Middlebury President-Elect Laurie L. Patton

Laurie L. Patton was elected the 17th president of Middlebury on November 18, 2014. She will begin her duties as president on July 1, 2015, and will be Middlebury’s first woman president.

Video: Laurie Patton describes her family background.

Patton, 53, is dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion, a position she has held since 2011. She oversees 36 academic departments and programs in arts and sciences for the school, which includes 5,200 undergraduate students and 640 faculty members. Trinity College awards 80 percent of Duke’s bachelor degrees. Patton supervises the work of divisional deans, the dean of academic affairs, and senior associate deans. Patton also oversees Trinity’s $450 million commitment to the “Duke Forward” campaign.

With her arts and sciences leadership team, Patton developed Duke’s first university-wide course: an annual offering based on a common theme that is open to all students and taught by faculty from all the schools.  She sponsored the creation of the first and only global advising program in the country and launched an initiative in public scholarship. She also established a grant fund to encourage collaboration and course development by faculty, including online innovations, launched an initiative to further the work of women and minorities in the STEM fields, and co-convened a committee to think through liberal arts in China, particularly focused on programs at Duke Kunshan University. 

Patton previously served on the faculty and administration at Emory University, where she was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions and the inaugural director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the Office of the Provost. While at Emory, Patton served as chair of the religion department from 2000 to 2007, founded and co-convened the Religions and the Human Spirit Strategic Plan, and received the Emory Williams Award, Emory’s most prestigious honor for teaching, in 2005.

Shalom Goldman and Laurie Patton

A graduate of Harvard University (BA, 1983) and the University of Chicago (PhD, 1991), Patton is an accomplished scholar and the author or editor of nine books on South Asian history, culture, and religion. In addition, she has translated the classical Sanskrit text, The Bhagavad Gita, and has written two books of poetry. She has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life, and consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives, as well as on civic engagement. In her capacity as a scholar of culture and society, she also has worked as a consultant on branding and identity for several national and international corporations. In May 2014, she was named the Alumna of the Year for 2014–15 at the University of Chicago.

Patton is a native New Englander. She grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts, the daughter of a cardiovascular surgeon and a social worker. The youngest of three children, Patton graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall. She credits her parents’ strong commitment to civic engagement for her lifelong interest in social issues.

Patton and her husband, Shalom Goldman, a professor of religious studies and Middle Eastern studies at Duke, will relocate to Middlebury, Vermont, in the summer of 2015. Goldman will become a tenured professor in the Department of Religion at Middlebury College.

November 18, 2014