Snapshot: Michelle Brown
Occupation: I am Dean of the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences at Western Connecticut State University. I started on July 16, 2018. I was in the English department teaching at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and became the department chair. I loved making a difference at a different level. That led me to apply for the temporary administrative position in the provost department. My husband is from New York, and we have had a crush on New England for decades, so when this position at WestConn came up, it sounded perfect.
Family: My husband, Bryan Brown, does IT for James Madison University in Virginia. He has been with them for 20 years, and when he announced he was leaving, they worked out an agreement for him to work remotely. We have two sons: Cole, who is 14, and Connor, who is 12. They both found friends on day one at school. Connor is in the ski club, and Cole is doing fencing and cross country. Also, we bought a house with an inground pool, we are a mile from The Creamery, and the Danbury Mall has escalators, so that all helped win them over moving to town.
Pets: We have two beloved border collie mixes, Beau and Bella.
How long have you lived in Newtown? We came from rural western Virginia, and we love it here. I came up for my job interview in May, and when I first drove around Newtown, it just spoke to my heart. A couple of weeks later, I got the offer, and my family and I came up in June to look at houses. We didn’t close on the house until August 10, so my husband and I lived in the La Quinta for three weeks with our dogs while the kids stayed with grandma and grandpa in New York for the interim.
What do you like to do in your free time? Since we moved here, we’ve been enjoying snowshoeing, discovering Collis P. Huntington State Park, taking the boys hiking, going out to the [Long Island] Sound, and seeing movies at the Edmond Town Hall.
Do you have a favorite author? Ayi Kwei Armah. He’s a Ghanaian author. I’ve written an encyclopedia article about him for the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. My PhD is in English, and my research area is African Literature. I love his work — in particular, his novel The Healers.
What is your favorite travel destination? I loved Florence, Italy, and would love to go back and spend more time there. The next places I want to go to are Ireland, Ghana, and Kenya.
What is the best part about Newtown? Everyone has been so incredibly welcoming. Even the support systems in the schools for the kids have been incredible.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My husband, because he believed in me from the start. He’s my best friend and my greatest cheerleader. I respect him so much. He’s gracious, kind, and generous.
If you could spend the day in another time period, where would you go? I would love to spend a day in the Summer of Love and go to Woodstock to see Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin perform.
Who is your favorite musical artist? I love the blues and rockabilly. My favorite musician is Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Do you have a favorite TV show? We love Netflix binging and are currently at the point in The Office where Michael leaves. I’m also a closet Gilmore Girls binger. I love that show so much, and can’t believe we’ve moved to the general vicinity of where it takes place.
What is your favorite quote? “Follow your bliss” by Joseph Campbell. I think it is true. I repeat that to the students who come and see me.
What is something you cannot live without? Reading material — I love to read. For Christmas, I asked for the weekend edition of the New York Times delivered to the door.
What is your proudest accomplishment? It’s a big deal to set a goal then to meet it. I’m really proud of the work I am doing at WestConn. I feel like I am making a difference.
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