May 16

Class of 2016 Ready to Take on the World

It was a beautiful day for a graduation. And this year I was privileged to sit up on the platform with the VIPs which included the regular suspects AND Grace Potter (who thought we all looked “super hot”!)

But even more awesome was the vantage point I had as I watched the students I have been lucky enough to teach, guide, and get to know over their four years at Champlain walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and bring closure to their college experience (at least for now).

Although, at first, as they all filed in, it was a bit lonely.

I SnapChatted a lot and also used Twitter from the stage and caught a few moments of students taking that grand walk.

As I said. It was an AWESOME DAY.

And at the end of the day, I went home and these outstanding graduates began their launch into their professional lives. Graduating is an ending AND a beginning. It’s joyful and also a little sad as one chapter ends and a new one begins.

The Marketing students from this Spring’s Capstone also walked across the stage. I didn’t capture most of them because I was too busy clapping and cheering. Showing my #ccssb pride! Even though I don’t have that graduation moment captured for them all, what follows is a look at their PDI Projects for the Capstone.

Each student is required to develop their Professional Digital Identity. This past semester I had students who wrote about branding, travelling, digital marketing, sports, cars, project management, beer (of course!), real estate, innovation, entrepreneurship, media and environmental issues.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The students had specializations/minors in Digital Marketing, Event Management, Advertising, Environmental Policy and I even had several majors outside of Marketing — but we adopted them anyway! Many lessons were learned as these students found their voices, created content, connected and networked with professionals and used their PDI work (plus their internships) to help them get jobs!

Everett Ackerman: HIRED at New Breed Marketing in VT
Kayleigh Arthur: Hire this Grad!
Deane Banker: Looking for a project manager in IT? Hire this Grad!
Dan Bornstein: HIRED at Stone Corral Brewery in VT
Lauren Buniva: HIRED at Mullen-Lowe in BOS
Ian Corcoran: Hire this Grad!
Joey Favara: Hire this Grad!
Sam Fessman: Hire this Grad! (in Maine)
Ben Follett: Hire this Grad!
Amanda Merlo: HIRED at Onia Swimwear in NYC
Greg Moores: HIRED at The Sticky Brand in VT
Alex Nathanson: Hire this Grad!
Greg Salwen: Real Estate is his passion! Hire this Grad!
Todd Steiner: Hire this Grad! He wants to stay in BTV.
Melissa Thebarge: Running her own Photography Business.
Katherine Weed: Hire this Grad! She is looking in NYC.

And that is a wrap!

If you want you can enjoy my SnapChat story from the day!

Elaine’s ChampGrad 2016 SnapChat Story

Dec 15

#hirethisgrad IF you can get them!

High Five for HirerthisGradOh yes, it is that time of the semester already! Champlain College Marketing Seniors have once again completed their Professional Digital Identity assignment. It’s changed just a little this semester but essentially is focused on young people who are getting ready to embark on their professional careers making sure that their online content supports and
propels them successfully…instead of damaging them.

Consider this your inside track into hiring the best and the brightest for internships this coming spring OR for full-time work. But don’t wait too long…several already have jobs, internships and offers coming in!

So let’s get right to it shall we?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eleven awesome individuals…learn more about them on their blogs and be sure to follow them and connect. They’ll be doing great things, maybe even for your organization!


Luke Carpenter
Commercial Real EstateLuke Carpenter

Timothy Dubois
Event Managementtimdubois

Mike Frekey


Brendan Grahn
Digital Marketing


Page Hallock
Digital Marketing


Allie Hanson
Digital Marketing


Scott Kliczewski
Digital Marketing


Jillian Leslie
Marketing and Psychology
Social Media and Community Management


Sam McCarthy
Branding, Marketing and Advertising


Christian Olivieri
Event Management


Jorie Spaulding
Marketing, Photography, Branding and Advertising


And there you have it! Jorie, Christian, Sam and Mike are all graduating this December. The rest have just one more semester and they will be ready for full-time work. Of course you could always reach out to them to see if they’d like to intern with you!

Apr 15

Oh The Places You Will Go. #HireThisGrad

It seems just like yesterday when I wrote the post about students in the Fall 2014 Marketing Capstone class and their Professional Digital Identities. And yet, here we are a few months later and it is time to highlight another crop of outstanding soon to be professionals.

If you follow this blog you know that each semester that I teach Capstone, the students are required to build their online Professional Digital Identities. Essentially they are creating/building/maintaining their online brand. As a marketing professional who will have to utilize online tools to be successful, being able to showcase how they used some of those tools to promote themselves is an important challenge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What have these students learned?

  1. How to find their voice. This is not easy, as many of us know. It takes practice and time to figure out the right balance between personality and professionalism.
  2. Which online channels have the biggest reach and impact on SEO. For some students ego searches on their names are easy and spit back all their results, for others (like myself) there is always one or more “alter-egos” that get in the way. Producing content on multiple channels allows students to learn which channels help raise their content faster.
  3. Managing multiple channels is not easy. It takes work. It takes time. It takes dedication.
  4. It takes a village. Linking to one another, sharing each others content, supporting one another, enables students to increase their visibility in positive ways.

I really can’t wait to see the places these students will go…and just maybe you might get lucky enough to hire one of these amazing graduates! In this group we have several who are already employed, others who have amazing travel aspirations, ones who plan to move on to graduate school, and a few others who are actively seeking opportunities. So without further ado, may I introduce you to the Spring 2015 Marketing Capstone Students:

Mikayla Caprio

Mikayla Caprio

Meg Carrington

Meg Carrington

Steven Charnley

Steven Charnley

Melissa Chase

Melissa Chase

Luke Garnet

Luke Garnet

Julia Haass

Julia Haass

Sarah Hebert

Sarah Hebert

Katherine O'Neil Murphy

Katherine O’Neil Murphy

Julia Nittler

Julia Nittler

Casey Reagan

Casey Reagan

Kayleigh Vespa

Kayleigh Vespa

Christian Williams

Christian Williams

Jake Wollman

Jake Wollman

Emily Zelko

Emily Zelko

So check them out and connect with them on LinkedIn. Watch them launch and be ready for the great things these Champlain Graduates will accomplish. And as always don’t miss your opportunity to #HireThisGrad.

Oct 14

Hire This Grad: Fall 2014

unemployed-lol-cat4I love this time of year. It’s the time in my Marketing Capstone class when the seniors have been working on their Professional Digital Identity (PDI) projects enough for the “big reveal”.  We are past midterm and in just a few short weeks (six to be exact) they will be presenting their final PDI to the class and to professionals in the field.

The PDI project is one that we’ve been doing in the Marketing Capstone for some time. The guidelines are pretty straightforward and are based on the fact that to be a marketing professional in a digital age, a student must show that they are more than proficient with social, blogging and analytics tools.

This semester there are nine outstanding seniors, three of which are graduating in December, who are getting ready to transition into the professional world. This is your opportunity as potential employers to get a sneak peak at their awesomeness!

Like what you see? Better reach out to them right away! I’ve got students who have had three – four internships, studied abroad in China, held down full time jobs, managed projects for clients and know social media tools, analytics, event planning, promotions, video, digital marketing, and can communicate clearly, professionally, and confidently.

In other words…you better move quick employers because they are going to take the world by storm!

Time for you to #hirethisgrad

Chrissy Delphia: Event Planner

Chrissy Delphia

 Taylor M. Downs: Community Manager and Dog Lover

Taylor M. Downs

Jenna Giguere: Arts Marketer and Dancer

Jenna Giguere

Mikey Gongwer: Event Promotions, Copywriter, Avid Skier

Mikey Gongwer

Alex Greenberg: Videographer, Storyteller, Skateboarder

Alex Greenberg

Kyle Judd: Digital Marketing, Event Management, Beer Aficionado

Kyle Judd

Jake Keohan: World traveller, International Foosball Champion

Jake Keohan

 Wylie McKenzie: Digital Marketer and Homebrewer

Wylie McKenzie

Isabelle Monticolombi: Fashion Maven and Community Manager

Isabelle Monticolombi


And there you have it. Nine awesome young professionals ready to take on the world. For those of you looking, Taylor, Alex and Isabelle graduate this December. Everyone else graduates in May.

What are you waiting for?


Jan 14

Goodbye PFinn, Welcome Pres. Laackman

The search for a college president is an interesting process. Last year when PFinn announced his retirement there was much surprise from the Champlain Community. An in-depth position description or “Champlain Presidential Search Prospectus was developed. Go ahead. Read it. It’s quite something isn’t it? Fast forward to today and we’ve been through a rigorous search process that saw four interesting and diverse individuals brought to campus at the end of December. While I haven’t been at Champlain as long as some of my colleagues I have lived through the transition from Pres. Perry to Pres. Finney.

As they say, “May you live in interesting times.”


The transition in leadership at a college is a very interesting process…even more so than the search! Being a college president is a high stakes game with expectations high, pressure to see changes and make a mark within the “first 100 days”, and grappling with a diverse population of employees and constituents.  A college president reports to the Board of Trustees and must answer to students, staff, and faculty. They must frame a direction, and move an institution along a path that will eventually (hopefully) continue the success of the institution while balancing the disparate points of view of faculty, staff, and students. They must manage a group of individuals who believe we should “stay the course” while others believe we should make “radical changes” while still others aren’t even sure what we should do in the face of increasing costs, higher competition, growing our national and international reputation, and grappling with external pressures to show ROI for everything we do. And don’t even get me started on how technology is changing how we deliver education! It’s quite a challenge overall!

With that in mind, I thought I would post two open letters to the outgoing and incoming leaders of Champlain College.

Dave Finney 2013Dear Dave (he’s been here long enough, we are on a first name basis):

Goodbye. It’s been quite a ride here at Champlain. From the moment you walked in you shook us up, challenged us to make big changes, and moved us toward a vision that, at times, seemed out of reach. And yet, here we are nine years later with a completely different curriculum, growing standing in national rankings, a more diverse student body and faculty, and a stronger emphasis on study abroad for our students. We have new buildings, and a campus that gets rave reviews. Sure we have our issues like any college does, and I certainly have not always agreed with your point of view, but as we all look back on the past nine years, I think we can all agree that Champlain is stronger today then when you walked in the door and took the helm.

Of all your work, I would like to publicly thank you for your passion that our students study abroad. You gave them passports. You moved us to have a Montreal and Dublin campus. You have opened up the world to our students and as a faculty advisor I can tell you that each student I have who has gone abroad comes back changed, more open, with a greater capacity for empathy and global thinking. While the buildings are nice, it is my opinion that this one thing is your lasting legacy. Every student who studied abroad during your tenure went there because you opened those doors and made it easier AND made it an expectation. And for this, you have my heartfelt thanks.

laakmanDear Mr. Laackman (I hope I can call you Don?):

Welcome to Champlain College. We are a cool bunch of people who, for all of our differences, have one thing in common: our passion for our students.  When I met you so briefly on your whirlwind interview back in December you seemed like a person who shared that passion. I hope that is true. I don’t know you yet, and you don’t really know us yet. Over the coming months you will be given opportunities to get to know us better. From my perspective as one professor who does not speak for anyone else but myself, I hope in the coming months and years you will:

  • Come visit my classroom. Yep. Just pop in. Grab a seat. Watch what I do. Pay attention to the students. Look around the room.  The more you know what happens in the classrooms at Champlain the faster you will get to know first hand what it is like to deliver the kind of education we deliver every day. 
  • Walk around. Get to know not just the buildings but the people in the buildings. Show your face so we all get to know you not as “The President” but hopefully as “Don”.
  • Practice the three Fs: Friendly, Fair, and Firm. I think any leader can get a lot accomplished if they are friendly to their employees and community, treat everyone with respect and fairness, but at the end of the day, they make the hard decisions and stand firm.
  • Put yourself out into the community. Vermont is a small town. It’s amazing how connected we all are to other people, and how easy it is to get to know others. Doors are opened on a handshake, and you never know who you’ll meet downtown on Church Street, or on a hike in the Northeast Kingdom, or in our many little shops throughout the state. Get out and about and use your faculty and staff colleagues to help make introductions.
  • Foster connections online. More and more University and College presidents are building their college’s brand by being active participants on tools like Facebook and Twitter. Need a good model? Check out President Santa Ono from the University of Cincinnati.  You can find him on Twitter at PrezOno and on Facebook as Santa Ono. Not sure how to get started? I know a person or two who can help.

I look forward to getting to know you better over the coming months and years, and look forward to having you sit in on my future classes. You have a standing invitation!  Best of luck in your coming days and welcome to Vermont!

Now, only time will tell. But as a very biased employee at Champlain College what I can tell everyone is that even in the midst of great change, we have always been a college that focuses on relevant, career-focused education. And I know for myself that will not change.

UPDATE: 3:30 1/10/14: Turns out our new Prez does have a bit of a social media footprint already! That’s what I get for not first doing a search. You can follow him on Twitter at @donlaackman and you can also read his blog at DonsDesk.wordpress.com.

Jul 13

The Power of Alumni Engagement

Champlain College Reaches 2000 Alumni Gifts

I’ve been remiss. I haven’t updated people on how the #2k42m campaign ended up. I blame summer.

But, I think by the image above you know how we did.  For the first time in Champlain History we had 2000+ alumni give to the institution in one campaign.

In my earlier post asking for Alumni to support #2k42m I wrote about how important an active alumni network is to a college, and how for Champlain this is a sign we are growing up from where we started.

This is a thank you to all the alum who donated to the #2k42m.  Faculty and Staff at Champlain are responsible for building the campus, for creating the curriculum, for getting students ready for the next phase of their life. Alumni are responsible for helping the college to grow in many other ways.  Active alumni organizations can (and should):

  • Network where they live and work to tell the story of Champlain. Like our Colorado Alumni Group
  • Offer internships (like this awesome one at Alchemy and Science) to current students.
  • Fund scholarships for current students.
  • Encourage families you know to consider Champlain as an education destination for their college-bound students.
  • Push us (Faculty, Staff, Administration) to stay current so you can continue to feel pride in Champlain.
  • Come up with new and interesting ways to fundraise and help us move from being so reliant on tuition.

I’m sure there are more reasons than this, but I’m here to ask you to consider the many different ways you can stay connected to Champlain. How you can help us continue to grow and be a college of distinction at a time when many are questioning the value of a college education?  As Champlain Vice President Chuck Maniscalco wrote in a recent post about how Students Rate Higher Education on his blog, Champlain is getting many things right if you consider recommendations from outside sources like McKinsey. Alumni support will help us to keep getting things right.

So while this post is a thank you, it is also a challenge to all of you who gave even just ONE DOLLAR. Don’t stop there.

How about next year you give two dollars? Or consider an ongoing gift of $5 per year. Or even $5 per month.  If a group of you did that, imagine how that would help your Alma Mater?

And yes, I know many recent grads are paying back student loans for the cost of getting your education and you might feel that you paid enough, why give even more?  My answer to that is simple. Because your tuition helped us to maintain what we were doing at that time. It paid my salary, it kept the lights on, it kept you fed, it helped Student Life provide programming for you, it helped grow our campus. But donations from you now will help us move beyond that. If we are to compete and stay relevant we must move away from being tuition dependent. One downturn in applications can have a huge negative impact on what we do every day. More ongoing and consistent donations from you will ensure we can continue our mission.

What do you say alumni? Can you keep the momentum going?


May 13

Oh the places we will go! But we can’t do it without YOU!

happy lolcat

I love this time of year. And yes, in good part because it is summer. But also because we have wrapped up another academic year, a group of students has graduated and are making their way in this world, and we now spend time looking back, reflecting on what went well, and what we can do better looking forward.

As an institution of higher learning, Champlain College has been described as agile, nimble, forward thinking, and innovative. For a small, private college in one of the most rural states in the nation, we are the little college that could. We have literally come a long way, from humble beginnings in 1878 as “Burlington Collegiate Institute”  housed at one time above what is now Nectars, to our current home in the hill section of Burlington.  We’ve gone from offering Associate’s Degrees in fields such as Secretarial Science to Fashion Merchandising and Court Reporting to now having numerous Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees (both traditional and online)  in fields ranging from Marketing (my personal favorite of course) to Game Development, Early Childhood Education, Digital Forensics and Environmental Policy. We have campuses in Dublin and Montreal. We are ranked in Princeton Review’s 377 Best Colleges and in US News and World Report’s Best Comprehensive Colleges in the North. Read more about our awesome history and our even more awesome NOW on our “history” page over at our website.

But what has any of this to do with reflection and thinking about where we go from here?

Everything actually.

While I was on sabbatical Champlain College really started to grow up.  You see, while in our history we had been given gifts to support our physical growth (think buildings such as The Miller Information Commons and the S.D. Ireland Global Business and Technology Center) we haven’t really had the type of contributions to academics that more traditional four year colleges and universities have. Champlain College is a tuition-driven institution which means we don’t have large endowments, or specialized “faculty chairs”.  October 2012 changed all that. We received the biggest gift in our 135 year history: $10 million from the Robert Stiller Family Foundation.

Wow. Look at us. Getting all grown up.

This gift resulted in Champlain getting its first “named” school: The Robert P. Stiller School of Business (of which I am a proud faculty!). Over the next five years we will also be able to add additional faculty, and we’ll be adding an emphasis to our school on Positive Organizational Development (based on the Appreciative Inquiry framework).

Part of the gift also included a challenge: The 2K 4 2M Challenge. A matching gift that if we can raise funds from 2,000 alumni we’ll get an additional $2 million to put towards our “Vision, Innovation, Passion” campaign. Naturally the idea here is that to have a truly successful educational institution we need to engage and gain support from alumni like never before; that our alumni are critical to our success, just as we have been a major part of their success.

Donate to our 2k42m Campaign

We need 380 more alumni to donate any amount (even $1 counts!) to get us to 2,000 alumni.

Naturally there’s a catch. We have to get the 2,000 donations by June 30th. But I’m sure you are up for it.

So no matter WHEN you went to Champlain. Take a few minutes and reflect back on your experience with us. Think about what you learned, where it took you, the people you met, how your life, your perspective, your world changed while you were here. Then think forward. Where will you help us go now? Your gift will help us expand our campus and continue to make a difference in the lives of young people. It will help the new Stiller School of Business do more to fulfill our mission of “…changing the world through business” and it will help Champlain College continue to thrive and grow as a leader for education and an economic driver for Burlington and for Vermont.

It’s easy to make a gift. Just head on over to our online support form, fill it out,  input your credit card info and become part of history at Champlain by being the biggest group of alumni to ever donate to the college.

Still not sure?

How about you watch these videos and see just how far we’ve come. Now imagine what videos we’ll be able to post five years from now because of your gift!

You Make It Happen | Champlain College from Champlain College on Vimeo.

Champlain Rules from Champlain College on Vimeo.

You can also help by spreading the word and sharing this post, or the link to our “official 2K42M” page where people can read more about it and check out messages from alumni who have given as well as noted colleagues Jim Ellefeson, Cinse Bonino, and Nancy Kerr.

Now, between you and me, there is also a letter from the Accounting faculty. You see, we have a little competition going on (well, specifically Thane Butt and I have a little competition going on). She believes that more Accounting alumni will donate than Marketing alumni. Frankly, I just can’t imagine that, because, as we all know MARKETING IS AWESOME! So here’s a special call to all Champlain Alumni who graduated from our Marketing program. You know what to do.

Click HERE.

Let’s beat Accounting!