Letter: Katy Smith Abbott’s Deanship


Re: “Before Leaving Administration, Katy Smith Abbott Looks Back” (Dec. 7, print)

Thank you for interviewing and highlighting the tremendous dean Katy Smith Abbott. Reading the interview was a very bittersweet experience for me. On the one hand, I am happy that dean Smith Abbott will be able to spend more time in the classroom and in closer contact with students. On the other, I am saddened that future students will no longer directly benefit from her wisdom, kindness and patience in the policy realm.

I had the honor and the privilege of working with dean Smith Abbott during the 2011–2012 academic year. At the time, she was a relatively new dean of students and I was a recently elected SGA president. As the SGA’s advisor, dean Smith Abbott and I would have weekly meetings, which I quickly came to look forward to. Each time we met, I was struck by her tenacity and her willingness to really understand the student perspective on issues affecting our campus. Together we tackled several large policy initiatives together, including passing the pass/fail system and securing full funding for mandatory first-year outdoor orientation trips. Without her leadership and guidance, all of these initiatives likely would have failed. 

Dean Smith Abbott has not only changed the course of Middlebury’s history, but also the lives of individual students, including my own. In this, and every other sense, dean Smith Abbott is a model educator. More importantly, she is a model member of the Middlebury community. On a personal note, I also consider dean Smith Abbott to be a true friend. I will never forget her compassion in helping me deal with the rigors of what was a very stressful year. When I was a student at Middlebury I knew I could depend upon her, to borrow her phrase, in a “fundamentally unshakeable way.” I will always be grateful to her.

Vincent Recca ’12 is from New York.