LYNDON CENTER -- Lyndon State College welcomes the start of the academic year with a new president, growing enrollment, the distinction of seeing two faculty members granted a Fulbright scholarship, and plans for autumn ribbon cuttings on both the Vail Museum and the Veterans Park. Classes started Aug. 27.
Dr. Joe Bertolino began his tenure as Lyndon State College's 15th president on July 1. Bertolino comes to LSC after eight years at Queens College, part of City University of New York, where he was vice president for enrollment management and student affairs.
Two months into his tenure, Bertolino opines about Lyndon's future, "I am excited about the possibilities of what Lyndon can and will be -- innovative, dynamic, entrepreneurial -- an institution serving students, the community, the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont, and the nation. This school has wonderfully dedicated faculty and premier academic programs."
He presided over convocation on Aug. 30. The 101st event featured the traditional photo shot of the incoming class. Bertolino takes the helm from Steve Gold who served a year-long stint as interim president.
Director of admissions Vinnie Maloney discussed the incoming class of 2012, "We are thrilled to welcome all these new students and see an increase in returning students as well. Our enrollment is strong, our vision for the future is clear, and we are moving forward."
Several LSC faculty members have garnered national attention. Dr. Margaret Sherrer and Dan Williams have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships for the academic year 2012-2013. The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange initiative sponsored by the U. S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participants are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential and are given the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Sherrer will spend the spring semester in Kerala, a state at the southwestern tip of the Indian subcontinent. She will be teaching and conducting research on the development of mental health services for people with serious psychiatric disorders.
Williams is spending this academic year in Xi'an China. He will be teaching multi-media platforms to journalism students.
Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Janet Bennion's fourth book, "Polygamy in Primetime: Media, Gender and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism," has been published. The book, released over the summer, is part of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute's Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law.
Bennion, herself a product of Mormon polygamy, highlights problems within plural marriages including evidence that some forms are high-risk for incest. She challenges the notion that polygamy is consistently abusive to women by showing that it can bring economic security and social bonds to some. Bennion goes beyond the public obsession with the sexual aspects of polygamy with her depiction of polygamist families and their binds to each other and society.
New and returning students will see that curriculums have been fine-tuned, programs have been added and a number of improvements were made to the campus.
Current graphic and web design industry employers expect proficiency in graphic design, web design, and computer programming. LSC's Visual Arts Department restructured their curriculum to meet these rapidly evolving employment requirements and workplace needs, and is now offering two new four-year degrees: bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in Design and bachelor of arts (BA) in Visual Communications. The degrees are structured so a student is better able to secure a job straight out of college; they also prepare students for graduate study. Associate degrees in Visual Arts and Visual Communications have also been added.
In cooperation with the University of Vermont, LSC has expanded the ROTC program to include Army ROTC. The Army ROTC program is in addition to Air Force ROTC, offered in cooperation with Norwich University.
The first floor of the president's residence overlooking the campus has been renovated to become a meeting space for 5-50 people to be available to both the college and the surrounding communities. Bertolino, long accustomed to the smaller living quarters of urban New York, feels this is a better use of this space; he will reside on the second floor.
Construction is nearly complete on the Vail Museum on the third floor of Vail Center. The museum houses the history of Manor Vail from 1951 until its demolition in 1974, including activities leading up to the acquisition of the manor by the college. T.N. Vail was founder and first president of AT&T. The college sits on the site of his former country home. A ribbon cutting is planned during Alumni and Family Weekend in late September.
Phase one of a Veterans Park has been completed. LSC's Veterans Club has been working on the three-phase project for more than a year. The first phase involved the installation of letters spelling out "LSC Veterans Park" under red, white, and blue stars on the wall adjacent to the Fountain Pond. A fall dedication is planned.
The Club has begun fund raising for the next phases, estimated to cost between $4,000 and $6,000. Phase two is the placement of a granite reflection bench near Fountain Pond. The club hopes to install the bench during the upcoming school year. The third phase, the erection of a series of plaques inscribed with the names of past and present LSC veterans, is slated for the 2013-2014 school year.
Two ongoing LSC initiatives remain in the spotlight this year. Incubator Without Walls (IWoW) is again a recipient of a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG). The grant, one of 27 loans and grants awarded nationwide, is provided by USDA Rural Development. IWoW, one of five Vermont organizations receiving a grant, has received $129,429 to expand its program to provide technical assistance to Northeast Kingdom manufacturers. Under the IWoW program, Lyndon students and faculty work alongside area business people to provide needed expertise -- helping to create and preserve jobs in the area.
The Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Center for Rural Students was established to help rural students, especially first-generation college students, enter postsecondary institutions. The Leahy Center conducts rigorous, policy-relevant research on community, family, school, and other factors that influence students' educational choices, and implements data-driven programs that enable students to attain a college degree. Three years of research and data-collection are beginning to yield information that can be acted on -- placing Lyndon at the forefront of national efforts to serve this population.
The Leahy Center also helps foster secondary and postsecondary curricular alignment in the NEK. The goal is a streamlined PK-16 curricular experience for regional students, including relevant dual enrollment coursework for high schoolers. The focus is on math again this coming year; a similar arrangement with English/Language Arts faculty began this summer.
Bertolino notes, "Lyndon's mission to serve first-in-family and modest income students is particularly appealing. Here at Lyndon, students come first."