Media Department: Stephanie Kloss
Phone: (802) 578-5413
To Champlain's Provost Dr. Laurie Quinn education is a strong value. "College was not a given in my family, but my parents taught me the incredible privilege that education represents. Colleges and universities are places where people's lives can be changed by learning."
Quinn started at Champlain on August 1, and over the last few months, she has met with people throughout the Champlain community who care about the mission of the College.
"I came to Champlain because I love the challenge of creating an innovative teaching and learning environment," she said.
As an administrator, her job is to make sure that teaching and learning experiences come first, through supporting faculty as the role models for lifelong learning and increasing the quality of education.
One of Quinn's top priorities is to build the awareness and recognition of the College. "I want the Champlain story to be well-known, both in higher education and with a broader public audience," she explained. "It's a very compelling story, and it's a success story during a time when higher education has attracted a lot of concern around the value and cost of a college education."
Full-time faculty growth, the experience of part-time faculty, and a strong emphasis on teaching excellence are also priorities for Champlain's new Provost. "I believe that it's through great teaching that we create great student experiences. And great teaching comes in many forms."
Quinn is also focused on increasing the retention rate of students who complete their Champlain education, who feel that sense of connection and stay to complete their degree.
"Right now our retention and graduation rates are lower than they should be. What that means to me is that if we can improve those rates more students will have the full benefit of a Champlain education. I consider it a part of my job to make sure that we're doing everything that we can to hold on to our students and help them be successful through completion," she explained.
"There are so many things that we're already doing well, building on those strengths is tremendously rewarding to me, and putting the spotlight on them is part of the joy of this work. And then, digging in to make sure that in the areas where we have challenges, we have measureable progress."
Before Champlain, Quinn was an Associate Dean, Dean and Provost at Granite State College in New Hampshire, from 2004-14. Quinn came to Champlain with her husband and nine-year old son. "We've been totally immersed in getting to know Burlington, and the area of Vermont that we are now fortunate enough to call home. We loved living in New Hampshire, but we are thrilled about living in Burlington. As New Englanders, we are undaunted by the thought of winter," she laughs.
Quinn was an early reader, and a kid who fell in love with books. She credits her mother for reading to her often, and for being patient with Laurie's tendency to ignore her surroundings when absorbed in a book. By the time she got to high school, she had a passion for reading that led to her interest in English.
Quinn attended Boston College for Psychology and English, and like many students, she held a work-study job all four years as she was completing her undergraduate degree.
"I worked in the Registrar's Office and, quite by accident, I learned a lot about the business side of higher education, like transcripts, student information systems, FERPA and all kinds of crazy things that most 19 year old students don't get to learn unless they work in the Registrar's Office.
"When I look back on that now, I was unaware it was happening, but it was an important discovery for me. I learned that colleges are places that have all kinds of moving parts and professions that are attached to the experiences of students and faculty. I also understood that colleges are organizations filled with people committed to making sure that students and faculty have a good experience."
After completing her two undergraduate degrees, Quinn lived in the Boston area and worked multiple jobs while she obtained her Master's in English from Boston College. As her second year approached, Quinn was offered a teaching fellowship.
"That was when I really began to seriously think about myself as a college faculty member and a person who might become an English professor. I absolutely loved teaching first-year writing."
After she completed her master's, Quinn was accepted to the University of New Hampshire's doctoral program in literature, where she received another teaching fellowship. She also had the opportunity to study at the University of Cambridge in England for an entire summer.
"I was on a graduate assistantship, helping to organize summer courses for undergraduates while I was pursuing my own studies at the doctoral level in England. It was an incredible summer. I went to the Royal Shakespeare Company and met a whole community of contemporary poets who were doing these experimental projects with words. I traveled to Bronte country. I went down to St. Ives where Virginia Woolf lived as a kid, and walked through Charles Dickens' house in London. I was on a self-designed literary tour of England for that whole summer while also living in this amazing old dormitory at Cambridge."
"I've often thought how funny it is that I have this complete passion for British literature, and just fell in love with all these English writers, yet I'm fully Irish. And, I went to Boston College, which has an amazing Irish Studies program, but I never studied Irish literature in any depth. Life is funny that way. What you fall in love with is what you fall in love with."
When Quinn came to Champlain, and Burlington, as a prospective Provost and Chief Academic Officer, she found another love, Champlain College.
"What I loved, was not only is it beautiful as a campus environment, but the commitment people have to this place is energizing. I wanted to be a part of that."
Three months later, Quinn is still on that journey. "I don't know exactly where I am in that journey. I hope it's a long one."
Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit champlain.edu.