McCardell to leave Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — John McCardell, Middlebury College professor and president emeritus, will leave Middlebury College after a 34-year stint at the school to accept the position of president of Sewanee: The University of the South, effective July 1.
College President Ronald D. Liebowitz shared the news with the college in an e-mail on Wednesday.
McCardell began his career at Middlebury when he joined the history department in 1976 after earning his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He became the Middlebury College’s 15th president in 1992 after serving as acting president for a year in 1991.
After stepping down from the presidency in 2004, McCardell became a leading figure in the national discussion about the legal drinking age, going on to found the nonprofit organization Choose Responsibility to engage the public in an informed debate about the effects of legislation mandating a legal drinking age of 21.
McCardell will step down as president of Choose Responsibility at the end of June, though he will continue to serve on the organization’s board.
At Sewanee, located atop the Cumberland Plateau between Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn., McCardell will become the school’s 16th president. The university is one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges and also serves as a seminary of the Episcopal Church. McCardell is a lifelong Episcopalian, and has served on the vestry and as senior warden of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Middlebury.
His ties to the Episcopal Church, as well as his academic interests in the history of the American South, added to McCardell’s enthusiasm about his new position.
“I look forward to working with the entire Sewanee community to advance what I consider one of the true gems of American higher education,” said McCardell. “The prospect of serving a unique institution whose history and traditions are so inextricably tied to the American South and to the Episcopal Church, and where the academic attainment of its faculty, students, and alumni is so distinguished, was one to which I felt particularly drawn. I can’t think of a better fit, nor a better time to seize this moment of great institutional opportunity.”
During McCardell’s 13 years as president at Middlebury, he established the Commons residential system, led a successful capital campaign, and oversaw the addition of several significant campus facilities, including the 220,000-square-foot science center, later named the John M. McCardell, Jr. Bicentennial Hall, by the board of trustees.
He also directed a comprehensive strategic planning effort and led a successful capital campaign, which exceeded its $200 million goal by almost $12 million.
“Over the course of his presidency, the college solidified its reputation as a leading liberal arts college. I know I speak for many in thanking him here for his many contributions to Middlebury College,” wrote Liebowitz in his announcement to the college community
Liebowitz also thanked McCardell’s wife, Bonnie, for her years of service to the Middlebury community, particular in the areas of childcare and education.
“While I know you will join me in congratulating John on his new position, I am also keenly aware of how much all of us — faculty, staff, students, alumni, and local residents — will miss John and Bonnie,” wrote Liebowitz. “They made Middlebury College a better place, and we wish them the best of luck as they seek to do the same at Sewanee.”
Meanwhile, officials at Sewanee are enthusiastic about McCardell’s new position at the school, which launched its search for a new president last February.
“He is an inspirational leader who will strengthen Sewanee’s historic commitment to excellence in the liberal arts and service to the Episcopal Church,” the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, chancellor of the university and chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement issued by the school. “We are delighted that he has answered this call to service.”