August, 2006

Shirley Jefferson: Pillar of the VLS Community


In the center of the Vermont Law School campus, a small group of students relaxes between classes on brightly painted Adirondack chairs set under a tree. When a tall, impeccably dressed woman strides over, the energy in the group kicks up a few notches.

“Dean J!” they chime excitedly. One young woman gets up and offers her seat, but Dean J declines. She chats animatedly with them for a few moments, her hands gesturing and her eyes turning to each member of the group, drawing them in with her bright smile. When she leaves the group and walks away, Dean J is still calling back over her shoulder and talking to them, still waving her hands and greeting others in her path who welcome her with the same warmth.

“Dean J” is Shirley Jefferson, associate dean for Diversity and Student Affairs at Vermont Law School (VLS) in South Royalton. She is also an alumna, having earned her Juris Doctor degree from Vermont’s only law school in 1986. Jefferson’s ebullient personality and empathetic nature have made her the most popular person on campus. Students, faculty, and staff are quick to praise her and many are in awe of Jefferson’s achievements.

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Shirley Jefferson


Long after you leave Brazil, its waters stay with you. That’s what three Green Mountain College professors and a group of their students discovered after spending three weeks studying the ethics, politics, and ecology of water on a recent course in southern Brazil. Here is their report.

Pristine waterfalls mixed with orange pollution slicks on subsistence-fisheries rivers punctuated the contrasting and complex issues that still haunt Meriel Brooks, ichthyologist and Green Mountain College professor. “One minute you’d be looking at paradise and the next minute see something out of our own pre-EPA industrial history,” she says.

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Aftershocks from the Rocking of Civilization's Cradle


In May 2003, a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MIA) was sent into Baghdad by the U.S. Army – Cori Wegener, an ROTC commissioned officer in the Army Reserves was mobilized by the Civil Affairs Command to go to Iraq after the looting of the Iraq National Museum. “Civil Affairs is responsible in part for issues dealing with cultural property on the battlefield,” explains Wegener, who has since retired from the Reserves. “I was scheduled to go to Afghanistan with my Civil Affairs unit the summer of 2003.” Wegener received graduate degrees in political science and art history from the University of Kansas, and is curator of architecture, design, decorative arts, and sculpture at the MIA.

VW: Were you aware of the group of archaeologists and art curators led by McGuire Gibson (professor at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and one of the world’s leading scholars on Mesopotamia) who went to the Defense Department in January 2003, and met with then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s representative (Joseph Collins) to plead with them to ensure the safety of the cultural artifacts at stake? Please comment on their efforts, the response by DOD, and what played out upon the invasion. In your view, what went wrong?


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Reporting Sexual Assaults on Vermont's College Campuses


A late March party at a college social house; at some point in our lives, we’ve all been there. In this case, “there” is the Delta Social House of Middlebury College, located in an off-campus college-owned residence called Prentiss House, an elegant grey-shingled edifice to grace and style on South Main Street in a town usually described as a ‘quaint New England village.’

The atmosphere: music, definitely; alcohol, yes, according to a June statement issued by College President Ron Liebowitz; drugs, maybe. (Yes according to a statement made to media in April by a Middlebury Police investigating officer, specifically ADHD medication mixed with alcohol into a ‘date rape’ cocktail; no, according to the then-social house president.)

The allegation: sexual assault, of two women in two separate incidents, perpetuated by the same student in the course of the evening.

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