It may be just a small thing in their eyes, but Wolfgang and Barbara Mieder's leadership gift gives a big boost to the fundraising effort on behalf of UVM's Alumni House project. "Many a mickle makes a muckle," Wolfgang says with a modesty admirable in a man once anointed by Smithsonian magazine as the world's top proverb expert. "It's a Scottish proverb that means many little things make a big thing."
The Mieders' gift will name the Wolfgang and Barbara Mieder Faculty Lounge in the new Alumni House. Wolfgang and Barbara were excited to learn about the Alumni House project when it was first announced several years ago — especially so after touring the building. "Immediately I thought, 'This is for us,'" he says. "We were taken by the idea of giving to the faculty lounge as a place for faculty, and emeriti in particular, to spend some congenial time together and have an identity on campus. The Mieders liked the fact that opportunities to participate in the multi-million-dollar project are available at various giving levels. "It gives us a way to show our appreciation for what UVM has meant to us all these years," he says. Wolfgang is professor of German and folklore in the Department of German and Russian, which he chaired from 1977 to 2008, and is now in his 41st year on the faculty. Barbara recently retired after many years as a teacher of German and Latin at Milton High School in Milton, Vermont.
The fact that the Mieder Faculty Lounge will showcase books by UVM faculty and alumni authors Wolfgang finds particularly appropriate. "It will lend an academic flavor to the building," he says, and reinforce the connections returning alumni feel to institutional traditions and faculty spanning many years. "It's important that we have some spaces like that on campus. I think the whole building is a fabulous idea."
Mieder envisions the faculty lounge as a place current or emeriti faculty will come to know as their "little corner of the campus" for relaxed conversation over a cup of coffee shared with alums, students, and staff.
He hopes that other faculty and staff will consider giving to the Alumni House project or other UVM priorities that will be part of the University's next campaign. "All of us can chip in a little bit," he says. "It isn't the amount. It doesn't even have to be money. It's important to show that UVM employees are involved in all of these important efforts. That is something where we all can make a difference."