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Middlebury mourns passing of Neuberger

— Fred Neuberger, one of Middlebury’s most influential college administrators over the past half century, died July 30 at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. He was 86.

A member of the Middlebury Class of ’50, Neuberger served as director of men’s admissions from 1958 through 1964, and as head of admissions for the college from 1964 through his retirement in 1991. During his time in admissions, he had a major impact on the quality and diversity of the college’s student body.

Admired for his warmth, charm, sense of humor, and unceasing loyalty, Neuberger’s most enduring legacy may well be his realization that the college needed to look to the west and the south for future generations of students, which led to the launch of the “Westward Ho!” recruiting program.

In addition, he pushed the college to commit additional resources to financial aid, required to recruit a more diverse group of students, economically and otherwise. Neuberger will also be remembered for creating the “February Freshman” program in the early 1970s, a Middlebury innovation that was decades ahead of its time.

The Wall Street Journal called him “the keeper of the gate” in a page one feature story titled, “How Fred Neuberger Decides Who Gets into a Top Private College: Middlebury Admissions Chief Weighs Records but Also Hunts for Special ‘Spark.’ ”

Neuberger was born in 1925 in Pittsfield, Mass., and enlisted in the U.S. Army on his 18th birthday at the height of World War II. An accomplished downhill skier, he volunteered for the 10th Mountain Division and trained with that elite unit in the Rocky Mountains at altitudes of over 12,000 feet. He was deployed to Italy where he saw combat, earning a Purple Cross and a Bronze Star. In early 1945 he was captured by a German patrol. He was sent to a POW camp in Moosberg, Germany, and was freed by the Allied forces led by General George Patton.

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