Middlebury reaches out West

Middlebury reaches out WestIt's taken for granted now that the commercial marketplace is global, but increasingly Vermont colleges have been expanding their horizons in a similar way. Many examples could be given, but one of the most dramatic recent developments has been the way Middlebury College seems about to extend its reach by affiliating with the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

From its headquarters in the town for which it is named, about 200 miles south of San Francisco, 50-year-old MIIS extends a variety of international connections that could mesh well with Middlebury's. The former graduated a class of 300 students this spring who represented 37 homelands; 205-year-old Middlebury, which sent about twice that number of graduates into the world, has undergraduates from more than 80 countries. Middlebury has made international studies a major goal, along with languages, writing and literary studies, and environmental studies; and its international students are eligible for financial aid, something not true at many undergraduate schools.

Though Middlebury does not call itself a university, it does award about 250 graduate degrees each year. Nine summer Language. Schools (Arabic, Chinese, French, Germany, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish) occupy the main campus in the summer, bringing in about 1,300 students a year. About 500 more study at the Ripton campus of the Bread Loaf School of English, which also has teaching sites in Alaska, New Mexico, and England (Oxford).

Then there are the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad. In a kind of precedent for the arrangement with the Monterey Institute, Middlebury in 2002 expanded beyond its original locations in China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain by linking with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. That added seven sites in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico; and beyond that, individual students can work with SUNY-Plattsburgh to access six more schools in lower South America through that school's Southern Cone program.

At about the same time, Monterey began looking for a partner due to ongoing financial problems. Initially the California University system looked like the logical affiliate, and M.R.C. Greenwood, the Chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, announced that talks were in progress. But those discussions ended in November of 2004 with the onset of a major California state governmental fiscal crisis, and in the same month talks began with Middlebury.

Negotiations over the final terms of affiliation will continue, with December 23, 2005 set as a completion date for the arrangement. But on June 24, the trustees of the two institutions jointly announced their mutual approval of "a letter of intent to make Monterey an affiliate of Middlebury," as their press release put it, and already some key details of the deal have been revealed.

Monterey will be governed by a five-person board of trustees, all appointed by Middlebury College. "The Monterey Institute's board will have general oversight of MIIS, but Middlebury approval will be required for the appointment or removal of the president, adoption of budgets, sale or acquisition of assets, and commencement or termination of academic programs," said a frequently asked questions press release.

"Middlebury anticipates making financial resources available to the institute in the form of gifts received specifically for this affiliation and, if needed, secured loans," said the same statement. This would not be a simple transfer of funds: "Middlebury expects to make financial resources available to MIIS to improve facilities and technology resources and to promote admissions and fund-raising activities."

"The timing and amount of investments have not been determined, but Middlebury anticipates supporting the institute over the next four years through fund raising and secured loans," the statement said. "After an initial investment, it is expected that MIIS will be selfsufficient."

Assuming that the financial and logistical details can be worked out, it is clear from the current programs operated by MIIS that considerable opportunities exist for synchronization and, expansion. Most obviously, MIIS has its own summer Intensive Language Program, for the study of Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. But beyond that, there is a Custom Language Services program for non-traditional students, which can be offered on-site. This provides 180 hours of individualized instruction in any of 25 languages, with others possible on request.

There is an "academic" component to MIIS, in their research centers: the Center for International Trade Strategy, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for Language in Education and Work and the International Interpretation Resource Center. But mainly, the school is about making real international connections, languages being a vital means to that end.

There are courses in such subjects as the European Community, international marketing (in English, French, German or Spanish), the Japanese economy; and "Business Climate in China" and "Chinese Business Practices" (in Mandarin or English). "The institute is the only school in the Western Hemisphere offering graduate degrees in conference interpretation and in translation and interpretation between English-Chinese, English-Japanese and English-Korean."

The MIIS advanced degrees opportunities include a Graduate School of International Policy Studies, and the Fisher Graduate School of International Business. A few entering students can qualify for an advanced-entry BA program that enables selected students to complete a BA and MA in a total of three years.

Among the school's boasts are that its faculty members interpreted for First Lady Hillary Clinton during a recent international summit conference in Miami, "the institute was contracted to send interpreters to the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles," and that "the United Nations, the Department of State and European Union attend Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation exams every spring to recruit graduates to meet their need for superior professionals."

But it is possible that Middlebury was equally attracted by Monterey's goal of creating a truly international climate on campus, which can expand global connections in ways not strictly accountable by reference to particular programs. The MIIS students are said to bring a great deal to the table themselves, whether from previous language studies or citizenship in more than 50 other countries. "Additionally, nearly all the Americans enrolled at the institute have lived, worked or studied abroad, in such programs as the Peace Corps, AFS Intercultural Programs, Rotary International and Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. The faculty is multinational with a wide range of international experience and expertise. The student to residential faculty ratio is a low 10:1."

"Middlebury and Monterey are two premier institutions that take seriously deep cultural understanding and linguistic proficiency as the foundation for international studies, policymaking, and public service," said Yu. "I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, and alumni of the Monterey Institute and with the Monterey community to further our common mission."