I have yet to attend a Liebowitz Day. Was never invited. The closest I came to either attending or being invited was last year, when, by coincidence, my wife and I were hosting a lunch for first-year Febs at 3 South Street, and two guests at the lunch were wearing red “Che” (Liebowitz) tee-shirts. Almost wished I had one. One of the students innocently asked me, “Are you coming to the concert tonight?” “What concert?” I asked. “You know, the Liebowitz Day concert.”
I embarrassingly told the student that I hadn’t been invited to the concert or, for that matter, to any Liebowitz Day events. Ever. All those Feb first-years, who had been on campus for only a month or so, didn’t quite know how to react. “Well, just come,” one said slowly after a few awkward moments. Unfortunately, doing things spontaneously is not that easy with three small children at home (finding babysitting on short notice is near impossible, especially on weekends), so we couldn’t attend. Besides, I was not invited!
This year, once again, I have not received an invitation to Liebowitz Day. Not one. But even if I had, or had been planning to make a surprise appearance, I would not be able to do so. Sadly, I will be out of town at a memorial service for an extraordinary friend of the College who passed away far too early in life.
But there is next year, perhaps, for both receiving an invitation and attending an event.
I will not try to capture what Saturday night’s NCAA D-III game at Pepin between the Panthers and Bridgewater was like other than to say that it might have been one of the single greatest (yet excruciatingly painful) games I have witnessed, in any sport. This coming from a lifelong sports fan.
The outcome, a last-second (literally) 78-76 loss by Middlebury, was a disappointment in that the Panthers will not continue their season. But the game, and indeed the entire season, was quite remarkable, and one could not help but feel great pride in watching the Middlebury team play with great intensity and sportsmanship.
The comments at the end of the heartbreaking loss by team captain Ben Rudin, who had an outstanding game, season, and career, reflected an unusual maturity for a 22-year-old whose storied season had just ended, and ended in such dramatic fashion. Coach Jeff Brown’s comments reflected the kind of class that has become the standard for Middlebury coaches and the ideals and quality of our athletics program led by athletic director Erin Quinn—something we should never take for granted.
On behalf of so many, I want to thank Jeff and the Panther basketball team for the best season in the program’s history and, even more, for showing such class in both victory and defeat.
This past Saturday may have been slightly unusual for our college, but what went on is an astounding example of the richness of this liberal arts college and what it offers our students. These are some of the things I witnessed as I went about my day, moving from 3 South Street to the library to the Grille (to get some coffee) to the Peterson Athletics Complex and back home. Consider this a sampling:
- Wilson Café in the library was packed, not only with students, but also faculty and staff as I walked by to return some borrowed videos. The library itself was packed with students working solo and in groups, tackling everything from reading assignments to multimedia projects in the library’s numerous smart classrooms and labs.
- Dr. Paul Farmer, the remarkable medical anthropologist/physician, who co-founded Partners in Health, spoke at 3 p.m. to an overflow crowd … or rather crowds (more than 400 were in McCullough social space and another 300 were in venues that had live video feeds.
- The annual Posse retreat, which brings together more than 100 students, faculty, and staff who support the mission of the 40-plus Posse scholars enrolled at the College from New York City, was taking place at Lake Fairlee, Vermont. I was unable to attend the retreat, but received an e-mail reporting that the retreat was extremely spirited and engaging.
- The practice rooms in the Mahaney Center for the Arts were filled with students playing a range of instruments.
- The men’s and women’s hockey teams hosted home games in their respective NESCAC conference tournaments. (Both won). As usual, the stands were filled with not only students, but staff, faculty, and townspeople, who convert Kenyon Arena into a “town hall” of sorts, where the greater Middlebury community comes together most easily and frequently between our annual town meetings.
- The ski team was competing at the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Championships at Sugar Loaf in Maine (and placed third behind Dartmouth and UVM).
- And 1,250 fans (a full house) were on hand in Pepin Gymnasium to watch the Panthers defeat Bowdoin to make it to the NESCAC tournament finals against Amherst (which Middlebury won the next day).
Much more was happening on campus, of course, and these snippets represent just a slice of life at Middlebury on a Saturday afternoon in late February.