Announcements, News

Middlebury’s commitment to teaching excellence received a significant boost over the past year as donors pledged more than $11 million to establish professorships—endowed gifts that support a faculty member’s teaching and scholarship within a department. Since the beginning of the leadership phase of For Every Future: the Campaign for Middlebury, the institution has raised $25.8 million for professorships.

A faculty member speaks with a student in a science lab.
Assistant Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences Allison Jacobel works with a student in her Bicentennial Hall lab. (Credit: Brett Simison )

“Faculty are the heart of a Middlebury education, and gifts for professorships are among the most important ways donors can support the College and ensure that excellence in teaching and scholarship remain the foundation of all we do,” said President Laurie L. Patton. “Endowed professorships enable us to honor, reward, and retain outstanding faculty members and to encourage young faculty members to make Middlebury their professional home.”

The most recent full professorships are in geography and astronomy and astrophysics. In addition, donors recently established two professorships of the practice to bring leading practitioners in their fields to Middlebury to complement the College’s liberal arts and sciences curriculum.

Faculty are the heart of a Middlebury education, and gifts for professorships are among the most important ways donors can support the College and ensure that excellence in teaching and scholarship remain the foundation of all we do.
— Laurie L. Patton, President

These new professorships bring the total raised for the academic enterprise during the campaign to $85.5 million. Gifts have supported academic departments and programs, faculty research, faculty development, centers at the College and Middlebury Institute, and the Davis Family Library.

“Gifts in support of the academic program play a vital role in fostering exceptional teaching, groundbreaking research that engages students in academic inquiry, and innovative approaches to education,” Patton noted. “Middlebury alums always remember the faculty who have changed the course of their lives. These donors recognize the role that faculty have played in their own worlds and want today’s students to have the same transformational experiences.”

Tamar Mayer Professorship in Geography

Established through a gift from an anonymous donor, the Tamar Mayer Professorship in Geography will support the salary and benefits of a faculty member in that department and help fund that faculty member’s research, professional development, and student-mentored research. The professorship is named for Tamar “Timi” Mayer, Robert R. Churchill Professor Emerita of Geosciences and former director of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs and of the Program in International and Global Studies. Professor Mayer joined Middlebury in 1985. A political geographer, her research focuses on the interplay among nationalism, landscape, and memory of stateless nations, including Palestinians, Jews before statehood, and Uighurs in Xinjiang, China, and global issues that result in forced migration and increased refugee flows. 

“Studying geography changed my perspective on the world,” the donor said. “Geography encompasses nearly all aspects of life on earth and helps you understand how politics, economics, humanity, and the physical environment are all connected. I’ve found no better preparation for any career. Through this gift, I want to honor a visionary teacher and mentor and ensure future students can discover the indelible links between human activity and the natural world, more vital now than ever.”

David R. Mittelman ’76 Professorship in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The David R. Mittelman ’76 Professorship in Astronomy and Astrophysics will enable the College to add a third faculty member to the Physics Department and to attract an eminent teacher and scholar to Middlebury. The gift from the Mittelman family—Michele P’08, ’10, ’13; Andrew ’08; Jamie ’10; and Melissa ’13—honors the late David Mittelman. A longtime trustee and geography major, he was inspired by an astronomy class taught by Professor Frank Winkler in the 1970s and previously created the Winkler Professorship in Physics.

“The power and implications of his teaching have stayed with me ever since,” Mittelman said when the Winkler professorship was announced in 2014. “Much of our future lies with decoding and understanding the mysteries of our universe, and with this new professorship we hope to ensure that others at Middlebury will become intrigued by the study of astronomy. Modern science has an important role to play in preparing students of the liberal arts for the real world after graduation.”

Goldsmith Family Endowed Professors of the Practice

Graham ’89 and Shelley Goldsmith, P’19, ’24 have established two funds to support the professors of the practice program—the Goldsmith Family Endowed Professor of the Practice in the Liberal Arts and the Goldsmith Family Endowment for a Professor of the Practice in Global Health.

“The Goldsmiths’ goal is to help Middlebury expand the curriculum to meet changing student needs and to bring real-world expertise to the undergraduate classroom,” said Vice President for Advancement Dan Courcey. Practitioners leverage their extensive professional networks to bring guest speakers to campus, help students find internships and other experiential learning opportunities, and create ways for faculty members to develop critical research partnerships.

Institution-Wide Impact

Donors have endowed professorships across the curriculum and the institution. In addition to these recently created professorships, this year donors have added to endowed faculty support funds that were established during the campaign’s leadership phase. As a result those funds are now available for use. 

  • The Dahl Family Endowed Professorship will support a teacher and scholar in a field that emphasizes the study and use of data.
  • The Sidney B. and Irene F. Luria Professorship—established through a bequest from Sidney ’38 and Irene Luria—is designed to recognize and support a distinguished senior faculty member.
  • The Deborah G. Thomas ’75 Professorship in Black Studies—made possible by a gift from Ted ’83 and Kathy O’Connor Truscott ’83—and a second professorship in Black studies from an anonymous donor have enabled Middlebury to strengthen the department and accelerate the pace of its expansion.
  • The Middlebury Distinguished Endowed Professorship from an anonymous donor will support a faculty member at the College or the Middlebury Institute. 

This brings the total to nine positions established since the beginning of the campaign to help Middlebury support existing faculty and hire new talent. Middlebury is also continuing to pursue other possibilities for professorships as the campaign unfolds. “Middlebury alumni believe in the power of faculty to inspire students,” Courcey said. “These gifts for professorships are a testament to the strength of our faculty, the excellence of their research, and their dedication to students.”