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Robison, Olin (President, faculty), July 9, 1986

Identifier: MOH49

Scope and Contents

1 interview with Middlebury College President Olin Clyde Robison by David Stameshkin.

Increase term trustees, decrease amount of alum trustees from 8 to 6, results in reduced number of charter trustees- result is a regenerated Board - accelerate turnover-it is politically sensitive (01:52); pleased with annual giving, $75-$76,000 in 1986, in 1975 it was $40,000 (02:47); next year number will increase- due to aging of alumni (04:50); comparing Middlebury students to Amherst, Dartmouth, schools to south (06:15); positive feelings at Middlebury by alumni (07:20); more likelihood of alums to contribute to Middlebury as they attend alumni events (08:10); Middlebury tradition of extreme gentility (09:45); psychology of giving (12:20); setting specific financial goal for fundraising is difficult approach (13:15); possible to be too successful, example is $60 million goal(14:20); perception of the institution is important (16:00); Prairie Home Companion, Lessons & Carols, Emerson Quartet (20:02); future direction of college (20:39) increased enrollment opposed to quality students (25:08); view of moving forward (27:30); currently a different structure in curriculum (28:33); seeks to be decisive-feels academic institutions are uncomfortable making decisions (30:00); public face of College very important (31:50); Legacy from 1960s was democratic decisions will all participants - 1975-76 decision to vote out requirements, right thing to do (33:17); Middlebury publicity in late 1960s (32:35); doing away with requirements, a step in liberal learning concept served Middlebury well (37:24); raised tuition by $1500 in 1976, normal rate was $500- also raised College image-1900 students enrolled, $1,900 million each year (40:54); raised tuition had instant effect on competition, admissions went up-changing College image, most important thing Robison did (43:21); in 1975 Midd was perceived as a very good New England college, in 1986 it was perceived as a first class national college- 1976-77 increased staffing raised College visibility (45:10) deliberate decision to recruit from Europe and Mediterranean, some Asian students to alter student roster (47:02); Money made difference in student population-Bob Donahue said 30% students with financial aid, compared to 18% when Robison began at College (50:08); Jim Armstrong dealt with conservative Board of Trustees-today it is more diverse, stronger (52:55); College transition from older, conservative style to new changes-Armstrong wanted change-Robison put limit on Trustee board to 15-years-some members became emeritus trustees- Robison proposed Board overseers, became a popular position (56:22).


  • July 9, 1986


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restriction.

Biographical / Historical

Olin Clyde Robison (1936-2018) was the 13th President of Middlebury College, serving from 1975 to 1990, after which he returned to the College as a professor, teaching seminars for first-year students and seniors until 2015. Robison received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Middlebury College in 2000.


From the Collection: 147+ Objects

Physical Location


Physical Description

1 audio cassette


Assigned identifier: a13af19860709-02

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States