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Category Archive for 'Student Life'

I want to take this opportunity to warmly welcome new and returning students to campus as I prepare to finish up my last semester at Middlebury to take on a new role as executive vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and executive vice provost at Rutgers University – Newark in January. Over the years, I have been heartened by the many connections and conversations I’ve had with Middlebury students, in person and through this blog. You have really kept me on my toes. Middlebury students are thoughtful, talented, and hard-working leaders from around the globe, and the Class of 2018 is not any different. As I stated during the Voices of the Class MiddView Orientation kick off, our community grows in richness and “flavor” with each new class of students and every new staff and faculty member. We couldn’t be happier to have you on campus.

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This Moment

Warmth and some sunshine have finally come back after this seemingly endless winter and dreary spring. On one of the first warm days, I took a slow walk, and I suddenly realized that a vibrant green was glowing from tree canopies and almost pulsating along the roadsides and deep in the fields. I was glad that I had taken some quiet time and noticed after this busy academic year.

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A Space for the Future

There is a discussion underway on campus about whether we should create a multicultural center, and if we do, what it would be like. This is an important discussion for several reasons. First, those who think a multicultural center is necessary are explaining why and sharing their concerns with us, sharing what it is like for them to be here on campus. Second this discussion is forcing the institution to look at itself through a different lens than it normally does. And third, it is obliging us to consider the daily realities of our students as we evaluate our institutional priorities. 

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When the trustees were here last weekend, I shared a compelling article with them— “Ways Today’s Students Are Radically Changing Our Colleges” from AGB Trusteeship magazine. The article reviews the findings of a six-year national study involving 33 campuses and thousands of students and concludes that students today are “different from their predecessors in ways that have profound implications for colleges.” Three similar studies were conducted between 1969 and 1993.

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Should JusTalks Be Mandatory?

One of the great aspects of Middlebury is that it provides almost unlimited opportunities for students to grow—to engage with others, to learn about different viewpoints, and to gain self-knowledge. From guest lectures to symposia to open meetings to retreats, the options go on and on.

By the time students graduate, if they have taken advantage of these, they have gained powerful exposure to a much wider community of people than they had known before. They have hopefully improved their ability to work with others and have developed a better understanding of themselves as well.

However, most of these opportunities are voluntary—you have to opt in to get the benefit.

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Light of the New Year

It’s that time of year, when the darkness descends and the days seem to retreat into a long dusk.  Add to that the “List of Things To Get Done”—before finals, before the College closes for break, before the holidays, and it can lead me into a frazzled, dazed state.

What lifts me up is knowing that decent, human warmth exists in many hearts, in many places. Random acts of kindness, it seems, aren’t really random; they are commonplace. Generosity and joy are all around us—but we often don’t notice because we are overwhelmed and preoccupied with our own busy lives.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I believe strongly in the value of dialogue. I believe that sharing ideas, opinions, and feelings directly with others is what keeps people connected—to their communities and even to themselves.

Lately, it seems as if there is an unusually high level of frustration simmering under the surface of human interactions all over the globe, occasionally exploding in scary and unproductive ways. I believe this is partly the consequence of an absence of dialogue. Annoyances, misunderstandings, and anger can be ameliorated when people simply talk with each other.

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Welcome Students

I hope your summer was full of wonderful experiences, meaningful reflection, and some good adventures. I am looking forward to meeting new students and reconnecting with those returning. Visit go/doc to check for my open office hours.  I’d love to see you and hear about your hopes for this year.

We will post to the blog weekly this year and have a great lineup of guest bloggers. Blog posts will begin on September 12, shortly after the start of classes. I will kick off this year with some important updates about work accomplished this summer. Stay tuned!

Travel safely and see you soon.

Warmly,
Shirley

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