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» An unseasonably wet summer gave way to exquisite autumn weather during the first weeks of the 2009-10 academic year. And while summer would not officially end until the autumnal equinox on September 22, nobody was complaining about the early shift to crisp temperatures and cloudless skies. The College’s Convocation occurred on just such a day, as sharp blue skies accompanied robed faculty and administrators in welcoming more than 600 first-year students to Middlebury. In his Convocation address, President Liebowitz advised ambitious students to study deeply and broadly, while resisting the myth that more is better. “Not trying to do it all is sometimes a good thing,” he said.

» The provocatively titled talk “Conservation Cowboys in Africa and Latin America: Can the Private Sector Be Trusted to Protect Nature?” kicked off the yearlong Middlebury/Monterey lecture series. Delivering the inaugural address was Jeffrey Langholz, a leading conservation expert and an associate professor of international environmental policy at the Monterey Institute for International Studies.

» Speaking of MIIS, the Institute was home to a congressional town hall discussion about the national healthcare system during Congress’s August recess. The host was Congressman Sam Farr, a MIIS alumnus. Unlike other town hall meetings across the country, this one was a cordial and civil affair.

» The Classical Theater of Harlem brought its production of Waiting for Godot to Middlebury for two nights of soul-searching and thought-provoking theater. In this production, Samuel Beckett’s seminal work was transported to New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

» Charles Darwin was the focus of the 2009 Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium. “Celebrating Darwin’s Legacy,” featured lectures, panel discussions, artistic performances, workshops, and a series of addresses that were designed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

» The Emerson String Quartet returned to Middlebury and conducted a free performance before a capacity crowd in Mead Chapel. The visit was the quartet’s 31st to the College, and they did not disappoint the welcoming audience, performing works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and New England’s Charles Ives.

» Nature magazine was the latest national publication to give Middlebury kudos for its “green”-ness, citing the College’s new biomass gasification plant as a notable environmental initiative.

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