It was a Saturday, rather than the traditional Sunday before Memorial Day.
Attendees maintained social distance.
Nearly 500 members of the Class of 2021 and 2020.5 assembled in six pods spread across campus, while the platform party convened in Robison Hall in the Mahaney Arts Center (MAC).
Opening ceremonies were broadcast to screens set up at each site, where viewers observed the following:
- Designated student speaker Nate Gunesch masterfully pull off the difficult task of addressing his peers—through the eye of a broadcast camera, rather than with them assembled before him.
- Singer/songwriter, Tony Award-winner, and new honorary degree holder Anaïs Mitchell ’04 deliver a delightful Commencement address (and perform a new piece).
- Chief Health Officer Mark Peluso receive the inaugural Middlebury Medal for his inspiring and tireless work at the institution throughout the pandemic.
- A trio of Vermont luminaries joining Mitchell not in song but in receiving honorary degrees, with diplomas presented to John Derick, a civic leader in Middlebury; Mark Levine, the state’s commissioner of health; and Curtiss Reed Jr., a civil rights leader and executive director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity.
Then back to the six pods, where graduates were organized by major. Degrees were conferred with pomp and more than a little bit of unusual circumstances.