Players rave about basketball court upgrade

During the past summer, Andrews Hall saw its first renovation to the basketball court in over 25 years.

“Coming back to campus after summer break and seeing the new basketball court was surreal,” said Tommy Fitzgerald, 21, a senior guard on the basketball team from Williston, Vt. “While we were home and away from campus, we could only look at pictures of the new court but after seeing it in person, it truly is amazing.”

With the previous basketball court being broken down due to the wear and tear of a multiple seasons of play, the school had to refinish the floor every summer to keep up with the maintenance for the players. The stateof-the-art new court now features the same hard maple flooring found in National Basketball Association (NBA) arenas around the country – a surface somewhat rare in smaller schools within the NCAA.

“I think the company did a really excellent job resurfacing the new court,” said head basketball coach Paul Booth, who hails from Northfield. “There is a lot more grip to the court along with it being a more solid surface than it was prior to this (renovation).”

Maple hardwood flooring is by far the most expensive option to outfit a basketball arena. On average, hardwood costs about 20 percent more than PVC and about 40 percent more than poured urethane. The renovation of the basketball court this past summer was funded with money from the capital projects budget, as a small part of the $100 million dollar plan the university has to improve a multitude of on-campus buildings. [Read more…]

Pegasus players get a new theater director

Jeffry Casey, the new director of the Pegasus Players

Jeff Casey looked around at his new office in the basement of Webb. There were lights and props from Dole Auditorium strewn about.

The native Texan had just started this year as assistant professor of theater in the department of English and communications.

There were no windows in his office, surrounded by cold concrete walls, but it certainly looked as if he had made a home for himself.

Fresh from getting his Ph.D. and finishing work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison he had finally got settled at Norwich.

“You don’t need to justify doing theater,” Casey said. “No one cares, everyone just wants to do it, it’s fun.” [Read more…]

VAP policy at Norwich undergoes changes

Norwich University has changed the Violation of Alcohol policy for the 2017-2018 school year due to previous ineffectual policies that failed to reduce the number of violations. According to Frank Vanecek, senior vice president for student affairs and technology, the policy was modified during the spring semester of 2017.

Vanecek said that those involved in changing the policy were the SGA (Student Government Association), the commandant’s office, university adjudicators, and finally the president. The policy had to go through various chains of command before being finalized to ensure that it was understood and fair.

“We wanted to rethink it to see if we could come up with a solution that might actually reduce the drinking. Based on the history and numbers of incidents, it didn’t seem to us that the punishments we were giving out were making much of an impact,” said Vanecek.

According to Norwich University Crime Statistics, there were 70 liquor law violations in 2014, 65 in 2015, and 73 in 2016. Most of those violations took place in the residence halls. There is no specification whether they took place in barracks or civilian dorms.

Norwich’s history with alcohol is more than violations on campus. In 2011, a vehicle carrying eight students crashed, killing one. The driver was intoxicated. In 1984, the Norwich Fire Brigade dispatched four cadets on a call. The driver was still inebriated from the party he attended the night before. He crashed the vehicle, killing all 4 occupants.

“I’ve spoken to a few (alumni) since last spring, and I threw it out there to hear what they think. They think it was a reasonable policy,” Vanecek said. “I didn’t get any negative comments from the alums,” During the 70’s, the legal age to drink in Vermont was 18, so it was common for cadets to drink to commemorate recognition, the night where freshmen recruits (rooks) officially become cadets. Most rooks are not of legal age, and typically are not allowed in legal drinking areas on campus. [Read more…]

Corps housing crunch causes some concerns

For the 2017 fall semester at Norwich University, almost 40 upperclass Corps of Cadets were assigned to live in lounges and classrooms instead of traditional barracks or dorms, according to student housing and admissions.

Typically, Corps students live in barracks that are located on the upper parade ground, which is commonly referred to as “the UP.” These barracks are separated from the civilian dorms.

Major Justin LeFebvre, the NUCC commandant adjutant, makes the decisions for where the Corps students will live. He has been working at Norwich University for 15 years, however, this is his first year being in charge of the housing office. He has had his “eyes opened” and is aware of the many “challenges” that housing entails.

According to LeFebvre, there were multiple reasons as to why certain cadets were assigned to live in a classroom or lounge. If a student didn’t “complete housing forms, tell housing they were coming back, or were readmitted at the last moment,” there was no reserved space for them.

“If I don’t know they are coming back I can’t give them a bed on the UP,” LeFebvre said. [Read more…]

Meet Col. Michael Titus, the 55th Commandant of the Corps of Cadets

Col. Michael Titus.

Col. Michael Titus sat back in his chair, still getting used to his new office in Jackman Hall. He checked over his uniform and moved the items on his desk around to get comfortable. He looked out the window, which was partially obscured by the regalia of the United States, Vermont, and Norwich flags.

The Pennsylvania native looked through the notes on his desk as he readied himself. It was a dreary day at Norwich with a couple gray clouds but it was a perfect day for the 55th Commandant of Cadets.

“I grew up in a small town, it really shaped who I am today,” said Titus, a colonel in the Vermont State Militia, and the new Commandant of Cadets. “Not so different from Northfield or any small town in Central Vermont.” [Read more…]

Norwich’s new rook cell phone policy: A bad call?

Two rooks use their cell phones in their barracks on the UP.

Despite backlash from upperclassmen, the rook cell phone policy has been changed for the class of 2021, starting with the beginning of classes this fall.

The changes were announced in a letter released on Aug. 16, 2017. “It was matter of when, not if,” said Cadet Colonel Timothy Weinhold, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Concord, N.H. and the top Cadet in the Corps.

The policy letter identified rules on “cell phone usage and restrictions,” explaining that rooks are now authorized to have their phones in their possession, but are prohibited to use their cell phones, unless they have a commandant’s permission or the phone is required for their academics.

In past years, rooks were not allowed to have their cellphones except for a ten minute phone call on Sunday. They were awarded the privilege of having their phones per the regimental commanders orders.

According to Weinhold, the new Commandant of Cadets Colonel Michael S. Titus did not come up with the change in cell phone policy. “Col. Titus walked in and the policy letter was on his desk,” said Weinhold, explaining that this new policy was one of the “final pushes” from Colonel Russell Holden, former Commandant of Cadets. He said the idea of changing rook’s cell phone use “has been in discussion since last year.”

The “liability and safety of rooks” was the biggest concern that pushed the policy to begin the start of the academic year, because rooks “no longer have direct communication and 24/7 supervision from their cadre” like they had during Rook Week, Weinhold said. The RAVE system uses calls and text to notify students if, or where, an emergency happens and “it is the only way for the rooks would know if something bad is happening on campus.”

Connor Guzda, 20, a junior communications major from New Fairfield, Conn. and a member of the cadre, concurred with Weinhold’s statement. “From what I know, it (the policy) was put in place mainly for the RAVE emergency system.”

  [Read more…]

Norwich will offer summer course on using and flying drones

Drones have become the plaything of techies, an airborne video tool and a vital military component in combat and the war on terrorism.

So a Norwich professor has come up with the idea of bringing a summer course to campus help students learn about drones. This coming June, Norwich University will be offering a course on how to operate and learn the regulations to fly a commercial drone, according to Prof. Rosemarie Pelletier.

“The idea came about while I was talking to a colleague of mine, trying to combine public relations with technology. We concluded with starting this course,” said Pelletier. The three-day course will be held from June 13-15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. “If you want to stay on campus while taking this course the cost will be $1,500 dollars, but if you live close by the course will be offered for $1,250 dollars. All meals will be covered for the three days,” Pelletier said. The best part? You get to keep the drone you practiced with.

The course is both for current students at Norwich University and for the general public, due to the wide demand and interest in the use of drones. “The course will be offered to 20 students who are current students or just the regular public,” Pelletier said, “All participants in this course must be eighteen-years-old or older.”

The course will follow all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for flying a commercial drone, which state.  “You cannot fly within five miles of an airport without notifying the airport itself … The aircraft itself must weigh less than 55 pounds including any attachments such a camera.” The FAA also states that if you are using your drone for business, you will need to have a Class G license and cannot fly within 400 feet of an airport and cannot fly over people or other moving vehicles.

The course will prepare participants to take the Commercial Drone License exam. The course does not guarantee you a license to fly a drone but will however prepare you for the exam to receive your license, according to Pelletier.

 Pelletier said students can take the exam for their drone license at the Burlington airport after they take the course. “All you have to do is sign up for the exam when it is offered and go up and take it.”

 “The big cause for this course and why we are offering it is because drones are becoming a big part of the world,” Pelletier said. There have been many issues with people using drones and invading people’s personal space and also many court cases involving drones. “Another reason for the course was because recently there was a case study done on drones, and also this case study will be part of residency week so why not do a course as well during that time frame,” Pelletier explained.

“This would be a great course for emergency response teams to come in and learn how to operate a drone,” Pelletier said. If we had a drone launched when the(Amtrak) train crashed last year we could have had eyes on the situation faster than the actual response team could be there.

Pelletier said the restrictions and rules on drones are varied: “If you are a drone hobbyist you would not fly into the restricted airspace, but if you want to fly them commercially for business and say get an aerial view of a property you would fly in the restricted airspace, so a license is required … In order to operate drones it is always a great idea to be licensed.”

The course will start from scratch: “We assume you never touched a drone and are looking for more information,” Pelletier said.  The course includes a drone equipped with a camera, and each student will use their laptop to control the drone. According to Pelletier, they are looking at using one course room for the teaching portion; then they will go down to the ballfields by the Dog River and practice flying the drones.

The drones that will be used during the course will be strictly commercial drones equipped with cameras. At the end of the three-day course, individuals will not only leave with knowledge, but also the drone used during the course.

For information on the Drone Course: http://www.cvent.com/d/x5qnk7

 

 

‘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…]