Barb Flathers is the assistant to the dean of students and the friendly face in the residence life office. She’s married to her best friend, Bruce, and has two grown children, three step children and two step grandchildren. She enjoys arts and crafts and spending time outdoors. She’s an integral part of the residence life office.



What’s your family like?
I am married to my best friend, Bruce, and let’s keep it at that. We live in Hyde Park and Bruce is a beekeeper. He and his son, Adam, are running a bee business. They have like 25 beehives right now, and they’re working on growing it to maybe 100 or more hives, so it’s a pretty serious commitment. We’re all about bees.



What’s your greatest accomplishment?
I would have to say my children. They’ve just turned into some lovely adults. My kids are older than you are, 24 and 28, and it’s been really fun watching them grow up and turn into really neat adults. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. Being a parent is a lot of work. It’s a tough job.



What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
Now that they’re grown up, it’s really fun. It’s not hard at all, because it’s like, “Oh, you’re on your own. Oh, it’s too bad you can’t do that or your car is broken or,” you know, you’re just sort of living and paving your own way in life. I sort of reap the rewards of that. But when they were little, the late nights and all of the money and a lot of sports commitments and traveling around, a lot of busy weeks and week nights and weekends with high schools, since they couldn’t drive themselves around, so a lot of time and a ton of money.



What are your hobbies?
I do yoga. I do yoga every day or try to. I’m pretty crafty so I have a craft room of paper and pens and inks and watercolors and yarns, and I like doing things like that if I ever have time. Handmade gifts. Watch out. I like to cook and do puzzles. I probably spend too much time on the computer. I also like to fish and camp and kayak. And then there’s the beekeeping thing. I don’t know if that’s a hobby. I guess it’s my hobby, their livelihood. This is my time of year coming up. Once I leave work, I’m outdoors.



How do you perceive your role on campus?
I have the best job. I love my job. I think that the title assistant to the dean of students – I’m not just assisting the dean of students, but I’m assisting everyone that comes into the office. I work with my coworkers, but also I get to work with res life and RAs and the HAs.



How long have you been here?
I’ve been here 12 years. I’ve been in my current role eight years. I started working at the counseling center when I first got hired, and then I worked for Conferences and Event Services, and then got hired by Michelle and the [former] Dean of Students, Dave Bergh, eight years ago.



And you’re still here!
I am still here. I feel like I’ve arrived. It took me a long time. I’ve had quite a diverse background. My resume is pretty lengthy with different jobs. When I found Johnson State College, I think I was also of an age where I was ready to sit still and stay in a career for a little while and probably retire from here at this point. It is exciting to think about what happens after you don’t have to work all day long.



Do you have any plans?
Not yet. I’m still trying to make it through until retirement day. I don’t know. I still don’t have a set day, but it’s off there not too far in the distance for me now, so I’ve definitely been thinking about it. Probably travel. Probably go somewhere where it’s not winter in the middle of December.



Is there a place you’ve always wanted to go to?
No, I’ve just always liked the idea of traveling to new places and seeing them. You can go 15 miles away from here and still be surprised by some place you’ve never been, so I’m pretty easily amused. Traveling doesn’t have to be across the world, but I’d love to if someone gave me a plane ticket or a train ticket, I’d jump on, go see some new places. I just came back from California and that was great. My son lives out there now. Just all the different national parks and things that we have in this country—I’d like to be able to see some of those. I don’t really have a specific bucket list of places. I’ll have to work on that.



What do you love about JSC?
The students. I love you guys. It really makes the day go by. People stop in and see me. It’s really fun interacting with everybody and just knowing what’s going on. Every day is different. I always have some new question people ask me. I’m sorry that I didn’t start writing them down because I probably could have written a pretty interesting book: The Questions that People Ask.



What would you change about JSC?
I think we really need to consider the communications: internet, wifi. I think we really are lacking in that. It seems sort of hard to communicate properly sometimes. Everything I do is on the computer. If the computer’s not running or I can’t get into a program, it’s tough. If we lost the computer system that we have now, I don’t know what we would do. But I also hear from students that it seems like the wifi is not really up to a good speed so it’s hard for everyone to communicate and connect. Since we’re all on our phones or computers, we need to get the devices up and running. That’s the one thing: communication.



What do you want on your gravestone?
I don’t think I want a gravestone.



What would you rather have?
Well, again it’s one of those things. It’s coming a little bit closer for me now that I’m older. Like, what do I want my family to do? I don’t know. Do I want a cremation? I have a friend who wants to be buried at sea. I haven’t thought about that. That might be an option. So no gravestone would be necessary. Trying to figure out which location I would want to be buried is the thing. So I don’t think I want one at all. Just put me out on a boat and set me on fire. I don’t know if that’s legal. I’ll have to think on this more.



What’s the meaning of life?
That’s a great question. I think that life is just really, really short. It seems like just the other day I was in college myself and it just flies by so enjoy every day. Do what you love. It’s going to be gone in a second.



How do you define love?
I think love is the best feeling in the world. I think that’s because I’m married to my husband Bruce, but love is great. It makes you feel warm and happy and just taken care of. Those are great feelings, too.



What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I guess as a customer service person, it’s always nice to be recognized for the work that you do. To be thanked by someone and be noticed for the work you’ve done for them is always nice. Conversely, the worst thing is if someone takes you for granted and ignores that you’re even a person, just walking by you without noticing what you’ve done.



What is your guilty pleasure?
Peppermint stick ice cream. I grew up in Mass, so the home of Friendly’s ice cream, and we always had peppermint stick. Wasn’t just a once a year deal for Christmas, so, yeah. Peppermint stick—I can’t say no. It’s really good.



What’s your most treasured possession?
I had to think about that long and hard, but I came up with my kayak. I’ve had my kayak for about 15 years. I bought it and it was sort of a guilty pleasure of itself. It’s something that I bought just for me. I get to use it. It wasn’t for anyone else, and when I’m kayaking, I’m on my own or with friends that have kayaks. It takes me great places. I love paddling around in Vermont in the ponds and streams and rivers around here. I get to see everything from a different perspective. It’s really fun. It’s a nice past time.



Where’s your favorite place to kayak?
I’ve brought my kayak to the ocean so it was really nice to do that, the inlets along the cape. Around here, Green River Reservoir, I have to say. Paddle with loons popping up right near you. You get to watch them. You see a lot of wildlife because you’re so quiet. It’s really neat. It’s a really beautiful way to get out and be with nature, so that’s why I enjoy it. It’s fun sort of gliding through the water.



If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
It was going to just be lobster. Lobster is pretty cool. I don’t get it that much. I think it would be the last thing I want, but I’d have to have French fries, too. Yeah, if we’re not going to have to count calories, go for it.



What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?
My family is pretty funny sometimes. We went down to visit for Easter and spend time together, and when we arrived at my sister’s house, we walked into the bedroom we were going to be staying in and our bed was completely covered with wine bottle corks. Full of wine bottle corks. Everyone was waiting for us to see these and they were just laughing hysterically. What I didn’t know is my husband, who’s the beekeeper, had said to my family, “If you have any wine corks, save them for me because we use them to plug up the beehives to move them around so you keep the bees inside with this cork.” Well, we didn’t need 500 wine bottle corks but they had a stash. It wasn’t like they drank them all in the last two months, but I think someone’s been saving them for a long time and shared them all with us. They were also scattered around the house like the Easter egg hunt. That was pretty funny. We have enough corks for the rest of our lives.



What’s your favorite smell?
Lilacs. I just love the smell, and that time of year where they’re all out, I just can’t get enough. I’m wandering around, putting my nose into lilac bushes.



What’s your best quality?
I’m pretty creative. I also am pretty friendly and understanding and I try to be compassionate. I think mostly creative, though. I have a creative approach to most problems.



What’s your least favorite quality about yourself?
Maybe how controlling I can be. What else? I think that’s it. I’m sure I have other qualities I don’t like about myself.