Busy Week Two

At dinner with a former trustee on Friday night, she asked me how things were going. I quickly recapped the exciting things happening at the College. She replied, “You haven’t signed up for a job. You have signed up for a lifestyle.” If this past week is a guide, it should be an exciting, rewarding lifestyle.

Tuesday we met with our partners for our MS in Emergent Media offering in Shanghai: Frank Lin, who runs the Jiuyou Fund, and Yong Zhang, chairman of the North American High-Tech Center. This partnership is a result of the work of faculty member Ann DeMarle and Associate Provost Jim Cross. We had a dinner at Shelburne Farms that evening to celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Many friends of Champlain College attended, including former Champlain College president Bob Skiff.

We followed the dinner with a graduation ceremony on Wednesday morning for our four students who spent the last few months in Burlington finishing out their degree requirements. MS in Emergent Media graduates Ming Hu, Jing Kang (Kiki), Zichen Liu (Jin), and Lufei Sun (Vera) each completed a professional certificate in Foundations of Emergent Media Practice and a professional certificate in Emergent Media Systems & Implementation. Vera Sun will go on to earn additional credits at the Burlington, Vt. campus to complete her Masters in Fine Art Degree. I appreciated the large number of faculty and trustees who turned out to celebrate our students accomplishments.

I did take a break Wednesday night. Core Division faculty member Craig Pepin kindly sgave me a bike tour, focused mostly on the Spear Street ride out-of-town. Craig took it easy on me for the ride. I suppose it is bad form to give a new president a heart attack in his first two weeks on the job.

Thursday night the College community came together to hear from a few of our scholarship recipients at the annual “Vehicle To a Better Life” celebration. Our goal is to raise $220,000 to help students attend the college. Our advancement office did a wonderful job organizing the event. We heard inspirational stories from several scholarship recipients at the dinner on the value of their Champlain College education. I had the unenviable task of following the remarks of former student government association president and 2014 graduate Chelsea Hutchings with a few of my own.

Friday night WCAX’s Gina Bullard interviewed me about being Champlain’s new president. My mother told me that she was proud of my performance. My mother is not an easy woman to impress.

Saturday we had another graduation, this time for the students who completed their week in “Imagine College.” Ame Lambert, our Chief Diversity Officer, envisioned Imagine College as Champlain College’s pre-college and college success initiative, designed to help create college access for underserved populations, help them continue to graduation and prepare them for a life of career and personal success where they can serve as agents of positive change in our community. Students made presentations about what they learned during the week, including how to pay for college, what majors are available in college, and habits that help make college more rewarding.

I appreciate the efforts of our faculty and staff who led and participated in pulling together these wonderful, diverse events. The dedication necessary to assemble well-organized events was repaid by the the joyous celebrations. I observed the full range of our commitment to the “Human Touch” as we demonstrated it to business partners, graduating students, prospective students, and to our friends. Thanks, team, for another great week.


Published by Don Laackman

Leader with non-profit, higher education, and private-sector consulting experience.

One thought on “Busy Week Two

  1. Congratulations, Don. I am thrilled for you. The need for strategic alignment between and among employers and colleges grows greater. You are the college president fluent in both languages. You work to ensure clear communication, realistic expectations, and meaningful measurement of results. Kudos to you!

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