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Letter from Laurie Patton on her departure

Editor’s note: The following is the letter the Middlebury College President Laurie Patton sent to the college community on Thursday, May 2. Patton announced she would leave the college next January.

Dear Members of the Middlebury Community,

I know there are many important conversations taking place on our campus right now, and we remain focused on the critical issues facing us here and in the world. We are hopeful and connected in our work together.

At the same time, I need to share news that has been developing over the past several months and that is now official. I write today to tell you that in January 2025, I’ll be leaving Middlebury to become president of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. This has been a difficult deliberation for me. Middlebury is a community I love and admire, and it has become home. Even more, it has taught me a great deal about the work of our democracy and the common good. In the end, it seemed right for me to continue that work at a national level with the scholars, artists, writers, lawmakers, and businesspeople who are thought leaders in the Academy and in the world.

By this January, we will have worked together for almost ten years. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished on behalf of this institution, one of the most extraordinary in America.

Thanks to our collective efforts, Middlebury is thriving. We have faced challenges we never dreamed of with courage and hope. We’ve overcome everyday obstacles with patience and care for one another. Our faculty has grown, and our curriculum has increased in its offerings. Our students, faculty, and staff are more socio-economically and ethnically diverse than ever before. We’ve seen record numbers of applicants as well as record numbers in fundraising. We have a new academic swing building on Shannon Street and a significant renovation and reimagining of the Johnson Building, a new residence hall for graduate students in Monterey, and a first-year residence hall taking shape on Battell Beach, with more of our buildings accessible according to principles of universal design. Our athletic and artistic communities are flourishing. And we’re one of the top environmental leaders in higher education in the country. We’re also building new traditions—at the Knoll, our Language Schools, our Schools Abroad, at Bread Loaf, and in our programs in Monterey.

Still, what I appreciate most are the less visible and deeper moments: The second when a student understands something in a classroom or lab that changes their life. The alums who return, proud to see a campus whose beauty they recognize but which has also adapted to a new century. Our growing capacity to work and live across ideological, intellectual, and personal differences, providing an example for others of the slow, necessary work of building community.

I have no words to describe my gratitude for and joy about Middlebury, and who we have become together in the world.

While I’ll be leaving the presidency of Middlebury, we’ll remain in the Middlebury and Addison County community at our house in Shoreham. Shalom will retire in 2025 and will teach at Bread Loaf, and I’ll commute to the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Over the next eight months, I look forward to working with you and the board to solidify our accomplishments and make it possible for others to continue them in their own way. We are indeed growing into what I hoped for at my inauguration: To have more and better arguments, with greater respect, stronger resilience, and deeper wisdom.

Yours cordially,

Laurie L. Patton, President

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