October 26, 2018: Statement on Transgender

You may have heard this week that, according to the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance. The proposal calls for narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. Many see this as a way of the government eradicating federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were born into.

We write to assure you that any change to the national policy will have no effect on Middlebury’s policies or procedures. Middlebury prohibits discrimination in employment (or in admission or access to its educational or extracurricular programs, activities, or facilities) based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, among many other forms of identity. Furthermore, it is unlawful in Vermont for an employer to discriminate because of a person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of birth, disability or age.

At Middlebury, we remain committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus environment where bigotry and intolerance are unacceptable. We will continue to offer the highest levels of support for our transgender and gender-non-conforming colleagues and students in the face of challenges ahead.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to a vibrant community that welcomes and affirms all of its members.


Laurie Patton

Miguel Fernández
Chief Diversity Officer

October 9, 2018: Environmental Leadership at Middlebury

To the Middlebury Community,

Last year the Board of Trustees approved a new Middlebury mission statement. It is short and powerful: “Through a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.”

At the board’s fall meeting last week, we saw this shared commitment on display—by our students, our faculty who teach them, our staff who support them, and, ultimately, by the trustees themselves. The occasion was a robust discussion—one of many stretching back more than six years—on the topic of fossil fuel divestment from Middlebury’s endowment. On Friday, September 28, a group of students presented the case for divestment to the full board. Trustees asked numerous questions, thanked them for their leadership and, over that day and into the next, discussed at length the issues raised by the students.

In doing so, the board strongly affirmed Middlebury’s commitment to the health and betterment of the planet and to the next stages of environmental sustainability and efficiency in our campus operations. In continuity with Middlebury’s participation in the 2007 American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and the 2015 American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, the trustees also strongly affirmed their belief that climate change is one of the most profound challenges facing our world today, and that future generations depend upon effective action and education in the present.

As a result of this discussion, over the course of this academic year the board will review and announce a set of actions Middlebury will take to advance its leadership in and commitment to environmental stewardship beyond carbon neutrality. These include: further increasing the energy efficiency of our campus; investing in renewable sources of energy to reduce our carbon profile; evaluating and implementing a carbon-pricing initiative; and working with our endowment manager to address the composition of our endowment with respect to fossil fuels and sustainability-focused investments.

We look forward to this vitally important discussion.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees,
Yours sincerely,

Laurie L. Patton,

September 11, 2018: Best wishes at the start of the new year

Welcome to the start of the new academic year at Middlebury College. It was great to see so many of you at the Garden Party this past weekend. At that event, as well as at so many others in these first few weeks of September, I noticed a palpable sense of enthusiasm and anticipation. 

First, I want to express my appreciation for our staff, who did a remarkable job preparing campus for the start of this academic year. We had considerable activity at Middlebury all summer, including at Bread Loaf, at the Language Schools, and with about 130 undergraduates who were conducting on-campus research with faculty. I am especially grateful for the academic, buildings and grounds, and dining staff who kept services flourishing all summer and who turned things around so quickly to welcome our undergraduate students and faculty back this week. 

It is my pleasure to extend a special welcome to our newest community members, including 47 new faculty members across 30 disciplines and 637 members of the Class of 2022. Our new students represent 46 states and 28 countries, and were chosen from the largest applicant pool in Middlebury College history. 

There is much to look forward to on campus this fall, starting with the Clifford Symposium, September 20–22. This year, the symposium will focus on Toni Morrison’s book of essays, The Origin of Others, which incoming students have read in preparation for their orientation and the symposium. In workshops, lectures, performances, readings, and a student forum, we’ll explore such questions as “What is the nature of the stranger?” 

We have several other anticipated highlights this autumn. The Museum of Art’s major fall exhibition, Wondrous Worlds: Art and Islam through Time and Place, opens on September 14 and runs through December 2. On October 3, Victor Phillip Muñoz, the University of Notre Dame’s Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion & Public Life, will present “Did the American Founders Intend to Separate Church from State?”  On October 25, a discussion titled “The Courts in the Age of Trump” will feature two of the nation’s leading legal scholars, Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and James Fleming, the Honorable Paul J. Liacos Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law. 

A construction update: we broke ground over the summer on the 24,000-square-foot temporary building, located behind Johnson Memorial Building, that will be the new home for our Computer Science Department. It also will be the temporary home for a succession of academic departments in the coming years as we embark on a longer-term project to renovate, upgrade, and make accessible some of our most notable buildings across campus. The building, which we expect will serve Middlebury for the next 10 to 20 years, will provide much-needed classrooms, faculty offices, research labs, lounges, and study spaces. We expect to finish construction by next June. 

Please note that we’ve made an important change to how students can be seen at the Parton Health Center. We have put an RN “triage line” in place so that students who are sick or injured can receive medical advice and schedule same-day appointments over the phone rather than having to be evaluated at the clinic. We hope that this change will allow our students to get the most appropriate level of care as quickly as possible. 

Over the past three years, we have made great strides together in building an extraordinary student experience. The Envisioning Middlebury strategic planning process has created a new framework that is shaping our foundational work as well as our priorities and initiatives for the future. Interest in Middlebury continues to grow, as evidenced by the record number of applications we received last fall. 

This work is all possible because of the determined, engaged optimism that is at the heart of Middlebury. In all the work you do, you embody the Middlebury values that I like to name: integrity, rigor, connectedness, curiosity, and openness. 

In that spirit, I also want to note that we start our semester on the anniversary of September 11, a harrowing day in our country’s history. I hope you will pause during the day to remember those whom we lost. The vibrancy of our educational pursuits is a way of honoring their memory and legacy. 

I look forward to enjoying a successful academic year together with you all. 


Laurie L. Patton

May 26, 2018: Baccalaureate, Spring 2018

Congratulations. You’ve reached the finish line. You are one day away from receiving your diploma. Your Middlebury education is complete.

You have earned your Middlebury degree, and with that degree comes rights—and also responsibilities. You are graduating into a world that needs you. It needs your optimism, your capacity to create change, and your passion for truth and accountability more than ever.

With your Middlebury education, you are going out into the world with the ability to sow hope where there is pessimism, to facilitate change where there is stagnation, and to hold institutions and authorities accountable to those they purport to serve—and with your education, you are responsible for doing so. 

Yes, that’s a lot of responsibility. But as I look at all that you have done since you began here, there is no doubt in my mind that you are fully prepared to take it on. The 352 women and 310 men who are seated in front of me right now, together and as individuals, have already accomplished what most people couldn’t dream of doing in a lifetime.

Let me offer you some numbers as evidence. Of the 662 members of the Class of 2018, 143 of you completed joint or dual majors. Thirty-four of you majored in a foreign language, 68 attended the summer Language Schools, and 369 of you went abroad for a semester, or a year, to 46 different countries, studying in another language.

You have competed in athletics, with three teams—women’s lacrosse, field hockey, and men’s tennis—winning national titles. And one of you was half of the pair that won the NCAA men’s doubles title in tennis. You won 16 NESCAC Championships, 31 of you were named All-Americans, and 111 of you combined academics and sports to be named on the All-NESCAC academic team. And beyond varsity athletics, you’ve also played a dozen club sports, including Ultimate Frisbee, which headed to the Division III national championships in Illinois last weekend and made it to the semifinals.

You have created connections through community service in Addison County and beyond. Seventy-one of you participated in a Middlebury Alternative Break trip, and 11 of you led your fellow classmates to explore issues like food justice in urban environments, the social impact of sustainable coffee in Guatemala, and environmental practices in Puerto Rico. Thirty-one of you received Cross-Cultural Community Service Fund grants to travel to countries like Rwanda, and to volunteer with GROW Africa. Seventeen of you are current Community Friends mentors who have spent two hours or more each week with an elementary-age child in Addison County—and three of you have been paired with the same child for all four years. Ten of you were Privilege & Poverty national interns, and seven more were Addison County interns.

Then there’s what you’ve accomplished as individuals and in small groups. You organized Nocturne, an all-night campus art festival. You organized a sold-out TEDx conference. Two of you received the Projects for Peace grant, and with that grant you will run a leadership development and empowerment camp for people with albinism in Kenya this summer.

You led the Makerspace initiative on campus; you founded Middlebury Foods to provide wholesome food to Addison County families; you created a new line of women’s outdoor pants. You conducted research on ethnic nationalism in Russia, the spring migration of Svalbard reindeer, and Dante’s poetic hand in The Divine Comedy. You helped curate museum exhibitions and produced and performed in hundreds of artistic events.

And you challenged us, helping us reach our goal of carbon neutrality; increasing campus diversity; reiterating our support of our DACA and undocumented students; broadening our understanding of accessibility; expanding the kinds of conversations we are having on campus; reconfiguring our curriculum.

So much of what you have done at Middlebury celebrates our potential and addresses the ills that divide us. Now you are about to go out into the world to do more of that. And here’s the question: How will you continue to live up to the responsibilities of the life that lies ahead, responsibilities that accompany, and will continue to accompany, the privilege and possibility of a Middlebury education? How can you as Middlebury graduates of 2018 continue to think in a new hopeful way about your work in this world?

This year, I have been listening to you—at the spring research symposium, at Posse dinners, at state-of-the-College conversations, at hockey games, in Crossroads, at Otter Creek Bakery. And I think I have the beginning of an answer to that question.

You are keenly aware that you are graduating into a world of dramatic environmental shifts, of rapid information exchange that seems only to divide and not unite, of threats to democratic process and a vibrant public sphere, and of global hyperconnection that only seems to make us more globally suspicious.

In the words of Middlebury alumnus and Emmy Award–winning journalist Frank Sesno, Class of ’77, these are the themes of your times: “The fast clash of fact and opinion, the polarization amid the plenty, the search for identity amid the agonizing pains of a changing planet. We now inhabit a place where people and ideas, business and trends, traditions and history cross time zones and borders faster and more freely than ever in human history—but accompanied by incitement and suspicion, intolerance and hate, germs and CO2.”

Frank then asks us, “So what do we make of this? How do we navigate it?” Or, to ask his question another way, the way you have asked it, “How do we live together?”

I have been struck by how many of you are asking that big, long-term question—a question that goes far back into the past, and yet has a particular urgency now. You represent the best of Middlebury in asking, because at its best, Middlebury is rigorous, fair, and community-minded. And we are also rooted in a deep understanding of the past as well as mindful of the future.

In fact, your question, “How do we live together?” is rooted in an earlier time of tumult. We send you out into the world just as we are about to welcome the Class of 1968 back for its 50th Reunion in June. Like you, they graduated in a time of social unrest and change—a time of dissonance not unlike today.

Many of the issues you care most about were particularly resonant in that time. The Whole Earth catalog started in 1968. Then, students like you began to worry about the health of the whole planet, and to act to heal it. Now, in 2018, in the face of climate change, you want to take the next definitive steps in that environmental healing.

In 1968, Martin Luther King was killed. Racial violence and tensions not unlike today were rampant across United States cities. Then, students like you insisted on America’s promise of racial equality. Now, in 2018, in the face of an America that is more divided than ever, you want to fulfill that promise.

In 1968, the Civil Rights Act—known as the Fair Housing Act—was passed. As it was written and then modified over recent decades, the bill prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, gender, religious orientation, or sexuality. Then, students like you insisted that no one should “steer” underrepresented groups away from places they wanted to live, or deny them any housing on those grounds. Those students began to answer that question in a literal way: What houses can people dwell in? How do we live together in such a way that all people can live in all houses?

Now, in 2018, you want to create ways that we live together so that the planet, and the human race, can survive. You’ve created it by entering the Race to Zero Elementary Design competition sponsored by the Department of Energy, and winning. You’ve created it by designing murals that build a greater sense of inclusivity on campus. You’ve created it by welcoming alumni back to your own events with grace and hospitality. 

Here’s a story I lived with you. I was with many of you at the first track race at the Virtue Field House. That was a race in which 90-year-old Middlebury alumnus Dixon Hemphill, Class of 1949, was running. Dixon was and is the world record holder for the mile in his age group. And when Dixon finished his last lap, you cheered as alums who had already finished the race fell behind him to run that lap with him, helping him reach his goal. What a Middlebury moment.

And you’ve lived it in smaller, less dramatic but equally effective ways. Even in the midst of a campus that has struggled to talk across difference, you’ve built friendships across class and race and sexuality and religion and gender identity. 

Here’s another of your stories I heard this spring. Last fall one of your fellow students had an illness and thought he could recover quickly and get back to work. And yet in his optimism about his recovery, he overdid it. He was exhausted. One day, in a residence hall he didn’t go in very often, he just lay down in the commons area and rested and slept. Someone came out of their room. “Dude, you all right?” “Yes, I’m all right. I just needed to crash and rest.” So the person from the dorm stayed with him. And then another person came and sat with them. And another. And while the first student was resting, they all began to talk. They all stayed there for a long time, just talking while he rested and recovered. “Those have now become the people I have hung out with this spring,” the student said.  The friendships have lasted through now, even though he’s much better.

This is a simple story about spontaneous friendships in the last semester of a college experience. A simple story in the midst of some of the most difficult times in our country and in the world. I will tell you now that this is also a story about spontaneous cross-racial friendships—in the last semester of a college experience, in some of the most difficult times in our country and in the world.  And I won’t say who was who in this story. Because it doesn’t matter. As the student told me, “The big takeaway: it started out as me, just ‘hanging’ and has evolved to a relationship built on unexpected common ground.” At that moment you were all Middlebury.

Now we challenge you to live that ethos in the outside world. No matter where you have come from, you all now have the real privilege of a Middlebury degree. And if privilege is to be worth anything, it must be shared. We challenge you to share the privilege of your Middlebury degree by working to give others opportunities. You now have the obligation to find and to nurture that unexpected common ground. You have done this in a residence hall and on the athletic fields. You now have to do it in the more difficult place called the world. You can do this in the Peace Corps. On Wall Street. You can do this in your first classroom. In a global health NGO. In a manufacturing business. At a food bank. On a bus. In a canoe. On skis. On a bike. You will help people coexist by sharing resources and courage and openness and smarts. 

This is the question of your times: How do we live together in a time of inequality and anxiety and distrust? We challenge you to put aside that anxiety and replace it with hope—the hope of sharing your privilege. As a Middlebury graduate, you need to be the person who walks out of your own room and sits with another, helping him or her to recover and then change the world. You need to be the caring person who gathers around the 90-year-old runner, giving him the energy to finish his final lap in style.

You are the hope in the tumult of your times. You are the hope in the fast clash of fact and opinion, the polarization amid the plenty, the search for identity amid the agonizing pains of a changing planet.

Middlebury salutes you. Starting tomorrow, you will have an awesome opportunity, an opportunity that is also an obligation: to share the Middlebury gifts you have been given with people who need them. Tomorrow you will begin answering your question, “How do we live together?” I know you well enough to know that the answer will be thoughtful, spirited, and compelling. You are the hope of unexpected common ground. Congratulations to you all.

February 7, 2018: Convocation Address Winter, 2018

Welcome to Middlebury. It is my pleasure, on behalf of the faculty, staff, trustees, and your fellow Middlebury students who you will soon meet, to extend a warm welcome to you, the Class of 2021.5.

To begin, I would like to continue a custom by putting into circulation this most recognizable of College symbols—Gamaliel Painter’s cane.

Gamaliel Painter was one of the visionaries who helped to found Middlebury College over two hundred years ago. He was a familiar sight to the College’s first students as he frequently roamed through the town’s streets and strolled by the College, which then was entirely located on the site that is now Twilight Hall at the bottom of the hill on the way into town.

As he strolled about the town and College, Gamaliel Painter carried with him a walking stick. When he died, Painter bequeathed to the College $13,000, which was a significant-enough sum of money to secure the future of this fledgling institution. He also left us his walking stick.

It has become a tradition for newly arrived students, at opening Convocation, to pass among them Gamaliel Painter’s cane. I ask you to pass it among yourselves, but please remember to give it to Feb Orientation senior co-chairs Devin McGrath-Conwell or Kate Porterfield when done, so future first-years can share in the tradition!

And now, I want to warmly welcome you as Febs—that special class of people who arrive in winter. Febs are bright newcomers to our community bringing all their light and energy to the darker days. That’s why we welcome you with candles—they are a reminder of who you are.

There’s also something about winter that brings us down to the bare bones of things—we see the beautiful skeletons of things. We hear the sparser songs that exist underneath the songs of summer. The poet Mark Strand invites us to think about winter as a kind of listening—“listening to the tunes our bones play.”

Here’s how he puts it in “Lines for Winter”:

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air 
that you will go on 
walking, hearing 
the same tune no matter where 
you find yourself— 
inside the dome of dark 
or under the cracking white 
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow. 
Tonight as it gets cold 
tell yourself 
what you know which is nothing 
but the tune your bones play 
as you keep going. And you will be able 
for once to lie down under the small fire 
of winter stars …

You all have dreamt Middlebury. And you have done so powerfully. You have listened to the tune your bones play and found this place.

You may even have dreamt that, once you arrived, on one of these snowy Vermont nights you would lie down and gaze at the small fire of wintry stars. You were so effective in your dreaming about Middlebury that you have landed here, in this space. I hope it looks and feels the same way you dreamt it.

And even though you did everything right to get here, perhaps you are still anxious right now. You are looking left and you are looking right. You may be thinking, “I wonder how many of these people have done amazing things.” You may wonder if you’re worthy, because someone casually happened to mention this morning that they were an opera singer. Or that they already knew two languages. Or they designed a new solar-powered boat. And the worst thing was they were really nice about it. Or perhaps you are unbelievably impatient to get started right now. So much so that all this orientation and syllabus sharing and training is getting annoying. “Seriously, guys?” you are thinking. “I get the good intentions, folks, but let’s just dive in.”

Yes, you might be anxious. You might be feeling inadequate. You might also be impatient. In each case, however, you are no longer alert and directed, but you are distracted by your wish, your longing to be somewhere or something else than here, being what you are. I wish I were a singer or a musician. Why can’t I learn languages? I’m not an environmentalist. I am completely uncoordinated. Do I belong here?

As your president, I am going to ask you: How long will you dwell there in distraction, focused on what you are not, instead of getting on with the glorious business of being who you are? Sitting here in the pews in Mead Chapel, you are the same person we admitted last spring: the person who might be an uncoordinated non-environmentalist non-language learner non-opera singer. We admitted you. The person who dreamed Middlebury and who has come here to dream other dreams. To be inspired by the fires of winter stars.

So what does it mean to follow the tunes your bones play, now that you are here? First and foremost, it means being aware of all the opportunity that is around you and keeping yourself healthy at the same time.

At Middlebury, you will have a wealth of people to support you in that effort: Commons heads, Commons deans, first-year counselors, the faculty who teach you in first-year seminars, librarians, coaches, faculty who teach you in your other courses, people whom you happen to meet on campus.

And they will help you listen to that tune that is yours alone, and in doing so, develop wisdom.

You see, at Middlebury, we are going to ask you not just to be smart, but to become wise.

Make no mistake: at Middlebury, you will be all about using your smarts, your intellect. You will be challenged to master material more than you ever have before. And there will be days when you will feel that meeting such an intellectual challenge is enough. But once you have done that, we will not simply let you rest on those laurels. Intellect is not wisdom. At Middlebury we will challenge you to take the next step after being smart, which is to understand the role of that knowledge in the world, how it has shaped human hearts and minds over centuries, and how it continues to do so. Ask fellow Feb Hasher Nisar ’16.5, who majored in political science and minored in religion as a student here. He is currently at Oxford University, pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Islamic studies and history. At Middlebury, he worked with his political science professor to research the way that media representations of Muslims, Jews, and Catholics in Great Britain and the United States both shape and reflect society’s attitude toward these groups. He plans to pursue his doctorate in Islamic studies to help address public misconceptions of Islam and build intergroup alliances in the U.S. Muslim community.

At Middlebury, we will also ask you to pay attention, to be mindful, and to reflect on the purposes of your own education. Mindfulness is part of being aware of what you are doing—not just following a well-traveled route or a rote course of study. Some people call this slow learning. We call it better learning. Just ask the team of 12 Middlebury students who recently helped create an award-winning animated film and a website about the Collinwood fire of 1908. Their work, including painstaking research, and significant trial and error, allowed them to tell this complex and tragic story, now almost 110 years old, through the lens of the present, and across media and in ways that have not been available to previous generations of students and scholars. No way to go through that task but slowly, carefully, and paying full attention.

What you will soon see too is that, at Middlebury, we will ask you to carry your work lightly. That doesn’t mean that you don’t take your work seriously. It means that you understand the power of trying many times and in many different ways. At Middlebury you will learn that trying twice, trying three times, or even more is part of the equation. Just ask Coumba Winfield ’17 and Alex Myerson ’12, who just a few weeks ago launched a new app called PopGig. This app connects Vermont college students who want to earn some money with students who need some help to get errands or other tasks done. They worked on the app for more than three years, starting with a sketch they created together in the Wilson Café one cold night in 2015. They didn’t know anything about coding when they started the project—and they both had to learn new ways of collaborating and connecting with community, resources, and mentors. But they kept at it, and now their brand-new app is launched and rapidly gaining users.

At Middlebury we will challenge you to think of the wisdom that you gain here as more valuable than gold or silver. Those reminders mean that, if you get a great internship or a fabulous high-paying job when you graduate, and you think you have accomplished what you need to, then you will not be wise. And we will not have done our job as educators. If we have done our job well, then you will see that true wisdom is found in seeking a deeper and richer life, not one that just focuses entirely on material ends. Just ask the planters and sowers at the Middlebury College organic farm, known as the Knoll. These farmers don’t grow their crops for a profit, but rather to support the local economy, to deepen a sense of place, and to create a source of local food for Middlebury College and the town. This kind of wisdom gives the staff at the Knoll the resilience to try different agricultural experiments, and different kinds of shelters for plants and people. All of that work has been happening there for more than 15 years.

At Middlebury we will also challenge you to be receptive to others’ points of view. That, too, is a great quality of wisdom, and a real skill, and when you learn it you will know the value of others’ arguments and become willing to respect them. At Middlebury, we view arguments as moments where people are thinking their best thoughts together. If you are willing to be open to others’ arguments, you will have the support of others around you because they know you are willing to listen to them. That, too, will help us become a better community together—a community of people who know how to listen, and to talk, to each other. Just ask the members of Oratory Now, our student public speaking organization. Students founded Oratory Now in 2014 as a way to cultivate the art of public speaking among students. They restarted the Parker Merrill Speech Competition, which first began at Middlebury in 1825 and had been dormant for 50 years, and they’re working toward ultimately shaping a College-wide oratory program. In the grand champion’s winning speech, Anna Dennis 17.5, a Feb like you, cautioned the audience not to place intellect above the heart, but rather to integrate the two—wise counsel, indeed.

At Middlebury, we will also challenge you to trust. You will need to trust that even if the outcome of your efforts is not always what you think it should have been, you will eventually understand what the meaning of your work is. You will find your place. You will hear that tune your bones play in the middle of winter, and many other seasons too—in the fertile mud of spring, the green hush of summer, the heart-stopping colors of autumn. And you will need to trust that there will be people around you to work with you in all seasons of your student life. Just ask Rene Gonzalez ’17 and Eduardo Alejandro ’17. Last year, they worked with their physics professor to study how forces of light and of electric fields affect the movement of atoms. They did considerable research over time, and then they documented that research in a paper that was recently published by the Journal of the Optical Society of America. Together, they conducted experiments that can impact the work of future scientists—and they published their results. They didn’t do it alone. They didn’t do it quickly. They did over the course of several seasons. And they did it together.

And a final note about what you will learn here at Middlebury: being wise means being resilient. What do we mean by this? Resilience is one of those words that we think we know, but we don’t necessarily stop to reflect upon. Resilience is about bouncing back from adversity, but it also refers to the ability of an object to return to its original shape after being stretched out of proportion—as might happen in a crisis or time of trauma. Resilience in both those forms is essential in a diverse learning community. You are awake and resilient when you know your own shape and know that you can find it again. You are resilient when you have the courage to learn and make mistakes and find your shape again after the worst thing that could happen happens. Resilience means finding your own shape, and staying in shape, in body, mind, and spirit. So that you can create your own path.

The poet Mark Strand reminds us about resilience in winter:

you will go on
walking, hearing 
the same tune no matter where 
you find yourself— 
inside the dome of dark 
or under the cracking white 
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.

So I ask you once again: How long will you dwell in distraction, focused on what you are not, instead of getting on with the glorious business of being who you are? You have dreamt of Middlebury, and now you are here. You have arrived bringing us light and laughter. And we will help you follow the tune your bones play. We will help you to become wise. We will help you go on walking, no matter where you find yourself—

inside the dome of dark 
or under the cracking white 
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.

Now go, and get on with the glorious business of being who you are.