| by Laurie L Patton

Dear Middlebury Community,

As we move into spring break, I write with a follow-up to our letter of February 28 condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine and providing an update about Middlebury’s immediate response. Wherever we may be, that war remains on all of our minds as civilian casualties mount, food supplies are threatened, and the world daily witnesses the unspeakable horrors experienced by the citizens of Ukraine, where the effects of widespread violence are felt throughout the globe. 

In the days that followed that letter, Middlebury has continued its efforts to support those in our community most affected by the war. Below is a summary of efforts in various areas, specifically as they relate to student support and educational events. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and please understand that we are not always able to provide details in order to protect the privacy of our students, faculty, and staff. I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those involved in this and other essential outreach and encourage all in our community to find ways—individually and collectively—to contribute.

Support for Students

On an institutional level, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is at the center of this work, and they have been diligent and attentive to providing support to our Ukrainian students and scholars affected by the war, and also to our Russian students, in coordination with colleagues across Middlebury.

The following are examples of the work we are doing to meet the individual needs of our students, faculty, and staff: 

  • Our student life deans have reached out to individual students and groups to offer assistance and assess their needs. This includes consultations with Student Financial Services to address the war’s financial impacts.

  • The ISSS staff have sponsored drop-in sessions for students to discuss their needs and United States government visa-related issues for those affected by the war. Appointments also are available for those students. 

  • ISSS staff are consulting with students and colleagues about their efforts to support community members and identifying ways to aid Ukraine.

  • We are offering meetings with Ukrainian and Russian scholars and teaching assistants across Middlebury to discuss their professional and family needs beyond the academic year. 

  • We are offering support to Russian students across Middlebury to help them identify their needs and future plans. This includes assistance for students facing financial challenges due to sanctions in Russia.

  • ISSS engaged with the Institute of International Education (IIE) regarding their Emergency Student Fund, which Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray’s office also promoted to Middlebury and other Vermont colleges with enrolled students from Ukraine. IIE’s Emergency Student Fund (ESF) program provides grants to international college students in the U.S. from specific countries when natural disasters, war, or other crises threaten their education. ISSS met with our Ukrainian students to discuss the IIE-ESF nomination process.

  • Middlebury continues to pursue options for hosting faculty who are fleeing from Ukraine. Several programs have reached out to us. 

  • We have been in touch with parents, alumni, and others with Middlebury ties whose colleagues, friends, or family are affected by the war, and who are seeking advice and assistance regarding studying abroad in the U.S.

  • Student Affairs also worked with students and Event Management to assist with a fundraising event earlier today (Friday, March 18).

Faculty Action, Expert Analysis, and Programming

At the College, a sense of the faculty motion condemning the war was passed on March 11. 

Our colleagues at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) have held several events over the past few weeks, providing invaluable analysis and commentary on the war in Ukraine. I invite you to visit their website for additional information and resources including recordings of Ukraine-related talks from the past couple of weeks. This page is regularly updated with news articles, interviews, and mentions of CNS experts.

Following are some additional resources:

These are of course only a few examples of the ongoing outreach and scholarship at Middlebury. We hope that sharing this list will inspire continued meaningful discussions and support for those most affected. Our thoughts are with those who continue to be impacted by this war and its widening path of destruction, and I encourage all to work to better understand the global implications of these events and how we can take effective action in response.

With gratitude,

Laurie L. Patton