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Winter 2003


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The Latest from Burlington

Concert Scene Rejuvenated
Katie Elmore, left, and Josh Grenier, right, of UVM’s Student Association Concert Bureau make last-minute
preparations as Phish bassist Mike Gordon ’87 and guitar legend Leo Kottke run through sound check for their Ira Allen Chapel show in November. See page 13 for the story on UVM’s resurgent SA Concert Bureau.

Child’s Play with a Purpose
Campus center models day care’s potential

Day care, like childhood itself, is a mystery; it’s a territory that most adults choose not to explore. We pack our children off in the morning, then pick them up, rarely fully engaging the obvious questions: What do they actually do all day? And why do they do it?

A few minutes spent stooping over Dee Smith’s light table starts to reveal answers. Smith, a head teacher in the UVM Campus Childcare Center and a talented photographer, has thousands of images on film. There’s a small girl, extending a chubby finger to point a direction to a clueless passerby. Here’s a tiny boy, surrounded by intent cohorts, laboriously extracting a ball from a Plexiglas tube. There’s a shot of a tot trio staring at a metal grate as intently as if it were a kabalistic manuscript.

So one answer to the ‘what they do all day’ question: grates.

“Grates are big,” says Smith. “They love to gather around them and check things out.”

Answering the second part of the question, the why, isn’t hard either, at least not here: The children do what they do because they themselves choose to do it.

That’s a simple notion, but a subversive one in American day care. The economics of the profession are tough here — teachers are poorly paid, and programs are often both expensive and crowded — and those demands sometimes mean regimented, impersonal programs geared toward the needs of parents and profits.

“American day care is generally dreadful,” says Dale Goldhaber, associate professor of integrated professional studies and the center’s director. “It’s too often mediocre at best, downright harmful at worst.”

The UVM center, then, is both a service to the community — a full-time, full-year program that provides nurturing care for children from six weeks to five years as their parents work — and a demonstration project arguing for a better way of educating our young.

Goldhaber and his colleagues host 150 to 200 professional visitors a year, and a list of “major” papers and presentations on early childhood education has 48 entries. In large part because of the center’s impetus, the number of early childhood education majors at UVM has more than doubled in just eight years. As those students intern and work-study with professional teachers at the center, then graduate and start their own professional careers, Goldhaber hopes their skills and values will help spread more much-needed high quality care.

Goldhaber and his colleagues draw inspiration from the state-run child care centers of Reggio-Emilia, Italy, a place where early childhood education is taken as seriously as primary and secondary education and children are placed in stimulating, safe environments to learn things for themselves. Over the years, the UVM teachers have had many exchanges with their Italian colleagues, starting an internationalist tradition that has subsequently blossomed into another exchange program with the University of Stockholm.

Italian day care, and the UVM program, start from the basic proposition that children are competent, Goldhaber says. “What they do isn’t unique,” he says. “What is unique is that they do it fully.”

In this model, children have agency, and ingenious ideas about how the world works. Their behavior, no matter how superficially frivolous, has meaning that a skilled teacher can divine, extend, and channel. “We see the glass as half full,” he explains. “That turns our teachers into observers. Every moment, they watch the children and think of how they can further what they are doing.”

The movement, the music, the art projects at the UVM center are about fun, but they are also intended to help children develop. The inspiration is an expanding body of neurological research that describes the crucial role of experience in early childhood.

“The research says that a variety of experiences helps the brain develop,” Goldhaber says. “You are not born with a fixed and pre-wired brain. The brain needs to figure out what’s going on in the world to put itself together properly.”

So center kids are constantly offered new experiences and opportunities to interact with objects and each other. In addition to those beguiling heating grates, there are regular tours of campus, and chances for even tiny babies to play with clay and paint. Center organizers have also made a concerted effort to make every cinder-blocked inch of the facility, housed at Living/Learning, as beguiling as possible. A mirror-bedecked diaper-changing table, to name just one example, may not seem like much — but to Goldhaber it is symbolic of an entire approach.

“What this is,” he says, “is a place for children to grow.”

— Kevin Foley

What’s New

Edwin Colodny’s interim presidency at UVM was the centerpiece of a Chronicle of Higher Education article about institutions that made significant progress under interim leadership. “Mr. Colodny’s 13-month stint at the Univer-sity of Vermont could be a model for institutions at a management crossroads,” wrote the Chronicle. The publication cited Colodny’s success with mending the university’s post-hockey hazing image, boosting enrollments and campus morale, tackling program cuts and academic restructuring, increasing state funding, and helping build donor support. In October, Colodny set to work on his next challenge when he was named interim chief executive officer for Fletcher Allen Health Care.

A five-foot sturgeon, 1,000 emerald shiner fish, and legions of their freshwater friends are taking up residence at the Marcelle and Patrick Leahy ECHO Center for Lake Champlain on Burlington’s waterfront. (ECHO stands for ecology, culture, history, opportunity.) The new facility is directly connected to UVM’s Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory, creating an unusual link of science museum and working scientists. “It’s not common and has not been done elsewhere, so we hope we can be a model for how museums and research can work together,” says Mary Watzin, associate professor of natural resources and Rubenstein director. “It’s going to be a wow when it’s finished.” Visitors will be able to observe UVM labs where research continues on Lake Champlain issues such as lamprey eels, zebra mussels, and algae blooms. Museum Director Phelan Fretz and staff plan a grand opening for late May. Look for more on the center in future issues of Vermont Quarterly.

Crossing Colchester
Trinity Purchase Buys Breathing Room

Campus expansion with the purchase of the former Trinity College, UVM will gain room for potential growth years from now and continues the heritage of a piece of Burlington property that has been dedicated to educational use since 1925.

Trinity’s 21 acres and 17 buildings, located just across Colchester Avenue from the university, have been on the market since shrinking enrollments forced the college to shut its doors in 2000. UVM will pay $14.3 million for the college’s entire campus property.

At a September press conference announcing the sale, Sr. Jacqueline Marie Kieslich, president of Trinity College said, “It has been our hope since the closing of the college, to leave the property in a manner that would assure the legacy of Trinity College and speak to the mission of the Sisters of Mercy in Vermont. As educators and persons involved in social justice and community service, we are pleased that this agreement will give recognition and longevity to these elements of our legacy in a sustainable manner. Although the decision to close the college was not easy for any part of the college community, this transition to the University of Vermont will give consolation that what was begun and nurtured on these acres and within these
walls will continue to serve the citizens of Vermont.”

UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel called the sale a win-win situation. “The property was designed for a variety of educational and related uses, and we intend to continue in this vein. I can think of no better use for this important property.”

The university will finance the purchase through a general obligation bond and with income from leased space at Trinity. UVM itself currently leases residence hall space at Trinity, which will continue. Beyond easing the student housing crunch, the Trinity space may be used for a wide variety of purposes including relocation of units during renovation such as upcoming work at Perkins Hall, and the return of university offices currently located in rental space off-campus.

Pointy Heads Are so 5,000 Years Ago

Parents, if you shudder at the sight of your teenagers’ tattoos and multiple piercings, take comfort in learning that in another era, your progeny might have resembled one of Saturday Night Live’s famous Coneheads.

Cranial alteration — achieved by tying boards to the front and back of the head to form a tall, angular shape or a short, wide one — was once a mainstream practice in societies throughout the world, explains Deborah Blom, assistant professor of anthropology.

One such society flourished in Tiwanaku, Bolivia, around 3000 B.C. Roughly 80 percent of the population opted for the trendy look, even making special hats to fit their new-fashioned skulls.

“Their feeling was, why would you want your head to be round?” Blom says. The process usually was begun on children at about age three. Because the reshaping was gradual, it should not have caused excruciating pain, she says. And although the Spanish ultimately outlawed the practice in South America, cranial alternation was common in Greece until the 1930s.

The curious ways that the human body has been, and is, perceived and manipulated across cultures was the topic of Blom’s Fall 2002 Teacher-Advisor Program course titled, “Life, Death and the Body.” The College of Arts and Sciences program, known as “TAP” around campus, places first-year students in small-group seminars taught by professors who also act as the new students’ academic advisors.

Students examined body adornment from neck elongation and foot binding to ritual scarring and face painting techniques to ward off the evil eye. They learned how these practices reflect cultural attitudes about health, sickness, ownership, athletics, and beauty.

“We tend to think of body adornment as an individual statement, but it was — and often still is — an expression of a group identity,” says Blom. Crudely etched tattoos, for instance, help to forge gang and prison camaraderie and have little in common with the delicate butterflies and tiny heart tattoos favored by middle-class young women.

If Blom’s scholarship sounds familiar, it might be that you read about
it in the June issue of National Geographic, which included her studies of cranial alteration. Upcoming publications for the physical anthropologist/archaeologist include a Smithsonian book, which will feature Blom’s research into human sacrifice.

Automotive Science, Not the Rocket Kind

A Saturday morning, shiny new cars on display complete with tires to kick and doors to slam, a true American scene. Well, not quite. The crowd clustered around the new rides at the Alternative Transportation Expo at Patrick Gym were less interested in things like zero-to-sixty performance and if those sweet alloys come standard, than fuel economy of hybrids versus the fuel cell-driven vehicle.

The Expo was the hands-on part of this year’s George D. Aiken Lecture. On the other side of the gymnasium it was ideas that were on display. There, some of the top environmental thinkers in the state and nation asked the hard questions and offered up disturbing statistics about life “After Oil: The Future of Personal Transportation,” the 2002 Aiken Lectures topic. The two events, conceived as a complementary set, were sponsored by the College of Engineering and Mathematics and Continuing Education and drew more than 1,800 people to UVM on September 28.

“The exhibits are inspiring and optimistic,” said keynote speaker Bill McKibben, the award-winning author of The End of Nature and six other books and frequent contributor to magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harpers. “But I’m going to rain on your parade. I’ve been to events like this before with cars like this … and it’s not enough.”

Since 1989 when he published his first book, McKibben has tracked scientific and public thinking about the fact that the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fuels affects the Earth’s atmosphere. “The temperature has changed one degree and that has created huge changes — winter is three weeks shorter, storms like the one we had last night that drop two inches of rain in twenty-four hours are more common, the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is thinner,” he said.

McKibben predicts we’re headed for a five-degree warmer change in the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s “warmer than human history, warmer than any history. That’s uncharted territory,” he said. Lake Champlain has not frozen for the past six years, a trend he said would continue and would change the lake ecosystem. Forests will transition from birch, beech, and maple to oak-hickory. “It’s harder than heck to tap them for sap,” he quipped. “Most of what we think of as Vermont is up for grabs.”

America’s current love affair with the sport utility vehicle is a significant contributor to global warming, he said. “In one year, the amount of energy and carbon dioxide emitted by SUVs is the equivalent to opening your refrigerator door until 2009,” McKibben said. “You couldn’t do that. The voice of your mother would come to you saying, ‘Shut the door!’ ”

McKibben called for car manufacturers to put the kinds of engines on display at the Alternative Vehicle Expo in most of the vehicles they make. “This isn’t rocket science, it’s automotive science — which we’re great at…. We need the same kind of creative thinking applied to political issues. …Technology makes change possible, but attitudes make things happen.”

New Home for Old Science Gear

If Cook Physical Science Building was a Disney movie set, the antique scientific instruments in the new Physics Museum would come alive when the building emptied and the lights went out at the end of the day. “Why when I was state-of-the-art, those young scientists could not keep their hands off of me…,” the electrostatic generator (voice work by Zsa Zsa Gabor) would tell the unimpressed mercury vapor lamp.

As far as we know, Disney has no project in the works involving Cook, but Dave Hammond, electrical instrumentation coordinator for the Physics Department, has paid his own homage to the antique research and teaching equipment from decades past.

Over the past three years, Hammond has collected and catalogued nearly 400 pieces of teaching and research equipment used in UVM classrooms and research laboratories as far back as 150 years ago. Part of the collection, which ranges from electrostatic generators, early vacuum tubes and mercury vapor lamps to 19th-century textbooks, was unveiled this semester.

“I feel that we have an obligation to look after this equipment because of its historical significance,” says Hammond, who built oak display cases in his home and installed them in Room 106 Cook to house part of the collection.

Robert Arns, professor emeritus of physics, notes that some of UVM’s antique tools, such as a Wimshurst electrostatic generator that delivers a 20,000-volt charge, are still used in the classroom to teach fundamental principles of science.

Quick, before your PC is carted away to a museum, fire it up to take an on-line look: <http://www.uvm.edu/ ~dahammon/museum/>.

Professor Neiweem Is Ringing our Chimes

Like most performing artists, Music Professor David Neiweem admits to some anxious moments on stage. Understandable for one who has conducted numerous choral groups and sung as a baritone in the United States and Europe. Understandable on Beethoven’s Ninth, Berlioz’s L’ Enfance du Christ, or the many pieces of new music Neiweem has performed. Tougher to get when he’s plunking out that old standard “Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits” on a keyboard.

Here’s the problem. There’s something about playing seven notes that will be broadcast from a tower 168 feet in the air that could make anyone choke up a bit. Neiweem wasn’t creating music with a piano or the human voice when he toyed with “Shave and a Haircut” last semester, he was running a test on his newest instrument — the Ira Allen Memorial Carillon.

“Every time you put your finger on a key there could be an irate telephone call to the university,” Neiweem says, not totally in jest. “It would be a powerful weapon in the wrong hands.”

Have no fear, UVM’s carillon is in the right hands, Neiweem’s in his new role as the University Carillonneur.
He succeeds emeriti professors of music James Chapman, and Francis Weinrich before him.

Neiweem brings a sense of commitment, art, and some fun to his duties playing what he calls “the loudest single musical instrument in the city of Burlington.” He is also respectul of the symbolism of this memorial dedicated to UVM students who died during their years on campus. He says, “I can’t think of a better way to remember the many souls who have been a part of this university than to send this incredible sound from the highest spot in town.”

Neiweem developed his carillon chops at the University of Wisconsin, where he completed his graduate work in the late 1970s. Playing the 56 bells in the Memorial Carillon Tower in Madison, Neiweem learned the “incredible choreography” involved in manipulating the wooden batons and pedals of an acoustic carillon.

On the Ira Allen Memorial Carillon, the musician creates a tone by striking a key on a two-tiered keyboard located in the chapel’s choir loft. Striking the key rings a tuning rod, which creates an acoustic tone that is amplified through the loudspeakers in the chapel’s belfry. There are 40 pitched tuning rods, covering nearly four full octaves, on UVM’s carillon.

Neiweem says he strives to create the sound of a carillon of cast bells through his playing technique. “I keep in mind the reality of pulling levers, ringing bells, the huge machine that an acoustic carillon is,” Neiweem says. “You can’t play it completely evenly.”

Neiweem plans a regular series of concerts at noon on the first Tuesday of each month, and put out a call last semester for requests from the campus.

Though he apologizes that his pop and rock repertory is not terribly deep, proof that he’ll be open-minded is found in Neiweem’s suggestion that he likes the musical pun potential in playing Paul McCartney’s “Michelle” (Ma Belle) and his admission that he has been trying to work out the intricacies of The Simpsons theme.

Student Concert Bureau Is Rocking the Campus

We’re betting there are quite a few vintage Student Association Concert Bureau ticket stubs still kicking around out there, keepsakes of memorable evenings in Patrick Gym that have endured long after the ringing in your ears quieted. Maybe The Clash, admission $12.50; Springsteen, $8.75; or John Denver for a mere $2 (with student ID). Admit it, there may even be a Hot Tuna stub at the bottom of a shoebox in your attic.

The current crop of UVM undergrads are getting plenty of opportunities to gather memories and ticket collections of their own, thanks to a circle of student leaders who have revitalized the SA Concert Bureau. Fall semester events included major hip-hop artists Jurassic Five, who sold out Patrick Gym, and UVM favorite son Mike Gordon ’87 with guitarist Leo Kottke in an (also sold out) acoustic show at Ira Allen Chapel.

SA Concerts Chair Katie Elmore and team have produced nine shows during the fall semester, and plan at least ten more for the spring. That’s particularly impressive given that student leadership had dwindled and bureau-sponsored shows were thin for the past several years.

Things got rolling again with last April’s outdoor concert, SpringFest. Elmore and former SGA President Bill Tickner were among those who helped organize the event and they wanted to continue the momentum by bringing more national musical acts to campus. This undergrad talent and energy coupled with increased funding from the university has made for an entertainment-rich year. In addition to the national acts, SA Concerts has created a Billings Coffeehouse to showcase local musicians.

Elmore, a junior history major from Westford, Vermont, is optimistic this is just the beginning of a solid future for music on campus. She notes that many first-year students and sophomores are in the concert bureau ranks, ready to continue the tradition. “It’s a lot of fun and a chance to make a real positive impact on the university,” Elmore says.

And with the Gordon/Kottke show the students accomplished the rare feat of pleasing peers and parents alike. Elmore’s mom and dad declared the prospect of seeing Kottke “so cool” and bought a pair of tickets, joining the many Phish faithful in the Ira Allen pews to see Gordon.

Study Examines Link of Stroke, Race, Region

Scientists at the UVM College of Medicine will play a key role in a five-year study examining why African-Americans have a 50 percent higher rate of stroke death compared to whites and why stroke incidence is higher in the southeast compared to the rest of the country. The $28-million “REGARDS” (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study is led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Cardiovascular risk factor specialists at UVM’s medical college will contribute to the work through analyses of blood samples from an estimated 30,000 people. Through their analysis, UVM researchers will be helping to identify which known risk factors for stroke — and maybe some not-yet-known factors — are consistent among stroke victims or are unique to African-Americans compared to whites.

UVM is expertly equipped to handle what Dr. Mary Cushman, associate professor of medicine and pathology, estimates could be as many as 130 blood samples per day once the study is up and running at full capacity. Cushman, who will lead the central laboratory for the REGARDS study, and her colleagues at UVM’s Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research in Colchester currently function as the central analysis lab for two other large-scale, national studies.

“What’s especially wonderful about the REGARDS study is that it will create a biological specimen bank that will provide the foundation for detailed study on risk factors for stroke,” says Cushman. “This will help us get closer to identifying not only the root causes for stroke, but for other related diseases as well.”

Quote Unquote

"For the first six months of that poem’s existence, it was a rotten piece of writing."

Poet Galway Kinnell commenting on his work “When the Towers Fell,” which appeared in the September 16, 2002 issue of The New Yorker. Kinnell visited UVM for a forum and reading in September.


The Shauna Antoniuc Trio

Belizbeha vocalist mellows outLike many musicians, Shauna Antoniuc ’00 has mastered multi-tasking as survival skill. If you’ve called UVM’s Alumni Office in the last few years, chances are that pleasant greeting at the other end of the line came from one of the best voices in Burlington. Dinner at Junior’s or the Saigon Café? Let’s hope you left Shauna a nice tip.

Along with the singing career and the day job, Antoniuc has also found time to finish off her degree in English and religion. It’s been a long road to the diploma, mainly because of a hiatus begun her sophomore year (1994) to give full-time music a shot as a vocalist with the UVM-rooted band Belizbeha. If you’re an alum of the era, you know the sonic good news. If not, let’s just say the eclectic group is the sort that makes critics scramble for phrases like “danceable stew.”

Belizbeha, which still gets together for occasional gigs, toured heavily in the mid- to late-1990s, playing 150 shows in one year and hitting forty states, Canada, and Europe.

“Travelling in a nasty, stinky van and trying to keep it together with seven different personalities wasn’t easy,” Antoniuc says. “But I’d do it again. I learned so much in those years.”

The versatile singer, who has also lent her voice to Rick & The Ramblers Western Swing Band over the past four years, takes yet another musical direction with The Shauna Antoniuc Trio’s recent CD, The Dream’s on Me. It’s mellow stuff — guitar, sax, and vocals that beg for a dark lounge and a dry martini.

The project began to take form when Antoniuc was waiting those tables at the Saigon, while her future trio colleagues, Joe Capps and Chris Peterman, were performing. It wasn’t too hard for the guys to cajole her to put down the plates and pick up the mike for a couple of songs, impromptu collaborations at the root of the collection of jazz standards.

It would seem like quite a stretch from Belizbeha’s acid jazz/hip-hop to Texas swing to George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, but Antoniuc covers it gracefully. “I’ll sing anything,” she says. “I love it all.”

Give it a listen: www.shaunaantoni uc.com.

Check It Out
Leaving Saturn
By Major Jackson, University of Georgia Press

Jackson, who joined the UVM English Department faculty last fall, won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize (in support of a previously unpublished African-American poet) for this collection. Fellow poet T.R. Hummer writes, “Prophetic scat singer, apocalyptic raconteur, Major Jackson makes poems that swerve impossibly and yet authoritatively from the ordinary to the miraculous and beyond but always keep their cool.”

The Star That Set: The Vermont Republican Party, 1854-1974
By Samuel Hand, Lexington Books

From 1854, the year the Republican Party was organized, until 1964, Vermonters never failed to vote Republican in the presidential election. Indeed, the Vermont GOP was trumpeted as “the star that never set” in the Republican Party’s political firmament. Professor Emeritus Hand’s historical study documents the rise and fall of Green Mountain Republicanism, exploring the personalities and socioeconomic forces that shaped the party’s role in the state.

Blind Corners: Adventures on Everest and the World’s Tallest Peaks
By Geoffrey Tabin, Lyons Press

For those who prefer to sample alpine adventuring without the risk of frostbite or vertigo, Tabin serves up this collection of mountaineering tales. The high-climbing UVM associate professor of surgery and opthamology’s adventure résumé includes being the fourth person to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents.

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