College language schools returning to Vermont

MIDDLEBURY — After a decade operating some of its summer Language Schools at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., Middlebury College on Wednesday announced that it will consolidate all 11 of its schools in Vermont beginning with the 2020 summer session.
The change was made possible by a new agreement between Middlebury and Bennington College, which will host several of the Middlebury Language Schools starting next year. Middlebury President Laurie Patton and Bennington College President Mariko Silver announced the agreement Wednesday on the Bennington campus.
“I’m delighted that Middlebury will be partnering with a neighboring school with such dynamic and thoughtful leadership,” Patton said. “Our new agreement allows for operational collaboration between two institutions that share values and goals, as well as proximity.”
“The necessity of language education, of cultural proficiency, and of bridge-building across borders is more urgent today than ever,” Silver said. “This arrangement is a mutually beneficial opportunity for Middlebury Language Schools to serve their students and for Bennington to welcome more people to our campus and to the region during the summer.”
Middlebury’s Language Schools educate about 1,500 students each summer. Middlebury expanded its operations to Mills College in 2009 to accommodate a growing population of students, and in recent years about 300 students each summer have studied Arabic, Italian, or Korean at Mills. Middlebury has not determined which languages will be taught at the Bennington campus the first summer. The college’s home campus in Middlebury will continue to host most of the schools, which also include French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.
Dean of the Middlebury Language Schools Steve Snyder said that the schools had identified some new goals during a recent strategic planning process that resulted in the search for a new partner. The objectives — including curricular innovation, faculty professional development, research in language and culture pedagogy, and digital learning — all require additional time for the Language Schools directors and faculty to meet outside of the summer session.
“We are creating an academy for language and culture teaching before the start of the session, a plan that requires having all of the faculty in one place,” said Snyder. “Our relationship with Mills College has been close and productive, but in light of our emerging goals, we felt we needed two campuses in much closer proximity. There was agreement in our discussions with Mills that ending the relationship would be mutually beneficial.”
Snyder added that there will be other benefits to a second location that is just two hours from Middlebury. They include cost-saving measures, such as one summer graduation ceremony instead of two — one on each coast — and opportunities for the Language Schools students at Bennington to attend events at Middlebury.
“We’re excited about the possibilities that this new relationship with Bennington presents,” said Snyder. “As we think about future initiatives, the presence of this proximate campus allows Middlebury to be increasingly creative in our offerings.”

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