Ex-Vermont governor sues Middlebury College for changing name of its chapel based on ‘grossly distorted claim’

Ex-Vermont governor sues Middlebury College for changing name of its chapel based on ‘grossly distorted claim’

Posted For: Hauviette

By Gabriel Hays

Last week, former Vermont governor James Douglas filed a “breach of contract” lawsuit against his alma mater Middlebury College after it removed the name of another former governor from its chapel.

Douglas’ lawsuit followed Middlebury College’s decision to remove the name of former Vermont governor Dr. John Abner Mead from the school’s “Mead Memorial Chapel” in 2021.

As Douglas’ lawsuit claimed, the university justified the decision by claiming that Mead, who donated $75,000 to build the chapel in 1914, promoted “eugenics policies in the state that led to the involuntary sterilization of an estimated 250.”

The school had claimed that prior to his generous donation to the school, Mead urged the Vermont state legislature to adopt policies and make laws based on eugenics theory.

A Washington Post piece on Monday tied Mead to these “eugenics policies and practices that led to sterilizations,” in particular of “Vermonters of mixed French Canadian and Native American heritage, as well as poor, rural white people.”

The suit, filed against the school Friday, slammed this justification a “grossly distorted claim of the type that has become all too common in the current ‘cancel culture’ society in which we live.”

In addition to the lawsuit, the former lawmaker boycotted the school’s 50th Middlebury class reunion. He graduated from the school in 1972 and is one of its most renowned alums.

Douglas, a Republican who served as the 80th governor of Vermont from 2003 through 2011, filed the suit in “his court-appointed capacity as the special administrator for the estate of Dr. Mead in Rutland County,” local outlet the Brattleboro Reformer wrote.

In the 79-page document, the former governor slammed the revision of the chapel’s namesake as a move unbefitting of a liberal arts school such as Middlebury College. He stated that the school’s charge against Mead was “the type of claim that one would not expect from an internationally-renowned liberal arts college.”

He also accused the school of botching the chapel’s history in its assertion that it was named in honor of Mead himself. Douglas clarified that Mead donated the money to build the chapel in honor of his ancestors.

Douglas’ lawsuit claimed, “Ironically, Middlebury College, while erroneously recounting the history of the Mead Memorial Chapel, claiming it was dedicated to John Abner Mead instead of by him in honor of his family ancestors, has obliterated any memory of the monumental selfless acts and altruistic contributions he made to his nation, state, county, town, church.”

The suit sought for the school to restore Mead’s name to the chapel, or, if it refused, to give compensation to the Mead estate comparable to the financial benefit the school has received from Mead’s $75,000 gift in 1914.

According to Douglas, the chapel is now worth over $2 million.

Fox News Digital reached out to Middlebury College for response to Douglas’ lawsuit, though the school has yet to respond.


About Post Author

%d bloggers like this: