Middlebury College pulls together disparate units under unified banner

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College got a new look last week.
The 215-year-old institution unveiled a new “brand identity” that plays up the iconic marble and limestone buildings while better integrating its increasingly diverse programs under the Middlebury name.
“Middlebury has, over the last 100 years, built itself into a more complex institution that meets the educational needs of many types of students around the world,” the school said in a statement.
Officials noted that the school educates as many graduates and summer students as its roughly 2,500 undergraduates.
President Ron Liebowitz, in his final months at the institution before stepping down in June, said the new branding effort helps the public better understand that Middlebury isn’t just an undergraduate liberal arts college in rural Vermont.
“The need for this was impossible to ignore,” Liebowitz said in a statement. “Our most recent re-accreditation report noted that few people understood all that Middlebury had become and that the identities of our programs blended together, which created unnecessary confusion.”
College Vice President for Communications and Marketing Bill Burger echoed Liebowitz’s belief that rebranding was a necessary step for the college.
“We felt strongly it was important to do this,” Burger said.
The college decided to add “Middlebury” to the official name of each of the college’s programs: the Middlebury Language Schools, the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the Middlebury School of the Environment.
Each program, except for Monterey, is accompanied by a new shield logo that features a stylized image of the steeple of the campus’ Old Chapel set against the Green Mountains. There is also an open book representing academics, a globe for Middlebury’s global perspective and “1800” — the year the college was founded.
The Monterey shield features the same color and typography but replaces Old Chapel with a silhouette of the Segal Building, a historic structure on the Monterey campus that boasts classic Spanish colonial architecture, and replaces 1800 with 1955, the founding year of the that institution.
The shields do not replace the college’s circular seal, first used in 1806.
College officials stressed that the new naming and shield system does not reduce the autonomy of the independent programs, such as the Bread Loaf program. But instead, the new system encourages the community to understand that Middlebury encompasses more than they might know, and to share the accomplishments of one facet of Middlebury more obviously among all of the institution’s components.
Burger said the college consulted more than 400 students, alumni, faculty and staff throughout the process.
“We involved as many people as we could, both here and in Monterey,” he said.
Middlebury’s communications and marketing staff oversaw the project and consulted with Neustadt Creative Marketing, a Baltimore design firm.
The rebranding announcement comes during a period of transition for the college. A little over a year ago, Middlebury announced a new governance structure, and that went into effect this past July.
In November, the Middlebury Board of Trustees selected Laurie Patton, a dean at Duke University, as the next president of the college.
Burger said the timing of the rebranding announcement shortly after the election of Patton was coincidental.
“This project was undergone long before Ron (Liebowitz) announced his intention to step down,” Burger said, adding that Patton familiarized herself with the rebranding effort and is supportive of it.

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