Middlebury, Vt.-An anonymous donor has made a gift of $50 million to Middlebury College. The historic gift was announced by Middlebury President John M. McCardell Jr. at a dinner gathering of the College’s board of trustees held at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf campus on May 6. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, it is the largest gift ever received by a New England liberal arts college. “This gift is given in recognition of what has been accomplished at Middlebury under John McCardell, in support of the direction in which the College is heading, and with confidence in Ronald Liebowitz, the newly appointed president, to help the College achieve its goals,” said the donor. “Thus it is directed toward those things that are, and are determined to be, most central to the College’s core mission.” The $50 million is a challenge gift that requires the institution to raise additional matching funds.

As he announced the gift, with Churchill Franklin, chair of the board of trustees, and incoming Middlebury president Ron Liebowitz at his side, McCardell said, “This is an historic moment for Middlebury College, and this gift is most deeply appreciated. It is the purest form of philanthropy-a member of our extended family has chosen to give such generous support because the donor believes in the path the College has chosen, and seeks to raise its sights and the sights of its many other alumni and friends. And the donor has engaged in this historic act of generosity anonymously, seeking recognition only for the College that gratefully and humbly accepts this gift, and the challenge accompanying it, with joy, satisfaction and determination. On this day, and with this gift, the landscape has changed. Middlebury means to seize all the opportunities that this remarkable benefaction confers.”

Following the receipt of the $50 million challenge, another anonymous donation of $10 million, which will be applied toward the fulfillment of the challenge, brought the announced total to $60 million.

Franklin stated that the gift is a strong confirmation of past achievements of the College and a vote of confidence in its future under Middlebury’s new president. “Generosity at this stunning level expresses a deeply held belief that Middlebury College has made remarkable strides forward under the leadership of John McCardell, while it also reflects the firm conviction that the College has positioned itself for a new era of extraordinary excellence and progress with its new president Ron Liebowitz,” said Franklin. “It is a monumental and pivotal event in the 200-year history of the College, which will clearly take us to the top competitive ranks of higher education in the world.”

Liebowitz and his administration will determine with the donor how the challenge will be met, but one of the donor’s purposes is to “raise the sights of other friends of the College, to enable it to set ambitious, new giving goals, and to continue its movement to the pinnacle of liberal arts education.”

Liebowitz expressed his gratitude for the donor’s confidence in Middlebury’s past achievements, and its future under his presidency. “I can think of no better way to begin a presidency than with this astounding act of generosity, and with the vote of confidence it represents for our College-for the new administration, our faculty, and our staff,” said Liebowitz. “The donor quite obviously admires the direction the College has taken under President McCardell, and believes we have the talent, energy and enthusiasm here on campus to make the education we offer our students the very best among liberal arts colleges. As incoming president, I am humbled by this act of philanthropy, and am committed to using the gift, and others it will inspire, to preserve and strengthen those aspects of a Middlebury education that will attract the strongest students and the most talented and committed faculty and staff.”

At the donor’s request, the name of Bicentennial Hall, the College’s science center, completed in the year 1999 as part of the institution’s 200th anniversary celebration, will be changed to John M. McCardell, Jr., Bicentennial Hall. McCardell said he was deeply honored to have such a magnificent facility named for him, and, referring to the nickname by which he is known to many Middlebury students, said, “It’s probably only a matter of time before the building will become known as Johnny Mac Hall.”

A group of additional donors has contributed $5 million to establish an endowed professorship named for McCardell when he retires, and to establish a scholarship named for both John and his wife Bonnie McCardell.