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Archive for September, 2013

WHITE HOUSE FOCUS

From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, Doug Mills has had a front row view of the American presidency. And, as a photographer working for international wire services and The New York Times, his work has been sharing that view with the world. Mills brought his long career in high places to life yesterday in a fascinating lecture/slideshow in the Davis Center, the latest in UVM’s Burack Lecture Series. Iconic image after iconic image—a smiling Reagan and Gorbachev, Monica Lewinsky, George W. Bush sitting in front of an elementary school classroom as he learns of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Barack and Michelle Obama striding joyously down Pennsylvania Avenue after his first presidential inauguration—flashed across the large screen in the Davis Center as Mills spoke.

reagan

While many of the images were familiar from newspaper front pages and magazine covers, the stories behind them and the glimpses MIlls offered of life in the press corps were not. Mills talked of Ronald Reagan’s legendary garrulous charm and the deep friendship that Reagan shared with Mikhail Gorbachev. He recalled the abrupt shift in spirit at the White House when it went from “smelling like a florist shop” due to Nancy Reagan’s love for decorating to flowers to the first morning of the George H. Bush administration. “It smelled like a country breakfast was cooking—there were kids, footballs—I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my god, this place is alive,'” Mills said. The photographer would strike up a friendship with the senior Bush over horseshoes.

The Clinton years were another burst of energy Mills said, from the moment he showed up at the vice presidential mansion for a photo shoot and found Tipper Gore practicing on her drum set to President Bill Clinton’s morning jogs around Washington, D.C., very worried Secret Service agents at his heels.

Mills was in the classroom that day when a feel-good photo shoot turned into a defining moment for George W. Bush and the world. The photographer captured that moment, the looks that played across the president’s face as he learned the news,  with images that are part of our national consciousness. Recalling the motorcade to the airport, Mills said, “Everybody is completely on fire.” For the first time ever, security dogs sniffed the bags of everyone before boarding Air Force One. Later, the entire press corps had to empty out their bags in flight. When Bush flew later that day from Louisiana to Nebraska, Mills was selected as the lone still photographer aboard that flight.

bush

Mills began to cover Barack Obama early in his campaign. The first day on the trail with him, Mills was struck by the crowds and the vibe. He called his wife that evening and told her, “This guy is going to win.” Full circle from his 9/11 coverage, Mills was there the night Barack Obama walked down the corridor on the red carpet to announce that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. Moments before, Mills had been tipped by a senior official who would only tell him “OBL” in reference to what the Sunday night announcement could be about.

obama

In addition to his political work, Mills is a highly skilled and deeply experienced sports photographer. He finished off his talk with images from the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the PGA Tour, among other events. The last several years, he’s also turned his lens to the soccer field when the Catamount women’s team is playing—his daughter Ellie is a senior on the squad. Quite a boon for the UVM Athletics Communication operation to have such a talented dad on the sidelines with camera in hand.

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I’ve always enjoyed the phrase “over-the-transom” in reference to written pieces that come to my attention out of the blue. Maybe it’s the way it suggests a bygone era, that I might be sitting here, fedora pushed back, cigarette dangling, banging away at a manual typewriter.

But I’m at a laptop. No cool hat, no cigarette, and nothing resembling a transom over my office door. Email, of course, is the twenty-first century version of a transom. So it was that I received a friendly email from David Maginnes ’01 last week. David made clear that he’s a filmmaker, not a poet, but he wanted to share a poem, his “little meditation” inspired by the August 30 death of the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney, recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature. On a fieldtrip for a UVM class in Irish history, he’d gone to a reading by the poet at St. Michael’s College.

I enjoyed connecting with David, reading his poem, and think followers of the VQ Blog—particularly those lucky enough to have shared that Vermont evening with Seamus Heaney—will feel the same.

HIGHER GROUND

By David T. Maginnes

The old spirits in the Winooski Woolen Mill graveyard awoke that night

Hear speak of The Troubles and sure enough bones and sabres rattled deep

Seamus Heaney be reading at Saint Mike’s

The great bard entertaining on the Emerald quad

Groovy Uvy Irish history in the back- baggy pants and heady laughs

Not one for a tired fight, lyrics flowed simply illuminating the beautiful light

God’s Country Vermont outside, a heavenly glow within

After all the many ecstatic raging shows at Higher Ground, the words this night would grow with the boy throughout his life and become the most profound

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ALUMNI WIRE

coatMeg Lukens Noonan ’79 published The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat (Spiegel & Grau) this summer. She was featured as a guest on National Public Radio’s “Weekend All Things Considered.”

Stuart Benway ’82 was recognized in the Wall Street Journal‘s 2013 Best on the Street survey. An equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ, Benway won in the Heavy Machinery & Materials category, the third consecutive year he’s been recognized.

Christopher Muir ’96 was also recognized in the WSJ‘s Best on the Street. Also an equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ, Muir won in the utilities category.

Alma Elaine Ripps ’88 was recently named chief of the Office of Policy at the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.

Rose Weggler ’08 was recently featured in a piece in the New Times in San Luis Obispo, California. Weggler, who studied recreation management and sustainable tourism at UVM, works with bike touring groups on the central California coast and is involved in environmental and bicycle advocacy.

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