Archive for April, 2010


Margaret Ann McGowan Shirley ’55 knows how to hold onto things. In the spring issue, we shared Margaret’s 30-year-old essay reflecting on the experience of transitioning from UVM alumna to UVM parent as she dropped her son Jim Louderback ’83 off for his freshman year at UVM. http://alumni.uvm.edu/vq/spring2010/alumni.asp

A while back, Margaret dug a little deeper in her attic — a 55th college reunion year tends to inspire these trips down Memory Lane — to share the letters she wrote home to her parents in Trenton, New Jersey during her own freshman year.

Here’s an excerpt from Margaret’s version of that old standard — “Please send money!”

“Dear Mom and Dad,

I think we’re finally getting settled in our 3rd floor room after almost a week. Everybody is unpacked and we’re beginning to feel at home. We went downtown this morning and ordered our bedspreads and rugs and we’ll get our curtains later. While I’m at it — I need $10.00 for curtains etc., $15.00 for books. My books will cost $35.00, but my tuition and room was only $330.00 instead of $350.00, so I’ll use that $20.00 toward books. I hope you can understand all this. If not, just send me $25.00 and I’ll see how things work out. I need that right away so please don’t waste anytime or I’ll go hungry for the next week. I’ve been spending between $1.50 and $1.75 a day for meals. That means I’ll need about $50.00 a month. I’m keeping an exact account of every penny I spend so I’ll see how much I spend each month.”


Penny-pinching Margaret and friends liked to dine at Bove’s for a cheap meal off-campus. When the Class of ’55 returns for Reunion in about a month, they can still head down to Pearl Street and do the same.


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While April in Vermont can be hard on blossoms and humans alike, we do take some perverse pride in a late snowfall here in northern New England. Besides, there’s the comfort that students were sitting out in the sun on the Green yesterday… and they’re talking about the seventies for Saturday.

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Finishing up an article today about Professor Robert Manning, this year’s winner of the Kidder Faculty Award. Many alumni who are former students of Manning’s chimed in with support for his nomination. A common theme: they grew under the mentorship of the 33-year UVM faculty veteran through field work in the Park Studies Laboratory he heads up at the university. The team studies outdoor recreation management issues with a particular focus on high-use areas of America’s national parks.

For Manning, his love of America’s national parks began at Yosemite where he escaped on weekends while stationed in San Francisco with the Coast Guard in the late 1960s. A little unsure of his future direction until then, Yosemite convinced him he wanted to be involved with national parks in some way. Decades later, Manning is helping lead the way to preserve the visitor experience at these treasured places that Ken Burns called “America’s Best Idea.”

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It’s the sort of April day that admissions staffers hope, keep their fingers crossed, and maybe pray for when prospective students come to town. The sun was shining on the Green as CATS buses pulled up full of potential members of the UVM Class of 2014 and their parents. This Friday is the last of the university’s 2010 Admitted Student Days, a closing argument of sorts as the university makes its case, and a chance for the high school seniors to take one last look at campus before deciding whether UVM is the place for them. May 1 is the deadline for admitted students to accept UVM’s offer.

Today’s full slate of events started out in Ira Allen Chapel, where the visitors were serenaded by the Top Cats, the a cappella boys decked out for their early morning concert in tuxedo jackets and pajama bottoms.

UPDATE: Later that day, walking back from Redstone I passed a cluster of visiting students and overheard this:

Prospective student 1: “What’s a catamount?”

Prospective student 2: “It’s a little version of a mountain lion.”

Prospective student 3: “They’re real?”

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I like what I’m seeing of the new Jeffords Hall. Really like it. Might even love it. Granted, love could be a strong word when we’re talking about a building and a relationship that is still under construction.

Jeffords will be the new home to the plant and soil science and plant biology departments when it’s competed this summer. No doubt the students, faculty, and staff in those programs and other related areas will be thrilled with the new space, but the building is already making a positive impact on the campus even while the folks in hard hats are still at work with the finish details.

Here are a few reasons why one editor who, in the spirit of full disclosure, doesn’t really know anything about architecture is praising Jeffords:

It’s got a strong presence on Main Street for those traveling into Burlington from the east. And it actually brings the looming water tower on the hilltop down to size. (Not saying it dwarfs it, but Big Blue has got some competition.)

The extensive ventilation equipment that’s going to be on the rooftop of every lab building is cleverly and tastefully concealed.

There are these jutting metal window details (see picture) that are, well, interesting.

The structure is designed with two angled wings coming off of a central entrance. It feels like it downplays the bulk of what might otherwise be a looming, blockish building.

Befitting the building’s purpose, the landscaping is thoughtful and extensive—and already in the ground before the building is even done. Large blocks of granite are used as benches, a new pattern around campus also seen outside of the Davis Center.

The metal lettering—”James M. Jeffords Hall”—over the east and west entrances is simple and elegant.

Simple and elegant also applies to a glass and steel connector that joins Jeffords to greenhouse. Not that Vermont ever has cold enough weather to warrant a long walk inside, but one could step into Jeffords on Main, proceed through the greenhouse connector to Stafford Hall, across to the Health Sciences Research Facility, into Given, and through the Medical Education wing to Fletcher Allen Hospital without ever setting foot outside.

And, finally, it anchors the east side of the hilltop oval that has become UVM’s new front door on Main Street.

So, all good on the outside to my eyes. Eager to get inside.

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Ira Allen Chapel was filled to capacity yesterday afternoon as family, friends, and colleagues gathered to celebrate the life of Stevenson Waltien, Jr. The wide range of people who came to pay their respects to Steve Waltien, who died of a heart attack last weekend, was testimony to the many ways he touched the community in his personal and professional life.

Steve was a Class of 1970 alumnus of UVM, a devoted Sigma Phi Epsilon brother, and a stalwart supporter of the university who once served on the university’s Board of Trustees. His wife, Lynda (Darling) Waltien, UVM Class of 1973, is also a graduate of the university.

As those attending the celebration of Steve Waltien’s life  filed out of Ira Allen into a bright April sun, the chapel bells slowly tolled for an alumnus who will be greatly missed.

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The annual “Field of Flags” display on the UVM Green is a quiet, powerful evocation of the people lost in the Holocaust. The colored flags correspond with the different groups terrorized and killed—Jews, Polish, Gypsies, people with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gays and lesbians. Each flag represents 5,000 lives.

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