What do Envisioning Middlebury, financial sustainability, employee engagement, workforce planning and Project Ensemble, have in common? They are all focused on positioning Middlebury for the future.

Our success in positioning the institution for the future will be dependent on the choices we make now – and our discipline to sustain those choices over the long-term. But, before we choose, we must understand our desires because they provide the context for our choices; they frame what we want to achieve or bring forward into our reality.  So, to have the future we want, we not only must make sound choices and demonstrate discipline, but we also must be clear about what we desire.

Defining what we desire

Answering that question “What do we desire?” is the focus of the project teams that are now engaged in the first step of the workforce planning process, which is to define our future state. Before we can determine our workforce needs, we must define what the work is – and that, of course, depends on what we are striving to achieve.  As an institution, we have said we desire to advance in the strategic directions identified through Envisioning Middlebury.  This fall, we will continue to refine our future as we identify specific initiatives to enact our desire.  Simultaneously, through workforce planning, we are asking every department to explore the work required to advance those directions.

For example, independent of our specific focus on place-based experiential learning, generally, what is the body of work we must engage in to support it and what are the outcomes we seek from that work? What are the outcomes we seek from the work we do in pursuit of digital fluency or organizational nimbleness?  The answers to these questions will give us a better sense of where we are heading – and ultimately, help us shape the kind of workforce we will need to get there.

Through discussions about our future state, we give ourselves permission to focus on possibilities. We can open our minds to new ways of thinking, being, and doing and, as a result, create a new sense of meaning and purpose for our work and new ways to measure our success.  By garnering a clear view of our future state, we also can gain focus and guidance to make intentional choices, set priorities, navigate the inevitable obstacles we will encounter along the way, and demonstrate the discipline we will need to stay the course.

Ensuring Middlebury’s future

As we have discussed over the past year, Middlebury cannot continue to operate the way it has been operating. We must work together to become more efficient in order to be more strategic, and more strategic in order to ensure the institution’s future.

We know that times of change can be challenging. You may be feeling nervous and anxious about the future and, indeed, we have some difficult choices to make about every aspect of our organization.  Please know that we are approaching this work with informed decision making in the Middlebury spirit of fairness and compassion.  We hope you will participate in conversations to share your insights about best practices for your department and identify opportunities to contribute to a successful future for Middlebury. Click here for more information in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Thank you for your continued focus and dedication.


-Karen Miller