Archive for category MIIS Update

Faculty Profile: The Distinct Music of Professor Mike Gillen

Mike Gillen with Uliana Prosvirina

Professor Mike Gillen (BARS ’78, MBA ’81, right) with graduate Uliana Prosvirina (MATI '14) after the May 2014 Commencement ceremony.

Mike Gillen (BARS ’78, MBA ’81) is a rare bird – not only does he have degrees from both the Monterey Institute of International Studies and its predecessor the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, but he is also the Russian professor who plays the bagpipes and leads the procession at every commencement. When you meet Mike, it all makes sense. He is a natural teacher who embraces a good challenge, whether in choice of language or instrument.

Growing up in Denver, Mike Gillen learned to play the piano at an early age. His gravitation to bagpipes did not come from his Scottish heritage but a relationship to a talented neighbor who gave him his first lessons. It could be said that serendipity – of sorts – also led Mike to master the Russian language. “On the day of my 7th grade registration I was sick,” he shares with a wry smile, adding that all Spanish and French classes were full by the time he could make his pick so Russian was all that was left.

Intrigued by the language and culture, Mike majored in Russian and music in college before coming to MIFS to complete his B.A. degree. After graduation he worked at the Defense Language Institute teaching and developing courses while pursuing his master’s degree at the newly renamed MIIS. He worked for a while in the private sector doing freelance translation work but came back to MIIS as an adjunct professor in 1985.

“At first my motivation was cynically self-serving,” Mike says of his decision to become a full-time professor a few years later. “There was a lack of qualified translators and I figured I would just train them myself.” In his close to forty-year affiliation with MIIS, Mike says the school has shed some of its funkiness and matured its mission, but remains essentially the same place. He loves seeing students overcome challenges and notes that “nothing comes easy for them here – it is all applied learning.” And the key to longevity as faculty: “You’ve gotta like young people!” It probably doesn’t hurt when they like you back.


Highlights from Dr. Potter’s recent travels in Europe, India

CNS Director Bill Potter just returned from a month of travel.  Here are some of his achievements:

  • Co-chaired a high-level U.S.-Russian Track 1.5 Meeting in Glion, Switzerland on March 10-12, 2014.  The meeting focused on the potential for future U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control negotiations.  CNS experts Jon Wolfsthal and Nikolai Sokov also participated in the workshop.
  • With CNS Senior Research Associate Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, was a featured speaker at a seminar on Monitoring Commitments in Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation organized by the Geneva Center for Security Policy on March 13, 2014.
  •  Chaired a two day NPT Diplomatic Workshop in Annecy, France on March 14-15, 2014.  CNS staff members Elena Sokova, Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Amanda Moodie, and Edith Bursac also participated.
  •  Gave a presentation on “the NPT Balance Sheet” at a nonproliferation short course hosted by the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation on March 17.  CNS experts Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Nikolai Sokov, and Elena Sokova also made presentations.  Dr. Potter also moderated a panel discussion in Vienna on the same day on “Towards the Third NPT Preparatory Meeting.”  Other speakers included the 2014 NPT PrepCom Chair designate Enrique RomanMorey.
  • Participated in the Nuclear Security Knowledge Summit in Amsterdam on March 20-22, 2014.  CNS experts Elena Sokova and Miles Pomper also participated in the event.
  • Gave a paper on “Tackling the Challenge of Nuclear Terrorism” at the International Conference on Nuclear Weapons-Free World: From Conception to Reality” in New Delhi, India on April 2-3, 2014.  The keynote address at the conference was provided by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

MIIS Milestones

Congratulations to Sherre Kruft, on her TWENTY years as part of the MIIS community! We appreciate everything you do!

We’re also celebrating five years of service to the Institute by Jason Warburg, Maureen Anda, Heekyeong Lee, and Miles Pomper.

Seeing the Unseen…

Middlebury professor Andrea Olsen returns to the Monterey Institute for a residency the week of March 24, joined by her colleague, artist Josie Iselin. Josie’s images of seaweed are on display in the William Tell Coleman Library. Please stop in and see the exhibit, and join us for the accompanying lecture/performance on March 27:


JOSIE ISELIN is a California-based photographer, writer and bookdesigner celebrating the release of her seventh book: An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed. Iselin holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA in Photography from San Francisco State University. Please visit at to view her work.

ANDREA OLSEN is a professor of dance and faculty member in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, and author of a trilogy of books on dance and the environment, including her recently released work with Caryn McHose, The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making.

Funded in part by a ONE MIDDLEBURY Faculty Grant, Middlebury College





GSTILE Professor Wins Prestigious Award

By Dr. Kathi Bailey

netta_picture_2 We are pleased to announce that TESOL/TFL Professor Netta Avineri has won the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award in Heritage Language Education. The award was established in honor of Professor Russell Campbell, whose work was instrumental in launching the field of heritage language studies. What is Dr. Campbell’s connection to MIIS? At UCLA he was a professor for Jean Turner, Kathi Bailey, and Ruth Larimer while they were graduate students. He was also a colleague of Peter Shaw when Peter taught there before coming to MIIS.

Netta will receive this award at the 2014 International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages. This award was created to recognize outstanding scholarship by individuals who are currently working on a dissertation, or who have filed one within the last five years, which focuses on topics related to heritage language.


Summary Plan Description (SPD)

SPDs are designed as brief, handy, easily understandable explanations of important benefit plan provisions.  Below please find a link to the 2014 version of the Middlebury College Health & Welfare Benefits Plan SPD which provides current information on our: medical, dental, vision, life, voluntary life, short-term disability, long-term disability, flexible spending accounts, and employee and family assistance program benefits.  All employees are eligible for the employee and family assistance program (EFAP); those employees classified as “benefits-eligible” are eligible for the full range of health and welfare benefit offerings.  You can also find this SPD by visiting the Benefits page on the Human Resources website.  If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of the 2014 SPD, please let me know, or stop by the Human Resources Office, and a paper copy will be provided to you.

Please do not hesitate to contact the benefits team with questions about the change to our EFAP provider or the 2014 Health & Welfare SPD.

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

For many years our EFAP benefit has been administered by The Wellness Corporation.  Recently, The Wellness Corporation was purchased by E4 Health, a leading provider, under the brand name Lifescope, of holistic life services and wellness solutions for organizations nationwide. The merger of The Wellness Corporation and E4 Health – two experienced and professional organizations – will mean expanded service offerings for our faculty and staff plus continuation of the high quality services and capabilities that we have been accustomed to through our long-standing relationship with The Wellness Corp.  Please take a moment to review the two brief documents attached, which give an overview of our new Lifescope resources as well as updated phone and web contact information.  Please note  -  if you are currently accessing EFAP counseling or other benefits arranged through The Wellness Corporation you will not need to do anything different to continue to see your current provider; this change will be seamless to you.

Bleek speaks on efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons

In February, Philipp Bleek gave a talk at the local Park Lane seniors’ center, reflecting on serving as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense while on leave from MIIS during the 2012-13 academic year. Among other topics, he spoke about his experience staffing the interagency “Syria Chemical Weapons Senior Integration Group,” whose existence was classified until recently, but has now been made public in the context of ongoing efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Howard speaks at U of South Florida Conference

BG (RET) Russell D. Howard was a panelist at the University of South Florida’s “Modern Warfare’s Complexity and the Human Dimension: Implications for Policymakers, Warfighters, NGOs and the Private Sector” conference held in Tampa Florida on February 18-19. General Howard sat on the “Shadow Organizations and their Impact on Stability and Conflict” panel where he spoke about the “Nexus between Criminal Traffickers and Terrorists.”

Anonymous Donor Pledges $2 Million to Support Immersive Learning Opportunities, Endowment


Students in the Monterey Institute’s unique immersive learning programs have the opportunity to work on real-life projects such as local development efforts in Peru.

The Monterey Institute has received a $2 million gift pledge from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift will be divided equally between support for the Institute’s unique immersive learning programs, which provide real-world professional opportunities for students as part of their academic experience, and the school’s endowment, which provides general support for all Institute activities.

The donor stated their hope that this gift “will give more students access to the immersive learning program, and also increase the funds available to support the Institute’s core needs such as financial aid and faculty development.” The donor is the grandparent of a current Monterey Institute student, and is also the grandparent of a recent graduate of Middlebury College. 

“We are extremely grateful for this generous and visionary gift, which will allow us to expand opportunities for both students and faculty at the Monterey Institute,” commented President Sunder Ramaswamy. “Immersive learning is one of the signature elements of a Monterey Institute education, and this gift will allow us to explore new opportunities for our students to learn in the field as well as the classroom while enrolled here.”