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Ambassador John R. Beyrle

Former ambassador to Russia to address Language Schools graduates, Aug. 17

August 3, 2012

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – John R. Beyrle, the former Ambassador of the United States to the Russian Federation from 2008 to 2012, will deliver the commencement address marking the end of the Middlebury Language Schools’ 98th summer session on Friday, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. in Mead Chapel.

With President Ronald D. Liebowitz and Vice President of Language Schools, Schools Abroad and Graduate Programs Michael E. Geisler presiding, the college is scheduled to confer 136 Master of Arts degrees and three Doctor of Modern Languages degrees at the ceremony.

In addition, Middlebury College will present an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Ambassador Beyrle. A graduate of Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Beyrle also earned a master’s degree from the National War College. In 1975, the future diplomat studied for one summer at the Middlebury Russian School.

Beyrle joined the State Department in 1983 and served his first tour of duty as a political and consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he returned to Moscow in 2002 as the deputy chief of mission. During his recent, four-year tenure as ambassador to Russia, Beyrle was instrumental in the “reset” of the Russian-American relationship and the signing of the START-2 arms control treaty. He also took part in the formation of new agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and reduced visa restrictions for American and Russian travelers.

The 58-year-old commencement speaker also served as ambassador to Bulgaria from 2005-2008, counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic from 1997-1999 and a member of the U.S. delegation to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) negotiations in Vienna from 1990-1993.

A career officer in the Senior Foreign Service, Beyrle’s tenure as ambassador to Russia concluded in January of this year.

Also at the Language Schools’ commencement, the college will present Awards for Distinguished Study to this summer’s outstanding students in the Language Schools. The ceremony will be preceded by an outdoor carillon concert performed by George Matthew Jr., the college carillonneur. Middlebury’s carillon is a 48-bell Paccard instrument located high atop Mead Chapel.

Emory M. Fanning, professor emeritus of music, will perform the prelude and accompany the processional, recessional and the evening’s guest musical performers on the college’s magnificent Gress-Miles organ. Middlebury’s Twilight Artist-in-Residence François Clemmons, a noted tenor, will lead the gathering in “Gamaliel Painter’s Cane,” a spirited sing-along about one of the founders of the college and his famed walking stick.

Earlier this summer the Language Schools and Middlebury College conferred an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree upon Vittorio Taviani, the Italian film director and screenwriter who won the Palme d’Or, or first prize, at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1977 for “Padre Padrone.” Taviani’s most recent film, “Caesar Must Die,” won the top prize, the Golden Bear, at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2012.

Since 1915, more than 40,000 students from all walks of life have attended one or more of the 10 Language Schools, and over 11,000 have earned advanced degrees in languages from Middlebury. The Language Schools currently offer instruction from beginning through advanced levels in these languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. More information is available on the Language Schools’ web site.