After 13 Years at the Barn, Director Jim Olivier Retires

Today was a bittersweet day at Putney Student Travel as it marked longtime Director Jim Olivier’s final work day at the Putney Barn.  After a 13 year career facilitating high school summer programs abroad, Jim will be departing the office for a well-deserved retirement.

Jim came to the Barn in 1999 after completing a fourteen year tenure at Landmark College, the first seven of which were spent as President.  Jim helped to found this institution in concert with his wife, the educator and author Carolyn Olivier.  Prior to that, had taught high school, practiced law in Boston, and helped to raise an exceedingly talented son and daughter.

Jim at his desk. Circa 2002. Look at that dinosaur of a computer!

Jim is a revered member of the Putney staff, much admired for his erudition, his energy, and his biting wit.

“When Jim joined us,” said Putney Director, Jeff Shumlin, “he had already been a college president and a corporate lawyer.  He committed to a 5 year stint with Putney before taking an early retirement.  That was 13 years ago.  During that time Jim has served as an anchor at Putney Student Travel, sharing wisdom gained throughout his career and a deeply rooted love of travel and cultural exchange.”

“My 13 years at Putney have been wonderful,” Jim wrote recently, “I’ve visited places I never would have seen and encountered people there I never would have known, been a part of an outstanding team, and seen my efforts result in real benefits for many, many people.   But I’m looking forward to having more time for the long list of things that I enjoy outside of my job:  family, biking, baking, buckthorn extermination, books, kayaking, exploring, friends, laughing, flowers, eating, team sports, history (including family history), writing, folk art, cooking, traveling . . . there’s more.  I’m not gonna be bored.”

Jim joined by co-workers and friends, Harry Kahn and Patrick Noyes during the 2008 Director’s Retreat held in the Catskills.

When asked for a favorite memory of his time spent at the Barn, Jim said, “Friday lunch at the office.  A chance to hang out with colleagues half my age who brought their energy, intelligence, creativity, caring and (maybe most of all) humor to the table.  Over the years the cast changed, but the feeling was always terrific.”

Jim serving up his famous Friday lunches.

“We are immensely grateful to Jim for all he has shared with Putney and its travelers,” Jeff continues.  “We have every intention of allowing Jim to enjoy his newfound leisure without letting him get too far away from his home at the Barn.”

The staff celebrated with pie out at the picnic table in anticipation of a larger celebration when our entire staff returns in the fall.  In the meantime, Jim’s presence will be sorely missed, and his creativity and friendship a legacy that will succeed him at the Barn.

Jim has been referring to his final day of work as a “graduation” for months. The Barn staff put together a little ceremony befitting of the big event this afternoon. Complete with Pomp and Circumstance. We’ll miss you Jim!

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