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President Laurie Patton to leave Middlebury College

Middlebury College President Laurie Patton

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College President Laurie L. Patton has announced she will be leaving Middlebury this coming January to become president of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Patton took office on July 1, 2015, and has served as the institution’s 17th president, and is the first woman to hold the position since Middlebury’s founding in 1800.

In a letter released today, Patton said, “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. 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 the world.”

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences was created in 1780 by John Adams and John Hancock, among others, to “convene leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world … and cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Its current membership includes Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners and former U.S. presidents.

The college trustees will set a timetable for picking Patton’s successor, decide who is going to be on the search committee and plan the logistics for the transition.

“The most important responsibility of any governing board is to select the right person to lead the institution,” Middlebury Board Chair Ted Truscott said in a letter to the Middlebury community. “The search will be an accelerated one and focus on both the continuity of Middlebury values and preeminent qualities of leadership.” He emphasized that the effort will be inclusive and involve stakeholders from across the institution.

He congratulated Patton on her new job.

“This is an extraordinary honor for Laurie — and for Middlebury,” Triscott said.

Patton will leave behind a global educational institution comprising undergraduate and graduate schools and programs in Vermont, California and dozens of locations around the world. Patton oversees Middlebury College, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Middlebury Language Schools, Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, and Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences.

Middlebury prides itself on preparing students to lead “engaged, consequential, and creative lives; contribute to their communities; and address the world’s most challenging problems through an immersive curriculum that stresses working across intellectual, geographical, and cultural borders.”

In her time leading Middlebury, Patton has eloquently and forcefully communicated that message.

She said that her professional life will change, but she and her husband, Shalom Goldman, will be active locally.

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

“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.”

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