Language Schools Thank Midd Staff for another Successful Summer!

ls-topEach year a myriad of staff colleagues from departments outside of the Language Schools play integral roles in preparing for our summer programs by providing countless services during the sessions and in supporting the Schools as our academic year comes to a close. The Language School Administration is deeply grateful to all the staff members, from across campus, who work so hard to make our programs the huge success that they have been for 102 (!) summers.  In particular we send our thanks to our dedicated colleagues from: dining, facilities, public safety, ITS, the library, the bookstore, student financial services, communications, human resources, athletics, ISSS, ADA, advancement, business services, event management, printing and mailing Services, Office of the Dean of Students and HROs, and the Mahaney Center for the Arts as well as Kevin Parizo and Mark Christensen. And special thanks to Julie Hoyenski, Wayne Hall and Dan Detora.  We couldn’t do it without you!  The Language Schools administrators invite you to read on for a snapshot of how our programs – to which your support is so vital – help turn our College into a summer university.

The summer of 2016 saw us taking a breath from our Centennial summer – but only a brief one! In addition to marking the 31st anniversary of the summer carillon series, we celebrated the 100th summer of the Betty A. Jones M.A. ’86 School of French with the lighting of Le Chateau in the colors of France.

There was much anticipation for seeing the “I Will Keep a Light Burning” illumination installed by guest artist Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil near Le Chateau – the campus building most associated with the School. The luminaria exhibition was intended to symbolize the enduring nature of the School.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Chinese School held a forum designed for alumni of the School who teach Chinese. Following the event, there was a concert for symposium attendees given by 2016 Grammy winning banjo artist and Middlebury Chinese School alumna Abigail Washburn, who performed with her musical partner, guzheng player Wu Fei.

Faculty members from across the Middlebury programs examined the practice of immersive learning in the digital age at an Envisioning Middlebury panel discussion in July. Participants from the Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, Schools Abroad, Middlebury Institute, and the undergraduate college itself offered their observations in an effort to understand the role of immersive learning at Middlebury today and help shape it for the years to come.

Each summer, the Language Schools offer three sets of summer sessions for foreign languages on the Middlebury College campus. Mills College in Oakland, California, serves as the home base for the entire Arabic, Italian, and Korean Schools. Middlebury at Mills was established eight years ago in response to the increasing demand for admission to the Middlebury Language Schools.

The Language Schools this summer conferred 113 Master of Arts degrees and eight Doctor of Modern Languages degrees at the Language Schools Commencement at the Mills and Middlebury campuses. In Vermont, after over eight decades in Mead Chapel, a move to an air conditioned space with proximate parking and other amenities.

President Laurie L. Patton opened the ceremony by passing the original cane carried by Gamaliel Painter, one of the college’s founders, among the graduates. “It is a well-traveled, well-handled cane. Incoming undergraduates pass the cane from student to student during first-year Convocation, and it has now made the trip with me to Monterey for the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ Commencement.”

The dean of the Language Schools, Professor Stephen Snyder, welcomed everyone to the ceremony, thanked all of the individuals and departments involved in orchestrating Language Schools Commencement, and pointed out that 14 master’s degrees and five doctoral degrees had been conferred previously on August 5 at the Language Schools’ second site at Mills College in Oakland, Calif.



President Patton (top) opened the 2016 Language Schools Commencement held in the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Novelist Dany Laferrière (below) delivered a Commencement Address in praise of reading.

Dean Snyder introduced the Commencement speaker, novelist and journalist Dany Laferrière, whom he called “a guardian of the French language.” Laferrière, a recent inductee into the Acadèmie française—the 381-year-old French authority on French usage, vocabulary, and grammar—delivered his address in French “in honor of the centennial of the French School and in accordance with the rules of the Acadèmie,” Snyder said.

The address, entitled “In Praise of Reading,” included Laferrière’s observation that “reading allows you to hit the road with people you have just met without asking them where they are heading or what they intend to do when they get there.”

After the address, Provost Susan Baldridge read the name of each recipient as the degree candidates stepped onto the stage. One by one they accepted congratulations from the director of their school, received their diploma from Dean Snyder, were handed a cane by Vice President Jeffrey Cason, shook hands with President Patton, and posed for celebratory photographs.

An honorary Doctor of Letters degree was  conferred upon Dany Laferrière—the first Haitian and the first Canadian to be inducted into the Acadèmie française—by President Patton, Vice President Cason, and Dean Snyder. He accepted the honor to thunderous applause.

The 2016 Commencement was punctuated by three musical selections and concluded with the singing of (and tapping along with) the song “Gamaliel Painter’s Cane,” led by tenor François Clemmons, Middlebury’s Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence Emeritus. Organist Kevin Parizo offered the processional and recessional, and accompanied soprano Beth Thompson, Affiliate Artist.

The Language Schools conferred graduate degrees this summer in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Its three other languages, which are taught at the undergraduate level only, are Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

Here is a glimpse of what you missed:

Throughout its rich history, Middlebury has provided a language learning experience like no other. We have welcomed students from every corner of the globe to our campuses, where they pursue their professional, academic, and personal goals through the rigorous study of foreign language and culture. Since 1915, more than 50,000 students—including more than 12,000 advanced degree holders—have attended one or more of the Language Schools, an experience that is more relevant than ever in a rapidly globalizing and increasingly complex world.


-Beth Karnes Keefe

With thanks for photography by Todd Balfour and reporting on commencement by Robert Keren