Slide Show

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – More than 2,000 alumni and family members returned to campus June 9-11, to reconnect with classmates, see what’s new on campus, and share memories of their Middlebury College experiences.

Those attending Reunion 2017 included three members of the 75th reunion class, the Class of 1942; more than 150 members of the 50th reunion class, the Class of 1967; about 200 members of the 25th reunion class, the Class of 1992; almost 200 members of the 10th reunion class, the Class of 2007; and nearly 250 members of the 5th reunion group, the Class of 2012.

Laurie L. Patton, Middlebury’s 17th president, marched with the Procession of Classes into Mead Chapel and spoke to the gathering at the Reunion Convocation.

“The Middlebury you have returned to this weekend is not the one you graduated from,” she said. “Just as each of you has changed and become more complex in the years since you graduated, Middlebury has changed and become more complex as well. Over the years, you’ve grown stronger, more resilient, more capable of embracing opportunities as they arise and recognizing and addressing challenges—and the same can be said for Middlebury.

“We are more diverse than we were when you graduated. Admission to Middlebury is more competitive—indeed, this coming fall we will be welcoming one of our largest classes in history, because of the 18% of applicants to whom we offered admission, an unprecedented 53% accepted our offer and enrolled. We are more globally focused, more environmentally sound.”

And yet despite all the changes, some things about Middlebury—like braving the cold to walk to dinner, learning new languages, or skiing at the Snow Bowl—have not changed, she said.

During convocation, four awards were presented to alumni. The Alumni Achievement Award was presented to Lee Buchheit ’72 and Annie Walsh Rimoin ’92. Buchheit specializes in advising sovereign borrowers on debt management matters. Among his many accomplishments, Buchheit orchestrated the biggest debt restructuring deal in history, cutting Greece’s debt by 100 billion Euros. Rimoin, an epidemiologist and associate professor at UCLA, is an international leader in infectious disease research.

The Alumni Plaque, which is awarded each year at Reunion Convocation to alumni whose “outstanding service to Middlebury has benefited the College, its students and alumni,” was presented to Susie Davis Patterson ’67 and Bill Carlough ’71.

Earlier on Saturday, Patton convened a panel of alumni trustees in Wilson Hall – all from the Class of 1977 – to discuss issues of free speech, protest, and inclusivity in the context of the May 2 visit by Charles Murray. Speakers included Karen Stolley, a professor of Spanish at Emory University; Frank Sesno, dean of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University; and Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program.

In her opening remarks to the packed room, Patton recounted the protest, during which students shut down Murray’s talk, and its aftermath. She noted the deep divisions caused both on- and off-campus as the incident was covered extensively in the national news media. But she also sounded a hopeful note, observing that the community had engaged in rigorous, difficult, and often painful, discussion in numerous ways since the event took place.

During a Q & A session, the multigenerational alumni audience challenged the president and panel on a variety of subjects related to the Murray protest and how to balance principles of free inquiry on campus with inclusivity of all campus community members.

The weekend’s events also included numerous class gatherings, tours, a college admissions workshop, hikes and fun runs, readings, open houses, appreciation receptions, and class photos. There also were several musical performances, yoga, an ice-cream social, golf tournament, lectures, and panel discussions.

The Museum of Art was a hub of activity throughout Reunion with its three exhibitions: “Sabra Field ’57, Then and Now”; “The Lovings: An Intimate Portrait,” with photos by Grey Villet; and “Young America: Roy Lichtenstein and the America’s Cup.” Each of the three exhibits has its own special connection to Middlebury College.

Saturday dinner under the tents behind the Center for the Arts was described by many as “magical” with the magnificent 77-foot-long hull of the 1994 America’s Cup boat “Young America” suspended over the pond. Many revelers stayed late to dance to the music of The Grift under a Strawberry Moon.

The 50th reunion class achieved a remarkable 72 percent participation in giving (totaling more than $3.1 million) and attended a moving event titled “Reflections on the Vietnam Era.” The 25th reunion class approached the 50 percent mark in participation and raised close to $1.7 million.

“When you listen to the class memories presented by alumni from each of the seven and half decades of reunion classes at Convocation, you see your place in the continuum of time,” said Meg Storey Groves ’85, the associate vice president of alumni relations. “When the 50th Reunion class marches into the Chapel accompanied by the tapping of canes and the applause of 750 fellow alumni, you feel deeply connected to this special place and incredibly proud of our shared experience.”