an organic synthesis lab making all sorts of crazy chemicals. It is a private lab in Grafton, Vermont. So on top of doing what I love doing, I get to stay in Vermont. You won’t get rid of me that easily.”

KARA HAMILTON writes, “This summer I have the wonderful opportunity to stay in southern Vermont and work as the program assistant for the master’s in TESOL program at Marlboro College. I’m looking forward to welcoming students and faculty as they arrive from all over the country and the world. I am thrilled to continue to be an active member of the Marlboro community.”

MOLLY BOOTH is working with BRIAN MOONEY ’90 as the first marketing and communications intern at Storymatic Studios, which makes creative writing prompts and games for writers and non-writers.

Graduate and Professional Studies

Over the summer, KAREN TRENOSKY MAT ’13 taught 20 teachers at Brattleboro Union High School and Brattleboro Area Middle School in a three-credit graduate class called Online Collaborative Tools. Karen is the technology integration specialist at the schools, but the class was part of a new initiative to fully integrate Google Apps for Education into the curriculum. “Our incoming freshmen are being given Chromebooks as part of a new 1:1 program,” says Karen. “I am leading the class on the adventure…very exciting!”

CASSANDRA HOLLOWAY MS ’13 recently took over as the director of the Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition. She began working at the organization as a policy and project coordinator six months after beginning her degree program, and was promoted six months after graduating. Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition is one of many substance abuse prevention coalitions throughout the state and the nation. Some projects of the coalition include fostering Above the Influence youth groups, addressing prescription drug misuse among youth, and reducing secondhand smoke exposure in the community. Cassandra is grateful for the education, experience, and network of colleagues that Marlboro has provided her as she begins her new professional venture.

As executive director of Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, SUSAN FOX MS ’13 has been working with the southwestern Vermont health care system to reduce the hospitalization of elders.With a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, now in its second year, Meals on Wheels gives coupons for 10 free meals to elders being discharged or seen as having a high rate of nutritional risk. “We have been able to reduce the hospital readmission rate from 8.6 percent to 2.7 percent,” says Susan. “Unlike most meals programs that rely on processed foods, we cook everything from scratch. Over half our foods are donated from local farmers and the Vermont Foodbank.”

Former faculty
A most excellent Oxford classics fellow in the 1970s, Rob Jackson was recently named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire “for services to scholarship” by, yes, that’s Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.LESLIE LAMPORT, math professor at Marlboro in the ’60s, received the prestigious Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award for 2013. Leslie was recognized for imposing clear, well-defined coherence in the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages. Find out more.

“Making an independent film is a tightrope walk without a net, and we pulled it off. Now we’d like people to see it,” says film producer PETER LEFCOURT, who taught writing and literature at Marlboro from 1968 to 1970. He encourages readers to watch Sweet Talk, now available on various PPV and VOD platforms, from TimeWarner to iTunes. “It is about the transformative power of storytelling, among other things, and we are very proud of it,” says Peter. “Look at it this way: usually when you go to a play, you have to plunk down $25 and schlep to a theater with bad parking. Now all you have to do is press a button, part with $12 (the price of a martini), sit on your couch, and go to that special place in heaven reserved for patrons of the arts.We could use your support.”

Math fellow from 2001 to 2003, IULIANA RADU writes, “These days I am at home with my first baby, Jesse, who is almost 8 months old. That means I have very little time for the internet, but I do follow Marlboro College on Facebook and enjoy seeing the occasional updates posted there.” 






In Memoriam

Robert Bernbach ’56
“Knowing how strongly Robert felt about Marlboro, I am making this contribution in his memory,” wrote Linda Bernbach ’56. Her husband, Robert Bernbach ’56, died on December 24, 2012, at the age of 79. They had been married almost 52 years, and lived in Pleasantville, New York. Robert spent three years at Marlboro College, which he combined with classes at New York University, Columbia University, and Washington and Jefferson College for his bachelor’s degree. He studied history and literature at Marlboro, where he was remembered for his quiet, courteous good nature. “He accepts, usually, whatever situation arises,” reflected one professor, “and he has the saving grace of humor.” After college Robert served for two years in the army, stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and Fort Drum, New York. He started his career in magazine advertising sales working for various national magazines, including House Beautiful, Ladies Home Journal, and American Home magazine. In 1980 Robert founded Robert Bernbach Advertising Representatives and specialized in direct response advertising, recently representing publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, AAA Magazines, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Working Mother. He worked until he passed away, and was succeeded as president of RB Advertising Representatives by his daughter Stephanie Bernbach-Crowe. He is survived by Linda, Stephanie, his son Erik, and four grandchildren.

Mary Fullerton, former staff member
“I remember Mary Fullerton knitting in her spare moments,” said receptionist Sunny Tappan ’77. “That was back when the receptionist had to take messages for all faculty, and most of the staff, and put them into their Mather mailbox.” Mary Bugbee Fullerton, who was receptionist at Marlboro from 1984 to 1993, died on February 15, 2014, in Burlington, Vermont. She was born in 1923 in Cornish, New Hampshire, and married George Fullerton of Plainfield, New Hampshire, in 1943. The couple later divorced, and Mary raised her two children, Michael and Patricia, in Vermont herself. She worked in kitchen and cafeteria management, in the records department at the Brattleboro Retreat, and eventually retired as receptionist and switchboard operator at Marlboro College. Mary loved nature and the outdoors, including mountain climbing, and read extensively about cosmology, geology, English history, and much else. She was also an avid Red Sox fan and enjoyed auto racing. In her last days, she was very pleased to have lived long enough to see the Daytona 500 race won by her favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Mary is survived by her two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.  

Magnanimity Cum Laude

Jean Boardman, “Crew Grandma”

Photo by Jon Notwick '12Harry and Jean Boardman first came to Marlboro for the music festival in the 1960s. But they stayed for the Whetstone Inn, which they bought as a so-called “retirement” occupation in 1979. As the genial innkeeper for the last 35 years, on her own since Harry’s death in 2009, Jean Boardman has contributed to the college community in countless ways. 

“My involvement with the college started the first winter, when we took in some parents visiting their daughter, a student” says Jean, sitting in the dining room of the Whetstone in her signature colorful floral dress. “She came to breakfast, and in the course of our conversation Harry said, do you want a job for the summer?” Patty Pedreira ’83 was their first student employee, soon to be followed by many others. Last summer that included Tommy Arsenault ’16, ’16, Mairead Delaney ’14, Robyn Manning Samuels ’14, Jon Notwick ’12, and Lynn Mahoney Rowan ’08, who grew up in Marlboro and has worked at the Whetstone since she was in ninth grade.

In addition to employing a sizeable fraction of the student body, Jean has welcomed parents, outside evaluators, trustees, and potential faculty coming to Marlboro for interviews over the decades. She hosted incoming president Paul LeBlanc, who memorably stormed into the dining room during breakfast and exclaimed that there was no hot water in his shower (the knob was hidden by the shower curtain). She has even housed students on occasion, most recently Vietnam veteran and retired pilot Chuck Pillette ’13.

“And of course there was Luis Batlle, who became a professor at the college in the early ’80s after years of involvement with the Marlboro Music Festival,” says Jean. “Luis was living in Guilford, a single father trying to negotiate four teenage kids. Two of them were at the high school in Brattleboro, but Luis Jr. and Liza lived here at the inn for their first winter at the college. So I had a lot of experience with them as students, and saw a lot of Luis.”

Jean has made many other personal connections with faculty, but perhaps her most significant support to academic programs has been through Movies from Marlboro, professor Jay Craven’s semester-long film intensive. For two semesters, spring 2012 and 2014, Jean housed most of the staff working on the films, and in 2012 the Whetstone became one of the shooting locations for the film Northern Borders.

“Everyone really loves Jean,” says Willow O’Feral ’07, who was on staff for both semesters of Movies from Marlboro. “She is like the Crew Grandma.”

“We filmed at the Whetstone for nearly a month,” says Jay. “A dozen cast and crew lived there, and we took over her largest room to store and alter a hundred costumes. I called the inn Whetstone Studios. In all of my years of filmmaking I’ve never had a community connection as fully supportive and engaged with all we were trying to do.”

Visit: whetstoneinn.com

Parting Shot

On a beautiful day in May, Daniel Kalla ’14 and Claire Trail ’15 pledged their mutual devotion to each other in a “friendship wedding.” There was music, and flowers, and dancing, and even fresh baked cookies. “Claire and I are very good friends, and have grown especially close over the course of this past semester,” says Daniel. “This wedding was a celebration of our platonic friendship, not romantic love.” Photo by Philip Johansson

Special Web Features

On the Road to Harrisville, by David Amato

Meaning Everywhere: An interview with John Sheehy, professor of writing and literature

John Sheehy was visited in his office by his former Plan student Robyn Manning-Samuels ’14 to discuss Melville, movie violence, and the “passing” novel. Really it was a pretense for Robyn to play with John’s puppy, Eddie, but they did talk about those things as well. 

John Sheehy: Eddie’s an experiment in dog training. The thing all the trainers are saying now is positive reinforcement. So either he’s going to be an extremely well-trained dog or he’s just going to be like fat as a tick (laughs), because he’s getting treats like every minute.

Robin Manning-Samuels: Why do you get all the fun Plans? All the ones with video games and comic books?

JS: I don’t think I do get all the fun Plans. I mean, I get fun Plans but I think they’re all pretty fun. Could I be interviewed lying down? Is that okay?

RMS: What are you reading these days?

JS: Right now I’m not reading anything much for work, because it’s June. June for me is sort of a big decompression stage. Eddie…Just give him something to chew…or you can just ignore him.

RMS: If you can!

JS: But soon I will have to start reading very large post-modern novels for John Pennington’s Plan. And then I’ve got to figure out…I’m doing a thing on the “passing” novel. It’s actually a genre. It turns out it’s one of the enduring genres of American literature. The original ones were about people who were passing for “white.” Get the air quotes? Please? It actually began before the Civil War. There was a real cultural preoccupation with passing, because race, even as it was constructed before the civil war, was really problematic. And the way the culture worked it out was by just fantasizing these passing narratives over and over again.

RMS: So passing is pretending you’re something else?

JS: That’s sort of the question. After the Civil War you get this big spate of novels, or cultural productions, whatever. They’re written by white people. They’re written by black people. They’re written by multiracial people, or whatever. And very often, the sort of primary moment in these stories will be a moment where a child looks in a mirror and sees usually a white face. They have white skin, they have all the physical markers of whiteness. But that child is usually looking in the mirror at the exact moment when someone out in the world has revealed to the child that they’re not white, that they’re black. And so, the question that the child has to deal with is what does it mean to be white or black. Because in terms of physical markers everything about them suggests that they’re white, and in terms of social markers they are apparently black, whatever that means. They’re the only people in the culture that have reason to question, what does it mean? Eddie….Eddie…

RMS: Is there a passing novel I’d be familiar with?

JS: Well, Nella Larsen’s Passing. Eddie…c’m’ere. Can you hand me that chew toy? The Great Gatsby is a passing novel, really. The Great Gatsby is about a man who is pretending to be something that he is not. But what he is and what he is not, what the level of deception is, is an open question. Interestingly enough, Gatsby the novel comes out right at the height of passing novels, as a genre. And Tom Buchanan in the Great Gatsby can’t really talk about Gatsby without talking about race. Tom Buchanan is just consumed with theories about race. He’s worried about the rise of the colored empire. So when he calls Gatsby “Mr. Nobody from Nowhere,” that’s like the classic gesture of the passing novel. There are clear lines between people, and Gatsby is challenging those lines. The fact that he’s challenging them suggests that there aren’t actually clear lines between people. And the fact that there aren’t clear lines is so threatening to the established order of things it makes everybody nervous. So it is an enduring genre. The last of the straightforward passing novels came out in 1998. It’s called Caucasia. Did you read Caucasia?

RMS: No, but there’s a comic called Incognegro.

JS: It’s never gone away because race as a preoccupation of American life has never gone away. And race, especially the binary about blackness and whiteness, seems to most people to be just something to be relied upon. We rely on that idea, but in fact, for a lot of people, it can’t be relied upon at all. A lot of people’s lives are lived in a place that is undefined by that binary. And there’s actually a big part of the culture that’s preoccupied with what you do in that place. But it is kind of interesting that they are sort of invisible in the mainstream culture. Until you start looking for it, and then you realize that the most popular book of the 19th century was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. And Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was about, among other things, two characters who were passing as white. They not only had escaped slavery, they were physically “white” enough—again, catch the air quotes. They were physically white enough to go to the north and just sort of pass into the white population. And even for Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was against slavery, the idea that black people could be passing for white was still like, “what do we do with this?” Because race was taking on a sort of cultural burden that before had been helped by slavery.

RMS: So this is a class your teaching this fall?

JS: Yeah. Years ago I had actually written and published about the passing novel, so it was one of my original preoccupations. I’ve taught courses on race at Marlboro, pretty much from the beginning, but I’ve never really just zeroed in on the passing novel as a genre. And so it’s going to be an American lit course. I’ll probably teach Gatsby.

RMS: Awesome.

JS: At the time I published about it, the black-white binary was the thing that we talked about. Since then that binary, even to the extent that you can talk about that binary, is sort of on a continuum with 10 or 15 other binaries, that are also not binaries. So the landscape, racially, is still something you can talk about with respect to passing, and one end of the binary is always the same, oddly enough. There’s the white-Latino binary, there’s the white-black binary, there’s the white-Asian binary, but the undiscussed category in all those binaries is whiteness. And whiteness exists because of all those others. So the real question that the passing novel raises is what does it mean to be white? Because all of those other things are defined in opposition to whiteness.  

I’m sorry, this is just kind of on my mind right now. Passing novels were for a long time categorized in African American literature, which is kind of interesting in itself. But one of the great passing novels was by this writer called Charles Chesnutt, who was one of the founders of the NAACP. He was also a guy who could have passed if he wanted to, but chose not to. He wrote a novel called The House Behind the Cedars, which is about a brother and a sister. Both of them are black in the sense that one out of eight of their grandparents was black. And so they were both outwardly, physically white. Both of them have a mother who considers herself to be a negro. The male character in that book was born John Walden, and he changes his name to John Warwick when he decides to pass. He has this great conversation in the middle where he he’s talking to a judge—he studied the law, and he’s a very smart man—he is talking to the man who had been his mentor for all his life. The guy he’s talking to, who was white, keeps saying, well, you know, this is all about heritage. It’s about denying yourself, about something deep inside you. And John Walden says no, it’s not, it’s really just about the law. If I stay in North Carolina I’m black. But if I move 200 miles away to Virginia, I’m not black. I’m not. Because the law says you’re black here if you’re one eighth. The law there says you’re only black if you’re one quarter. So, I’m going to go some place where I can be white, because there are privileges attached to being white, and I’m not going to deny them to myself. And even for Chesnutt, who’s writing this novel, that’s a really compelling argument. Why not be white—what are you holding onto and what are you moving towards? And oddly enough, this conversation happens about a third of the way through the novel, and after that this really compelling character moves to Virginia and just disappears from the novel (laughs). One of the main characters is gone. And it’s weird, just in terms of plot, that Chesnutt doesn’t bring him back. He dissolves into the emptiness of whiteness, and can never be brought back, whereas his sister, who is faced with a similar choice, ends up passing for a while and then feels so consumed with sort of guilt or something, that she has to go back. And she moves back into the black world.  Where in a lot of ways she doesn’t fit. But she does it because that is deemed to be right. All of these novels are weird because you realize pretty quickly that there is no good answer to the problem that confronts these people. And it’s not an uncommon problem. What are you eating?

RMS: It’s a green smoothie.

JS: That’s disgusting. Is that a magic bullet?

RMS: Yeah, I have a magic bullet in here. It’s like spinach, cucumber, celery… What else are you teaching, I’m sure you’re doing lots of tutorials.

JS: Well I’m doing a writing seminar on film. I haven’t done a strictly film course in quite a while. Did I ever do film violence when you were here?

RMS: No.

JS: I used to have this course that was one of my go-to courses, that everybody took, called Film Violence. I stopped teaching it after a number of times. It’s really hard to teach. It’s just hard. You’re dealing with extreme violence, so you’re dealing with trigger warnings. You kind of have to watch the film, but some of the films…there was a period between 1968 and 1975, when American films just exploded into violence. They call it the ultra violent period. Part of that has to do with the fact that the Hays code, which had governed representations of violence, sort of dissolved in 1968. And another part of it has to do with the fact that the Vietnam War was being televised, so a lot of directors in the industry were interested in the problem of violence. And they were also repulsed by depictions of violence that made it look like something that wasn’t violent. So you got all these directors, like Peckinpah, Scorcese, Kubrick, and others, who just became really interested in portraying violence as a sort of social phenomenon. And so you get all these movies that are just really hard to watch, even at this remove. Like Taxi Driver is not an easy movie to watch. So, I used to teach that a lot, and I couldn’t do it after a while. It’s emotionally difficult to teach it. You were always kind of negotiating stuff that you don’t have to negotiate, so I pulled away from film for a while. I’ve set up a new film course for the fall that I think is going to have some of the same stuff in it. I haven’t decided how it’s going to be set up, but it’s going to be about morality tales and how people construct moral choices.

RMS: Sounds really good.

JS: And it’s going to have Taxi Driver, and it’s going to have Shane (laughs).

RMS: It has to have Shane. Yes.

JS: Every course has to have Shane (laughs). Because I think Shane is like the American proto-myth. If you can understand what’s going on in Shane, which is a messed up movie—it’s just weird on every level—you will see the basis for American culture for the next 40 years after. It just keeps coming back to the same—I don’t know, what would you call it…

RMS: I feel like they all come back to the same justification for their mythic narrative around morality.

JS: Which is basically: the guy who’s doing the killing, is a good man.

RMS: Always.

JS: …for reasons you can’t quite pin down, because he’s killing a lot of people (laughs). But once you’ve established that he’s a good man on some core level, it’s entirely distinct from the things he does. That he is good; then you will allow him to do any kind of horrific kind of violence.

RMS: He will be indistinguishable, almost, from the villain. Other than it’s established that they are just bad. In some smarter movies, they’ll point out that that distinction doesn’t exist, except arbitrarily. Taxi Driver kind of does that.

JS: Well even in Shane. The bad guy, Ryker, constantly meets Shane and is like, what are you doing in those clothes? You’re not a farmer man, you’re like us. In their big showdown, there’s this conversation where Shane is like, I know I’m like you, but I know our time is over. And now I’m going to kill everybody in this room.

RMS: And he kills like 20 people.

JS: While a little boy watches.

RMS: While a little boy watches, and roots for him. And then he walks off into the sunset.

JS: He may or may not be dead.

RMS: He may or may not be dead.

JS: With the little boy begging him to come back. Saying, mother wants you (laughs). My obsession with Shane has become kind of kind of infamous, among my colleagues. But that movie explains a lot.

RMS: And what book are you obsessed with?

JS: I have this enduring obsession with Moby Dick. That’s on my mind because I just taught it.

RMS: You love Moby Dick.

JS: Why do you think I like it so much?

RMS: Because you’re smart. There’s an endless amount of things going on in Moby Dick, and it’s rewarding to constantly go back and take another look at it. To teach it it’s probably even more rewarding. When I taught my class I knew all those books back and forth, but then getting feedback, getting other perspectives, getting correlations and all those things just makes it that much more interesting.With something like Moby Dick there’s just endless amounts of payoff, if you give it time.

JS: When you teach a book, you interact with it in a way that’s a lot more intense than when you just read a book, or even you’re learning a book. Part of its just that you have to go into a room full of people who are confused by it, and you’re responsible for knowing it—in a way that you don’t necessarily know it if you’re just reading it for pleasure. When you teach a book, and this is true of many books that I love, there are many books that you can find the bottom of. You teach it once, you teach it twice, you teach it 10 times, and in the end of that you’ve found the edges of it, you know all of the things that are in it. And Moby Dick is not like that. I’ve been teaching it for 20 years and every time I teach it…there’s a bottom somewhere there but I haven’t found it. It’s a beautiful book.

But the thing that’s interesting about American literature is the way it sets itself up for failure. The American writers that we canonize, the ones that we come back to, are all people who, in some way or another, set out to write a Bible. Their ambitions were that grand. They were not usually like, “I’m going to write the social novel of the 1890s,” although there were people doing that. But people like Melville, or Walt Whitman, or Emily Dickenson—or a modern person like Marilynne Robinson—you pick up those books and its as of this person is trying to rewrite literature, all of the way back to the ground. And you can’t. You fail of course. All of those texts that I’m thinking of have pretty major failings. Like quite often they just kind of fall apart, or they don’t know how to end, or they do end, but they end in strange ways. But the thing that’s fascinating about it is this insane ambition that I think is part of the American character. To just rewrite history. To start fresh and build some brand new edifice, one that has a relationship to the old edifice but is huge. Moby Dick is actually very referential to the bible, but its also rewriting the relationship between the human being and the universe, or it’s trying to. And all the best parts if it are parts where you just recognize that and go, oh, this is opening some entirely new door. And all of the worst parts of it are like, ah, for crying out loud (laughs). This is so serious, can we just go kill a whale? It’s been quite a while (laughs).

RMS: It’s full of whaling facts. What about that scene where the guy goes down inside the whale’s head?

JS: Yeah, it’s just on the edge of being silly. The guy goes down into the whale’s head, which becomes this metaphor for getting lost in the head. Melville says, how many men have been lost in Plato’s honeyed head. But at the same time this guy is literally drowning in this tub of oil. And the whale’s head is submerged, so he’s in the whales head, which itself is in the sea. And one of the harpooners sees the problem, jumps into the ocean, swims out with like a sword, and cuts open the whale’s head, and pulls him out, in this birth scene. This guys being born from the head of the whale. It’s right on the edge of being ridiculous. Except it’s not. Melville is really into is like the factual world is just pregnant with meaning (pun apparently unintended). You can never tell what anything means but you feel this sense that there’s just meaning everywhere. And so he loves to give you this sort of set of facts and then just spin the metaphors out of it. I forget what the question was (laughs).

RMS: Okay, we know what book you’re obsessed with, and you’re obsessed with Shane. What else?

JS: Lately I’ve been obsessed with trying to get a piece of my own published. It’s just so hard right now.

RMS: A story?

JS: I don’t know what you’d call it, narrative non-fiction. I guess it’s a memoir, a piece about the death of my mother. It sort of incorporates things that are fiction. And I think it’s good, but it’s too long. As it turns out the worst thing to get is an encouraging denial. When a journal sends back and says boy, we really loved this, but we’re not going to publish it (laughs).

RMS: So you’re sending it to literary magazines?

JS: Yeah literary magazines, academic journals. It’s gone through several iterations. The first version of it was 13,000 words.

RMS: Wow, that’s almost a book.

JS: That’s the problem. It’s almost a book, but it’s not a book. A journal’s not going to pick it up at that point. So, in order to make it seriously considered by a journal I had to cut 3,000 words out of it. I had to get it down to 10,000, which is still pretty long. But there are a lot more journals that will consider a 10,000-word piece than will consider a 13,000-word piece. So I got it down. It took me three months to cut those words out.

RMS: You loved them all.

JS: Yeah, and they left these big holes that I had to figure out how to putty up with more words (laughs). I learned a lot from that exercise. It took a lot longer than I had intended. So now the 10,000-word version is out, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

RMS: That’s awesome. I’ve got to go.

JS: This is what he needs (referring to Eddie, asleep under the coffee table). Not the play part, but just to realize that it’s all right to just relax. He just likes to be under this coffee table.

RMS: It’s like the cutest thing ever.