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Master's degree candidates traditionally gather together for photos before Language Schools Commencement.

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Middlebury Will Confer Graduate Degrees at Language Schools Commencement

August 16, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The 2016 Commencement exercises for the Middlebury Language Schools will be held on Friday, August 19, for master’s and doctoral degree candidates in foreign languages. The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. in Robison Hall at the Mahaney Center for the Arts.

Now in its 102nd consecutive summer of operation, the Language Schools also has a West Coast campus at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. The Commencement at Mills for students in the Arabic and Italian Schools was held on August 4.

At Oakland, Jeff Dayton-Johnson, the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, delivered the Commencement address and assisted in conferring 14 Master of Arts (MA) degrees—10 in Italian, four in Arabic—and five Doctor of Modern Languages (DML) degrees. The ceremony was held in Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills College.

In Vermont on August 19, President Laurie L. Patton and Dean of Language Schools Stephen B. Snyder will officiate for 99 students who have earned MA degrees and three who have earned DML degrees. (The DML, which is unique to Middlebury, combines proficiency in two foreign languages with mastery of the literature, linguistics, and culture associated with both languages.)

Forty-four MAs will be awarded to students in the Spanish School, 26 in French, nine in Chinese, nine in Hebrew, six in German, and five in Russian. The master’s degrees in Hebrew will be the first ever conferred by Middlebury College; the School of Hebrew was founded at Middlebury in 2008.

Dany Laferrière, the Haitian-Canadian novelist, will deliver the Commencement address in French. In 2009 his 11th novel, L’Énigme du retour, won the Prix Médicis literary prize, and in December 2013 Laferrière became the first Haitian (and the first Canadian) to be elected to the Acadèmie française—the 381-year-old French authority on the usage, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language.

The Language Schools will confer upon Laferrière an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. A resident of Montreal, the guest speaker has served as a writer in residence at Middlebury’s Betty A. Jones MA ’86 School of French for several summers.

Also at Commencement in Vermont, Middlebury will present Awards for Distinguished Study to this summer’s outstanding students in the Language Schools. The ceremony will be preceded by an outdoor carillon concert performed by George Matthew Jr., the college carillonneur, on Middlebury's 48-bell Paccard instrument located high atop Mead Chapel.

Students and faculty in the Language Schools will perform musical selections during the ceremony. Middlebury resident Kevin Parizo will play the piano in Robison Hall for the processional and recessional, and the body will be led by faculty marshals Philippe France, director of the French School, and Jason Merrill, director of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian.

Each graduate will receive a replica of Gamaliel Painter’s cane, and the gathering will join in song about the history of the cane led by François Clemmons, the Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence Emeritus.

Tickets are required for admittance to Robison Hall for the Language Schools Commencement, and there will be very limited seating for non-ticketed guests. The ceremony will be live streamed to Room 221 in the Center for the Arts; viewers can also go to http://go.middlebury.edu/stream to watch the event in real time.

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