Assistant dean for postdoctoral affairs Victoria Alden Blodgett passed away on Wednesday, November 4 after a valiant battle against cancer. Her generosity of spirit, kindness, and powerful advocacy for the Dartmouth postdoc community will be greatly missed.
Victoria joined the Guarini School for Graduate and Advanced Studies in July, 2017 after a rigorous national search for the candidate to take on the new position, which was developed as part of President Phil Hanlon's plan to strengthen and develop the postdoc and graduate community.
As a candidate, she stood out for her cheerful and easy-going nature and for her kindness. As a colleague and friend, she brought her more than 30 years' experience as a fierce advocate for graduate students and postdocs to the fore of her role.
"It is difficult to adequately express the generosity of Victoria's spirit and the always valuable insight she offered to every conversation she joined," said dean Jon Kull in a note to the Guarini community.
Indeed, Victoria quickly became known for her welcoming presence and the previously scattered postdoc positions across campus developed into a strong community under her guidance. She organized numerous opportunities for postdocs to come together, ranging from fun, end-of-summer barbeques, and fall apple picking adventures to professional development workshops preparing postdocs for life in academia, and beyond.
Associate Director at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, Cindy Rosalbo was a regular collaborator on postdoc events and workshops and says "Facilitating the Academic Job Search Workshop Series with her was a highpoint for me every fall. I remember her great balance of humor, insight, and directness."
In addition to career development workshops, a key highlight of the year was the Postdoc Research Day which this year was co-hosted by the Dartmouth College Postdoc Association (DCPDA) and their peers at the University of New Hampshire. Under Victoria's guidance, the DCPDA grew from strength to strength as a resource for support for all postdocs on campus.
"It is through her efforts that the DCPDA and postdoc opportunities like Research Day have become established resources available to Dartmouth postdocs throughout their time here," states Theresa Gildner, current president of the DCPDA.
"Victoria fostered a welcoming community for Dartmouth postdocs, allowing us to break out of our departmental bubbles and interact with our amazing colleagues both socially and professionally. She was also personally invested in the success and happiness of individual postdocs; her door was always open to those who needed a space to work through problems or explore possible next steps after leaving Dartmouth. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Victoria for the last few years and I know that, while her legacy will continue, her presence on campus will be greatly missed," adds Theresa.
In the too-short years Victoria was at Dartmouth, she made a profound impact on all who met her and who had the opportunity to work with her. News of her passing prompted many to be in touch with the Guarini School to convey how grateful they were to have had the opportunity to work with her.
"Victoria was always quick to offer a listening ear, words of encouragement and gratitude," says Amy Gallagher who worked with Victoria as assistant registrar and office manager at the Guarini School.
"Victoria had such a positive impact on the postdocs and on the whole Dartmouth community in the time she was here, and she was a wonderful colleague and human," wrote Dean Madden, vice provost for research.
Leslie Henderson, dean for faculty affairs at the Geisel School of Medicine fondly remembered Victoria's spirit as "a breath of fresh air. Her sense of humor and sense of self were some of the priceless gifts she passed on not only to students and postdocs, but to all of us."
"Victoria has left an indelible mark on our community through the incredible support she provided to our postdoctoral scholars, and she will be deeply missed by me and by many, both here at Dartmouth and across all of the institutions she so generously served over the course of her career," wrote President Phil Hanlon in a message to the Dartmouth community this week.
In honor of Victoria, the Dartmouth flag will be flown at half-mast on Wednesday, November 11, and Thursday, November 12. Dean Kull will be reaching out to the community with details regarding a memorial in the coming days.
Cindy Rosalbo will be serving as an interim mentor for the postdoctoral community.
Should you wish to speak to a counselor on your own behalf or out of concern for someone else, the Office of Counseling and Human Development, the College chaplain's office, the dean on call, and the Faculty/Employee Assistance Program. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, every day, and can be accessed by calling Safety and Security at (603) 646-4000.