Environmental Leadership at Middlebury

October 9, 2018


To the Middlebury Community,

Last year the Board of Trustees approved a new Middlebury mission statement. It is short and powerful: “Through a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.”

At the board’s fall meeting last week, we saw this shared commitment on display—by our students, our faculty who teach them, our staff who support them, and, ultimately, by the trustees themselves. The occasion was a robust discussion—one of many stretching back more than six years—on the topic of fossil fuel divestment from Middlebury’s endowment. On Friday, September 28, a group of students presented the case for divestment to the full board. Trustees asked numerous questions, thanked them for their leadership and, over that day and into the next, discussed at length the issues raised by the students.

In doing so, the board strongly affirmed Middlebury’s commitment to the health and betterment of the planet and to the next stages of environmental sustainability and efficiency in our campus operations. In continuity with Middlebury’s participation in the 2007 American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and the 2015 American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, the trustees also strongly affirmed their belief that climate change is one of the most profound challenges facing our world today, and that future generations depend upon effective action and education in the present.

As a result of this discussion, over the course of this academic year the board will review and announce a set of actions Middlebury will take to advance its leadership in and commitment to environmental stewardship beyond carbon neutrality. These include: further increasing the energy efficiency of our campus; investing in renewable sources of energy to reduce our carbon profile; evaluating and implementing a carbon-pricing initiative; and working with our endowment manager to address the composition of our endowment with respect to fossil fuels and sustainability-focused investments.

We look forward to this vitally important discussion.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees,
Yours sincerely,

Laurie L. Patton,

Office of the President

Old Chapel
9 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753