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Emeriti Status for Jon Fitch and Richard Portner

Emeriti Status for Jon Fitch and Richard Portner

Retired Professors Honored by Vermont State Colleges

December 19, 2013

Two former Lyndon State College professors, Jon Fitch and Richard Portner, have been granted Professor of Humanities Emeritus status. The awards were confirmed through a special vote by the Vermont State College (VSC) Board of Trustees. LSC President Joe Bertolino nominated both candidates for the honor.

Emeritus status is awarded to retired professors who have a recognized record of outstanding teaching, exceptional professional achievement, and have provided extraordinary service to their college. The individual must have a minimum of 10 years of full-time employment with the VSC.

Jon Fitch, Ph.D., a full-time professor of Psychology and Human Services, retired in 2005 after a 30-year stint at Lyndon. His contributions to LSC fall into several broad areas including curriculum development, program development, teaching excellence, and service to the college and community. Fitch developed a wide variety of courses that range from traditional introductory psychology classes to non-traditional offerings such as Mind/Body Consciousness.

He developed and successfully ran the New England School Counselors Institute (NESCI) for twelve years. Institute participant Janice Parsons shared that NESCI “opened the door for later teaching opportunities” including her current position as a faculty member in the Boston University School of Education.

Bertolino added, “Fitch is well-regarded and respected by his colleagues and his former students as an inspiring and caring teacher, mentor, and valued community member”

Jon also volunteers at the Community Restorative Justice Center where, according to program coordinator Neil Favreau, “Fitch’s professional insight – – and ability to calmly navigate [potentially] difficult, unpredictable, and uncomfortable meetings – – [puts] all parties at ease.”

Professor Richard Portner retired in 2006 after 29 years as a faculty member in Television and Theater. He was instrumental in reviving the Theater program at Lyndon and provided countless students with a strong mentor in the arts. In addition to his regular teaching load, Portner directed two main stage productions per year, while teaching and supervising twelve student-directed one-act plays each fall semester. From 1968 to 2006, he was actively involved in the Weathervane Repertory Theater, a not-for-profit professional summer theater in Whitefield, New Hampshire.

Portner was instrumental in acquiring a grant to establish The LINC Project at LSC. LINC was the forerunner of the college’s award-winning daily News7 broadcasts. These telecasts are the capstone experience of the nationally recognized Electronic Journalism Arts major. In 2004 the department received a coveted Emmy for the best college newscast in the nation.

Former student Michael Barlow, now senior director of ESPN Production Operations, wrote that Portner “helped me overcome my fear of public speaking and helped me realize that I could find fulfillment on the stage [as well as] in an editing room.”

After retirement, Portner and his wife established the Richard and Terry Portner Fine & Performing Arts Prize, a scholarship awarded annually to a student active in the arts at Lyndon.

Bertolino added that Portner “is well-regarded by his colleagues and former students for setting the standard in his field.”

Individuals with emeritus status do not receive compensation. However, they are eligible for special assignments by the college for appropriate compensation and/or reimbursement for expenses at the discretion of the President and within the guidelines of the Vermont State Colleges.