Joel Ribout, Saint Michael’s College’s new associate director of facilities since June 15, grew up in northern Ontario, Canada, took up architecture during college in Ottawa and was an architect and project manager there and in Montreal before his company moved him to the Burlington area 13 years ago.
Most recently, Ribout, a graduate of Ottawa’s Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, worked for 11-plus years with MacKenzie Architects on Battery Street in downtown Burlington, and before that, with MorrisSwitzer Environments for Health in Williston. He was working in MorrisSwitzer’s Montreal office when, in 2002, he had a chance to move to the Vermont office and made the leap.
He liked working and living in the U.S. so much that he stayed and started a family. But recently he decided he’d like to “try something different,” so he sought work emphasizing project management more than architecture. When he learned that the Saint Michael’s Facilities Department was seeking a second-in-command after Jim Farrington took over the department’s leadership upon Dave Cutler’s departure earlier in the year, it felt like the right fit.
“I’d known Jim for a number of years through the Burlington-area running community since we’re both pretty serious runners, and I’d heard from him and many others what a great place Saint Michael’s is to work,” Ribout said. “In taking on Jim’s old role here, I just hope to continue the excellent work he’s done and contribute to making Saint Michael’s a place students want to come to, and a place where faculty and staff want to work.”
In managing projects for the college, Ribout will concentrate on construction and planning, doing “everything from drafting to spec writing, building code analysis, life safety analysis and more” he said. Those are familiar tasks to him from earlier work on a variety of building types, so his background translates well to college buildings, he said.
Ribout says he’s been happy in Vermont. “When I was a young kid, I always thought I wanted to live in the U.S., based a lot upon what I’d watch on TV as a big sports fan -- but I didn’t do much about it until the opportunity to move here arose in my job, and it worked out. So I ended up where I wanted to be.” Still, his ties to Canada always will remain strong, said Ribout, who lives with his wife and two daughters, ages 7 and 4, in Burlington’s New North End. “While I’m happy to be here, I’m still proud to be Canadian, too, and I go back and visit a lot since my whole family lives back there,” he said.
Projects on his plate after just a few weeks on the job illustrate the variety of tasks he’ll take on for the college. They include work on restroom facilities in Ross Sports Center, renovations in the Alliot Dining Hall kitchen to create a gluten-free and allergen-free zone in keeping with updated codes, and – most exciting to him – the imminent construction of a new residence hall, now being called “Res Hall 4,” near the other newer suite residence halls. “I’m very excited for that to start, and am now in meetings with the civil engineers,” he said. “I’ll help manage day-to-day affairs, review plans and be an advocating voice for the college‘s concerns with the architects and contractors, reviewing plans and payments and other matters.”
His office is in the newly renovated St. Joseph Hall on Lime Kiln Road, second floor. “My message to the college community would be that if there’s something you want changed relating to the facilities, I want to accommodate that the best I can,” Ribout said. “Folks may not always see what’s going on behind the scenes, but we want to be there nevertheless to make sure that everything functions for them.”
Besides running (he’s completed numerous marathons and half-marathons), Ribout is an avid squash player and enjoys attending Vermont Lake Monsters baseball games with his family. For several years he has been the aid station coordinator for the Vermont City Marathon. Another fun fact: “I’m a donut eating champion,” he said, explaining how the promoters of The Simpsons Movie in 2007 ran a contest downtown and he won by eating eight pink-frosted donuts with sprinkles in the allotted short time.