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Saturday, Jun 25, 2022

Students to staff: Alumni employees reflect on time at Middlebury

While Middlebury students often scatter across the globe after graduation, some chose to remain in Vermont and work for the college or return many years later to their alma mater. According to Maggie Paine, director of advancement at the college, 7% of college faculty and staff are alumni. The Campus wanted to know how those alumni who have remained at the college see their time as MiddKids in relation to their current roles at the college, and how the campus has changed since their time as students. 

Devin McGrath-Conwell ’18.5 currently serves as the digital media coordinator for Projects for Peace and as the digital marketing specialist in advancement. An English and Film double major, he currently works on social media outreach and storytelling. McGrath-Conwelle said that the work he did for The Campus as a student has also had an impact on his current roles.

Miguel Fernández ’85, the outgoing chief diversity officer and current Professor of Luso-Hispanic Studies was a Spanish major with a minor in Geology. He ties the two together in his current research, which focuses on telling the stories of people involved in 19th century shipwrecks in Mexico.

Head Coach of Track and Field team Martin Beatty ’84, was also a Midldebury student. Beatty majored in History of Art and Architecture and found that the training he received in his major has helped him in coaching form and technique in track and field. 

Ken Pohlman, who spent two years at Middlebury before graduating from NYU in ’78 and currently serves as the Museum Designer. Pohlman graduated from NYU as a Film Production major, having left Middlebury because it did not offer that major. He told The Campus that he uses skills learned in his major and through student work at Wright Theater every day in his current position. 

Pohlman noted a major difference between the Middlebury of 1974 and the Middlebury of today.

“Midd was only $4,200 when I attended in the fall of 1974. I worked summers in a paper factory in Chester, Pennsylvania, where I could earn half of my comprehensive fee in a summer,” Pohlman said.

Pohlman, Fernández and Beatty all noted the physical improvements to campus since their time as students. 

“The nucleus of the campus is the same, but much has been renovated and added, such as Mahaney, Bi-Hall, the town houses, Coffrin, Davis Family Library, the indoor track, pool, rink and squash facilities,” Beatty said. “McCullough did not have the Grille or Midd Xpress. It was the pool and squash courts.” 

Fernández also emphasized the change in the composition of the student body. 

“I could tell you that when we were here in the eighties, us students of color and international students together made up less than 6% of the student body,” Fernández said. “And this year, the incoming class, about 30% students of color. And about 14% international students.”

He also noted that, at the time, only about 20% of students were on financial aid, compared to approximately 50% today. 

Beyond that, Fernández also noted that many programs, specifically the arts and natural sciences, have significantly improved since his time at Middlebury.


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