Hutchinson says goodbye to JSC

David Hutchinson

Victoria Greenia

David Hutchinson

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“Losing David will be a blow to this institution… it won’t be the same place without him,” Associate Professor of Writing and Literature  Tyrone Shaw said about the upcoming retirement of Psychology and Counseling Professor David Hutchinson. “All of the qualities he brings to his classroom and psychological practice, especially that of empathy, the ability to see multiple sides of an issue and the ability to bring people together to create a consensus … are impressive.”

Now hitting the 30-year mark of working at Johnson State College, Hutchinson said he will be pulling back a bit – but not entirely out of teaching; he plans on continuing an occasional weekend course at JSC. Otherwise, if people want to tap into his wisdom, they may have to track him and his wife over to Europe on one of his hikes between Vienna and Prague.

“I haven’t been here as long as Bill Doyle, but I’ve been here for a while, and I’ve seen a number of different administrations,” he said. “I was thinking about writing the president that hired me to thank him for a great ride, it’s been a wonderful experience being here for 30 years working with undergraduates and working with other people to start the graduate counseling program.”

Before taking a place at JSC he was in the Peace Corps and received his Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the State University of New York in Buffalo, N.Y. Then he came back to Vermont and opened a St. Albans practice. But then he set his sights on working at the college.

Adapting to the life of a teacher was very easy for him; his father Robert Hutchinson had been an education professor at JSC who received Emeritus status after his retirement. David Hutchinson had grown up used to having summer vacations with his family and he said he felt more economically stable in a full-time professor job.

For Hutchinson, psychology has never been about analyzing and diagnosing neuro-disorders, but rather encompassing the broader picture, one that paints in philosophy and the meaning of life, drawing inspirations from fellow existentialists Viktor Frankl, Irvin Yalom, and Paul Tillich. He said with each client he has to become a student of his culture and see the world through his eyes.

A retreat center in Greensboro is often the stage for his classes in Vermont, where students go in for four or five days. Psychology students taking the graduate counseling course cook beside one another, complete chores together, and eat meals together, all of which allow students to connect in ways that are nearly impossible in a classroom setting.

Students get to know each other as who they really are as opposed to a classroom persona, Hutchinson said. And as students learn the class material, they see it come to play in the close interaction they have with one another.

“We all stay at the main house for the classes, only a few may stay at a separate place in the evening,” said psychology graduate Connie Bizarro, who has gone on the retreat class as well as worked closely with Hutchinson. “The atmosphere is quite relaxing which makes the classes relaxing as well, which makes for a better atmosphere for learning… The one thing I found while there was that because of the sensitivity of the discussions and/or activities David does not make things uncomfortable and allows you to step back if it becomes necessary.”

She said because of the atmosphere and open discussions, the group becomes very close. These intimate interactions, relationships, form the core of Hutchinson’s work over the years.

“Relationships are what it’s all about – whether it’s counseling or psychotherapy or teaching or photojournalism,” he said, “when you cut away the chaff that’s all that’s really important.”

He brought this approach to every aspect of his own life – from those he helps, those he teaches, and those he works with.

Coworker Gina Mireault, a Psychology professor, said he’s been the anchor of the department for 12 years she’s worked with him. She said the thing she learned most from him was to listen more and talk less.

“As a colleague, David has a unique ability to see and take all perspectives in any given situation and is the least defensive person I have ever known,” she wrote in an email. “I think this quality is at the heart of why our department has functioned so smoothly despite our programs or faculty sometimes having competing demands or differences. He is always – (always!) -a patient and present listener with a sensitive ear, and this has made him an effective leader within and outside of our department. We tend to trust his judgment and approach, in part because he is genuinely concerned about achieving the best outcome for all parties.”

Although he closed his private practice about five years ago, he said he intuitively centered his approach on happiness, which was firmly rooted in relationships. Helping people function better in the world, develop more empathy for the world around them, and broaden their perspective were important aspects to his practice.

But he pointed out it’s not only his clients who had personal growth; he’s grown in confidence and become more accepting of other people. He said when a person is doing counseling; he or she is also in counseling. He is forced to look at unfinished business, encouraged to be vulnerable, and embrace or transform his dark stuff.

He said he’s also been inspired by some of students, and talked about a former student, a young mother who whose small child died of cancer. Although devastated, she switched from a psychology major to pre-med, eventually becoming a doctor who researched the very disease that stole her child’s life. He acknowledged there would always be a sadness in her life, but admired how she transformed it into a way that worked for her instead of against her.

For the present generation of students he left this advice: “Live large, take chances. Get hurt. Try new things, meet new people. Alice Walker once said ‘my heart got broken so many times I decided to leave it open.’”

 

 

 

 

 

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“Losing David will be a blow to this institution… it won’t be the same place without him,” Assistant Professor of Journalism Tyrone Shaw said about the upcoming retirement of Psychology and Counseling Professor David Hutchinson. “All of the qualities he brings to his classroom and psychological practice, especially that of empathy, the ability to see multiple sides of an issue and the ability to bring people together to create a consensus … are impressive.”

Now hitting the 30-year mark of working at Johnson State College, Hutchinson said he will be pulling back a bit – but not entirely out of teaching; he plans on continuing an occasional weekend course at JSC. Otherwise, if people want to tap into his wisdom, they may have to track him and his wife over to Europe on one of his hikes between Vienna and Prague.

“I haven’t been here as long as Bill Doyle, but I’ve been here for a while, and I’ve seen a number of different administrations,” he said. “I was thinking about writing the president that hired me to thank him for a great ride, it’s been a wonderful experience being here for 30 years working with undergraduates and working with other people to start the graduate counseling program.”

Before taking a place at JSC he was in the Peace Corps and received his Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the State University of New York in Buffalo, N.Y. Then he came back to Vermont and opened a St. Albans practice. But then he set his sights on working at the college.

Adapting to the life of a teacher was very easy for him; his father Robert Hutchinson had been an education professor at JSC who received Emeritus status after his retirement. David Hutchinson had grown up used to having summer vacations with his family and he said he felt more economically stable in a full-time professor job.

For Hutchinson, psychology has never been about analyzing and diagnosing neuro-disorders, but rather encompassing the broader picture, one that paints in philosophy and the meaning of life, drawing inspirations from fellow existentialists Viktor Frankl, Irvin Yalom, and Paul Tillich. He said with each client he has to become a student of his culture and see the world through his eyes.

A retreat center in Greensboro is often the stage for his classes in Vermont, where students go in for four or five days. Psychology students taking the graduate counseling course cook beside one another, complete chores together, and eat meals together, all of which allow students to connect in ways that are nearly impossible in a classroom setting.

Students get to know each other as who they really are as opposed to a classroom persona, Hutchinson said. And as students learn the class material, they see it come to play in the close interaction they have with one another.

“We all stay at the main house for the classes, only a few may stay at a separate place in the evening,” said psychology graduate Connie Bizarro, who has gone on the retreat class as well as worked closely with Hutchinson. “The atmosphere is quite relaxing which makes the classes relaxing as well, which makes for a better atmosphere for learning… The one thing I found while there was that because of the sensitivity of the discussions and/or activities David does not make things uncomfortable and allows you to step back if it becomes necessary.”

She said because of the atmosphere and open discussions, the group becomes very close. These intimate interactions, relationships, form the core of Hutchinson’s work over the years.

“Relationships are what it’s all about – whether it’s counseling or psychotherapy or teaching or photojournalism,” he said, “when you cut away the chaff that’s all that’s really important.”

He brought this approach to every aspect of his own life – from those he helps, those he teaches, and those he works with.

Coworker Gina Mireault, a Psychology professor, said he’s been the anchor of the department for 12 years she’s worked with him. She said the thing she learned most from him was to listen more and talk less.

“As a colleague, David has a unique ability to see and take all perspectives in any given situation and is the least defensive person I have ever known,” she wrote in an email. “I think this quality is at the heart of why our department has functioned so smoothly despite our programs or faculty sometimes having competing demands or differences. He is always – (always!) -a patient and present listener with a sensitive ear, and this has made him an effective leader within and outside of our department. We tend to trust his judgment and approach, in part because he is genuinely concerned about achieving the best outcome for all parties.”

Although he closed his private practice about five years ago, he said he intuitively centered his approach on happiness, which was firmly rooted in relationships. Helping people function better in the world, develop more empathy for the world around them, and broaden their perspective were important aspects to his practice.

But he pointed out it’s not only his clients who had personal growth; he’s grown in confidence and become more accepting of other people. He said when a person is doing counseling; he or she is also in counseling. He is forced to look at unfinished business, encouraged to be vulnerable, and embrace or transform his dark stuff.

He said he’s also been inspired by some of students, and talked about a former student, a young mother who whose small child died of cancer. Although devastated, she switched from a psychology major to pre-med, eventually becoming a doctor who researched the very disease that stole her child’s life. He acknowledged there would always be a sadness in her life, but admired how she transformed it into a way that worked for her instead of against her.

For the present generation of students he left this advice: “Live large, take chances. Get hurt. Try new things, meet new people. Alice Walker once said ‘my heart got broken so many times I decided to leave it open.’”

 

 

 

 

 

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