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Mark Orten was chaplain at Denison University from 2003 to 2016.

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Middlebury Hires Dean for Spiritual and Religious Life

August 10, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College has appointed an ordained Presbyterian minister with 24 years of experience as a university chaplain, Mark R. Orten, as director of the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life and dean of spiritual and religious life.

Orten most recently served 13 years as director of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and university chaplain at Denison University where he implemented an interfaith dialogue program, organized interreligious education and service trips to Guatemala and India, and oversaw the creation of a multi-faith facility called The Open House.  

Prior to his appointment at Denison, Orten was the Presbyterian chaplain at Princeton University from 1992 to 2003. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Orten will “engage the Middlebury campus in exploring the roles of religion, spirituality, contemplation, and action in the quest for meaningful lives, and for promoting vibrant multi-faith dialogue and cooperation throughout the community,” said Katy Smith Abbott, vice president for student affairs and dean of the College.

Middlebury is pleased to have someone with Orten’s “experience, vision for interfaith work, and ability to connect people of different perspectives, backgrounds, and interests,” Smith Abbott added. Orten began his tenure in July, and succeeds Larry Yarbrough, Middlebury's Tillinghast Professor of Religion, who served as director of the Scott Center for the past two years.  



This strikes me as a great hire for a very important position. I particularly appreciate the title of "Dean of Spiritual AND Religious Life", implying that matters spiritual and religious may both coincide and, importantly, coexist separately from one another. In turn this affords a basis for religious tolerance, much needed in our world today. All in all, what I imagine Dean Orten will engage in sounds like a very accessible means to exploring individual and collective purpose in life - well timed and situated with a Middlebury education. Congratulations to both Dean Orten and Middlebury College.

by David Minot '74 (not verified)

I am excited about this. Having been on campus for my 60th reunion this summer, though, I have a problem with the location of the Scott Center. It seems more a Scott Periphery. Can something be done to improve that?

by Lynne Atherton (not verified)

Congratulations to the Middlebury College community and to Dean Mark Orten for making a marvelous match. Mark enjoys the deep respect of his peers in the field of leadership for campus religion and spiritual life. He will surely bring rare capacity and enlightened compassion to his deanship and the Scott Center.

by Janet Cooper Nelson (not verified)

Welcome, belated congratulations and best wishes, Dean Orton, i'm delighted to see the position filled by someone conversant with the dialogue between the spiritual and the religious, both important, and one committed, as well to interfaith dialogue. Both Chaplain Scott and Pardon Tillinghast played major roles in my Middlebury journey and my process to ordination almost 50 years ago in the Episcopal Church. Chaplain Scott was first ordained in the Presbyterian Church, later becoming an Episcopal priest. How appropriate this position be filled by a Presbyterian minister. May you enjoy many fruitful years serving "the
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college on the hill."
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by The Rev. Stan K... (not verified)

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