Faculty Pass Symbolic Rejection of K-12, Inc.

By Kyle Finck

On Tuesday, May 13, the faculty voted overwhelmingly to cut ties with K12, Inc., the corporation with which the College partnered to create Middlebury Interactive Languages (MIL). The 95 to 16 vote — with three abstentions — was only symbolic, but sent a strong message to President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz and the Board of Trustees.

“The faculty has done what it can,” wrote French Professor Paula Schwartz, who introduced the motion. “The rest is up to the Board of Trustees.”

The Campus first reported on the impending vote on May 7. Despite the vote, Liebowitz found a silver lining.

“The faculty of the College have raised important questions about our corporate partners. The Board of Trustees, of which I am part, is engaging this issue on a number of levels.  I was pleased that faculty colleagues made clear that its non-binding, sense-of-the-faculty vote was not a referendum on MIL itself: MIL continues to provide language education to thousands of pre-college students who otherwise would not have that opportunity, and provides us with a greater understanding of the challenges and great potential of hybrid (bricks and mortar plus online) teaching and learning, which are important goals of the venture,” he said.

“I understood the vote to be an almost unanimous affirmation of our common values as a liberal arts college and intellectual community, and an insistence that those who would partner with us, whether from the profit- or non-profit worlds, share those values,” wrote Economics Professor Peter Matthews in an email.

The renewed scrutiny on MIL will no doubt be added to the list of important issues already on the docket for next fall, including revising the AAL distribution requirements and the search for a new President of the College.

Additional reporting by CLAIRE ABBADI