September 23, 1999

Middlebury College Trustees Adopt Statement on Diversity - Recognizes Work of Human Relations Committee, and Links Diversity to Quality Education

The board of trustees of Middlebury College has unanimously adopted a statement on diversity affirming that diversity is crucial to the quality of education offered by the College, and reflecting the board's commitment to maintaining a "community that recognizes the dignity of every human being." The statement, which responds to a report on campus diversity issued in March of 1999 by the College's human relations committee, was adopted at the September meeting of the board. In issuing the statement, the board expressed its gratitude to the members of the committee for its "informed engagement of the issue of diversity on the Middlebury campus."

Before submitting its report last spring, the human relations committee conducted several months of discussions on campus, visited other institutions, and conferred with faculty, staff, and students. The report included an assessment of the current campus climate in regard to diversity issues, and listed a series of recommendations for action in more than a dozen areas of College operations including admissions and financial aid, faculty recruitment, and student residential life.

According to Middlebury College President John M. McCardell, Jr., the trustees' statement is significant because it places an obligation on all members of the Middlebury community to become more fully aware of cultural differences, and to actively embrace diversity in all its forms, and at all levels. "It is vital that the excellent work of the human relations committee be ratified by action," said McCardell. "By issuing this statement, the board of trustees demonstrates that Middlebury's commitment goes beyond words. It calls on us all to act on what we say we believe," he said.

The one-page trustee statement notes evidence of the College's historic commitment to diversity, cites its international student body as an example of cultural diversity, and acknowledges the need to build further on these achievements.

The statement says that "all those who seek association with Middlebury College will be expected to bring to that association a mind free from prejudice and a willingness to engage diversity in all its forms."