In This Together

Adjusting to Saint Michael’s community life in the time of a coronavirus pandemic by supporting one another

March 20, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Staff in the College’s Marketing & Communications office are continuing to find and post stories from our community during these uncommon times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week we invited anybody among us to share whatever from their daily lives might inspire and make us feel connected, from the more serious to the whimsical. in This Together

Early responses are heartening. The idea here is to uplift and inspire through what we hope can be a running periodic forum for community-building, neighborly check-ins and collective sustenance. Please continue to share your news items, however seemingly small. We also welcome broader updates from your offices, departments and homes.

Thanks to everyone who shared the following early submissions and community snapshots. Keep them coming – email to

Student Life: All hands on deck

Dawn Ellinwood, Student Life VP, led her update with the reassuring news that our formidable and highly respected recently retired Dean of Students, Lou DiMasi, “did in fact volunteer his time last week on Friday,” as we had heard. “He covered the office for us as we were responding to the many requests from students and families that came to us. As you would expect, Lou continues to check in with each of us….great guy.” Dawn continued: “My on-call personnel (Jeff Vincent, Kerri Leach, Megan Ohler, Brian Lee, Kimoi Seale and Catherine Welch) are reaching out to on campus students individually to check in with them and establish a connection. We are all meeting daily via Zoom to plan for the day and plan for the next steps on campus.” Also, she says, Mary Masson and her two nurse practitioners “are amazing and keeping us all up to date with the situation both on campus and off.”  She added that in Athletics, “all coaches continue to recruit and connect with prospective student athletes. Additionally they are keeping in contact with their current teams.  [Director of Athletics] Chris Kenny just sent out a blog from Ivy Watts (a widely known authority and speaker on mental health among athletes) and asked each coach to send to their teams.”

Education on the home front

Valerie Bang-Jensen from our Education Department urged anyone to visit tweets from MaKayla Foster ’20 about the senior’s recent worthy initiative from home to “do well” in her career aspirations and preparations, while also “doing good.”  Says Val, “Not only is she homeschooling her siblings, but she is working virtually with her cooperating teacher (a former SMC valedictorian, Callie Lumbra Goss ‘12) to remotely teach their 3rd/4th grade class in Westford. Interesting tidbit: MaKayla had already been hired as the full time teacher beginning in mid-April to replace Callie when Callie goes on maternity leave—so there’s an interesting twist and importance to her staying connected with this class.” Val urged all to check out MaKayla’s Twitter feed or the Education Department Facebook page for more about this and some photos.

Not even this campus’s first pandemic

Liz Scott from the Durick Library Archives last week found some interesting records pertaining to Saint Michael’s College during the 1918 global flu pandemic. She emailed last week:  “Wanted to share a bit from the 1918 flu. The College was not hit hard at all, because after the death of one student, they closed campus for four weeks.” Liz attached the official minutes and College chronicle (both In French) from the time, as well as the English language chronicle from the Silver Jubilee publication, and she’s working on a more detailed report from those and other sources, which we plan to pass along when she’s done. “I wish my French was better, but people will get the gist,” Liz says.


“I Will Survive” – faculty edition

Kimberly Quinn ’88 passed along to faculty and administrators throughout community email an amusing and insightful song on YouTube based on a 1970s anthem of perseverance that captured what many faculty are feeling as they prepare to deliver courses online for the foreseeable future. Wrote Kimberly, “Good afternoon Awesomes — Please take 2 minutes to watch this as it is hysterical and most of you will probably relate 🙂🙂:


Helpful tools from Bergeron Counseling

Tessa Bolz, clinical mental health counseling intern in Bergeron Wellness Center, wanted all to know about the links to the Bergeron Counseling Instagram:  //  @bergeroncounseling

“The purpose of this account to serve as a holding space for the SMC community where the Bergeron counselors can share resources, tools, and tips for staying grounded, intentional, and calm during these uncertain times,” said Tessa, who offered a sample post with these stress-reducing suggestions: Take news breaks; keep a routine; video call with friends far away; go outside.


Father Ray’s niece a WHO doctor with advice

Edmundite Fr. Ray Doherty, ’51, forwarded a message he received recently from his niece, Meg Doherty, who is a medical doctor with World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland. “She is aware of my approaching 90 years old and thoughtfully sent me the helpful advice below (good advice for all of us, I presume),” Fr. Ray shared.

Here’s Meg Doherty’s advice: “Dear Uncle Ray, I hope you are well in Vermont!  I am reaching out as I do want you to know that you should take all the advice about avoiding Coronavirus seriously! It does have a penchant for people over 65 and for people in places with many groups (ie schools/ universities).Please do stock up on hand gel, wash your hands often, avoid the cafeteria and perhaps even mass (with lots of crowds). Please let me know if you have any questions as we are all thinking of you and hope you stay free of COVID-19! Here are links from WHO:

Fr. Ray expressed his best wishes and solidarity with those in our community exploring an unexpected new “monastic lifestyle.” He replied to assure his niece, “We are taking serious measures at the College to avoid falling prey to Coronavirus — much the same as you advised. Best wishes to you all, and God bless. Love, Ray.”


Small campus kindnesses making a big difference

A faculty member who preferred to stay anonymous wrote: “One of my grad students said the administration made it possible for all grad students living on campus to eat for free as they didn’t want them traveling to the grocery store. I really appreciate this as it relieves a great deal of anxiety.”


‘LubGoesLive!’ on YouTube brings science energy to you

Mark Lubkowitz of the biology faculty just started a YouTube Channel called “LubGoesLive!” for students and lovers of science in the COVID-19 world—“it is a work in progress … but here it is,” Mark writes in sharing the link. As you might expect (if you know Mark), it’s pretty great and vastly entertaining. He starts with the hairy camouflage on moth wings that keeps bats from homing in on them, then riffs on New York City rats, and is off and running.


Things are seldom what they seem, Ray Patterson finds

Ray Patterson of the religious studies faculty had a story emblematic of the world we live in this week. Apparently Ray had run out of milk at home and so had stopped at the Hannaford’s off Shelburne Road past the McDonald’s turnoff. He relates: “I walked in and was shocked! I mean, there was almost nothing on the shelves, of any kind — it reminded me of when I was a student abroad in East Germany in the 1980s and would go into stores and the shelves would be almost completely empty.” Ray related feeling a mix of anxiety at an apparent dramatic scarcity of goods, coupled with his simmering annoyance at hoarders who seemingly had cleared this large store of its most essential items … at least, those were his feelings, he says, until he read the sign on his way out informing customers that the old store he was shopping in was in the process of moving its entire inventory to the new Hannaford location nearby in the old K-Mart plaza! Phew. In recent days, sadly, Ray’s was the rare case of something seeming to be worse than it actually was.


Biology lab coordinator brings an ‘early Christmas’

From Brian Swisher, instructor & lab coordinator in the Biology Department: “My Animal Behavior students were very bummed out that they didn’t have time to get out and see what images and videos were captured on their camera traps in the Natural Area (put out about a month ago).  I’ve going out hiking to retrieve their cameras and will be mailing each of them an SD card from a camera for them to pour over (I say it’s like opening presents on Christmas morning) and they’ll doing a few assignments using their images.”


Laura Stroup immersed in themes of restoration

Another reminder how faculty remain at work on a variety of worthwhile and interesting projects even from off-campus came from Laura Stroup of the Environmental Studies and Science faculty, whose work over a sabbatical points to themes of “restoration” and its hopeful possibilities in all things — notions that are so welcome lately. Writes Laura, “Fall semester 2019 (last semester, although it seems like much longer ago), I completed three chapters of a book I am working on entitled “RESTORATION: Restored Humans, Restored Environments.”  Each chapter is a different story about the motivations and goals of environmental restoration in the U.S.  Two chapters … involve the de-extinction of the American Chestnut tree, and another chapter I researched and wrote wholly while on sabbatical is about the largest dam removal ever accomplished in the world: the Elwha River Restoration.”

It helps to be purple

Chris Kenny, director of Athletics, sent this note around to colleagues Friday morning with a photo, and shortly thereafter, Admission staff fully embraced the spirit of his communication. Chris’s email read:

“I have heard from a very reliable source that you are representing quite well in your purple on Purple Knight Friday, even though you are working remotely.  I love it, and I’m with you (see attached)! COVID-19 has impacted our lives at Saint Michael’s in significant ways, but it can’t take away our spirit or dedication to our College.  Extra credit given to each of you  – well done!!! Hang in there, everyone, and thank you so much for all you do for and mean to Saint Mike’s!

Danielle Schiestle in Admission responded and had a photo too:

“Just wanted to pop in and say that folks here in Admission are proud to be honoring Purple Knights Friday! We took these pictures (attached) during our team meeting this morning and posted them on the Admission Instagram account. Thought it might bring some cheer to you and your staff! We’re thinking of all your athletes during this emotional time. As always, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to support you.”

France in ‘total lockdown’ as Terryl Kinder gardens on

Anywhere in the world it’s possible to encounter a Saint Michael’s person, and we were glad to hear Thursday from Terryl Kinder of the College’s humanities/fine arts faculty, who writes the following from the birthplace of Edmundites, founders of Saint Michael’s College: “I’m in Pontigny working in my garden. The weather is fabulous and the roses are in bud, peonies are up, and I’m cleaning the asparagus bed in anticipation … in springtime. My study-abroad course was cancelled. I’m giving thanks that I live in the countryside. France is in total lockdown; we’re not allowed to leave home without an affidavit saying where we’re going and why. Police are stopping cars and people are getting fined. Many Americans probably wouldn’t put up with that, but they are hell-bent here on flattening the curve … so there are enough beds for seriously ill people. Also, I went to the greenhouses and stocked up the night before lockdown. Important to think ahead about the important things!”


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