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Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

Trustees talk tuition, construction, finances for 2023-2024

A winter weekend at Middlebury was host to important decisions by the Board of Trustees. On Feb. 9 and 10, the Board increased tuition and named the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building plaza, among other discussions of finances, construction projects and language learning. 

The trustees approved a 3.54% increase for the 2024-2025 academic year, according to the college’s announcement on Feb. 26. The increase brings this past year’s $83,880 tuition price up to $86,850 for the 2024-2025 academic year. The percent increase is less than the past two years, in which the tuition increased by 4.5% each year.

The projected deficit for the fiscal year is $8.9 million, up from last year’s deficit of $8.2

million. The projection increased from its initial $8.4 million earlier this year due to a decrease in tuition revenue from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and an increase in health care claims, David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration, wrote in an email to The Campus. 

Middlebury has raised just over $440 million toward its $600 million goal for the “For Every Future:” The Campaign for Middlebury, which puts the campaign nine months ahead of schedule, Dan Courcey, vice president for advancement, wrote in an email to The Campus. The college has already broken its single-year fundraising record of $103 million by raising over $125 million within the first seven months of the current fiscal year. 

Donors can give money to specific projects embodied in the pillars of the campaign, according to Courcey. So far, it has reached 60% of its $215 million goal for access and financial aid, 69% of its $120 million goal for academic excellence and 50% of its $70.5 million goal of experiential learning. 

“Early campaign contributions come from our closest supporters and we are very grateful, but we still have quite a way to go,” he wrote. 

Courcey added that the goal is to reach $600 million by no later than June 30, 2028. 

The new first year dorm that will replace Battell is projected to finish in the summer of 2025 and be ready to use for language schools that summer, according to Provost. It is currently unnamed, and Provost did not provide a timeline for the naming process, but said that it will be decided by the Board of Trustees. 

So far, the college has reviewed 13 prospective design teams for construction of a proposed museum of fine arts where Battell Hall currently stands. The Building, Grounds and Lands Committee will make a recommendation for design services to the full board in May. 

“We expect the museum to begin the following summer as we need to decommission Battell Hall before we can begin construction of the new museum and we need to raise the money to pay for it,” Provost wrote.  

The Board also authorized the use of a $5 million unrestricted gift toward the construction of an expanded community childcare center that will double the number of spaces that Otter Creek and the College Street Children’s center currently provide for children. The college created the Middlebury Early Care and Education Consortium in 2000, and helped start Otter Creek in 1984 and the College Street Children’s Center in 2001. 

Trustees voted to name the Outdoor Plaza at the Johnson Memorial Building after Julie Johnson Kidd ’67, daughter of Christian A. Johnson, the namesake of the building. Kidd was a trustee from 1974 until 1982, when she resigned due to “disenchantment with the college,” according to an article written in The Campus at the time. 

She is the president of the Endeavor Foundation (formerly the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation), a nonprofit organization that contributes primarily to education projects. In 2003, the college awarded her a Doctor of Humane Letters

Kidd gave the foundation a grant recommendation of $10 million to renovate the Johnson Memorial Building. Middlebury announced the funding in 2021 as anonymous, but Kidd has since allowed Middlebury to credit the generosity as a way of inspiring other donors to the college, Courcey told The Campus. 

“Naming the new outdoor plaza in honor of Julie Johnson Kidd ’67 recognizes not only her generosity of financial support but acknowledges the legacy of the Johnson and Kidd families at Middlebury,” Courcey wrote. He added that Kidd’s family, including her husband Wilmot, have joined her in their continued involvement with Middlebury.

Kidd received a personal tour of the Johnson Memorial Building by renovation architect and professor John McLeod on her October 2023 visit, and also spoke to students in architecture studies and studio art classes in session at the time, according to Courcey. 

“Mrs. Kidd followed the renovation plans very closely and is pleased with the results of the building’s improvements,” Courcey wrote. 

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At the Board of Trustees meeting, President Laurie Patton, Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Michelle McCauley, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs for MIIS Stephen Snyder gave a presentation that showed that language enrollment nationally peaked in 2009, followed by a 29.3% decline through 2021. 

“We wanted to outline for trustees the ways in which language learning is being threatened nationally, and the ways in which Middlebury maintains its strengths in language learning, and at the same time experiences some (not all) of those same challenges,” McCauley wrote in an email to The Campus. 

Middlebury has enrolled around 3,914 students in immersive language learning each year, and more than 500 students pursue a degree in a language. Middlebury Language Schools enrollments have been at record highs in the past five years, according to the announcement. 

Snyder cited the incorporation of online language learning, coupled with curriculum innovation at MIIS similar to the language schools as some of the ways Middlebury has maintained its position as a language studies leader. 

They also discussed opportunities to further develop Middlebury’s language instruction, including rising interest in language studies in Europe and Asia, interest from other institutions to create pathways for their students to study at the Language Schools and increased interest in in-person and synchronous online instruction.

Katie Futterman

Katie Futterman '24 (she/her) is a Managing Editor.

Katie previously served as a News Editor and Staff Writer. This past summer, she was a news intern at Seven Days, and she held the same position at the Addison Independent the prior summer. In her free time, she loves to read, write, and bask in the sun.