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Middlebury President Laurie Patton joins actor Tom Hanks, former President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, and other notable individuals in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Class of 2018.

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Middlebury President Laurie Patton Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 18, 2018

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury President Laurie Patton has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers. The academy is committed to recognizing and celebrating excellence in a wide range of disciplines and professions. As part of this effort, the organization has elected Patton to be one of 213 members of its Class of 2018. Founded in 1780, the academy honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists, and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world.

“I’m still trying to absorb the news,” said Patton. “I’m deeply honored to be part of such a remarkable group of individuals elected to this year’s class and to join the members who have preceded us in the academy’s history. They will always be my teachers.” 

The new members of the academy were elected in 25 categories and are affiliated with 125 institutions. The 2018 Class includes author Ta-Nehisi Coates (a student at the Middlebury French Language School in 2014), artist and scholar David C. Driskell, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Chair Katherine G. Farley, philosopher Robert Gooding-Williams, actor Tom Hanks, Netflix, Inc. CEO W. Reed Hastings, Jr., Librarian of Congress Carla D. Hayden, Lockheed Martin Corporation CEO Marillyn A. Hewson, Buddhist scholar Matthew T. Kapstein, Indigenous studies scholar K. Tsianina Lomawaima, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, 44th President of the United States Barack H. Obama, NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor.

The 36 international honorary members from 20 countries include British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell; Ethiopian Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization based in Switzerland; President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee David W. Miliband, who is a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom; Kazuo Miyamoto, an archaeologist in Japan; and Esther D. Mwaikambo, a maternal and child health expert leading the Tanzania Academy of Sciences.

The 238th class of new members is available at

“Membership in the academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility,” said Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy. “Members can be inspired and engaged by connecting with one another and through academy projects dedicated to the common good. The intellect, creativity, and commitment of the 2018 Class will enrich the work of the academy and the world in which we live.”

The academy’s projects and publications generate ideas and offer recommendations to advance the public good in the arts, citizenship, education, energy, government, the humanities, international relations, science, and more.

“This class of 2018 is a testament to the academy’s ability to both uphold our 238-year commitment to honor exceptional individuals and to recognize new expertise,” said Nancy C. Andrews, the Chair of the Board of the American Academy. “John Adams, James Bowdoin, and other founders did not imagine climatology, econometrics, gene regulation, nanostructures, or Netflix. They did, however, have a vision that the academy would be dedicated to new knowledge–and these new members help us achieve that goal.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at which the newly elected members will sign the Book of Members, and their signatures will be added to the academy members who came before them, including Benjamin Franklin (1781) and Alexander Hamilton (elected 1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; and Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth.