Rising above the flood
I started to write about the state of the college at the end of the summer. I intended to tell you about the exciting new faculty members and students, the beautiful landscaping on campus, and our energy conservation efforts. But in the wake of the August 28 deluge that turned Vermont’s rivers and brooks into torrents that tore away roads, bridges, houses, trees and power lines, I simply want to say: we are here, we are open, we are a stronger community than ever.
Vermont communities were hard hit by the tropical storm, as more than nine inches of rain fell in less than 12 hours. Marlboro College came through relatively unscathed, but the storm hit exactly the day before returning students were due to arrive. For three days, the college was completely cut off from the rest of the area—all roads were closed. A stalwart team of faculty, staff and student leaders stayed on campus and engaged our new students, who had arrived safely back from their Bridges orientation trips when the storm struck.
Later that same week, after some roads were just passable and the rest of the community could return, I saw faculty and students sitting together on the new stone walls after lunch, discussing which classes to take. We welcomed author Howard Frank Mosher, who gave a talk on Stranger in the Kingdom, our community “common read” for the year. World Studies Program alumnus Koli Shtylla ’01 rearranged his travel from Washington, D.C., to speak at Convocation—the formal ceremony that begins each year—which had to be postponed a week.
I want you all to know about these events because they say so much about the resiliency, dedication, and determination of the people who comprise Marlboro College. I received many caring messages from friends, alumni and trustees. Vanessa Dillman Green ’98 wrote: “Words that come to mind: intrepid, tenacious, creative. To show new students that, from the start, the community can pull together to rise to any occasion will serve them well….”
The class of 2015 has had a memorable start of their years here. I expect them to find faculty mentors within the next few weeks; to make the best friends they’ll ever have; to enjoy the beauty and sanctuary of our college and its surroundings; to experience a real intellectual, creative and caring community.
All of us are enjoying the new pathways in front of Mather, the admissions building and the dining hall, which you will learn more about in this issue of The Marlboro Record. Our new five-year capital plan envisions other improvements that make us function better and more sustainably, while keeping to our credo of “beauty in simplicity.” The economic uncertainty of recent years continues to affect the college’s enrollment, but our endowment stays strong and, with thanks to many of you, we met our annual fund goal last year.
Marlboro College is strong in so many ways. We found that out during the storm and its aftermath. Now we will see evidence of how “intrepid, tenacious, creative” we are as we start the academic year.