In Memoriam, News

President Laurie Patton and Vice President for Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka sent the following message to the Middlebury community on October 21.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

It is with great sadness that we write to inform you that Yan Zhou, a member of our Class of 2023 from Beijing, China, died on Wednesday, October 20, in her residence hall room on the Middlebury College campus. She was 20 years old.

The Middlebury Police Department is investigating this as an apparent death by suicide. We have spoken with Yan’s family. We ask that you keep them in your thoughts as they face this loss.

Yan was an independent study major and resident of Forest Hall. She was passionate about linguistics, held a leadership position in the Quidditch Club, and worked at Ross Dining Hall. Always curious, Yan loved finding patterns in her studies, ranging from language to coding. She had a fierce streak that came out on the Quidditch pitch. Everyone who knew Yan knew how much she loved her bird, Murphy, a green-cheeked conure who lived with her at Middlebury. Murphy is in the care of the Student Life team until we learn the family’s wishes. Yan is survived by her parents.

At a difficult time such as this, we want to acknowledge that members of our community may need different kinds of support. We know some people benefit from reducing activities, and others benefit from staying busy and keeping their routines. We will be offering a space for community members to drop in for reflection and care from noon to 5 p.m. in the Abernathy Room at Axinn Center, ground floor. For members of our community who would like other kinds of support or to be connected with others right now, we have a variety of resources:

  • Scott Center Chaplains: 802-443-5626
  • Residential Life Team
  • TimelyCare services are always available 24/7
    • Go to go/timelycare and click “Sign In” as a first-time user. If you’re on your phone, you’ll be prompted to download the TimelyCare app
    • Set up your account with your Middlebury email address, personal profile information, and medical history
    • For technical assistance with TimelyCare services and the TimelyCare app please call the 24/7 customer assistance line at 833-484-6359, email, or use the live chat function at go/timelycare
  • Community Resources include the Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC), which can be reached at 802-388-7641 or 802-388-6751
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program, 800-828-6025 (Company Code: Middlebury College), is available for faculty and staff and their immediate family members, and those residing in their homes
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

In the coming days, we will send you details about plans to gather on campus and be together to grieve the loss of Yan. Our hearts and thoughts are with Yan’s family and friends.


Laurie Patton


Smita Ruzicka

Vice President for Student Affairs