Jim Douglas skips Middlebury College 50th reunion over cancel culture

Republished from The College Fix

James Douglas is one of the most prestigious graduates of Middlebury College in the Vermont-based institution’s 222-year history.

Douglas graduated from Middlebury in 1972. A Republican, he was elected Vermont’s governor in 2002 and served four two-year terms. Prior to that, he served for 12 years as the Green Mountain State’s secretary of state, as well as eight years as its treasurer.

If Middlebury ever bragged on Douglas in the past, it may not have that right anymore: Douglas is sort of disowning his alma mater. His May 19 op-ed for the New York Sun is headlined: “Why I’m Skipping My 50th Reunion at Middlebury College.”

In it, Douglas takes issue with Middlebury’s decision to shun another of the state’s former governors, John Mead, also an alumnus of the college, for its abrupt September 2021 decision to remove Mead’s name from its chapel:

It had been Mead Memorial Chapel for more than a century, since a former Vermont governor, John Mead, donated the funds to construct it on the grounds of his — and my — alma mater. He specified its name, to which the trustees readily agreed. …

Middlebury’s denigration of Governor Mead sullies the reputation of a decent man, as well as a generous benefactor. The September 27 statement portrays him as essentially a precursor of Hitler, rather than presenting him in the context of his time. Support for eugenics was mainstream in the early 20th century, embraced by leaders in society, education and government, including, most likely, the Trustees who gratefully accepted his gift. …

John Mead not only served his state with distinction; he and a group of classmates interrupted their studies to join the Union Army. He appeared in arms at Gettysburg and subsequently returned to complete his degree. He practiced medicine for a while, but his prosperity derived from several manufacturing firms that created prosperity for many families. He was a Middlebury trustee, received an honorary degree, and gave generously to our alma mater, beyond financing the Chapel. …

Nearly everyone’s legacy is mixed. I’ll bet all of us have at some point made a remark or written a comment that, upon reflection, seems inappropriate, even offensive, and that we later regret. Is that the sole basis on which a long and distinguished career should be judged? Under the scrutiny of the Thought Police, no one’s legacy is safe. …

I’ll miss seeing my classmates and reminiscing about our college days. My regret would be greater, however, if I were to pretend that I was happy to be there, in the shadow of Mead Chapel, the scene of the College’s expunction of the Governor’s legacy.

I hope that the institution’s officials reconsider this unfortunate deed. Cancel culture is alive and well at Middlebury, so, for now, I’ll celebrate alone.

The College Fix has tracked several additional cancel culture examples at Middlebury in recent years.

In January 2021, it revoked Gov. Rudy Giuliani’s honorary degree. In 2019, administrators abruptly canceled a talk by conservative Polish philosopher and politician Ryszard Legutko several hours before he was set to give his talk. He ended up giving it in secret on campus.

And, most infamously, in 2017 a rowdy crowd of students protested political scientist Charles Murray in a demonstration that left one professor injured and sent to the ER. Professor Allison Stanger had gone to the ER with a neck injury after escorting Murray from campus surrounded by a mob of protesters.

Categories: Education

13 replies »

  1. Wow, what will the kids, oops, I mean students at Middlebury College think of a Gov. Douglas making a demand on the college…….Isn’t the throwing down of demands the exclusive domain of the students who at age 18 to 22 have all the answers?

    And it wasn’t even a demand……It was simply Gov. Douglas taking issue with the Mead decision.

  2. This is how an ethical person reasons and rejects the principles of the woke left. Bravo Governor Douglas !

  3. Hats off to Jim Douglas for doing the right thing. It’s sad that in this day and age one has to be brave to make an ethical choice but wonderful to see some brave folks still exist.

  4. I have never been a large contributor to my Alma Mater (Class of 1964), and my pittance will likely not be missed by Middlebury, but since the decision to tamper with the name of the chapel, my annual contribution has been redirected to Hillsdale College.

  5. Good on you Governor Douglas…in todays world, many in the GOP, would just roll over. When you were running for Senate, and your office was down the hall from us, when John McClaughry ran against Howard Dean, for Governor ,you asked that I come help out in your race against PL.. I had recently come back home to VT, from DC, working for 41. I told you I had committed to John and wanted him to lose with honor, and I stand by my commitments, but seeing your public stance against Middlebury I truly regret I couldn’t spare you the time, at that time. Bravo Zulu James Douglas…Vermont and America needs more like you. Keep it up.

  6. We miss you Jim; so even tempered and principled with a great sense of humor to smooth over the rough spots in negotiations. He saved our state tens of millions of dollars with his frugality and honesty and was always accessible. When necessary he wouldn’t suffer fools and it’s clear that hasn’t changed.

  7. Governor Douglas is still remembered as one of the best Governors we’ve ever had. Very sad to see Vermont falling by the wayside with legislators who only think of how much money they can make by voting certain ways. I’m looking forward to the day (soon) when politics in Vermont will be changed for the better, along with colleges which will fail that can’t meet Hillsdales standards. Take heart, that day is coming!

  8. . Good for you Governor. We definitely need more folks like you that are willing to speak up, and stand behind their convictions.

  9. I am so proud of Governor Jim Douglas. He is a model of a temperate and principled thinker.

  10. 91.09% of Middlebury students come from out of state and 9.24% come from out of the country. Tell you anything about the liberal white privileged?

  11. I took part in the demonstration in 2017. I immediately thought better and was angry and ashamed of myself. I also realized that I hadn’t actually read any of Charles Murray’s writings.

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