Education and action are the two forms of oxygen that can heal. Wherever you are in the world, use your Middlebury education to challenge bigotry and hatred. Call your congressman or senator. Get involved in local groups. And when you return to Middlebury’s campuses, collaborate with all members of our community to act against racism and become accountable for the work that needs to be done—in our classrooms, in our living rooms, in our workplaces, in our communities.
I write to offer my deep congratulations to all of you on the occasion of our graduates receiving their degrees from Middlebury, and my special congratulations to the members of the Class of 2020 themselves.
Even though we are in more of a steady rhythm now, we didn’t want to let much time go by without updating you on the progress we are making determining how Middlebury—and the Institute in particular—will operate in the months ahead. Like every institution around the country, we have been scenario planning. Scenario planning is its own form of storytelling.
We write now with a small view into our financial future. Before we do, we thought it worth reminding you of our current fiscal state. In an earlier note we described how we are projecting a $13.0 million deficit for this year ending June 30, 2020, having been hit hard by the stock market downturn and a number of other factors. These include our obligation to refund unused room and board for undergraduates as well as fees from Study Abroad students, expected shortfalls in philanthropy, and lost revenue from auxiliary sources like the ski areas and bookstore as they needed to close early.
These past weeks, seniors have been on my mind. Many have written to me with news of their alternative plans on the April occasions where they usually gather—Earth Day, Passover, Easter, or the celebration of spring. (Thank you for writing and keep doing so!)
On the Monterey campus, the small lawn of Lara-Soto Adobe, where Steinbeck wrote The Pearl, is filled with colors, but empty of the people who usually delight in impromptu gatherings there. “Shelter in Place” is fully in force. Even so, Jeremy VondenBenken, known as “Baken” to his colleagues, is installing the flags on the 400 Pacific Building on Monday, to signal that classes are resuming next week. Nothing is happening on the Monterey Campus. And yet everything is.
Since every day in this environment of rapid change now feels like a week, it seems like ages that we held our board of trustees meeting with you all, and learned of your inspired ongoing work in so many areas. And yet our meeting was only in late January—a month and a half ago. The board came away newly refreshed by your energy and creativity in embracing the world. And now, we are connected again, this time by news of your “Shelter in Place” order, and the report of two new positive cases in Monterey County.
At the institutional level, we are guided by two overarching values that we hold side by side: the health and well-being of our people, and of Middlebury as a whole. As we have developed the workplace plan below, our goal has been to ensure that your pay continues—for as long as possible—and that your work continues—wherever possible.
As an educational institution, we have two overarching obligations to our community: to provide the academic opportunities Middlebury is known for, and to do so in a safe, healthy environment. The rapidly developing circumstances of the novel Coronavirus now require extraordinary changes to our usual practices to fulfill those obligations. We are making these changes in order to maximize our ability to continue the core educational activities that are our mission—teaching classes.