‘Tis the season to be SAD

Junior Tony Rodriguez using a HappyLight.

It’s not unusual to see cadets outside the chapel on the coldest days of the year, blowing bubbles, watching them freeze and roll along the concrete.

Rev. William Wick has seen nearly three decade’s worth of Vermont winters, and while his office may be decorated in skiing memorabilia, he understands that the snow may not bring joy to everyone. This is why Wick keeps bubble-blowing supplies in the cabinet of his office: It’s a way to combat the blues that can come with a long winter.

“Those who have been here longer, know that it’s coming again. First thing for anything, you may anticipate cold stuff, but don’t know what it’s like to walk through it,” Wick said. “Sometimes they don’t realize what is happening, sometimes they’re aware of it and they can adjust. Other times it’s a ‘Why am I feeling this way?’” [Read more…]

Road to the ring not an easy path

For some unlucky juniors in the Corps of Cadets, the cherished goal of finally putting on the traditional junior ring may have to wait.

According to these cadets, they are thwarted by a failure to meet certain requirements they think are unfair or should be changed.

Since the early 19th century, it has been a Norwich tradition for junior cadets to receive class rings. The coveted ring carries a lot of sentiment and reflects accomplishment, a representation of the three years completed, and graduation ahead.

But as with many things at Norwich, the junior ring is not given – it must be earned – and that means cadets have a list of requirements to fulfill before they can wear one.

[Read more…]

Corps overhaul aims to boost cohesion

Norwich University’s Corps of Cadets is dramatically revamping its structure after nearly a decade under the current system. The new structure will restore companies where rooks stay together all four years, a system where strong company bonds are formed, in a change that will affect all aspects of training, as well as cadet life.

Col. Michael Titus, the 55th Commandant of Cadets, laid out the reasons for the overhaul of corp’s structure. The structural system the Corps currently operates on has been in place since around 2010, and there have certainly been many lessons and issues observed in that time, said Col. Titus. That system is divided, with freshmen rooks placed in their own individual platoons and companies, and upperclassmen in their own respective units as well, with there being very little interaction in between.

“What’s developed over time under the current construct, is two separate Corps and two different standards, one for the upperclassmen, and one for the rooks,” said Col. Titus. “As much as the upper-class leadership wants to hold their subordinates to a standard, there is no intrinsic catalyst for them to do so.”

Col. Titus’s hope is that if upperclassmen are in the same battalions, same companies, “they will be more apt to lead by example, because they will be reminded of the standards they were held to when they were rooks.” [Read more…]

How NU is dealing with sexual violence

In its effort to create a safe student environment, Norwich is working on several fronts to deal with sexual misconduct or violence, including collaborating with a novel student-run organization.

Norwich University has always tried to maintain the safest environment for students and the overall community, free from any form of sexual misconduct and sexual violence, according to Stephanie Drew, who oversees the university’s programs under Title IX. That 1972 federal education law prohibits sex discrimination and sets out procedures to deal with sexual assault and harassment in colleges and universities that receive federal funding.

“Unfortunately, here at Norwich like any other institution, violence is a reality,” said Drew who is Employee Relationship Equal Opportunities and Title IX Coordinator at N.U. “It does happen here, but we are not unusual with dealing with these cases. We are trying really hard with our programming efforts to share a better awareness and prevention of this topic.”

Sexual misconduct refers to different unwanted actions, behaviors, and words forced on a non-consenting person, including sexual assault and sexual exploitation. Even though in the majority of the cases reported women are the victims, this type of violence happens also among men. [Read more…]

Campus construction, renovations on target

Other than some minor setbacks due to weather and injuries, construction on the Norwich campus is well underway, keeping under budget as well as sticking to a tight schedule.

“Construction has gone as smoothly as expected,” said Dick Terk, project manager for construction at Norwich University. “It has been a great place to work, and the people we are working with are fantastic.”

Engelberth Construction of Colchester, Vt., has been the main contractor in the construction on campus, working with Norwich Facility Operations to ensure that all construction goes smoothly for both the company and the Norwich community.

“The students especially, are the most respectful of any campus that I, myself, have worked on,” said Terk, noting the company has had no problems with students or faculty interfering with construction. [Read more…]

Happy faces on 100s night

Seniors gathered for Legacy beer from 14th Star brewing and celebratory glasses as they started their countdown to graduation. Video whiz Jim Black, a former Guidon reporter who just graduated this fall, captured the scene. 100th night

The iPad Initiative

You may have noticed many students on campus working on Apple iPads this year, or writing on them with a high-tech “pencil” in some cases. Norwich is one of a few universities leading the way in exploring use of the powerful devices in classes, labs and for homework.

So what do students using them think? Opinion depends on the students and the major, but based on interviews, the iPad initiative holds promise – and also some issues for Norwich administrators.

Professor Aron Temkin, the Dean of the College of Professional Schools, oversees the iPad initiative working with the Norwich president, board of trustees, and the provost. “The iPad initiative is an effort to enhance the access faculty and students have to technology in a way that supports their teaching, their learning and their scholarship,” explained Dana Routhier, the office manager of college of professional schools, who is playing an important role in the deployment of the iPad initiative.

According to Routhier, there are approximately 240 iPad users this semester. The users are upperclassman who are majors in nursing, athletic training, history, studies in war and peace, psychology, education, geology, environmental science and Chinese.

In interviews, students in those departments shared the experiences and impressions that had using the devices. Most students held a positive initial reaction when finding out that they would get iPads, but some expressed confusion about what they were supposed to do with them.

“For me, I have a lot of technology so I felt like it was another thing to try out,” said Alec Schreurs, a 20-year-old junior health science major from Ansbach, Germany. [Read more…]

Dean Temkin explains the iPad Initiative

In August of 2016, Norwich began to equip some students and faculty with Apple iPad Pros. The principal hope of this initiative is to provide a robust set of tools to our students, through a mobile computing platform, that can expand and improve opportunities for engaged personal learning.

In some companies, like IBM, mobile computing devices now outnumber laptops and desktops. Encouraged by this evolution and the growing scope of mobile computing in primary education, industry, and professional practice, this initiative has been exploring how iPads may be used to enrich studying and learning at Norwich while promoting another level of digital literacy for all students.

What changes occur when an instructor at Norwich can count on everyone in a classroom having equal resources and ready access to information? We expect that providing a common mobile device to every student will provide new opportunities for studying, collaboration, experimentation, fact-finding research and content generation.

The iPad Initiative’s first group of faculty and students began in fall 2016 with 113 student devices issued to sophomores in nursing, sports medicine, athletic training, and studies of war and peace, together with the seniors in psychology. Initially a group of 25 faculty volunteered to participate and explore how the device could impact teaching and learning in their classes. By the end of the first semester more faculty expressed interest and by last spring more than 60 faculty were using iPads. As of January 2018, the number of faculty and staff users will total 119.

Approximately 230 students in eight departments are using iPads this year, a number that is planned to nearly triple in fall of 2018 to more than 600 students when iPads will be required for all students in nursing and all incoming (i.e. freshmen) students in the Bachelor of Arts majors. Last year’s and this year’s students have been using university-owned devices and the students have not incurred any individual cost. Once the iPad is required for an academic program, students will be issued iPads to keep and will pay for the device through a dedicated fee. We are still determining how the fee will be structured, but the intent is for this expense to simply cover the educational cost of the iPad Pro, Pencil, and case – the same “kit” students are using now. [Read more…]

Former commandant looks back, with humor

Professor Michael Kelley sat back in the library armchair as he looked through the Norwich War Whoop of 1974. As he flipped through the pages, he knew exactly where to go as he pointed at a picture of a cadet colonel that shared a striking resemblance with himself.

“Here I am over here, without the mustache”, said Kelley. “The mustache started at ROTC summer camp in ‘73, I didn’t want to have my official portrait in Jackman Hall and the one in the yearbook having a mustache.”

Kelley would keep his mustache during his reign as cadet colonel in 1974 and during his tenure of commandant of cadets as well.

Kelley keeps in contact with the current corps of cadets leaders, both students and administration while he teaches as an engineering professor.

“When you give up command, you should let the new guys have the job,” said Kelley. “I’ll occasionally go up there for a meeting or something, but I try to leave them to their jobs.”

Kelley offered some advice to the new leadership in the commandant’s office as well.

“Get out there and mix it up with the students. That’s an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do,” said Kelley. “Go to pub night or karaoke over at The Mill, or show up at an event where they don’t expect you to be there, just observe, participate, strike up a conversation with somebody. It’s important to see the commandant as a human being.”

Kelley and his wife would often go to the dining hall once a month.

“We just showed up, and I believe that’s important,” said Kelley. “Let the students see you have a human or family side too as well as the job part of your presence.”

Kelley had a lot of respect for his own commandants that were here during his time, and they influenced his leadership style.

“John Wadsworth was the commandant at the time, he influenced me more than he probably knows,” said Kelley. “When it’s a hard time I think about him, and I think about the good people who have come from this place who have miss-stepped now and then or had a bad day. I have to remind myself they are fundamentally good human beings.”

Kelley’s family is unique in another way, which is that he lives in the only commandant housing, famously located right next to the football field. They still pay Norwich to this day. His entire family is a Norwich Family.

“We have four children who went to Norwich, our son who graduated in 2015 is the tenth in our family to graduate from Norwich, and that’s including my wife’s family,” said Kelley. “We got a son-in-law as well who’s graduated from Norwich.”

What many cadets may not know about Kelley is his role in starting what is now known as the Dog River Run, which is a culminating event signaling the end of Rook Week in the modern-day corps of cadets. How it came about has a distinct tinge of humor that involves the longstanding Vermont tradition of skinny-dipping.

“It was a very different time,” said Kelley. “Having to write a letter to Northfield apologizing for the Corps of Cadets going skinny-dipping in the Dog River – that is the product of the very first Dog River Run.”

It was the end of Rook Week in 1974 and the corps wasn’t nearly as organized, according to Kelley.

“Yes, we did things like get uniforms and teach people how to march,” said Kelley. “But it wasn’t quite nearly as structured as it is today.”

The Corps of Cadets not only looked different in 1974, but also thought differently. Kelley remembers that day when they brought the Rooks up to what is now the Norwich Cemetery, which was then Dole Farm.

“The view was even more spectacular then it was today, and we wanted to do something physically demanding, but we also wanted them to see down and see the university from that perspective”, said Kelley. “We were in Vietnam-style fatigues and t-shirts, and we ran them through the river to cool them off.”

Some of the cadets took it upon themselves to go skinny-dipping, according to Kelley. Little did they know the Corps of Cadets weren’t the only ones out that day enjoying the weather.

“There were some people at a bridge that doesn’t exist anymore, and people were standing there, civilians from the community,” said Kelley. “It was then I had my first opportunity to write my letter of apology.”

The spur-of-the-moment decision would go down in history and forever change how the modern corps came to signal the end of Rook Week. As Kelley notes, the aftermath was not as fun as the actual event.

“I did have to eat a dose of humble pie,” said Kelley. “The phones had been ringing and the people from town had been calling and ‘oh by the way you need to write a letter and here’s the people you need to write to.’”

According to Kelley, that little bit of spontaneity and fun is healthy. “At first, I was chagrined at the idea I had to write a letter,” said Kelley.

“I took a deep breath, smiled, and guess you could say ‘the rest is history.’”

Ideas fly at Students to Scholars Symposium

Norwich University last week held its sixth annual Students to Scholars Symposium. The Symposium consists of several workshops and panels that brings students into the mindset of conducting research.

Although summer research fellowships had existed for quite some time, “this was going to be an opportunity at the beginning for students to think about ideas and talk about ideas,” said Dr. Kyle Pivetti, assistant professor of English.

The symposium is run by the Undergraduate Research Committee which is “spearheaded by Professor Woodbury Tease,” said Pivetti. However, this year professor Megan Doczi is filling in for Tease.

Pivetti explained that students really drive the event. “We will set up the panels,” Pivetti said, “but mostly it’s the students though, they’re the ones who bring ideas, they’re the ones who are sharing where they’re at,” he said.

The event itself lasts only two days, a Thursday and Friday each year. Thursday typically consists of workshops for writing research grant proposals and research collaboration.

Thursday night is also an opening event for Friday. Those presenting ideas are awarded certificates and those who conducted research over the previous summer show off their research and help students understand how a summer spent researching really works.

The Thursday night event exists primarily for other students and future researchers to “get to see where other students who may have gone through this program were at, and how they took their idea from the Students to Scholars to get the fellowship,” said Stephanie White, 20, an athletic training major from Starksboro, Vt.

Friday is panel day, where students present their ideas as part of a panel group. Both students and professors in the audience can ask questions and provide input. “The conversation happens between the students giving them [ideas] and the audience responding,” said Pivetti.

“They help you realize how you might improve your project, narrow it down, and make it more specific,” said White.

White presented a research project idea about researching how certain combat boot usage may be causing knee pain for service members. “It’s a great thing to do because it allows you to see, ‘is there someone else wanting to do similar research with me,’ cause then you can always just piggy back with them,” said White. “It allows them [committee] to see where students who might not even apply for the summer scholarships are at,” said White.

“It really did help me try and refine my ideas,” said Benjamin Ferguson, 21, a studies in war and peace major from Stuttgart ,Germany.

Often lots of students may have an idea, but not know quite what to do with it. Pivetti said the Symposium provides opportunities to hear and explore ideas, often to the benefit of its attendees – “Just different ways of approaching problems,” said Pivetti.

“One of the things I always find interesting about the panels is the interdisciplinary nature of all the panels,” said Pivetti. Often on one panel you might have three students of different majors, one in architecture, biology, or even language arts.

“There are other times when students from other disciplines responding to subjects I am familiar with and they ask really great questions or they have insights that I simply wouldn’t consider a lot of the time,” Pivetti said.

In the end, the interdisciplinary aspect of the symposium tends to be its strongest game piece. With a university that has such academic diversity, it allows all of these students and professors to merge together in a type of “think tank,” Pivetti said.

“I’ll definitely be working on it [proposal] over Christmas break so I can have something to bring to my professor and my research advisor,” said White. “I’m hoping to do the fellowship over the summer,” she added.

Granted, there will be many students who are already planning on submitting a proposal for a summer fellowship without having attended the symposium. However, those who have attended should find themselves in a better spot.

“Just with the amount of advice you get, and the questions that they ask you, it allows you to get a better grasp of how you can narrow it down and how you can better your idea to get the fellowship,” White said.

The symposium also permits students to not only make their idea better, but to decide whether or not the entire idea is worth scrapping completely. If you want to make a complete change, “you can do that, because now you have all this advice to help you progress in that new idea,” said White.

The panels go from morning until mid-afternoon. The students have roughly seven to eight minutes of talking time before they are released to a Q and A. “Definitely it’s nerve-wracking having to present your idea, but it was a lot of fun,” said White.

“We’re working on things all the time, we’re open to suggestions,” said Pivetti. The committee for undergraduate research is still looking to expand in any way that would benefit the Norwich community. “Research changes, and there are different projects all the time,” Pivetti said, “we are always open to new ideas.”