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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury alumni and friends flocked to campus October 17–19 to enjoy a weekend brimming with activities amid the burnished colors of the fall foliage season during Homecoming 2014.

There were 30 campus events—from live music and lectures to athletic events and film screenings—demonstrating that Homecoming in the 21st century has become a major way for members of the wider Middlebury community to connect with the College before winter takes hold of the Champlain Valley.

Video: Q & A with President Ron Liebowitz
  Video: Keynote Talk by Rick Tetzeli ’83

The 2014 Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC) coincided with Homecoming again this year, as the Office of Advancement put together a compelling weekend for alumni. ALC brought together more than 130 key volunteers—members of the Middlebury College Alumni Association board and Annual Fund Executive Committee, reunion committee members, class agents, and Cane Society representatives. The weekend of workshops, planning, idea sharing, and meetings with students and College leaders gave volunteers a greater understanding of Middlebury today, as well as the tools they need to succeed in their engagement and fundraising work for the College.

Among the many highlights of the Homecoming weekend, filmmaker Ryan Scura ’11 screened his acclaimed documentary The Granite Stoke; the executive editor of Fast Company, Rick Tetzeli ’83, spoke about the “new competitive edge”; and past and present members of the a capella group Mamajamas celebrated their 20th anniversary.

There were tours of the student-run Organic Farm, a presentation of dance works by visiting artist in residence Scotty Hardwig, and a Halloween-themed brass quintet concert. The weekend also included a book signing, a fun run, receptions, information sessions, and tours of both Middlebury entries in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon green-building competition.

The wet weather Saturday didn’t hold the Panthers back from dominating on the athletic fields. Umbrellas of nearly every color—although most of them were blue and white—were evident at Alumni Stadium for Middlebury’s 35-6 win over Bates. Women’s and men’s soccer also prevailed against Bates as did the field hockey team, leading to a clean sweep of the visiting Bobcats.

On Saturday morning, President Ronald D. Liebowitz spoke about the Middlebury of today with about 100 alumni who joined him for breakfast in Atwater Dining Hall. Robert “Bobo” Sideli ’77, president of the Middlebury College Alumni Association, introduced Liebowitz, but not before he had a chance to thank the alumni volunteers for their efforts on behalf of the College and President Liebowitz for his leadership and deep engagement with alumni over the past 11 years.

Liebowitz opened his remarks noting that the College is “in a stronger place today than we were 11 years ago” when he started his presidency, and said Middlebury’s strength is a credit to the work of many, many people, starting with the alumni. The institution today is “a highly complex organization with many moving parts,” and he urged the alumni to show “patience and understanding” with the new president.

After 20 minutes of extemporaneous comments, the alumni peppered the president with questions (see video) on topics ranging from diversity and inclusiveness to the future of Battell Hall. Following the last question, alumni gave the president a standing ovation.

The Homecoming keynote talk was given by Rick Tetzeli ’83, who is executive editor of Fast Company magazine. Tetzeli spoke on “The New Competitive Edge: Finding (and Living) Your Mission,” which resonated with the crowd of young alumni and students gathered at Twilight Hall auditorium on Friday evening. Since 2010, Tetzeli has helped shape Fast Company’s identity as a leading progressive business magazine focusing on innovation, leadership, and design.

“I think this is the best possible time to go into some entrepreneurial activity, to bring mission to what you do,” Tetzeli told his audience. He noted that the old, and somewhat rigid, world order of business has completely changed since he was a student at Middlebury. “Now, I feel like there are entrepreneurial possibilities opening up everywhere.” 

Reporting by Robert Keren and Stephen Diehl; Photos by Todd Balfour and Yeager Anderson ’13.5.