Middlebury College

Middlebury College

Middlebury College, at Middlebury, Vt.; coeducational; chartered and opened 1800. It is a small liberal arts college noted for its summer language schools, which pioneered in the development of specialized language study. It also operates graduate language schools in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. The Bread Loaf School of English and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference are also conducted by the college.

See W. S. Lee, Father Went to College (1936) and Stagecoach North (1941).

Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont, United States. Drawing 2,350 undergraduates from all 50 United States and over 70 countries, Middlebury offers 44 majors in the arts, humanities, literature, foreign languages, social sciences, and natural sciences. In addition to its core undergraduate program, the college organizes summer graduate programs in modern languages and English literature. It is one of the "Little Ivies."


Founding and 19th Century

Middlebury received its founding charter on November 1, 1800 as an outgrowth of the Addison County Grammar School, which had been founded three years earlier in 1797.

Its founding religious affiliation was loosely Congregationalist. Yet the idea for a college was that of town fathers rather than clergymen and Middlebury was clearly "The Town's College" rather than the Church's. Chief among its founders were Seth Storrs and Gamaliel Painter, the former credited with the idea for a college and the latter as its greatest early benefactor. In addition to receiving a diploma upon graduation, Middlebury graduates also receive a replica of Gameliel Painter's cane. Painter bequeathed his original cane to the College and it is carried by the College President at official occasions including first-year convocation and graduation.

Alexander Twilight, class of 1823, was the first black graduate of any college or university in the United States; he also became the first African American elected to public office, being elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1856. In 1883, the trustees voted to accept women as students in the college, making Middlebury one of the first formerly all-male liberal arts colleges in New England to become a coeducational institution.

20th Century

The national fraternity Kappa Delta Rho was founded in Painter Hall on May 17, 1905. Middlebury College abolished fraternities in the early 1990s, but the organization continued on campus in the less ritualized form of a social house. Due to a policy at the school against single-sex organizations, the house was forced to coeducate during the same period as well.

The German school, founded in 1915, began the Middlebury Language Schools. These Schools, which take over the campus during the summer, teach about 1,350 students Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad, begun in 1949 with the school in Paris, host students at thirty sites in Argentina, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, and Uruguay.

Recent Developments

In May 2004, an anonymous benefactor made a $50 million donation to Middlebury. It was the largest cash gift the school has ever received. The donor asked only that Middlebury name its recently-built science building, Bicentennial Hall, after outgoing President John McCardell Jr. In January 2008, Middlebury's endowment stood at approximately $1 billion.

In 2005, Middlebury signed an affiliation agreement with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school in Monterey, California. While the Monterey Institute will remain a separate institution, the affiliation saved Monterey from financial difficulties, and will allow Middlebury to offer additional programs in international studies and foreign languages.

On October 6, 2007, President Ronald D. Liebowitz announced that the college is launching a five-year campaign to raise $500 million. Liebowitz also said that during the planning phases $234 million has already been raised. The campaign, which the college is calling the Middlebury Initiative, will extend and expand the range of opportunities available to students, focusing its efforts on financial aid and hiring more faculty.

In the spring of 2008, the Board of Trustees approved renovations to the Proctor Dining Hall and the McCullough Student Center's social space, mail room, and convenience store to be undertaken during the summer and the 2008-2009 academic year.

Middlebury is part of the SAT optional movement for undergraduate admission.

Presidents of Middlebury

  1. Jeremiah Atwater, 1800-1809
  2. Henry Davis, 1809-1818
  3. Joshua Bates, 1818-1840
  4. Benjamin Labaree, 1840-1866
  5. Harvey Denison Kitchel, 1866-1875
  6. Calvin Butler Hulbert, 1875-1880
  7. Cyrus Hamlin, 1880-1885
  8. Ezra Brainerd, 1885-1908
  9. John Martin Thomas, 1908-1921
  10. Paul Dwight Moody, 1921-1943
  11. Samuel Somerville Stratton, 1943-1963
  12. James Isbell Armstrong, 1963-1975
  13. Olin Clyde Robison, 1975-1990
  14. Timothy Light, 1990-1991
  15. John Malcolm McCardell, Jr., 1991-2004
  16. Ronald D. Liebowitz, 2004-Present

The Campus

The 350-acre (1.4 km²) main campus is located in the Champlain Valley between Vermont's Green Mountains to the east and New York's Adirondack Mountains to the west. The campus is situated on a hill to the west of the village of Middlebury, a traditional New England village centered around Otter Creek Falls. The nearby 1,800-acre (7.3 km²) mountain campus hosts the college's Bread Loaf School of English and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference every summer. The Conference was founded on an idea first born of poet Robert Frost.

Middlebury's campus is characterized by quads and open spaces, views of the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks, and historic granite, marble, and limestone buildings. Old Stone Row, consisting of the three oldest buildings on campus — Old Chapel, Painter Hall, and Starr Hall — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Painter Hall, constructed in 1815, is the oldest extant college building in Vermont. Emma Willard House, a National Historic Landmark, hosts the admissions office. Of the campus, celebrated postmodern architect Robert Venturi said, "If anyone had told me that gray stone boxes set in lawns could be so beautiful, I would have said they were crazy. Middlebury looks like what everyone thinks an American campus should be but seldom is."

Since the mid-1990s, student housing has been grouped into five residential Commons: Atwater, Brainerd, Cook, Ross, and Wonnacott. All are named for illustrious college figures. The creation of the Commons, which remains controversial among students, accompanied an increase in the size of the student body and an ambitious building campaign. Recently completed building projects include the 220,000 sq ft McCardell Bicentennial Hall (1999), a 135,000 sq ft library (2004), two Atwater Commons Residence Halls (2004), and a new Atwater Dining Hall (2005). Hillcrest Environmental Center, an Italianate-styled farmhouse constructed around 1874, has been renovated to provide a home for the environmental studies program according to LEED standards. Starr Library, a Beaux-Arts edifice completed in 1900, now hosts the Donald Everett Axinn '51 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library after significant restoration of interior spaces and the addition of two wings for faculty offices, lecture halls, and a television production studio.

The campus is known affectionately to students, faculty, and alumni as "Club Midd" because of its bucolic setting and the quality of its academic and athletic facilities.



U.S. News and World Report ranks Middlebury as the 5th-best liberal arts college in the U.S.

In the 2008 Forbes Magazine ranking of American colleges, which combines liberal arts colleges and national research universities together in one list, Middlebury is ranked #17.

Middlebury is ranked third among all colleges and universities in the nation according to the sixth annual report by the National Collegiate Scouting Association which ranks colleges based on student-athlete graduation rates, academic strength, and athletic prowess

Middlebury's recognized areas of particular strength include international studies and perspective, literary studies, environmental studies and activism, and modern language instruction.

The 2009 Princeton Review ranks the College #1 for "professors get high marks;" #4 for "school runs like butter;" #8 for "quality of life," "best classroom experience," and "students study the most;" #14 for "best campus food," #16 for "best career/job placement services." The Princeton Review includes the Middlebury on its "colleges with a conscience" list.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Middlebury is one of the top "feeder schools" to elite graduate business, medical, and law schools.


The academic year follows a 4-1-4 schedule of two four-course semesters plus a one-course "J-term" term in January.


There were a total of 7,823 applicants for the 570 September enrollment and 90 February enrollment spots for the class of 2012. There were 1,316 students admitted for September and 142 for February, resulting in an admit rate of slightly over 18%. 86% of the enrolling students are in the top 10% of their class. For the class of 2012, the mid-50% range for the SAT I was 1910-2210 and the mid-50% range for the ACT was 29-32.

Candidates are required to send standardized tests. Applicants have three options: submit scores for the ACT; submit scores for the SAT I administered on or after March 12, 2005; or submit scores for three SAT II exams in different areas of study.

The Rohatyn Center for International Affairs

Middlebury College is home to the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, , founded by Felix Rohatyn '49, investment banker, former U.S. Ambassador to France, and founder of Rohatyn Associates. Located at the Robert A. Jones '59 House, the center combines Middlebury's noted strengths in cultural, political, and linguistic studies to offer a packed schedule of internationally focused symposia, lectures, and presentations. In addition, the center regularly publishes working papers by prominent international scholars and offers several grants for faculty and student research. A growing collection of online documentary and video archives preserves some of the events recently hosted by the Center.

Language study and schools abroad

General language study

During the regular academic year, Middlebury presently teaches Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek (Attic), Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The college provides students with extensive opportunities to speak their target language.

The general method of language study — and particularly summer language study — is properly characterized as "immersion," i.e., extensive use of the target language both in and outside the classroom. The isolated, residential nature of the college allows budding speakers to study, eat, and live with fellow speakers and to minimize the use of English and other languages. Each language has a House associated with it, where speakers and teaching assistants lodge to create distinct linguistic communities. Students and faculty may attend lunch daily at "language tables;" during the meals, students and faculty speak only in their target language and are served food by fluent student workers.

Professors with primary appointments in other departments have been known to offer natural science and social science courses in foreign languages.

Summer language schools

Middlebury’s summer programs enable students to undergo the equivalent of a year of college-level language study in seven- or nine-week summer sessions. As of 2008, with the opening of the School of Hebrew, there are summer programs in ten languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Six of Middlebury's summer schools — Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish — also offer graduate programs. These are completed during six-week summer sessions, with an option of combining the sessions with overseas study. The graduate degree most often conferred is the Master of Arts. Middlebury also offers a Doctor of Modern Languages degree.

All Language School students agree to abide by the Language Pledge, a formal commitment to speak, listen, read, and write the language of study as the only means of communication for the entire summer session. The Pledge helps students focus their energies on the acquisition of language skills and to internalize the patterns of communication and cultural perspective associated with the target language. Each language school is allocated specific residence halls, where students, teaching assistants, and professors live to further aid in the immersion. Students and faculty eat lunch and dinner at separate times during the day to maintain the exclusivity of the target languages.

Study abroad and the C.V. Starr schools

Middlebury College has designed C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad to offer graduate and undergraduate language students the chance to enrich and expand their skills in a setting where they can fully live the language. These schools have been endowed by Cornelius Vander Starr's Starr Foundation.

The college operates schools abroad at 30 locations including Argentina (Buenos Aires and Tucumán), Brazil (Belo Horizonte, Florianópolis and Niteroi), Chile (Concepción, La Serena, Santiago, Tumuco, Valdivia, and Valparaíso), China (Hangzhou), Egypt (Alexandria), France (Paris, Poitiers and Bordeaux), Germany (Berlin and Mainz), Italy (Ferrara and Florence), Mexico (Guadalajara and Xalapa), Russia (Irkutsk, Moscow, and Yaroslavl), Spain (Cordoba, Getafe, Logroño, and Madrid), and Uruguay (Montevideo).

The C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad are designed to immerse every student as completely as possible in both the language and the culture of the host nation. All course work is taught in the target language. Students often have the opportunity to enroll directly in the local university, where their classmates will be from the host country, or to take courses designed exclusively for program participants.

Many of the newer sites abroad give students the opportunity to live and study in a provincial setting, where they will have less interaction with other Americans, and with tourists in general. Students looking for a more international city can still choose the programs in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, Madrid, Moscow, and Paris. Each of the Schools Abroad has a resident director and other support staff.

Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy

Middlebury also offers summer language immersion programs in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish to middle and high school students through the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. MMLA builds on the expertise of both Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute of International Studies and adapts the renowned Middlebury Language Schools immersion with a curriculum and activities developed specifically for students entering grades 7-12.

The Bread Loaf School of English

The Bread Loaf School of English is based at the college's mountain campus in Ripton, just outside Middlebury, in sight of Bread Loaf Mountain and the main ridge of the Green Mountains. The poet Robert Frost is credited as a major influence on the school. Frost "first came to the School on the invitation of Dean Wilfred Davison in 1921. Friend and neighbor to Bread Loaf, (he) returned to the School every summer with but three exceptions for 42 years." Every summer since 1920, Bread Loaf has offered students from around the United States and the world intensive courses in literature, creative writing, the teaching of writing, and theater. Prominent faculty and staff have included George K. Anderson, William Carlos Williams, Herschel Brickell, Bernard DeVoto, Edward Weismiller, Theodore Roethke, John Crowe Ransom, Elizabeth Drew, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Lawrence B. Holland, Nancy Martin, Perry Miller, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Carlos Baker, Harold Bloom, James Britton, Cleanth Brooks, Reuben Brower, Martin Price, Donald Stauffer, Charles Edward Eaton, Richard Ellman, Cedric Whitman, Paul Muldoon, William Sloane, John Ciardi, John P. Marquand, and Wylie Sypher.

The Bread Loaf School has campuses at five locations: Vermont, Oxford (England), North Carolina, New Mexico, and Alaska. The primary campus, near Middlebury, enrolls some 250 students every summer. The Oxford campus (at Lincoln College) enrolls 90 students. The fledgling North Carolina campus, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, is affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and enrolled its first class of 50 students in 2006. The New Mexico campus at St. John's College, Santa Fe, enrolls 80 students every summer.

Students at Bread Loaf can either attend for one or two summers as continuing graduate students, or work toward a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Letters (M.Litt.) degree over the course of four or five summers spread over different campuses.

In addition to the six-week summer program, Middlebury College's Bread Loaf campus is also the site of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference for established authors. "Two weeks of intensive workshops, lectures, classes and readings present writers with rigorous practical and theoretical approaches to their craft, and offer a model of literary instruction." Participants have included John Gardner, Charles Baxter, John Irving, Toni Morrison, and Barry Lopez. The conference takes place in late August, after the School of English summer session has ended. Additionally, The New England Young Writers' Conference brings together emerging writers every May for workshops and readings.

Campus activism

Environmental studies and college environmentalism

The Environmental Studies major at Middlebury was established in 1965, making it the first undergraduate major of its kind in the nation. Susan Johns (Paulsen) was the first graduate in 1969. The Program is an interdisciplinary, nondepartmental major that draws upon 52 faculty members from 26 departments.

Middlebury has a reputation as an environmentally conscious campus. Several student groups operate on campus and organize frequent trips to the state capitol and beyond. The highly successful Project BioBus initiative , spearheaded by Brian Reavey, Dan Dunning, and Leland Bourdon, raised nationwide awareness of biodiesel and other renewable energy alternatives. Project BioBus later donated the bus to Energy Action for use in the Road to Detroit initiative, the purpose of which was to protest the auto industry's environmental practices. The college is active in sustainable agriculture and recycling programs. Local farmers and the student-run organic garden supply more than a quarter of the food consumed in the dining halls, and the campus-wide recycling program has a 60% diversion rate. Moreover, the college has steadfastly used "green" building techniques in its recent construction.

Middlebury is committed to environmental sustainability and stewardship, both in its academic programs and in practice. Middlebury recently incorporated environmental stewardship into its new mission statement. The college is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and the Talloires Declaration. Additionally, the college has committed to be carbon neutral by 2016. Middlebury was one of only six universities to receive a grade of “A-” from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card 2008, the highest grade awarded.

LGBT activism

In the 2007-2008 school year, Middlebury College took a very proactive stance against homophobia. In response to military recruitment being able to come to campus (despite their inability to comply to the College's nondiscrimination policy because of the ban on openly homosexual military personnel), the Middlebury Open Queer Alliance held protests and an open forum in order to discuss how the College should react to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

Further programming developed by Middlebury to provide support to its LGBT community included inviting congressmen to campus to discuss discrimination and inviting Academy Award winning director Cynthia Wade, and producer of the documentary Freeheld for a speaking engagement. The success of the organization and much of its programming has placed Middlebury as one of the most LGBT friendly institutions according to The Advocate College Guide.


Middlebury competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The Middlebury College Panthers lead the NESCAC in total number of National Championships, having won 28 individual titles since the conference lifted its ban on NCAA play in 1994. Middlebury enjoys national success in soccer, tennis, cross country running, lacrosse, hockey, field hockey, and skiing, and fields 31 varsity NCAA teams and over 10 competitive club teams. Currently, 28% of students participate in varsity sports.

In 1979 and 1980 the women's ski team won two AIAW national championships.

Middlebury's success in intercollegiate sports is evidenced by the college's second place ranking in the 2007 National Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings. From 2004 to 2006, both the men's and women's ice hockey teams won three consecutive NCAA Division III National Championships, an unprecedented feat for a college at any level. The baseball program is also on the rise, winning their first NESCAC championship in 2006, while finishing fourth in New England. In 2007, Middlebury's Men's Soccer Team captured its first NCAA Championship in the 54 year history of the program. Also in 2007, the Middlebury College Rugby Club won its first national championship by defeating Arkansas State in the Division II game 38 to 22.

Middlebury's athletic facilities include a state-of-the-art 50-meter by 25-yard swimming pool, the 3,500-seat Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium for football and lacrosse, a 2,600 spectator hockey arena, a regulation rugby pitch, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, the 18-hole Ralph Myhre golf course, and the Carroll and Jane Rikert Ski Touring Center at the Bread Loaf mountain campus.

The college mascot is the panther.

Commencement speakers

Notable alumni

Names and achievements of notable Middlebury alums in all fields can be found at the List of Middlebury College alumni.

Points of interest

See also


External links

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