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In Memoriam: Megan Battey ’79

October 8, 2021


The following message was sent to the Middlebury community by Vice President of Academic Affairs Sujata Moorti.

Dear Middlebury Community,

I write to share the sad news that Megan Battey, a longtime staff member and alumna from the Class of 1979, died on September 25 at her home in Middlebury.

Megan Battey ’79

In her more than three decades of service to Middlebury, Megan made a lasting impact on the learning and scholarship of countless students and faculty. Shortly after her graduation from Middlebury, Megan began working as registrar and assistant to the director of the Johnson Gallery, while also serving as curator of the Art Department’s slide collection. In 2000 she became visual resources coordinator for the History of Art and Architecture Department, a position she held until her retirement in 2016.

Associate Dean of the Arts and Professor of History of Art and Architecture Pieter Broucke noted that Megan held this position at a time of major growth for the department. “During Megan’s tenure as curator, the image collection grew considerably and became a fully professional operation in terms of keeping track of the images’ metadata. She also oversaw the transition from analog slides to digital projection and assisted the faculty in doing so. Once the transition happened, she became the on-campus specialist for some of the image databases and accompanying software.”

On Megan’s watch, the slide room—officially called the Visual Resource Center—was used by various departments and programs, including history of art and architecture, classics, American studies, and studio art. Faculty from all over campus used the space and interacted with each other over images. The Visual Resources Collection that Megan oversaw supported faculty teaching and publications as well as student research.

“For decades Megan was the indispensable hub around which an active department grew and evolved,” shared Glenn Andres, professor emeritus of history of art and architecture. “Beginning as a student slide assistant, she stayed to build a slide collection to serve not only her departmental colleagues but also the summer schools and the broader college community. Pursuing professional development, she networked importantly with her regional counterparts, piloted Middlebury’s model entry into the Getty ArtStor project, and cajoled and facilitated the departmental transition into the era of digital visual resources.

“Ever reliable, cheerful, and caring, she trained and managed a dedicated group of student assistants, tracked down missing slides, troubleshot recalcitrant equipment, administered makeup exams, and smoothed ruffled feathers. Beyond her visual world, she loved poetry and dance, served as makeup artist to generations of Middlebury Community Players, delighted in her friends, and reveled in a string of idiosyncratic cats. She supported and enriched the lives around her.”

According to friend and former colleague Dana Barrow, “Megan’s work required a fluency in the arts as well as technology. She was so modest about her many abilities that it might be easy to overlook everything she brought to her role, including a deep knowledge of art, facility with foreign languages, a flair for photography, meticulous organization, and the endless patience needed to learn the details of copyright law, metadata standards, and markup languages. She used her unfailing patience and kindness when assisting faculty with new digital teaching tools and training the library’s many student workers.”

Kirsten Hoving, Charles A. Dana Professor Emerita of History of Art and Architecture, said Megan’s blend of expertise, humor, and kindness added a distinctive warmth to the department. “​​Megan loved art, and she shared that passion with all of us who worked alongside her. Although she was a consummate professional, making sure our needs for visual imagery were always met, she kept us from taking ourselves too seriously with jokes, stories, and holiday costumes for ‘Jane,’ a marble sculpture that welcomed us to the slide library. Megan was the first person I met on my very first day on the job in 1983, and she remained my closest friend even after I retired and moved to the sunny South. She was deeply loved by her department colleagues, students who worked with her, as well as her many, many friends in the community and around the world.”

Megan grew up in Maryland and graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the daughter of Bryan and Jean (Anderson) Battey, of Chevy Chase. At Middlebury, she majored in studio art and Italian, graduating cum laude with honors in art. She attended the Middlebury Italian Language School.

A trained archaeologist, Megan worked on projects throughout New England and abroad. She volunteered at Homeward Bound, Addison County’s Humane Society, and with Addison Allies, helping Mexican dairy farm workers. As a certified Master Gardener, she served on the board of the Middlebury Community Garden since 2014, and volunteered at Helen Porter Nursing and Rehab, maintaining garden beds for the residents. She was married to the late George Todd, a Middlebury faculty member from New Haven, Vermont, from 1992 until 2019.

“She was an exceptionally lovely person with many friends and many talents,” said Dana Barrow, who worked with Megan in the Visual Resources Center for 10 years starting in 1999. “She loved travel, art, archaeology, and the performing arts. Her constancy, thoughtfulness, and generosity make the idea that she is no longer with us all the harder to accept.”

Megan is survived by her siblings, David Battey, of Washington, D.C.; Laura Battey, of Sonoma, California; and Robert Battey, of Alexandria, Virginia. Details for a memorial service will be announced at a later time.