As the Chief of Staff of the Student Government Association, I have been working with the College’s administration to coordinate the nominations for the annual faculty and staff appreciation awards. As nominations from the student body have been trickling into my inbox this week, I have been reminded that one of the things that makes our campus community so vibrant and dynamic is the energy and commitment of our professors, our caretakers, our athletic coaches, our public safety officers, and our dining hall staff. While our Awards Committee will choose one member of the faculty and one member of the staff for their hard work, I think that all of them ought to receive more appreciation for the important role they play in our community.
To start with our professors, they are some of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever met, but what I will remember about them after graduation is the time I spent talking about them in office hours, after classes, and even in grocery stores. Our professors are here because they love teaching and they truly care about us as more than students, but as people. In addition, from the professors I’ve met working with the SGA, I can tell that they really care about the community they are a part of, dedicating their time to our judicial process, discussing issues in Community Council, and attending sporting events, concerts, and presentations their students are a part of.
Other than our faculty, our staff members, ranging from the chefs to the caretakers in the dorms to the librarians, help make the College the smooth-oiled machine that it is. Many of them rise bright and early, long before many students even think about getting out of bed, to make sure that everything is ready to go for a new day. They do such a good job that we hardly notice their presence. Yet, when you take the time to get to know our staff members, they are humble, caring, and hard-working people, whose presence remind me that there are bigger things in life than that next class, the next paper deadline, or the sports practice.
Many students here often describe Middlebury as a “bubble” – a place where we are safe from the trials and tribulations of the real world. While our students may feel this way, Middlebury is the real world for our faculty and staff. This is their home, in a much more permanent sense than we could ever call it that. And their love for this place is contagious. For that, I salute every faculty and staff member here at Middlebury. Without them, this community would not be what it is.