MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Middlebury Board of Trustees focused on student well-being at its October 17–19 meeting in Vermont, including endorsing the administration’s decision to move forward with the recommendations of the How Will We Live Together Steering Committee following its 18-month analysis of the College’s residential life system. With the new structure, called BLUEprint, the College is evolving beyond the Commons to a new model for residential life that will put in place a central office of residential life; reimagine faculty engagement in the residential life system; develop new first-year housing clusters; review specialty housing; create an enhanced, proactive system of support for students; and establish a residential education program that covers health and other topics. The board also heard about preliminary plans for a new student center, first-year residence hall, and art museum.
“Residential life is an essential piece of the student experience at the College,” said President Laurie Patton. “At the center of the new system is our core commitment to a cohesive and inclusive learning community, where students can gather and connect. Our new model helps them build the foundations for healthy and creative lives, with mentors at their side.”
On Friday, the board heard from two panels of faculty and students who discussed the impact of the faculty-student mentoring relationship and its mutual benefits. Students said that they valued the opportunities, which have grown in recent years, to assist faculty with research and that their relationships with faculty outside of the classroom were a key component of their experience at Middlebury.
The topics of Friday’s presentations included student mental health and potential opportunities for students at the College, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Middlebury Language Schools, Middlebury Schools Abroad, and Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English to make fuller use of all that Middlebury has to offer, both academically and in terms of student services.
On Saturday the board took a number of actions, including the following:
- Naming McCardell Bicentennial Hall 626 the Richard Wolfson Student-Faculty Research Laboratory in honor of recently retired Professor Emeritus of Physics Rich Wolfson.
- Moving forward with a formal bylaw change that will officially rename the College, Schools, and Institute Boards of Overseers the Boards of Advisors. An additional bylaw change will permit a second student constituent to serve on the College Board of Advisors. The full board will formally adopt the bylaw changes at their next regularly scheduled meeting in January.
- Giving the College approval to move forward with a new solar project on South Street Extension.
- Approving additional funding for the implementation of Project Ensemble Oracle Human Capital Management—a new software platform that will support Middlebury’s human resources functions.
- Approving the Resources Committee’s recommendation to refinance Middlebury’s 2010 bonds in 2020 for a 20-year term, fully amortized. (Amortized bonds require regular principal payments, in contrast to balloon, or bullet, loans, where a large portion of the principal must be repaid only at maturity.)
- Reviewing Middlebury’s unaudited 2019 financial performance and the first projections for the first quarter of 2020.
The Middlebury Board of Trustees will meet again January 23–25 at the Institute campus in Monterey, California.