Category Archives: Upper School

Commencement Speaker McCardell Leads the University of the South

Bonnie and John McCardell

John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, and the vice-chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, will be the speaker at the 176th Commencement of the Williston Northampton School.

In 2015, McCardell was appointed chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU board members set the association agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration.

McCardell is a distinguished historian and respected national leader in liberal arts education. He possesses a record of achievement as a scholar of the American South, as the chief executive of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges, and as a respected national figure in the public discussion about higher education and student life.

A prolific writer, McCardell is the author of The Idea of a Southern Nation, developed from his Ph.D. dissertation, as well as many essays, chapters, articles, and book reviews. His specialty is U.S. history in the 19th century with special emphasis on the Old South and on American historiography.

A Maryland native, lifelong Episcopalian, and 1971 graduate of Washington and Lee University, he did his graduate work at The Johns Hopkins University and then at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in history in 1976. McCardell has received honorary degrees from Washington and Lee University and from St. Michael’s College.

McCardell joined the history faculty at Middlebury in 1976 and served as Middlebury’s president from 1992 until he stepped down in 2004.

McCardell served as chairman of the Division III Presidents’ Council of the NCAA in 2003-04 and led a successful, comprehensive reform effort. McCardell founded Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage the public in informed and dispassionate debate about the effects of legislation mandating a legal drinking age of 21. In 2008 he co-sponsored the Amethyst Initiative, a statement signed by 135 college and university presidents that challenges the effectiveness of current drinking-age laws.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa and has been honored with grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Southern Studies.

McCardell is married to Bonnie Greenwald McCardell, an advocate for quality childcare and education as well as eldercare and retirement communities. Bonnie is a graduate of Connecticut College and has a master’s degree in early childhood from the University of South Carolina. They have two grown sons.

Student Life Speaker Sheds Light on Teenage Brain

Dr. Abigail Judge addresses students at a recent Student Life assembly.

Teens need to know the difference between “hot” and “cold” cognition, and how making decisions in each of these emotional states can bring vastly different outcomes. Student Life Speaker Abigail Judge, a Cambridge therapist who also teaches at Harvard Medical School and conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital, connected with her teenage audience using humor and self-deprecation during a recent assembly. Her message: know your brain.

“Hot” cognition occurs when emotions are high, when someone is upset, angry, or sad. Teens in this state should notice their feelings (a tight stomach, sweaty hands, a feeling of anguish, for example) and put their phone down. This is not the time to send a text or reply to a provoking phone call. In the cold light of day, Judge said, we all make better judgment calls on how to interact with people. Continue reading

Spirited Message of Inclusion, Belonging Kicks off Why Not Speak? Day

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Photo by Joanna Chattman

Guest Post By Matt Liebowitz

Set aside the descriptors—gay, black, southern, Christian, preacher—and Reverend Erik Taylor Doctor’s message is one of simple and pure inclusion: we are all different, but we all share common bonds.

However, those undeniable identifiers of his character are exactly what brought the Williston community together during his Why Not Speak? Day February 22 assembly, and helped make his message—a sound, sweet one—resonate so strongly.

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Editor Andy Ward Closes Writers’ Workshop Series

Editor Andy Ward at the final Writers' Workshop Series presentation
Editor Andy Ward at the final Writers’ Workshop Series presentation

Paul Kalanithi, a promising young neurosurgeon, wrote a poignant opinion piece in the New York Times in 2014 about receiving a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. The article struck a chord with readers and was one of the most viewed and shared that year. Fielding multiple offers from publishers, Kalathini sought advice from Andy Ward, a book editor friend-of-a-friend. Ward told Kalanithi to get a literary agent, and to send a book proposal. A year later, the proposal arrived. Those 20,000 words, roughly 80 pages, Ward said, were “the best I’ve received in all my time in publishing.”

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Speaker Fort to Students: Ask Questions, Pursue Justice

20170117_Nyle-FortThis Martin Luther King Jr. Day, speaker Nyle Fort had a message for Williston Northampton School students: Don’t be taken in by the feel-good “lullaby” that usually passes for celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, which he called, “a sweet song sung by defenders of the status quo to keep us asleep.”

The third Monday in January has come to be associated with community service projects to honor the late civil rights advocate. Fort said he didn’t want to diminish the idea of service. However, he quoted Dr. King who said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

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