Middlebury “Kizuna”

I, along with Dina Wolkoff ’88 and Mike Schoenfeld ’73, am traveling in Asia, visiting alumni, parents, and friends of the College. During the trip, we will make occasional postings from Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This posting is by Mike Schoenfeld ’73.


Koichi Ishiyama ’69 can remember the day he could first understand English. It was December 14, 1966.  Half way through his sophomore year, the first Japanese student to attend Middlebury was watching Walter Cronkite on the evening news when suddenly he found himself understanding every word. Now Koichi reads six Japanese and American newspapers every day, looking for nuances in the use of language that can inform the next edition of his Japanese-English dictionary—the most popular in Japan. The latest version listed 180,000 words, although Koichi modestly claimed responsibility for editing only about 90,000.

Aki Ito ’09 just received a major promotion. Bloomberg is transferring her from Tokyo to San Francisco to be the lead reporter to cover the news coming out of the Federal Reserve offices west of the Mississippi. Pretty heady stuff for the 24-year-old who graduated less than three year ago, particularly when she never took an economics course at Middlebury.

Senae Eda, director of the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Japan, introduces President Ron Liebowitz at the Tokyo reception.

Last night, Andrew Lind ’13 stood in front of the largest gathering that Middlebury has ever held in Japan and offered a three-minute introduction of President Liebowitz in Japanese. Not bad for a history major who is studying abroad his junior year at Middlebury’s program in Tokyo. He received a well-deserved applause from the crowd that included 10 of his study-abroad classmates.

Three people—three different stories—all connected through the power of a Middlebury education.

One of the Japanese words that Koichi pointed out to us randomly as he was showing us his dictionary was the word kizuna—literally translated “ties.” Koichi explained that kizuna can be seen as the bonds that connect people together for a common purpose. The shared pride in the accomplishments of our College and our students was palpable at the Tokyo reception and the connections to the college are obviously strong. The Asia trip is off to a great start.

—Mike Schoenfeld ’73, senior vice president and senior philanthropic adviser

I, along with Dina Wolkoff ’88 and Mike Schoenfeld ’73, am traveling in Asia. We are visiting alumni, parents, and friends of the College. The College’s  global reach is expanding, and the role of regional networks of alumni and parents is becoming more important to our future as a truly global liberal arts college. During the trip, we will make occasional postings from Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This first posting is by guest blogger Mike Schoenfeld.


When President Liebowitz visits four cities in Asia this week, he will meet a network of alumni and parents that is unlike any experienced by a Middlebury president before him. He will meet with more than 250 people in Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore who have either attended or sent their children to the undergraduate college, the Language Schools, the Schools Abroad, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies. While the groundwork for this particular visit was laid by recent visits by College staff members, the network has been developing for decades. The president will have the opportunity to experience the energy and enthusiasm of this network firsthand at 25 individual meetings and events over a six-day period.

The first students to attend Middlebury from the Asia were introduced to the College in the late ’50s by C.V. Starr, the founder of American International Group and the source of years of transformational financial support to the College through the Starr Foundation. The Schools Abroad appropriately bear his name. Starr convinced several of his Chinese colleagues in Hong Kong that Middlebury would be a suitable place for their sons to get a liberal arts education. Tom Kan ’64 was one of the earliest to take Starr’s advice and his daughter, Andrea ’96, later followed him to Middlebury—the first legacy student from Asia. Ron will meet with Tom and Andrea, along with several families from all four cities who have current students at Middlebury or students who have recently graduated.

In Tokyo, Ron will meet with one of the earliest Japanese students to attend Middlebury, Koichi Ishiyama ’69. Ishiyama’s story is extraordinary. He received a scholarship to attend Middlebury and traveled to the States by boat before making his way across the country to spend four years at the College. He subsequently returned to Japan to teach English and journalism and compile the most popular Japanese-English dictionary in the country. Ishiyama, who served on the Alumni Association Board, has been an active volunteer for the College since graduating.

Most of the attendees at the gatherings in the four cities will be an interesting mix of alumni who are expatriates living and working in Asia and more recent alums who have returned to their native countries. Some of the American expats were the first generation of international studies majors and Language School attendees from the late ’70s and early ’80s, when courses were available from professors like Nick Clifford in Asian history and John Berninghausen in Chinese. Some of these early pioneers have been living and working in Asia ever since. Middlebury had very few international alumni until the ’90s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain and expanded admissions and financial aid programs helped to increase the international student population to 10 percent of the study body. In 1980, the figure was less than 1 percent.

The newest addition to the mix at the upcoming events will be the alums of the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). The MIIS alumni body is far more international than the undergraduate alumni body at Middlebury, and the majority of MIIS’s international alumni are from Asia. With Midd and MIIS alumni increasingly interconnecting in the workplace in Asia, the potential of this expanded alumni network is obvious.

Finally, the trip will also celebrate the Schools Abroad, with the directors of the Schools in China and Japan attending the events in Beijing and Tokyo with their students who are studying abroad this semester. Professor Senae Eda will introduce her students and the president at the Tokyo event, with the students serving as interpreters.

The purpose of the president’s trip is to show the College’s support of the alumni and parent network in Asia and to ask for their help in return. There are opportunities to be explored for involvement in admissions recruiting and career networking and support needed for internships and financial aid. There is no doubt that Middlebury’s global reach is expanding, and the role of regional networks of alumni and parents is becoming more important to our future as a truly global liberal arts college.

—Mike Schoenfeld ’73, senior vice president and chief philanthropic adviser

During office hours this summer, I was visited quite often by Language School students and faculty, but also by staff who work year-round at the College and by students who were on campus to work or to do research with Middlebury faculty.

The students who dropped by said they never seem to be able to stop by during office hours during the academic year, and felt that many other students can not as well.  I told them I would try to vary my office hours this coming year, which they thought was a good idea.  They also suggested I specifically ask students, via the blog, to send along “big” issues or items of concern that they would like me and/or my fellow administrators to “look into/engage/address.”  They emphasized big issues and ones that seem possible and not, for example, something like, “can you consider ways to make the winters shorter?  I am of course most interested in issues related to your educational experience here at the College.

So, in that spirit, and because I am interested in hearing what students think needs special attention, I encourage students to let me know.  Please send your thoughts along.

If this works, I will encourage staff and faculty to do the same.


Though it is August, and the start of the academic year is a month away, the campus has been as busy as ever hosting the summer Language Schools and a vibrant faculty-student research program.  And, the solar decathlon students have just completed their house, which they will soon disassemble and move to Washington to rebuild on the mall for the competition in late September.

In addition, one of the most commonly sought changes by students has been addressed—the re-opening of Atwater for regular lunches.  Language Tables, which have been housed at Atwater the past two years, will move to Redfield Proctor (upstairs in Proctor).

Atwater will continue to serve continental breakfast and host themed and special dinners.  We hope the re-opening of Atwater for lunches will address concerns about overcrowding in Ross and Proctor despite the additional seats we introduced two years ago.

As Patrick Norton’s memo announcing this change states (below), other suggestions students have made to improve dining and to reduce the loss of dishes, bowls, glasses, and silverware have also been acted upon, too.  This fall, we will invite students to assess other aspects of dining and offer recommendations on how to improve our current offerings and options.

I look forward to seeing many of you next month.


From: Office of VP and Treasurer
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 8:59 PM
To: students; All Faculty; Byerly, Alison; Baldridge, Susan Campbell; Collado, Shirley M.; Keyes, James R. (Jim); Schoenfeld, Mike; Donahue, David A. (Dave); Geisler, Michael E.; Liebowitz, Ronald D.; Spears, Tim; Corbin, Thomas J.; Biette, Matthew R.; Etchells, Timothy P.
Subject: Atwater Dining Hall Re-opens for Regular Lunch Plus Other Dining News

Atwater Dining Hall Re-opens for Regular Lunch Plus Other Dining News

I write to share the good news that Atwater Dining Hall will be open again for regular (meal plan) lunch this fall, with continued service in Proctor and Ross.

The hours for lunch will be as follows:

  • Atwater will remain open after serving continental breakfast, and serve lunch through 2 p.m.
  • Ross and Proctor will continue to serve hot breakfast, and remain open for lunch through 2 p.m.
  • Bagged lunches will still be available in Proctor from 7-9:30 a.m., seven days a week.

The “language tables” that had assembled for lunch in Atwater will now gather in the Redfield Proctor Dining Room, upstairs in Proctor, with the same menu and waiter service.

Also this fall, Dining Services will be offering students what we’re calling “go” containers, portable, reusable, washable bowls, with covers, that can be used to take food out of the dining halls, when students just don’t have the time to sit down for a meal. Students will be able to purchase these containers for a small fee. They can trade used containers for clean ones during their next visit to any dining hall. You’ll be hearing more about this program from Dining Services, in the near future.

These changes are designed to address student concerns, and are part of an ongoing discussion about the structure of our dining operations at Middlebury.  If you have questions, please contact Matt Biette, Director of Dining Services at: mbiette@middlebury.com.

— Patrick Norton, Vice President for Finance & Treasurer

Last evening, Dean Shirley Collado and I hosted a student forum on student alcohol use and its effects on the campus community.  The purpose of the evening was to share results from a survey administered on campus in the fall of 2010, and then to hear directly from students about how the College might address any and all issues related to the causes and ill effects of alcohol use on our campus.  And there appear to be many issues to address.

There was a large turnout in McCullough, perhaps a result of the rumor that the purpose of the evening was for us to announce we would become a “dry campus.”  The email invitation to the event, which asked whether a dry campus was the only alternative to excessive irresponsible drinking, was intended to be provocative, but, while it drew the hoped-for audience, it also seemed to miss the mark.  Many students saw the email tease as yet another example of administrative heavy-handedness rather than a way to encourage more discussion of a vexing and troublesome issue.

Though this is hardly a new issue or administrative concern, and there seems little new one might learn from a conversation among 300+ students, the evening proved valuable for a number of reasons.  Students got to let us know directly what they saw as problematic with their social lives on campus and how those problems contributed to alcohol abuse; they talked about stress and how that played into their self-described “play hard” weekends and all the consequences; they offered up a number of worthwhile recommendations to address some of the concerns we have about student life and student safety; and it succeeded in getting a good number of students to volunteer to pursue further conversations with the administration to implement changes intended to address the identified problems.

MiddBlog is covering this issue (http://midd-blog.com/2011/05/04/alcohol-forum/#comments ) and The Campus will do an article as well.  I should note that we are working with our fellow NESCAC schools, all of whom share similar experiences with alcohol use, to improve education about alcohol use and to offer alternatives to a social life currently so centered on alcohol.

I hope students, parents, faculty, staff, and alums will send along suggestions and best practices that we might consider alongside what we are doing, and will do, to provide a more balanced, safe, and fun environment for our students.

I have been away too long from this blog, but with the renewed energy brought to campus by the arrival of the “Febs’ (class of 2014.5) two days ago, it is time to start posting again.

I was going to write on the goings and comings of Febs—the class of 2010.5, which celebrated its graduation this past Saturday in a terrific ceremony, capped by the traditional ski down in robes at the Snow Bowl, and the new Febs, the class of 2014.5, which arrived two days ago, in the middle of a snowstorm—but decided to save that and some thoughts on the Feb program for a later post.

Instead, given all the attention Aunt Des has garnered in recent weeks (a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Ed and in several Vermont newspapers), I thought I would use the occasion to follow up on the pointed criticism that has come from the very reason this never-known-before relative has shown up on campus—missing dishes—-and seek some student input and opinion on how to address this issue with some renewed sense of urgency.

MiddBlog’s recent post underscores the issue, which, to the outsider, is quite easy to solve: 1) provide environmentally sensitive “take out” containers for students with schedules that do not allow them to sit down and have a meal; or 2) bring checkers/monitors back to the dining halls.

I am very interested in hearing from students about this issue and some solutions, as many students have reached the point of recognizing that Aunt Des, as wonderful as it is to have her on campus, will not change the student “dish culture” and it is time to do much more.  Many of my administrative colleagues share this view.

I have linked a past post on dining at Middlebury (pre-Aunt Des) to remind readers of the complexities and popularity of our current meal plan system, which relates quite directly to how we might deal with the dish issue most effectively.  I suggest readers review the comments to get the full picture of student views on this issue.  Suggestions welcome.

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