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Thousands descend on Middlebury for college commencement this Sunday; Krista Tippett to speak

MIDDLEBURY — Krista Tippett, host of the public radio show “On Being” and a bestselling author, will deliver the 2019 Middlebury College Commencement address this Sunday, May 26.
A National Humanities Medalist, Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster whose weekly show is carried on more than 400 public radio stations across the country. On her show, Tippett explores broad cultural and spiritual questions about what it means to be human and how we want to live. Her wide range of guests have included Desmond Tutu, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, U.S. Women’s Soccer champion Abby Wambach, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The “On Being” podcast has been downloaded more than 200 million times. Tippett is also the founder and leader of the On Being Project and the curator of the Civil Conversations Project.
Tippett is the author of the memoir “Speaking of Faith”; the bestselling “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living”; and another bestseller, “Einstein’s God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit.”
After working as a journalist and diplomat in Berlin in the 1980s, she received a Master of Divinity from Yale University in 1994.
She is also the 2019 Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford University.
“Krista Tippett is a vital public voice,” said Middlebury President Laurie Patton, “and one that offers so much wisdom, curiosity, and spiritual reflection. She boldly and willingly explores important questions about life, its meaning, and how we can be our best selves together.
“It is an honor to have Krista as our commencement speaker,” added Patton. “During a time when divisions among us can seem great, Krista has shown us all ways we can connect and converse with each other as well as the importance of listening, something she does so well. These are important messages for our seniors as they graduate and move on to their next challenges in the wider world.”
Tippett will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters at the commencement ceremony.
Middlebury also will honor four other distinguished men and women with honorary degrees this year:
Judith E. Heumann is a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and an internationally recognized civil rights leader. President Obama appointed her the first special advisor for international disability rights at the U.S. Department of State, where she served from 2010 to 2017. Heumann also worked as the director of the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia, as the World Bank’s first advisor on disability and development, and in the Clinton administration as the assistant secretary of the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. She was instrumental in developing major disability rights legislation, including a section of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Heumann is currently a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation.
David R. Mittelman ’76 was a longtime trustee of Middlebury; an alumnus; a parent of three Middlebury graduates; and a devoted supporter of the institution. He was a managing partner of Convexity Capital management in Boston and had served for 22 years as a partner, director, and senior vice president of Harvard Management Company, the firm that manages the endowment of Harvard University. He was passionate about astronomy, establishing the P. Frank Winkler Professorship in Physics at Middlebury, and providing financial support for the college’s observatory and telescope. He served two terms on the Middlebury board, and was in the fourth year of his second five-year term at the time of his death in 2017.
Jane Mayer is a bestselling author and the chief Washington correspondent for the New Yorker, where she has been a staff writer since 1995. In recent years she has written for the magazine on topics ranging from money in politics and the U.S. Predator drone program to government prosecution of whistleblowers. Mayer is the author of several books, including the bestselling Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right and The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Among her numerous awards are the George Polk Prize, the John Chancellor Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Toner Prize for political reporting, and the Frances Perkins Prize for Courage.
Donald W. Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation, is a respected Vermont Abenaki leader who has been instrumental in raising awareness of the rich heritage of the Abenaki and other native nations. He was the guiding force in the effort to gain legal recognition for the Abenaki people by the state of Vermont and in securing tribal lands for the Nulhegan Band. Stevens is a member of many Vermont state boards and has also served two terms—the second as chair—on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. A U.S. Army veteran, he also has more than 27 years of experience developing information technology, logistics, and manufacturing strategies for multimillion-dollar companies.
Another award will be granted on Sunday. On May 15, Patton announced the creation of Middlebury’s Global Citizen’s Award, which will be presented for the first time at the college’s 2019 Commencement. The inaugural recipient of the award will be Adul Samon, one of 12 boys who, along with their soccer coach, were rescued from a Thai cave last year.
The commencement ceremony will take place on the main quadrangle at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 26. More than 5,000 family members and friends are expected to attend.

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