February is Black History Month. As events of the past year have demonstrated, it is as crucial as ever that we face up to and address our nation’s racial past. Last winter brought calls for reflection about our history and how we include the stories of enslaved peoples.
Dear Middlebury Community,
One of our primary responsibilities in American colleges and universities is to educate about the work of democratic society, and to deliberate together to improve that democracy. This involves, most centrally, an understanding of the structures of our government, the processes of elections, the role of evidence in public discourse, and the peaceful transition of power.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I write today, the morning after Election Day in the United States, to check in with our community and to encourage you to take time to reflect and to support one another during this time of uncertainty. I know that many of you will be contemplating the direct implications for you as students, faculty, staff, and as individuals. Some of you have voted for the first time in a presidential election, whether in Vermont or your home state, and will be waiting for and processing the results for days and weeks to come.
Earlier today, the U.S. government rescinded a troubling policy that would have barred international students from studying exclusively online while living in the United States and would have further restricted students pursuing their academic programs from abroad.
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!)