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CSC: One big happy family

At Castleton, it’s all in the family. There are two McEnernys, two Kulpos, two Kozliks and three Shrameks. And that’s just for starters.

There is Jonathan Spiro and his wife Charlotte Gerstein, the Schwaners, the Wilsons and the Klatts.

There are roughly 17 full- and part-time faculty at Castleton who are either married or were at one point, as well as a few who used to have a significant other on campus.

Although many businesses frown upon families working together and have strict guidelines against it, Castleton State College President Dave Wolk said it works well here, for a variety of reasons.

“I think it’s generally acceptable that like-minded people are drawn to similar situations,” he said. “It’s not surprising that spouses would gravitate toward someplace like Castleton.”

He says that the small college with the big heart attracts couple’s for many reasons.

“I view us as an extended family, you know I say that all the time and it’s true. I think in situations where they don’t work together it’s a great policy for couple’s who are committed to the college and care very much,” said Wolk.

He also said that the VSC policy of family members working together prohibits relatives from supervising each other.

“No family should ever be in a supervisory role,” he said. “We would never condone a situation like that.”

But how do the couple’s feel?

Renee Beaupre-White is new to campus, but she wanted two things when she was hired: for everyone to be comfortable with her being here and to not work directly alongside her husband, Chrispin White.

“My biggest thing for everyone was, I don’t want you to be uncomfortable if I’m hired,” she said.

The pair being on opposite sides of campus, Beaupre-White said, is another important factor.

“There should be a separation. I would never want to work in the same department,” she said.

She made it clear from the beginning that she didn’t want to be near Chrispin.

“I love him dearly, but he would drive me crazy!” she said laughing.

Chrispin shares similar feelings.

“A lot of people say ‘do you really want to work with your spouse?’ the answer’s usually no, but it works for us,” he said.

The couple’s attitude about working together has also changed over time.

“Early on in our relationship, we always said that we could never work together,” he said. “But then again, that was 25 years ago.”

For this couple, location is key.

 “She’d drive me mad!” he says, laughing about the thought of working in the same building as his wife.

Chrispin and Renee believe his status here had little to do with her hiring, as does Wolk.

 “I didn’t think twice that Chrispin was here,” he said.

Wolk said positions have never been created for spouses for the sake of employing a couple, but he said sometimes a couple’s talent and credentials make it an obvious choice to hire spouses when positions open.

For example, when Marc Klatt was offered the position as the Assistant Football Coach in 2009, his wife Colleen was also hired on to teach communication courses and is now Dean of the College Advancement Office.

“Without him I wouldn’t have known about her,” he said.  

Librarian Sandy Duling worked with her husband, Ennis, for more than 20 years until his retirement last spring. Despite being on the same side of campus, she believes their situation worked.

“There was no supervising going on. That would be a big problem,” she said.

The fact the two worked together was a “coincidence,” according to Duling. She was working part-time in the library before she went back to school to obtain her library science degree just as a full-time communications position had opened, which Ennis took.

“We kind of talked about do we really want to work together?” she said. “Ultimately, it wasn’t a problem.”

Duling notes the perks of working alongside her husband. It made commuting easy and the pair discussed college happenings over dinner. But there was one thing that never happened during the 24 years they worked together.

“We never had lunch together. He used to come into the library during lunchtime, but not because he wanted to see me,” she said smiling. “He wanted to read the newspaper.”