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VINS President Resigns From Post

John Dolan, of Hanover, shown in a 2005 interview while he was Gov. John Lynch's budget director, is leaving his job as president of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. (Valley News - David M. Barreda)

John Dolan, of Hanover, shown in a 2005 interview while he was Gov. John Lynch's budget director, is leaving his job as president of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. (Valley News - David M. Barreda)

Quechee — John Dolan is resigning after seven years as the president of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science to move closer to his wife, who recently took a job at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Dolan and his wife have been in a commuter marriage for three years — with Dolan living in Hanover and his wife living in Fairfield, Conn. When his wife found out earlier this summer that she was appointed executive vice president and treasurer at Clark University, the couple decided it’s time to live in the same place again.

“It’s hard to leave VINS,” Dolan said. “I’d rather not. I’d rather have my cake and eat it too.”

Dolan said he’s unsure what his next career move will be living in Worcester, Mass. Before taking the lead at VINS, he worked as the state budget director for Gov. John Lynch during his first term. He also has an extensive background in management consulting for state and local government, and he’s spent a good amount of his career in the greater Boston area.

Dolan took over at VINS during a time of transition. The organization was moving from its home in Woodstock to Quechee. His first six months on the job were spent organizing the move, selling the Woodstock property and bringing employees to a central location .

Dolan worked to simplify and focus the organization toward its original mission of environmental education. In 2006, VINS had locations in Woodstock, Quechee, Manchester, Vt., and Montpelier. During Dolan’s first year as president, he worked to spin off the Montpelier nature center into its own independent entity. Then in 2010, the contract for the preservation trust in Manchester, Vt., ended and it was not renewed, Dolan said.

“Looking back before my time, VINS was trying to do a lot of things, and it made it very hard to do any of them as well as it wanted to,” Dolan said.

Today, VINS’ focus is more balanced, Dolan said, and he works to support programs that are closely aligned with environmental education.

Besides guiding the organization through a tough recession, Dolan worked to open a “rehab in action” exhibit at VINS. The organization already had a wildlife rehabilitation clinic, but it wasn’t open to the public. Now visitors can watch animals being fed and taken care of at the clinic through glass. Soon, a live video feed of raptors and other animals will be available to view online.

And last school year, the organization started a new program called Naturalist-in-Residence, which helps students learn science concepts and have hands-on experience inside the classroom and outdoors.

VINS also became involved in the education filmmaking business after it received a grant to create a film about the science behind the flash flooding that occurred during Tropical Storm Irene. Through grants, Dolan said he hopes to make this a four-part series.

Dolan will stay at VINS through the end of September, when current board member Judith Callens will take over as the interim managing executive director. Callens is a retired Hartland Elementary School Principal.

A search committee has been formed, and trustees hopes to name Dolan’s successor in early 2014.

Trustees will be looking for a director who can work to develop programs and continue to make the organization welcoming to the community. A new director will have to be committed to the concept of education, said Simon Carr the board’s vice chairman, and find a way to move the entire institution forward while maintaining financial stability.

“A new director will have to have a vision of things I haven’t thought of, and I look forward to that,” Carr said. “John has brought his whole life to the position. He’s worked really hard, and I’m really sorry to be losing him.”

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.