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Middlebury holds Language Schools commencement on August 14

August 3, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The Middlebury College Language Schools will hold commencement for its summer session in Mead Chapel on Friday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m. The ceremony will be preceded by a carillon performance by George Matthew Jr. Mead Chapel is on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125). The event is free and open to the public.

Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz and Vice President of the Language Schools, Schools Abroad and Graduate Programs Michael Geisler will award degrees to about 150 Master of Arts candidates in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. Several candidates are expected to receive doctorates in modern languages. Awards for distinguished study will also be given to select students in the schools of Hebrew, Japanese and Portuguese.

Princeton University Professor of Japanese and Linguistics and former director of the Middlebury Japanese School Seiichi Makino will deliver the commencement address. A professor at Princeton since 1991, he currently researches linguistics and teaches courses on East Asian studies and the Japanese language. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Waseda University; his bachelor's and master's degrees in linguistics from the University of Tokyo; and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has published numerous books about linguistics, culture and language study.

He was the president of the Association of Teachers of Japanese from 2003-2005, and has been the academic director of a three-summer master's program in Japanese pedagogy at Columbia University since 1996. In 2001 he was awarded the ADFL Award for Distinguished Service in the Profession, and received the Award of the Society for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language in 2007. Following his address, an honorary doctor of letters degree will be conferred upon him.

Middlebury College organist Emory Fanning will accompany the commencement procession and recession on the Mead Chapel organ and student performers from three schools will participate in the ceremony.

This year marked the opening of a second site at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., that served as home base for the entire Arabic School and offered additional sessions in French and Spanish. Middlebury at Mills will hold their closing ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 6.

Middlebury College Language Schools

Since 1915, more than 40,000 students from all walks of life - including more than 11,000 advanced degree holders - have attended one or more of the Language Schools, including the newest site at Mills College, opened in 2009. Corporate executives study side-by-side with writers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, missionaries, government officials and diplomats. Undergraduates and graduate students from Middlebury College and other institutions also attend the summer sessions to fulfill language requirements or complete degrees.

For the third year, philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis has funded the 100 Fellowships for Peace: Investing in the Study of Critical Languages, which grants 100 scholarships to cover tuition, room, board and a small stipend for a summer of study in any of six critical languages and related global issues during the summer of 2009. The initiative is intended to challenge Middlebury College and its affiliate, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, to use the institutions' combined expertise in language acquisition and policy studies to recruit and train future potential peacemakers.

Under the guidance of approximately 280 faculty members at both locations from colleges and universities throughout the world, students of all ages and nationalities live on campus, totally immersed in their target language. Students live, learn and interact in the language they have come to study, and all agree to abide by the Language Pledge, a formal commitment to speak the language of study and no other for the entire summer session. In addition, the Language Schools host many cultural events that are often open to the public.

For more information about the Middlebury Language Schools, contact Director of Institutional Collaboration and Marketing Jamie Northrup at 802-443-5856 or

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