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Sunday, Nov 28, 2021

College receives two $10 million gifts to fund Black Studies professorship, Johnson renovations, new museum

Middlebury received two $10 million gifts earlier this year, announced following the annual October Board of Trustees meeting. The first gift, from Ted ’83 and Kathy O’Connor Truscott ’83, will create an endowed professorship in Black Studies, an interdisciplinary program on campus, and will also fund more undergraduate and graduate financial aid. The second gift the college received was given by an anonymous donor to renovate the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building, where the college’s Architectural Studies program and Department of Studio Art are located. 

The college will use part of the Truscott gift to hire a leading scholar for the Black Studies program, which was created in 2019, to help promote research and student engagement within the new department. 

The professorship will be named in honor of Trustee Emerita Deborah Thomas ’75, a lecturer at Yale University’s Department of African American Studies.

The anonymous gift will be used, in part, to pay for substantial renovations to the Johnson Memorial Building following more than half a century of use. Associate Professor of Architecture John McLeod is heading the design team, with prospective renovations commencing next summer. 

The anonymous gift will also help fund the planning of the new college museum that will be located near Johnson and Wright Theatre, where Battell Hall currently sits. The eventual replacement of Battell Hall with the relocated college museum will form an arts quadrangle with Johnson and Wright Memorial Theatre, while the current Battell Hall will be replaced with a new residence hall to be constructed across the beach from Forest Hall starting in one to three years. 

In the October Board of Trustees meeting, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration David Provost spoke to the Board about the residence hall and plans for a new student center, which the college plans to build where Proctor Dining Hall currently sits. It will be home to student organizations and offices ranging from Student Financial Services to Student Activities. The center will include a new dining hall that will replace Proctor. The tennis courts currently adjacent to Proctor will be moved to the athletic facilities on South Main Street.

“[The new student center] will require a major fundraising effort,” Provost said in an email to The Campus. Provost also said that the project is in the planning phase and will not begin for three to five years.


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