Governance Changes Continue Evolution of Middlebury-MIIS Ties
Twenty-five centuries ago, the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that “Change is the only constant,” an observation that may be more true today than ever before.
The Monterey Institute of International Studies affiliated with Middlebury College in 2005, and became a graduate school of Middlebury in 2010. During the same period, Middlebury has continued to expand programs such as the Schools Abroad and Language Schools. On December 12, the changing demands created by the continuing evolution of the larger Middlebury enterprise led the Middlebury Board of Trustees to approve revisions to the institution’s governance structure. These revisions, which include the replacement of the existing Monterey Institute Board of Governors will a new Board of Overseers, will become effective on July 1, 2014.
Last year Middlebury President Ronald D. Liebowitz and Board Chair Marna Whittington appointed a Governance Working Group chaired by former Middlebury Board Chair Frederick Fritz (Midd ’68), who also serves on the MIIS Board of Governors. The working group delivered a report in October that outlined a major revision of the institutions’ governance structure in its 13 recommendations. Those recommendations were then turned into a set of proposed bylaw revisions that were approved at the December 12 board meeting.
Under the new structure, the Middlebury Board will appoint three new boards of overseers—one for the undergraduate College, one for the Monterey Institute, and one for the “Schools,” which include the Middlebury Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Much like the existing Monterey Institute Board of Governors, the MIIS Board of Overseers will focus their attention on reviewing and monitoring the operations of the Institute, including academic programs, enrollment, and new initiatives. In the new structure, however, each of the three boards of overseers will function like a committee of the full Middlebury Board of Trustees, and each will be comprised of trustee overseers (current trustees), partner overseers (other individuals with a connection with the Institute), and constituent overseers (one faculty, one staff, and one student).
A majority of each board of overseers will consist of trustee overseers, and each Middlebury trustee will sit on one board of overseers, as well as one of the new Board of Trustees’ six standing committees (Prudential, Trusteeship and Governance, Strategy, Resources, Risk Management, and New Programs). The Middlebury Board will hold three regular meetings each year in October, February, and May, and each of these gatherings will include meetings of both the standing committees and of the boards of overseers for all Middlebury programs. The Monterey Institute Board of Overseers will also hold one or two separate meetings each year in Monterey.
In addition, at the December 12 meeting Liebowitz announced that he will step down as president of Middlebury on June 30, 2015. President Liebowitz said that governance issues are top of mind for college and university presidents today, and called the board’s action “a model for how overseers should look at their role” in a time of change.
“This new oversight structure will help to refocus the work of the board,” said Whittington. “The new standing committees and boards of overseers will create new linkages across the institution to encourage even greater collaboration that leverages academic innovation, technology, and the excellence of our faculty and staff.”
Added MIIS President Sunder Ramaswamy, “The new structure represents another milestone in the Monterey Institute’s evolution as a graduate school of Middlebury. While change always presents a variety of challenges, it is both invigorating and inevitable.”