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Sights and Sounds of Commencement 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Middlebury just celebrated its 212th commencement, welcoming the class of 2013 to the alumni family. Though forced inside after days of pounding wind and rain, the ceremony was warm and festive. International best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer delivered a gripping talk to the 557 graduates, and student speaker Bronwyn Oatley spoke with humor and insight to her classmates. Full coverage, including more photos and video, is available on the college web site. But to whet your appetite, here’s a short video by Brendan Mahoney ’11, which captures the excitement, emotion and energy of a day packed with traditions. Enjoy!

Our Collective Wish

Categories: General, Midd Blogosphere

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is having the opportunity to learn more about our incredible students—the personal stories that make up their lives, what they hoped for before they arrived here and hope for in the future, what their families have sacrificed in order for them to attend Middlebury. By the time our seniors graduate, they have become so much more to me than names on a list or faces passing by on campus. They are friends and colleagues—people for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration.

When they come up on stage during Commencement, knowing that the entire Middlebury community and their loved ones are watching as they move into the next phase of their lives, an almost magical thing happens: A collective wish of wellbeing emanates from the hundreds of people in attendance. It is palpable—and powerful. If thoughts have energy, then every single student leaves Middlebury with a gale wind at her back. Every student is practically willed into a positive place as he begins his future.

When these new graduates connect with other Middlebury people in the workforce and elsewhere, they will become part of an organic, worldwide network, formed in common experience. This can serve as a strong antidote against the disconnection and isolation that can sometimes occur in today’s world. This common bond and the force of the hopes and dreams of the Middlebury family can help sustain and enrich all of its members for a lifetime.

It is my hope that every student walking across that stage on May 26, 2013, will feel this abiding love and support, and tap into it whenever needed.



Scene on Campus: The Last Day

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Late last summer, the editorial staff of Middlebury Magazine recorded their observations as the campus came to life for the new academic year. This dispatch marks the conclusion of the semester, which happened on May 22, after the graduating seniors had left campus.

It’s nearly 7:30 in the evening on the very last day of the semester. Although the sun is hidden behind curtains of clouds, the air is as warm and moist as rising dough. I am crossing campus.

Only a scattering of cars remains in the parking lots. Old Chapel Road and Storrs Avenue are vacant—except for one police cruiser parked by the library, officer inside, watching. Muffled traffic is the only sound I hear.

The tents set up for Commencement are still on the lawn behind McCullough; they look ghostly and hollow. Up the hill, a red squirrel scampers beneath a row of hunkering Adirondack chairs. And around the corner, a public safety officer removes lawn signs posted for Commencement.

The chains that normally block the lanes leading to Middlebury’s interior have been removed so that vehicles may enter to load up, but these lanes are almost deserted. A last car coming from the Chateau slowly edges toward the street.

As I walk past dorms, the Drop Off zones scattered about look like mushroom blooms. Students have piled bags of trash and various unwanted items at these spots. A quick scan reveals rolled-up carpets, a metal single-bed frame circa 1960s, a white and blue- checkered tablecloth, and an apple press.

In front of Franklin Environmental Center, a young man wearing a stark-white dress shirt hovers near a Drop Off sign. He flips his cell phone open and then stands motionless, looking toward the horizon.

A mist is moving in; the light is fading. Two tall, skinny youths scurry down the path from Atwater balancing a mini-fridge between them. They stop at the street, open the hatchback of their beetle-blue Subaru, toss the fridge inside, and head back toward Atwater.

At the recycling center, a perky, bounding German shepherd leads several people, who are laughing and talking excitedly, through the vacant parking lot and up to Ridgeline.

Just up the road, the streetlights flicker on as a female figure steps out of a campus house, onto the dim porch. She checks to be sure the door is locked, shoulders a backpack, and heads toward town. She recedes into the darkening night.

Rain or Shine

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Every year in May, a dedicated crew from Facilities Services takes on the task of readying the campus for Commencement. Their duties are numerous and their days are long. Assistant Director of Facilities Services Luther Tenny gives us a brief glimpse into one of those jobs, and the spirit and efficiency with which they do it!




On Commencement Day, In Honor of My Favorite Student

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
It’s that time again.  As I have done ever since I started this blog in the late 1950’s, I take time out on Middlebury’s commencement day to sit down in my recliner before the fireplace,  light the used motor oil, pour a deep glass of single malt (thanks Paul), and raise a toast to you, [...]