An Unexpected Gift, a Legacy of Language

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—The French School has received an unexpected gift of more than $800,000 from alumnus Archibald James Welton, who received an MA degree from the school in 1949. Although he had been an occasional donor to the Annual Fund, Welton had never indicated that he planned to make a significant gift, and the College was surprised to learn that it was the principal beneficiary of his estate after he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

“Arch” Welton was an associate professor of French at the College of Staten Island and City University of New York prior to his retirement. He studied at the French School during the summer of 1948 and then attended the newly opened Paris School Abroad—the first of Middlebury’s Schools Abroad—for the fall 1948 and spring 1949 semesters.

The attorney executing Welton’s will notified the College last October that Middlebury was named as the principal beneficiary of his estate, as well as his individual retirement account. The will specified that the bequest is to support the French School. 

“People’s experiences at the Language Schools and Schools Abroad can be life changing,” says Stephen Snyder, dean of the Middlebury Language Schools. “We’re thrilled that Mr. Welton valued the immersion experience he had through Middlebury more than 65 years ago so much that he chose to give back to Middlebury through his estate. His gift will make it possible for many more students to gain the tools they need to forge new connections with people from Francophone countries and cultures.”

Anne McMenamin, director of gift planning at Middlebury, said that the bequest came as complete surprise to the College. “We wish we had known about Mr. Welton’s intention when he was alive, so we would have had an opportunity to thank him in person,” she added.

The Office of Gift Planning works with alumni who want to develop a plan that provides for their own financial needs while also helping Middlebury. Having such a plan in place enables donors to balance family and philanthropic interests, and it gives them the satisfaction of planning a significant gift during their lifetime.

The Language Schools’ centennial celebration is an ideal time for Language Schools alumni to think about a planned gift, McMenamin points out. Whether they are designated to support a particular school or all of the Language Schools’ programs, such gifts will help to secure Middlebury’s place in the forefront of language education. 

Everyone who supports the College through a life income gift or by including Middlebury in their estate plans is recognized by membership in the Cane Society. This group has grown significantly over the past decade and today numbers more than 1,400 members.

French Professors enjoy the summer sun on Battell Beach (circa 1940).