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Due to the pandemic, the board deferred approval of the operating budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins on July 1, 2020.

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Middlebury Board of Trustees Reviews Fall Scenarios, Approves Nine for Tenure

May 20, 2020


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – At its annual meeting May 7–9, the Middlebury Board of Trustees considered several possible fall semester scenarios put forward by the administration, and discussed COVID-19’s impact on the academic, financial, and risk-related aspects of each situation.

Due to the pandemic, the board also deferred approval of the operating budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins on July 1, 2020. The Prudential Committee, a standing committee of the board, will approve the budget at its meeting in June when more information regarding the coming academic year will be available. The full board will review and ratify the Prudential Committee’s vote on the FY 2021 operating budget at its next regularly scheduled meeting in the fall.

Executive Vice President for Finance David Provost reported to the board that there will be a $13 million deficit for fiscal year 2020, which ends on June 30. He said that the deficit will increase in fiscal year 2021 and will range from $14 million to $87 million depending on a variety of factors. To help cover these expenses, which are due to COVID-19, the board’s Resources Committee stated its support for the use of $13 million of the endowment to cover losses and $5 million for debt service, in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The full board will formally vote on this recommendation at its fall meeting.

The operating budget encompasses the functions of Middlebury College, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, the Middlebury Language Schools, the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, the Middlebury School of the Environment, the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, and the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. 

The trustees approved the FY 2021 capital budget of $9 million, a reduction from the $22.4 million figure originally planned for this purpose. They also deferred major renovation projects to Warner Hall and Dana Auditorium, and implemented a 25 percent reduction to normal capital spending. The board did urge administrators to fully fund Information Technology Services given the new demands on this area. 

Tuition and fees for Middlebury schools and programs (Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, Middlebury Schools Abroad, Middlebury Language Schools, and Middlebury School of the Environment) for the 2021–2022 academic year will be set at the Schools Board of Advisors July 2020 meeting. 

The trustees elected a new term trustee, Larry Yarbrough, Tillinghast Professor Emeritus of Religion, and a new alumni trustee, Koby Altman ’04, effective July 1. Both will serve five-year terms.

The board also approved tenure recommendations for nine members of the College faculty, effective July 1:

At the opening meeting on Friday, May 8, the board also heard from President Laurie Patton, Provost Jeff Cason, and Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Risk Officer Karen Miller about scenario planning with regard to COVID-19. 

Patton noted that while the financial risks to Middlebury are great for the coming fiscal year, the pandemic could also present strategic opportunities for building creatively on Middlebury’s traditional academic and institutional strengths.

Cason presented the work of the Academic Planning Group, outlining several different potential academic options for fall 2020 at the College, from offering most classes in person and on campus to making all classes remote with students living at home. For the options in between, some students would be on campus and some would be remote, with the possibility of making changes to the academic calendar to divide the term into shorter modules. Cason noted that having students on campus will require adequate virus testing and health monitoring for students, faculty, and staff.

Miller discussed the risks Middlebury will face depending on how active COVID-19 is by late June and how the various scenarios will affect different aspects of campus life, from athletics and dining to on-campus gatherings, as well as areas important to the institution, such as fundraising, revenue, and enrollment.    

On the morning of Saturday, May 9, Patton again encouraged the board and fellow administrators to identify the changes brought about by COVID-19 that could be advantages to Middlebury in a post-pandemic time. She cited several examples, including the flexibility in course structure that the faculty at the College, the Institute, and many of Middlebury’s schools and programs created when they moved their classes online. She asked them to consider Middlebury’s global network and its other strengths in a post-COVID world. 

During their meeting, the trustees approved the merger of the Programs Committee with the Strategy Committee, and formed the External Relations Committee, which will focus on fundraising and communications.

The board also named several members to additional terms and honored others.

Current trustees Dennis D. Parker ’77, Helen Riess, and Richard Scanlon ’93 were named charter trustees. Each has served seven years and now will serve until 2028. 

Term trustees Joseph W. Brown ’90, Leilani M. Brown ’93, and Janine J. Feng ’92 were named to second five-year terms, which will begin July 1, 2020. Henry J. Simonds ’97 was named a term trustee and will begin his term on the same date. He was previously an alumni trustee.

Deborah G. Thomas ’75, Kimberly Collins Parizeau ’79, Linda Foster Whitton ’80, and Elisabeth B. Robert ’78 were named trustees emeriti.

The board honored outgoing trustees Ted Virtue ’82, Russell J. Leng ’60, and Garrett M. Moran ’76, whose terms will end on June 30. Various trustees read the board minutes for their outgoing fellow board members thanking them for their service. 

The trustees also named three new partner advisors who will serve three-year terms: Ellen McCullough-Lovell and William A. Muggia ’83 (College Board of Advisors) and Kathryn Iacocca Hentz ’81 (Schools Board of Advisors). The board also elected the following partner advisors to additional terms: Radhames Nova ’97 will serve a second term as a member of the Schools Board of Advisors, and Alison F. Geballe and Deborah L. Hicks will serve a third term on the Institute Board of Advisors. Their terms will begin July 1, 2020. 

The board named seven constituent advisors. Previously one student served in this role for the College but, due to a change the board made to its bylaws, there are now two: John Schurer ’21, incoming president of the Student Government Association (SGA), and Maya Kiana Gee ’22, founder and coordinator of the Student Ambassador Program. The SGA selected Gee after an application and vetting process. Amy Yuen, associate professor of political science, was also named a constituent advisor for the College.  

Others named to the position of constituent advisor are Madeleine Smith BA/MPA ’21, incoming president of the Middlebury Institute Student Council, and Maha Baimyrzaeva, associate professor, for the Institute; and Josiah Siegel ’21, a double major in German and Russian, and Oliver Carling, assistant director of the School in Russia, for the schools. 

The terms for all seven constituent advisors begin on July 1, 2020. 

The Middlebury Board of Trustees will meet again Oct. 22–24.