MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Middlebury College Board of Trustees last week approved a budget of $292.4 million for fiscal year 2014, which begins on July 1, 2013. That budget represents a 2.1 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
At its meeting on May 10-11, the board also approved two capital projects. Trustees authorized the college to spend $7.5 million on the renovation and winterization of the Bread Loaf Inn, the main building on Middlebury’s Bread Loaf campus in Ripton. The bulk of the work is required to keep the building in conformance with safety and accessibility codes, and follows a recently completed replacement of its foundation. Currently, the building is used primarily in the summer in conjunction with the Bread Loaf School of English and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; winterization work will allow the college to use it for academic and other purposes during colder months as well. Construction is expected to take place from October 2014 to May 2015.
The board also approved a $1.7 million project to modify the college’s central heating plant. The changes to the plant’s four existing oil-fired boilers will enable them to accept bio-methane gas, natural gas, No. 2 fuel oil, biodiesel fuel and other types of renewable fuel. Currently they can burn only No. 6 fuel oil, which the college will no longer use once construction is complete. The changes will allow Middlebury to further reduce its carbon footprint and increase its energy efficiency.
Trustees also gave the go-ahead to two new academic programs. The first, the Middlebury School of the Environment, will open to undergraduates from any college or university in the summer of 2014, and will be housed initially on Middlebury’s campus. Steve Trombulak, Middlebury professor of environmental and biosphere studies, will serve as the school’s director for the first three years. The program initially will enroll between 20 and 30 students and offer intermediate and advanced level courses designed for undergraduates.
The second initiative is a Hebrew language institute being developed in conjunction with Hebrew at the Center (HATC), a nonprofit organization based in Newton, Mass. HATC currently provides programs that support the teaching and learning of Hebrew in a variety of settings. The new institute aims to address a critical shortage of Hebrew language educators. Led by Dr. Vardit Ringvald, the institute is the first initiative to integrate a focus on building capacity for the field of Hebrew teaching and learning through advanced academic degrees, in-service professional development, research, and immersive learning opportunities.
The board approved tenure recommendations for two members of the faculty: Usama Soltan and Mark Spritzer. Both arrived at the college in 2006. Soltan is the first tenured faculty member in the Arabic program. Spritzer teaches biology courses and is also affiliated with the neuroscience program.
During their meeting, trustees heard a report from Sunder Ramaswamy, president of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, on the state of the school and the progress that has been made since its acquisition by Middlebury.
The board engaged in lengthy discussions of the management of the college’s endowment, including the issue of divesting from fossil fuels.
The board also approved the new fees for Middlebury Language Schools, C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad, Bread Loaf School of English, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Finally, trustees elected four new trustees to five-year terms, three existing board members to new five-year terms, and one past board member to a new five-year term. The terms for all eight will begin on July 1. The four new members are: Dennis Parker ’77; Helen Riess, a parent of two Middlebury students, one from the Class of 2013 and another from the Class of 2015; Richard Scanlon ’93; and John Weinberg, a parent of a 2010 Middlebury graduate. The three current members elected to a new term are: Liz Robert ’78; Deborah Thomas ’75; and Linda Whitton ’80. Frank Sesno ’77, who had previously served as a trustee from 1994-2004, will rejoin the board.