Get Inspired: Alumni College

This year's Alumni College will be August 28-31, 2014.

Warm summer weather and a selection of intriguing courses with some of Middlebury’s most engaging professors contributed to a memorable Labor Day weekend for participants at the 38th Alumni College at the Bread Loaf campus. The attendees included 123 alumni spanning the classes of 1948 to 1980. They came from as far away as Lancashire, England, and as near as the Middlebury area to reconnect, learn, and enjoy the peaceful and scenic Green Mountains setting.
Last year's courses took attendees to a range of intriguing places, literally and figuratively. Russ Leng's "World War II and the World It Created" revisited the impact of the conflict on the American home front and internationally. Daniel Brayton transported his class back to the perilous seas of the 19th-century whaling industry in his class “Rereading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.” In "Television and American Culture," Jason Mittell delved into the complex cultural contexts that television shows bring into our own living rooms. 

For Anne Knowles's "Cultivating a Geographical Eye" and Patricia and Tom Manley's "Past, Present, and Future of Lake Champlain," students visited Bicentennial Hall to take advantage of the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. Students in the latter course also took a field trip to Lake Champlain on Middlebury College's research vessel, the R/V Folger.

The five Alumni College classes delighted participants and garnered rave reviews. Nancy Ewen found that time flew by in her absorbing class on geography: “Anne Knowles’ enthusiasm was inviting. The course was varied in subject matter, style of teaching, and activities. The days zoomed by.” Studying the past, present and future of Lake Champlain, Kevin Kenlan ’73 appreciated the opportunity to view work by current Middlebury students: “I really liked the examples of undergraduate research projects. How fortunate we are to have such fantastic resources in the hands of wonderful teachers.”

Will Jackson ’51, who attended with his wife, Carolyn Bennett Jackson ’61, felt that this year’s Alumni College set a new standard: “The class topics were the best ever. I would have been happy taking any one of them. It’s fun to renew old friendships, make new friends, and learn something, too.”

The glorious weather enriched the event, freeing participants to hike, explore the campus, or simply bask in the sunlight with a good book or their course reading materials. 

A weekend highlight, Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz offered his insights into the challenges and opportunities facing liberal arts education in the 21st century. Taking questions from the audience, Liebowitz responded to listeners in a lively dialogue about the evolving nature of the College.

Finally, the weekend wrapped up with a convivial banquet. Students from each class took a few minutes to present a synopsis of the new knowledge or understanding they gained over the weekend, so that everyone could get a taste of the other courses. This closing ceremony brought together the key elements that define Alumni College: playful socializing and intellectual curiosity.

We invite you to save the date: August 28-31, 2014.

There’s always something new to discover at Alumni College.