| by Laurie L Patton

Faculty, Fall 2020, Staff, Students

Dear Middlebury Community,

At the end of the semester and the beginning of the winter holiday season, I am thinking of you. Writer Carina Chocano uses a wonderful phrase to describe this past year: “this uncanny Upside Down.” At some point or another in 2020, and perhaps even for the whole year, we have felt disoriented, overturned.

One thing has helped to set us right and move us forward: our Middlebury community. This fall, the collective genius that is Middlebury, imperfect and stressful as the semester was, brought all of us together—students, faculty, staff, families, alumni, neighbors, trustees—to do what many thought was impossible. We created a brilliant community of learners in the midst of a pandemic. That community of learners had all the Middlebury traits that we recognize: hunger for knowledge, for wisdom, for justice, for new ways to change the world for the better. Most important, we paid attention and protected one another in new ways.

The sun sets at 4:14 p.m. today in Vermont, the earliest time of the calendar year, although not yet the shortest day. Even before the dark of the winter solstice, the holiday lights and colors have gone up early this year. Among those lights are the blinking signs that mark the boundary of campus—and there, you will see a message of gratitude: Thank you, Midd! Grateful to our town.

Happy holidays, with pride and joy in our care for each other,

Laurie Patton