At Middlebury College we challenge students to participate fully in a vibrant and diverse academic community. The College's Vermont location offers an inspirational setting for learning and reflection, reinforcing our commitment to integrating environmental stewardship into both our curriculum and our practices on campus. Yet the College also reaches far beyond the Green Mountains, offering a rich array of undergraduate and graduate programs that connect our community to other places, countries, and cultures. We strive to engage students' capacity for rigorous analysis and independent thought within a wide range of disciplines and endeavors, and to cultivate the intellectual, creative, physical, ethical, and social qualities essential for leadership in a rapidly changing global community. Through the pursuit of knowledge unconstrained by national or disciplinary boundaries, students who come to Middlebury learn to engage the world.
Middlebury received its founding charter on November 1, 1800, as an outgrowth of the Addison County Grammar School, which had been founded three years earlier in 1797. The College's first presidentï¿½Jeremiah Atwaterï¿½began classes a few days later, making Middlebury the first operating college or university in Vermont. One student named Aaron Petty graduated at the first commencement held in August 1802. The College's founding religious affiliation was loosely Congregationalist. Yet the idea for a college was that of town fathers rather than clergymen, and Middlebury was clearly "the Town's College" rather than the Church's. Chief among its founders were Seth Storrs and Gamaliel Painter, the former credited with the idea for a collegeand the latter as its greatest early benefactor. In addition to receiving a diploma upon graduation, Middlebury graduates also receive a replica of Gamaliel Painter's cane. Painter bequeathed his original cane to the College and it is carried by the College President at official occasions including first-year convocation and graduation. Alexander Twilight, class of 1823, was the first black graduate of any college or university in the United States; he also became the first African American elected to public office, joining the Vermont House of Representatives in 1836. At its second commencement in 1804, Middlebury granted Lemuel Haynes an honorary master's degree, the first advanced degree ever bestowed upon an African American. In 1883, the trustees voted to accept women as students in the college, making Middlebury one of the first formerly all-male liberal arts colleges in New England to become a coeducational institution. The first female graduateï¿½May Belle Chellisï¿½received her degree in 1886. As valedictorian of the class of 1899, Mary Annette Anderson became the first African American woman elected to Phi Beta Kappa. The Collegeï¿½s centennial in 1900 began a century of physical expansion beyond the three buildings of Old Stone Row. York and Sawyer designed the Egbert Starr Library (1900), a Beaux-Arts edifice later expanded and renamed the Axinn Center, and Warner Hall (1901). Growth in enrollment and the endowment led to continued expansion westward. McCullough Hall (1912) and Voter Hall (1913) featured gymnasium and laboratories, respectively, adopting Georgian Revival styling while confirming the campus standard of grey Vermont limestone, granite, and marble. The national fraternity Kappa Delta Rho was founded in Painter Hall on May 17, 1905. Middlebury College abolished fraternities in the early 1990s, but the organization continued on campus in the less ritualized form of a social house. Due to a policy at the school against single-sex organizations, the house was forced to coeducate during the same period as well. The German Language School, founded in 1915 under the supervision of then-President John Martin Thomas, began the tradition of the Middlebury College Language Schools. These Schools, which take place on the Middlebury campus during the summer, enroll about 1,350 students in the Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish Language Schools. Middlebury President Paul Dwight Moody began the American tradition of a National Christmas Tree in 1923 when the College donated a 48-foot balsam fir for use at the White House. The tree was illuminated when Calvin Coolidge, a Vermont-native in the first year of his presidency, flipped an electric switch. The Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury's graduate school of English, was established at the College's Bread Loaf Mountain campus in 1920. The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference was established in 1926. In 1978, the Bread Loaf School of English expanded to include a campus at Lincoln College, Oxford University. In 1991, the School expanded to include a campus at St. John's College in New Mexico, and to the University of North Carolina, Asheville, in 2006.