Task Force on Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, & Bread Loaf Writers' Conference

Chair, Members, Advisory, Liaison

Michael Geisler, Co-chair
Jim Maddox, Co-chair
Rob Cohen
Michael Collier
Gloria Gonzalez Zenteno
Audrey LaRock
Kevin McAteer
Carmen Tesser
Lynn Dunton, advisory on budget
Howie McCausland, advisory on technology
Alison Byerly, liaison

Charge to Task Force

  • Recommend strategies for leveraging the reputation and strengths of the Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference with alumni/ae, peer institutions, and with the public
  • Identify ways to strengthen the links between these programs and our academic year program
  • Consider the languages now taught in the Language Schools, with a focus on our future needs in this area. Are there areas or programs where expansion is indicated?
  • Identify opportunities for College Advancement that spring from our strengths in these areas
  • Executive Summary
    May 2005

    Note: Each Task Force Report is a collection of background information, analyses, and recommendations that are submitted to the Planning Steering Committee and the President. Over the summer, the Steering Committee and the President will review and discuss all 15 sets of recommendations together in the context of the College's available resources.

    A. Major Findings:
    • All three programs are "off phase" vis-à-vis the regular undergraduate academic year operations of the College. BL campus in urgent need of renovations & expansion of teaching space. Middlebury College is a 12-month operation! (College culture is not)
    • Both BLSE and LS are losing qualified students due to insufficient financial aid and slow turnaround (spike of FA applications in spring for both AY and LS/BLSE.
    • Alumni base of BLSE, BLWC and the LS remains an underdeveloped resource, due to lack of involvement by Middlebury College, lack of data and research.
    • New start-up program in Sewanee BLWC's only close competitor & maybe a future concern for BLSE. No other programs a concern. LS without serious competitors, but in danger of pricing themselves out of the market for discretionary educational spending.
    • Branding issues: LS drift towards applied linguistics à"language only" or "content in language" (literature, area studies, culture). Is the DML competitive?

    B. Major Recommendations (prioritized within each category, 1 = highest priority):

    I. "Off Phase" Problem:

    1. Continue replacement of Bread Loaf building foundations. Spruce up Brandybrook and Gilmore. Renovate the Barn. Provide more teaching & rehearsals space at BL.
    2. Improve food service for all three summer programs. Consider hiring outside catering company. Reopen Bread Loaf snack bar.
    3. Provide better medical and counseling services for all three programs.
    4. Add second stage to facilities planning process to discuss impact on summer programs. Add representative of summer programs to all major College planning groups. Move up end date of planning cycle for the following year + summer to June 30th.
    5. Create a trustee committee dealing specifically with BLSE, BLWC, and LS.

    II. Recruiting and Financial Aid

    1. Seek endowment for significant increase in financial aid available to applicants for summer programs.
    2. Make process of financial aid allocation as transparent as possible. Significantly shorten turn-around time. Implement Student Financial Services Module of Banner.
    3. Increase salaries of directors and faculty of summer programs.
    4. Use existing schedule of LS/SA recruiter to "piggyback" recruitment for BLSE.
    5. Name more LS/BLSE degree-holders for volunteer leadership positions at the College.
    6. Expand alumni events to appeal to graduates of the summer programs.
    7. Engage in more active research to identify LS/BLSE/BLWC graduates and attendees who are capable of making major gifts ($100K+) to these programs.
    8. Consider special appeal to LS/BLSE/BLWC graduates and attendees who also hold an undergraduate degree from Middlebury.
    9. Enhance interaction between LS/BLSE/BLWC administrators and College Advancement. Hire a dedicated fundraiser for summer programs.
    10. Encourage entrepreneurial efforts by deans and directors of the summer programs. Make larger percentage of additional funding thus acquired incremental to program; and return a share of indirect cost charged through Federal grants to program.

    IV. Brand Recognition and Competition

    1. Establish International Translators' Conference off site, based on BLWC model.
    2. Approach Vermont Public Radio/TV about broadcasting major events at BL/LS.
    3. Review and reevaluate DML program in LS. Ensure competitiveness with Ph.D.
    4. Explore feasibility of highlighting "Middlebury Method" as marketing strategy.

    V. Connections to UG College and The Next Level of Excellence for Summer Programs.

    1. Develop a BLWC summer seminar for undergraduate creative writing students.
    2. Create Robert Frost Writer in Residence position for BLSE/BLWC/AY. At times, this position could become International Writer in Residence, shared with LS or AY.
    3. Establish follow-up committee to explore feasibility of winterizing Bread Loaf.
    4. Evaluate the idea of an M.F.A. to be offered jointly by BLSE and BLWC.
    5. Consider BLSE campus in the Southeast and revisit idea of BLSE in Mexico.
    6. Make foreign language proficiency one of the parameters for selecting candidates for new positions at UG college, especially in social sciences and humanities.
    7. Involve more faculty from non-language disciplines in the Language Schools.
    8. Consider the establishment of a School of Hebrew as a 10th Language School.
    9. Explore the potential for new graduate programs in Arabic and Chinese.