‘Hell on Wheels’

If the story of a man conquering the wild and unpredictable west in 1869 while building the Transcontinental Railroad sounds like the plot of the AMC television series “Hell on Wheels,” there’s a reason why.

The main character in the AMC series, Cullen Bohannon, served as the Chief Engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, discovered a pass through the Black Hills of Wyoming, and was present for the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, that joined the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads.

While Cullen Bohannon is the fictionalized creation of AMC, these were the real-life adventures of Norwich University alumnus Grenville Mellen Dodge. The 57 episodes of “Hell on Wheels,” which originally aired from 2011 to 2016, provided a down and dirty glimpse of the rugged, dangerous, and often deadly conditions faced by the men that worked the 1,912 mile Transcontinental Railroad.

Dodge’s incredible life, which brought him from his birthplace in Danvers, Mass., in 1831 and later to the halls of Norwich in 1848, also feature heroic achievements during America’s Civil War.

The creators of “Hell on Wheels,” Joe and Tony Gayton, chose not to make a docu-drama about the building of the railroad but were inspired while developing their fictionalized story by the 2006 documentary entitled American Experience. (www.collider.com). [Read more…]

Podcast project gets access to top military brass

Top, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Farnsworth, and bottom, Air Force Brig. Gen. Peter J. Lambert

A few weeks ago, Norwich hosted a panel of military officials and top federal employees as part of the Todd Lecture series. For a handful of students, their visit offered a chance to meet and interview some high level federal officials while they were on campus.

“This was a very cool opportunity, I got to talk with a RADM  (Navy rear admiral) who was a student here,” said Liam Wilber, a senior in the corps.

Having over a dozen Norwich alumni General and Staff Officers (GOFO) on campus was a rare event, and an opportunity for students to talk to and learn from alums who began their careers at Norwich. These alumni are now at the pinnacle of their career, according to Professor Sarwar Kashmeri, an adjunct professor of Political Science & Applied Research Fellow with the Peace & War Center, and the Norwich University Board of Fellows and Foreign Policy Association.

Kashmeri’s involvement was to be the faculty advisor to this student-led project. He helped the students meet with Norwich administrators and faculty to help frame their interview questions, and to work out how the students were to use Norwich’s own radio station, WNUB, to record the interviews. [Read more…]

Pegasus Players hit 90 and future is bright

The Dole auditorium at Norwich has been home to many performances, announcements, and school events, but it is always a special moment when students take the stage.

Since 1927 Norwich University has had a campus theatrical troupe called the Pegasus Players, and they traditionally perform twice a year at Dole Auditorium which just recently held a performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.

Under the guidance of playwright Jeanne Beckwith, the theater director of the Pegasus Players originally from Lynn, Mass., the theater troupe at Norwich has now marked the 90th year of hosting performances at Norwich. It is an accomplishment Beckwith is proud of. [Read more…]

Major campus overhaul looming

Norwich University will begin bicentennial renovations and construction in the next few weeks, bringing noticeable changes to the campus, upgrades to dorm and classroom buildings, and some upheaval to classroom schedules.

The renovations, which are expected to be finished by fall 2019, will affect both faculty and students, who will have to adapt to temporary classroom and office space until construction is finished on campus.

The university budget for the renovations and construction has been estimated at $59 million and is coming from donations as part of a major fundraising campaign tied to the bicentennial.

“We have several projects that are going to be on their way very soon,” said David Magida, chief  administrative officer at Norwich.

As part of a normal process of renovating dormitories. Patterson Hall will be renovated this summer, which will start the day after commencement, said David Magida, chief administrative officer.

Besides beginning the renovations on Patterson on the south end of the quad, Norwich will also begin the process of constructing a new building called Mack Hall starting this April, which is part of the major renovations planned for the Webb/Dewey/Ainsworth buildings. The Mack Project will be located behind Webb on the north side.

Magida said the busy summer will also include starting the renovations of Ainsworth, which houses the College of Liberal Arts faculty. As with the entire package of planned renovations, the goal is to bring buildings up to speed in terms of teaching/learning styles and to address critical maintenance items on campus. [Read more…]

Norwich’s new ‘Civic Scholars’

Left, Civic Scholars Chad St. John, Alexandria Spezia (middle) and Jordan Lutz work at the Vermont Foodbank, volunteering to help hungry Vermonters.

On a recent Saturday at the Vermont Foodbank in Barre, nine Norwich students found themselves getting an unusual workout and hands-on education in the business of feeding hungry Vermonters.

Working together, they sorted 15 pallets of food, which would go out to a network of 225 food shelves, meal sites, senior centers and after-school programs, providing 26,000 meals to Vermont residents in need. Think of it as off-site homework.

The students are part of the new, innovative Civic Scholars Program, which joins a long tradition at Norwich of responding to the needs of communities surrounding the university campus and beyond. From building an orphanage in Tanzania to the thousands of volunteer hours donated by students cleaning up in Northfield following Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, students at the school have always responded to the call for service. [Read more…]

Corps freshman is raising the bar

  Norwich University gets a wide range of athletes, but Gabriela Carrasquillo isn’t just any ordinary college competitor.

Carrasquillo, who plans on becoming an intel officer in the United States Army, has set herself an athletic goal that aims really high in her sports passion, which is weightlifting. “I aspire to make it to the Olympics one day,” said Carrasquillo.

Carrasquillo, 19,  is a freshman criminal justice and Spanish major from Framingham, Mass., who got into Olympic-style weight lifting at the age of 15. “I really got into it about last year. I competed three times,” said Carrasquillo. In two of those three competitions, she placed in the competition, and currently Carrasquillo is the North Atlantic Junior champion and Bay State champion for weight lifting in her division. [Read more…]

Prof. Dough Smith teaches his longtime passion

“Growing up I’ve always loved listening to radio as a young kid and since then my fascination with it grew,” said Professor Doug Smith, from Grantham, N.H.

He added “I had a piano teacher that actually worked in a radio station and I would spend most of my piano lesson actually talking to her about radio and I just found it to be very interesting.”

Most people know all about WNUB, the radio station on campus, but most people don’t know the person behind the station. Professor Doug Smith, who has been making the trek from New Hampshire to Northfield since 1999, runs WNUB from top to bottom as well as teaches communications courses on campus.

“When I was younger I use to mess around with short wave radios, crystal radios and always loved listening to music so that’s kind of where most of this started,” said Smith.

He was amazed at how radios work and his love for music only made his interest for radios much greater. [Read more…]

New center for writing is drawing students

Nearly one year ago, Bailey Beltramo sat in his barracks on the campus of Norwich University. The excitement of studying abroad in Ireland the following semester was starting to mount, and he was counting the days until he could leave snowy Vermont for the rolling hills of Ireland.

But before heading out, an opportunity to expand his resume and apply his knowledge of writing to help students presented itself. [Read more…]

A day on the job with George Sanders

It’s hard to find a man happier and more eager to serve on Norwich’s campus than George Sanders, one of the hard-working grounds crew.

The business of keeping Norwich University clean and landscaped falls to the team of blue-shirted personnel who can easily be seen walking around campus hard at work.

Mowing, shoveling, snow removal, room set ups, planting, and general outside upkeep are the duties of the grounds crew at Norwich University. It is not an easy task for the 11-member crew to keep all 1200 acres of Norwich land in pristine condition.

The strength of the grounds crew lies in the dedication and personal effort put forth by each employee and the coordination of information from their superiors – safe to say it’s no easy job.

“I love it, I’m outside working, inside, making everyone happy, seeing everyone smile,” said George Sanders, 34, who lives in Northfield. “I’ve been doing this work all my life, it comes naturally.” [Read more…]

Security policy class gets a D.C. tour

Behind Brad Hanson, the nation’s capital bustled with life as vehicle headlights illuminated the interstate. Inside the Residence Inn at Pentagon City, Hanson sat back in his chair and reflected on his time spent touring Washington D.C.

From the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to the National Counter terrorism Center, Hanson and a select group of students visited various federal institutions that were located in and around Washington D.C.

The trip, facilitated by Norwich alumni as well as Yangmo Ku, a professor at Norwich University, took place during spring break and allowed his security policy class to gain a better understanding of how the government works, challenged students to overcome a made-up security policy scenario devised by the alumni, and connected current students with alums from Norwich.

“We saw stuff people don’t (normally) see,” Hanson said. [Read more…]