Your College and You

President Ronald D. Liebowitz’s baccalaureate address to the Class of 2010

Good afternoon. On behalf of the faculty, staff, and trustees of the College, I extend a warm welcome to you, the Class of 2010, and to your parents, families, and friends who have joined you on campus this weekend to celebrate your accomplishments.

Today we reflect on your experiences over the past four years and on your contributions to our community and the world beyond the College. And, of course, since this is Commencement weekend, we look ahead, as well, to the opportunities that await you as you begin the next chapter of your lives.

Let me begin by telling you a few things about the graduating class:

  • There are 641 graduates in this class (including February and May graduates), 301 men and 340 women.
  • The six most popular majors were economics, international studies, English and American literatures, political science, psychology, and environmental studies.
  • Nearly 70 percent of you studied at least one language other than English.
  • And 339 of you studied abroad for at least one semester, in a total of 40 countries.

Members of your class have won:

  • A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship
  • A Keasbey Scholarship
  • A Gates Cambridge Scholarship
  • A Fulbright Beginning Professional Journalism Award
  • A St. Andrews Scholarship for graduate study in Scotland
  • A Compton Mentor Fellowship
  • And a Weidenfeld Scholarship for study at Oxford

In addition, eight of you were elected to Phi Beta Kappa as juniors, and you have been joined by 58 others whose election we celebrated this morning.

In keeping with long-standing Middlebury tradition, many of you have published papers in scholarly journals and presented your work at national conferences. And one of you found a great outlet for telling the stories of other students in the Middlebury Fellows in Narrative Journalism Project.

The scholarship and imagination of your class were vividly demonstrated on April 16 at the fourth annual College-wide symposium recognizing student research and creativity. One hundred and ten members of your class participated in that symposium, reporting on an amazing array of research projects.

Arts events associated with the symposium and performed that evening at the Mahaney Center for the Arts and the Hepburn Zoo included a presentation of a classmate’s play, Jekyll, an adaptation of the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was recorded for presentation a couple of weeks later as a film; a performance of After Miss Julie featuring two of your classmates in the leading roles; and the work Walking the Curb, an independent project involving three seniors.

And there were other impressive achievements in the arts: Eight of you will be part of the New York City-based Potomac Theatre Project’s 2010 summer season; a member of your class won the American College Theatre Festival’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship; and another classmate received a scholarship for a yearlong apprenticeship at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention another arts project that would not have happened without contributions from members of the Class of 2010: The Midd kid video, which as of today has been viewed nearly half a million times on YouTube. Not that the College administration has anything official to say about the video . . .

Outside the classroom, more than 20 of you worked on various projects in the Old Stone Mill, home of Middlebury’s Project on Creativity and Innovation.

In addition to scholarship and artistic endeavors, a Middlebury education also involves civic engagement, and this senior class has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to volunteerism and community service. More than half of the class volunteered in town or in Addison County, helping an extraordinary number of Vermonters along the way. One of your classmates, who volunteered for four years at the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes, recently received Vermont’s highest honor for a college student engaged in public service, the Madeleine M. Kunin Public Service Award. And personifying the Class of 2010’s broad and deep commitment to making a difference in the climate change movement, a member of your class was among just six students to be honored nationally with the 2009 Brower Youth Award, presented by the Earth Island Institute to young environmental leaders.

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