A few years ago, when VCFA was just an idea, I used to run into my friend and colleague Tom Greene on campus and ask him how the plan to buy the college was going. He would assure me it was moving full steam ahead and inevitably we’d talk about the kind of atmosphere he was looking to build for his employees, “Dogs and babies, Ann, dogs and babies.” For two people working in a constrictive corporate university environment, that sentence summed up the epitome of what we fantasized about: a campus where one’s personal life seamlessly meshed with that of the work life, making everyone happier, healthier and look forward to going to work.
Well, this past Friday as I took my turn holding our VP Erica Metzger Hare’s gorgeous baby Judah, and stopped to pet Pickles, a colleague’s rat terrier, it hit me.
He’d done it.
Tom built exactly the kind of college he had hoped for, that we had hoped for. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we bring our children—human or canine—to work with us every day (I had fun imagining that kind of bedlam), but at VCFA it is accepted that our families come first, that if your caregiver cancels you can bring your baby to work and not only is it okay, there will be dozens of arms clambering to hold him or her (mine included! I get my baby fix whenever I can), or if you bring your black lab to work you can take him down to the green and throw a ball for 20 minutes mid-morning. My son basically grew up on this campus, and now at fifteen he will occasionally work with facilities doing painting projects, pedaling the 4th of July float, or shooting a quick game of hoops with now College President, Tom Greene.
We all work hard, but it is partially because of the humanist aspect of the College that we don’t mind.
Dogs and babies, my friends…dogs and babies.