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16 posts categorized "Higher Ed"

July 06, 2012

An Old Tower Clock Is Discovered Anew at Green Mountain College

Tower clock_3297smGreen Mountain College's Ames Tower was looking pretty shabby, so facilities director Glenn LaPlante was inspecting its domed cupola, airborne in a hydraulic lift, paint scraper in hand. And that's when he made an amazing discovery: a glass-encased, art deco clock, still in "excellent condition," LaPlante declared, despite a layer of 1960s-era paint.

It was time to call in an expert and, as it happens, there was one nearby. Joe Duffy operates, with his brother, Christopher, Church Specialties right in Poultney. Their specialty? Church bell and clock tower restoration. The college contacted Joe Duffy to come and look at their clock, which he determined is a Telechron model.

Inventor Henry Warren established the Telechron company in Ashland, Mass., in 1912 and made battery-powered clocks. Three years later, he invented a "self-starting, synchronous motor consisting of a rotor and coil," reports college spokesman Kevin Coburn. When Warren retired in 1943, General Electric absorbed the business, and clocks labeled "Telechron" or "General Electric" were made in the Ashland plant.

In fact, it's still operating. Duffy got in touch and agreed to deliver the GMC clock to Ashland.

He said it could be functional again with a new motor and some "superficial cleaning," says Coburn.

Why was the clock painted over? No one at the school remembers. "The Ames building was dedicated in 1908, and photos show a clock, but it couldn't have been this one," Coburn says. "We think in the 1930s it was replaced with the Telechron, and painted in the ’60s." And then, everyone simply forgot about it.

Coburn says the clock should be returned in about three weeks and once again will tick off the minutes in the life of a small Vermont college. "We want it in place when students arrive the third week in August," he notes.

Just in the nick of time.

Photo courtesy of Green Mountain College

March 28, 2012

Pulling the Plug: St. Mike's Goes Offline for Tech Fast

TextingTracking down students and faculty "fasting" from technology this week at Saint Michael's College is easier said than done.

Email? Nope. Cellphones? They're out, too. In a neo-Luddite's take on Lent, the school is encouraging students, faculty and staff to unplug for a few days. This week's "Disconnect to Reconnect" event kicked off Monday night with a screening of "Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier" and continues this week with a panel discussion and three-day technology fast. 

That means 72 hours away from computers, cellphones and video games — think truly wireless.

Anthropology professor Adrie Kusserow is not fasting right now, and did respond to an email request for an interview. She has enforced a similar ban on technology with her students for several years. She goes so far as to collect students' cellphones, which she hoards in a basket until the end of the experiment. Now, she and a group of other professors are taking the experiment campus-wide during a series of events designed to help students reflect on the impacts — good and bad — that digital media has on their lives.

"The degree of technological saturation is changing our consciousness in so many ways," says Kusserow. "Our family lives, our spiritual lives, our relationship to nature, our conceptions of time."

Continue reading "Pulling the Plug: St. Mike's Goes Offline for Tech Fast" »

December 12, 2011

Sanders and Sandia Announce New $15 Million Energy Lab at University of Vermont

Sandia presser photoBy the summer of 2013, Vermont will be the first state in the nation to have near-universal electrical smart-grid coverage — and Sandia National Laboratories is setting up shop at the University of Vermont to make it all happen.

That was Sen. Bernie Sanders' announcement at a press conference in his Burlington office this morning. Gov. Peter Shumlin, Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell, UVM President John Bramley and Sandia Vice President Rick Stulen joined Sanders to announce a three-year, $15 million commitment to open the first-ever national laboratory in New England in Burlington. 

The new lab, dubbed the Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation (CETI), will make as the centerpiece of its work the rollout of smart meters throughout the Green Mountain State, enabling all the state's utilities to better manage energy consumption and better integrate renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the power grid. The $15 million commitment comes in addition to the $69 million already allocated to Vermont from the federal government to roll out smart meters statewide.

Continue reading "Sanders and Sandia Announce New $15 Million Energy Lab at University of Vermont" »

November 14, 2011

Champlain College's Digital Forensics Lab Renamed in Honor of Sen. Patrick Leahy

Leahy lab 2Apparently, it wasn't enough for Senator Patrick Leahy to lend his good name to the Center for Rural Studies at Lyndon State College and the ECHO Lake Acquarium and Science Center, the home-away-from-home for scores of turtles, lizards and other aquatic critters: This morning, the Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation was officially renamed to honor Vermont's senior-most senator and chief congressional patron.

At a Monday morning press conference, Champlain College President David Finney officially christened the college's new state-of-the-art digital forensics lab the Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation — or LCDI for short. The new facility, which is housed in Champlain's brand-spanking-new Miller Center at Lakeside Campus in Burlington's South End, provides a high-tech and fully secure digital forensics lab that brings together students, police officers and other professional e-sleuthers. There, Champlain's computer and digital forensics students learn to recover evidence from computer hard drives, smartphones and other digital doohickeys.

Continue reading "Champlain College's Digital Forensics Lab Renamed in Honor of Sen. Patrick Leahy" »

October 25, 2011

Q&A: University of Vermont Robotics Researcher Josh Bongard

BongardHow and why did life on earth evolve in the myriad ways it did? Would creatures evolve in the same ways, and with the same anatomical structures, if we could rewind time and replay evolution over and over again? And, can humans create robots that not only evolve and learn but eventually become sentient?

These are just a few of the heady questions that University of Vermont robotics researcher Josh Bongard wrestles with every day. Little wonder, then, that on October 14, Bongard was one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The White House honor came with a $500,000 research grant. (And in case you're wondering, no, that's not Bongard's Lamborghini parked outside of Votey Hall.)

This week, the 37-year-old Toronto native took a short break from his research in UVM's Morphology, Evolution and Cognition Lab to talk about his work and the future of "computational evolution." (For visual depictions of Bongard's work, check out the media link on his site.)

Bongard is one of 11 speakers at this Friday's TEDxUVM event. Registration for the Oct. 28 event is full but the seminars will be streaming live from the TEDxUVM website.

SEVEN DAYS: Did President Obama recognize you for one specific scientific breakthrough or discovery, or was it your entire body of work thus far?

Continue reading "Q&A: University of Vermont Robotics Researcher Josh Bongard" »

October 24, 2011

Champlain College's Center For Digital Investigation Opens for Business

CC Ctr Digital Investigation#1Let the digital sleuthing begin!

The Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation just opened shop two weeks ago in Burlington's South End and already it's providing an invaluable service to Vermont companies, government agencies and state and local law enforcement.

Housed in the college's new Miller Center at Lakeside Campus, "C3DI" gives students an opportunity to work on real-life digital forensics investigations outside the classroom, in a setting that measures up to FBI and international forensics-industry standards.

Jonathan Rajewski is an instructor at Champlain College and a digital forensics examiner with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, based at the Burlington Police Department. Rajewski runs C3DI with Michael Wilkinson, a former digital criminal investigator with the New South Wales Police Force. There, Wilkinson oversaw a team of about two dozen experts who handled more than 1000 digital forensic investigations per year for Australia's largest crime-fighting agency.

Continue reading "Champlain College's Center For Digital Investigation Opens for Business" »

October 13, 2011

UVM Policy Would Heighten Scrutiny of Presidential Spouses

UVM_Old_Mill_building_20040101The University of Vermont is one step closer to creating a first-ever policy to govern the volunteer activities of presidential spouses.

On Wednesday, a committee of UVM trustees unanimously approved a draft policy that would put stricter oversight on a president's spouse who wishes to raise money for UVM, coordinate alumni events or engage in other aspects of university life.

The policy was created as result of the revelations that the wife of former UVM President Dan Fogel — Rachel Kahn-Fogel — had a years-long relationship with a high-level UVM staffer assigned to work with her on fundraising events. Fogel stepped down from his role as president in early August, almost a year ahead of schedule.

In the wake of the news and a subsequent internal investigation, the UVM Board of Trustees created a special ad hoc committee and charged it with crafting a policy to better spell out the roles and responsibilities of the university, and the spouse, if he or she chooses to volunteer.

Chaired by Rep. Bill Botzow (D-Pownal), that committee met Wednesday afternoon in the Waterman Building and voted to bring the draft policy to the full board of trustees for a vote on the weekend of October 21-22.

"This policy provides some practical, realistic parameters for all parties so the spouse can volunteer for the university effectively," said Botzow.

Continue reading "UVM Policy Would Heighten Scrutiny of Presidential Spouses" »

September 01, 2011

UVM Employees and Allies Threaten "Takeover" If Labor Contract Isn't Settled

UVM A battle is brewing at the University of Vermont between administrators and unionized maintenance workers who say they're "pissed off" about the golden parachutes and salaries handed out to former President Dan Fogel and other university leaders.

At a rally outside the Waterman administration building Wednesday, the head of UVM's maintenance union told 100 supporters that, "The people in this community are pissed off too."

"The trustees have become morally bankrupt," said Carmyn Stanko, an electrician and president of United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 267. "Giving out millions of dollars to Fogel and their friends while sticking it to the workers."

With talks stalled on a new three-year labor contract, some at the rally threatened that UVM students, faculty and staff would "take over" the Waterman building if they didn't get a fair contract, meaning stage a sit-in. The sides were scheduled to meet with a federal mediator today in hopes of breaking the impasse.

UVM is asking its lowest-paid workers to contribute more toward health insurance premiums and accept a salary increase that works out to 1 percent stretched over three years. Meanwhile, union leaders expressed outrage at the $600,000 and $500,000 severance packages afforded to Fogel and another top university official, and the combined $500,000 salaries paid the new dean of the business school and his professor wife.

"Is that the kind of university we want?" Stanko asked the crowd.

"Hell, no!" was the immediate response.

Continue reading "UVM Employees and Allies Threaten "Takeover" If Labor Contract Isn't Settled" »

August 11, 2011

Outgoing UVM President Shuns Governor's Advice to Return Severance Pay

Fogel04 During a weekend phone call, Gov. Peter Shumlin urged outgoing University of Vermont president Dan Fogel (pictured right) to give back a portion of his more than $600,000 severance package as a way to dampen the outrage that some leading politicians and the public have had over his golden parachute.

"I told him that I would like to see him set aside a portion of his severance pay that he'll receive to set up a scholarship program that would allow more Vermont students to attend UVM," said Shumlin during a lunchtime meeting with Seven Days. "I though that this would help put him, and the university, back in the good graces of Vermonters."

There has been increased anger directed at UVM's board of trustees, in particular the legislative trustees, for granting Fogel the equivalent of a $35,400-a-month severance package that will last 17 months. At the end of that time period, Fogel is anticipated to return to UVM as an English professor, earning $195,000 a year — $80,000 more than the next-highest-paid professor in the department.

Shumlin told Seven Days that he talked to the former president on Sunday.

"I really feel it would be the right thing to do, to undo the damage to his legacy and to the university," said Shumlin. The pair spoke for close to half an hour, the governor said.

So, how did Fogel react?

Continue reading "Outgoing UVM President Shuns Governor's Advice to Return Severance Pay" »

August 10, 2011

UVM Report Clears President's Wife of Wrongdoing, But Cites Morale Problems

RachelKahn-Fogel Rachel Kahn-Fogel's relationship with a top University of Vermont official violated no university policies and broke no state harassment laws. But her role in university fund-raising — and the preferential treatment she and her husband, UVM President Dan Fogel, provided to some staff — created "an environment negatively affecting morale."

That's the key conclusion of a report issued today that wraps up a months-long investigation into the activities of Kahn-Fogel (pictured) and other top university officials. UVM released the report today following a brief, closed-door session of the board of trustees.

"With respect to this matter, I want to express both my regret that this situation was allowed to continue for as long as it did, and my confidence that we will effectively address these types of issues going forward," said UVM Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Cioffi in announcing the report's results. "Human error and fallibility will always be with us. In an educational community, it is important that we learn from our mistakes and take appropriate corrective action to avoid them in the future, for the benefit of the entire university community."

After the meeting, Cioffi told reporters that he's not sure the board could have acted sooner than it did, though he did admit that it's likely some board members knew some of the details regarding the internal strife between Kahn-Fogel and some staff.

Continue reading "UVM Report Clears President's Wife of Wrongdoing, But Cites Morale Problems" »

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