Laurie L. Patton, the next president of Middlebury College
We’re here at Mead Chapel, waiting for the big reveal to begin. Already, the chapel is pretty packed. Sitting next to an admissions officer who has equally no clue what’s about to happen, tensions are high. A fellow senior says it’s a woman…
Ron takes the stage. Today is a very special day, for in the entire history of middlebury college, a day like today when the Board of Trustees has announced a new president has only happened 17 times.
Ron introduces Marna Whittington, the president of the Board of Trustees. The boad UNANIMOUSLY DECIDED TO ELECT
LAURIE L. PATTON (sorry if this is spelt wrong!!)
AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE
Now the process will be described:
The committee was formed to find the 17th president 8 months ago, with members of faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and students (from Monterey and Midd). The next phase was to create a process involving the other constituencies, townspeople, parents, groups already on search committee, in a series of meetings here, in Monterey, and other US cities (20 meetings today). We were set on answering three questions 1. What did people feel were the characteristics midd distinctive? 2. What were seen as challenges facing the next president? 3. What are the core competencies that president should have?
Aided by team of higher ed search specialists from Spence Steward. The five following values were presented as key for the next president:
1. scholarly values
3. management expertise
4. commitment to diversity
5. cultural fluency
We also wanted to ensure that in rapidly changing future, that Middlebury could
Consideration process: Sitting presidents of Liberal Arts institutions, deans, foundation leaders with ties to the academy, thought leaders from private sector, non-traditional candidates, over 260 candidates were considered. Approximately 100 had qualifications, then 50 were evaluated by committee.
Eventually down to 12 candidates, that were interviewed by full committee.
Finally down to 5, who were vetted in multiple interviews with extensive background checks. The caliber of candidates was deeper and more accomplished than I could have possibly asked for. The reputation of Middlebury is higher than ever, academically and financially we are stronger than ever, and a leader in the liberal arts. This was a HUGE advantage in attracting best talent.
Four of the five were diversity candidates, however one candidate stood apart. She was intellectually curious, a recognized scholar, deeply committed to liberal arts, significant administrative experience, her interviews showed her to be culturally aligned with Middlebury values. Her questions to the committee showed deep understanding of issues we face today, and will in the future. Someone we felt was uniquely qualified.
At 10:30 the board of trustees, dean of arts and sciences at Duke University, Laurie was elected to become 17th president of Middlebury College.
Laurie will now make her first speech!!
“The past 5 months have been compelling discovery for me, discovery of institution that demonstrates the best ideals of the liberal arts.”
Her voice is so soothing!
“Please do not be shy. Please find me today and introduce yourself… The first way to get to know me is to know that I innocently came to Midd last February to give a lecture on liberal arts in the global age. I had no idea you were looking for a president at the time.”
She makes jokes!
“Let me share with you those ideas: I define a lib arts education in 21st century with three key words: innovation, adaptation and integration. Innovation: a change that creates new meaning for the stakeholders in the institution. Innovations in social networks, discoveries in new laws of nature. Adaptation: the ability to imagine ways of thinking, working, living that have never existed before. This is a major challenge: the need for the startup of youth. Students today need to respond to changing conditions faster than ever. They increasingly need to create their own ways of being in the world, so adaptation becomes crucial in a world where everyday decisions have consequences that we can predict less and less. Students teach us to imagine those new ways of thinking and working. Integration: not only ability to put things together, but to find new ways in which knowledge fits into the world. Fields of knowledge confer identity, even on us as we decide majors and think about new research. But if that process of integration does not occur, we are left with incoherent life, jumbled story to tell about life. We need to help students and each other make those connections and make that knowledge fit in to the world as we build that life.
She came to know that Middlebury exemplified those goals.
here is my list about what’s so great about Midd (the 7 Great Educational Virtues of Middlebury):
“First I noticed in many materials I read, startling phrase “Long tradition of innovation,” Midd accounts for changes it makes as well as th virtues it preserves. This is the place that’s taught activists, this is the place where adaptation and change is bold palate. 2. In mission statement Midd places environmental stewardship at center. Midd has figured out placement in sense of place and sense of mission in liberal arts. In 2014 it is now a moral obligation to be environmentally conscious. Midd teaches students that here place matters, here in this place, I become who I am meant to be. 3. Deeply struck by Middlebury’s commitment to restlessness, by this I mean more than the fact that 60% of students are ____. I mean that Midd has advisory board for each of its schools abroad. Commitment that students will always imagine themselves as travelers. 4. I have noticed the role of writing, language, translation is part of Middlebury’s reaching out to the world. Since Bread Loaf and Language schools are gems, they too could stay stagnant, but they too re-invent themselves every summer as the world pours into Middlebury and Midd pours into the world. 5. Even with these jewels in writing and language at Midd, there is a balance and commitment to all forms of knowledge at Midd. No coincidence that ECON and NEUROscience are top majors, MIdd has exactly the kind of balance we need in the 21st century, the balance underscores the value of integration of knowledge. The balance of body and mind, vibrant athletics. 6. Faculty and staff at Midd have started on journey for MIIS that has challenged and opened them. I have been amazed at the way students and faculty have engaged with this relationship (). Monterey around the world is already known as a place of translation. 7. Board of Trustees has been highly adaptive in its structural re-organization.
I want to sit and talk to students where they live and learn. I am excited to lead with our dedicated faculty, eager to engage with alumni, staff, and ensure that MIdd has the resources to pursue its extraordinary aspirations.
Here, we will become together, who we are meant to be. Thank you”