Board Approves English Language School, Makes Abenaki School Permanent, Supports School Plans in Puerto Rico
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Middlebury Board of Trustees approved several new programs and initiatives – an English-language school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, an Abenaki school, a new master’s program in teaching Korean and plans for a school in Puerto Rico – at its meeting from October 21 to October 23. The meeting was the council’s first to be held in person since January 2020.
“The new schools and programs will add depth to Middlebury’s strong language offerings and educational opportunities beyond the Vermont campus,” said Middlebury President Laurie Patton. “Moving forward, Middlebury will continue to be a leader in language education and immersive cultural and educational experiences.
Launching in the summer of 2022, the Middlebury English Language School will be located at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey, California, and will integrate many of the Institute’s intensive English programs. The Abenaki school, established as a pilot project in the summer of 2020, will become permanent in 2022. It is the 12th language school in Middlebury to be established. The School of Korean’s new master’s degree program, which will begin in the summer of 2022, will begin to address the critical need for teachers who are trained practitioners, proficient in the Korean language, and culturally competent. Once details for the Puerto Rico school are finalized, the new school will join Middlebury’s 16 schools overseas. The program is expected to begin in the fall of 2022. Additional details about the Puerto Rico school will be announced at a later date.
Mental health resources, admissions, institutional priorities and language schools
On Friday, October 22, Board members heard from Barbara McCall, Executive Director of Middlebury’s Center for Health and Wellbeing, about the mental health programs and services available to students at the College. McCall described Middlebury’s offerings related to prevention, intervention and postvention strategies and processes. The center has new leadership at the office, department, and division levels who work together to assess program, service, and staffing needs.
Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin provided an update on the College’s recruitment and outreach efforts to prospective students, including students of color and international students. Noting that applications were at an all-time high for the class of 2025, Curvin said it was important to continue to focus on national demographic shifts and underserved students. Partnerships with organizations such as the Posse Foundation and collaboration with other colleges and universities are also essential to the College’s admissions efforts. Curvin noted that communicating affordability is also a primary focus for Middlebury and a major concern for prospective students.
On Saturday, October 23, the directors heard from several members of the Senior Leadership Group. President Laurie Patton discussed Middlebury’s institutional priorities, including financial sustainability and academic excellence. In one area of global engagement, Patton discussed the goal of restoring overseas school enrollment to previous levels in anticipation of the transition from pandemic to endemic. Patton and trustees also honored Gus Jordan, former executive director of the Center for Health and Wellness, who recently retired after 25 years at the College.
Steve Snyder, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Language Schools, provided an update on the 2021 Language Schools Summer Session and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for schools in the post-pandemic environment. Snyder said challenges include the lingering effects of the pandemic and visa and travel obstacles for international faculty. Online learning and inter-institutional collaborations present opportunities for growth and increased academic provision.
Financial update, design review, gifts and actions
David Provost, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, provided the financial overview. The most recent data is characterized by two themes, according to Provost: a lower-than-expected deficit and strong investment returns for the fiscal year ending June 30. Following the board meeting on Monday, October 25, he shared details of Middlebury’s financial operating results. and a staffing report for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 in a message to the community. Both Provost and Patton reiterated their commitment to focus on salaries in the budget planning process for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2022 and ends June 30, 2023.
Provost also briefed administrators on new housing and student center projects for the first year. He said the planned four-story, 78,000-square-foot residence hall will house 276 students and feature gathering spaces for socializing and studying. In keeping with Middlebury’s commitment to universal design principles, every room will be fully accessible. The building will be located west of Coffrin Hall and the Castle and north of Forest Hall and will replace Battell Hall, which will be demolished. Members of the Senior Management Group are working with the board on the construction schedule, which is expected to begin in one to three years.
Located on the current site of the Proctor Dining Hall and adjacent tennis courts, the new Student Center will house several spaces for student organizations and most of the offices that serve students, from student financial services to student activities. The center will include a spacious dining hall that can accommodate 1,200 people that will replace Proctor. The current tennis courts will be moved to the sports facilities. Provost noted that this project is in the preliminary programming and design phase and will not begin for three to five years.
Trustees also heard about fundraising progress. Colleen Fitzpatrick, vice president for advancement, said Middlebury received two $10 million gifts. One of the donations is from Ted ’83 and Kathy O’Connor Truscott ’83 and will support faculty and students by establishing an endowed chair in black studies, expanding financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students and providing unrestricted support to institutional priorities.
An anonymous donor has donated $10 million that will be used to renovate the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building, which houses Middlebury College’s Architectural Studies Program and Studio Art Department, and to advance the planning for a new museum that would be located on the north side of campus.
The council has also taken the following actions:
Approved 2022-2023 Tuition and Fees for Middlebury Institute. There are 583 full-time students and 112 part-time students enrolled at the Institute this fall, similar levels to the previous year. Enrollments in translation, interpreting and localization management degree programs hit a record high of 264.
Accepted the results of the audits for Middlebury’s 2021 financial year, which ended June 30, 2021, and the College’s pension plan for the calendar year ending December 31, 2020.
The council will meet again from February 10 to 12.