Laurie L. Patton

Laurie L. Patton is the 17th president of Middlebury, and the first woman to lead the institution in its 217-year history.

From her first days in office, Patton began to design a new agenda for Middlebury. In her inaugural address, she described a vision of a Middlebury that would actively engage with the most difficult issues facing society, and challenged the community "to have more and better arguments, with greater respect, stronger resilience, and deeper wisdom."

Patton also has increased support for initiatives at Middlebury that broaden access to the full Middlebury experience. This includes the creation of the Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury (AIM), an organization of students, faculty, and staff who work to promote diversity, access, and equity.

In 2016 Patton launched the Envisioning Middlebury planning effort that, once announced in the fall of 2017, will set forth a set of strategic directions to guide the institution over the coming decade. She also created and led the introduction of a "president's course" that brings together students and faculty from across the institution to focus on a single topic. The first president's course, taught in the spring of 2017, focused on the issues around water as a global resource.

Patton is an authority on South Asian history, culture, and religion. She is the author or editor of nine books and more than 50 articles in the field and has translated the classical Sanskrit text The Bhagavad Gita. In addition, she has published two books of poetry. Patton has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life, and she has consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives, as well as on civic engagement. She has held two Fulbright Fellowships (in Israel and India) and visiting appointments at the University of Tel Aviv, Hebrew University, and Deccan College (India).

Patton joined Middlebury on July 1, 2015, after serving as dean of Duke University's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and as the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion. At Duke, she oversaw 36 academic departments and programs in arts and sciences for the school, which awards 80 percent of Duke's bachelor degrees. Patton also oversaw Trinity's $435 million commitment to the "Duke Forward" campaign.

Patton earned her BA from Harvard University in 1983 and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1991. In May 2014, she was named the Alumna of the Year at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

From 1996 to 2011, Patton served on the faculty and administration at Emory University, where she was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions and the inaugural director of Emory's Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the Office of the Provost. While at Emory, Patton served as chair of the Religion Department from 2000 to 2007. From 2008–11, she served as president of the American Society for the Study of Religion. Patton began her career at Bard College, where she was assistant professor of Asian religions from 1991 to 1996.

Patton is a native New Englander. She grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts, and graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in 1979. Patton and her husband, Shalom Goldman, the Pardon Tillinghast Professor of History, Philosophy, and Religion in the Department of Religion at Middlebury College, reside in the President's House at 3 South Street.