MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College conferred upon Curtiss Reed, Jr. an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his career as a civil rights leader and social justice advocate at its 2021 Commencement held on May 29. A Brattleboro resident for over 40 years, Reed is president and CEO of the CRJ Consulting Group, L3C and executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity.
In her remarks at the ceremony, Middlebury’s president, Dr. Laurie Patton, noted, “From this position of leadership, you have provided the opportunity for hundreds of individuals and institutions throughout the state, and the region, to make Vermont a more desirable destination for all.”
At the luncheon for honorary degree recipients and their families, Reed recalled the influence of Rodney Scott Hudson (aka “Shivers”), one member of the pantheon of Black men who shaped his early life. In the early 1960s, Shivers defied stereotypes and despite Jim Crow taught Reed to swim and appreciate the natural world at summer camp. Reed joked, “If Shivers, a Black man, can live in a state as white as South Dakota, why couldn’t I eventually claim Vermont as my home?”
Dr. Patton closed her remarks with, “Curtiss, your work on behalf of all Vermonters has made this state a more inclusive, and therefore a much better, place for us all to live, work, and recreate.”
In addition to his honorary degree, the president also conferred upon Reed a replica of Gamaliel Painter’s Cane. Painter founded both the Town of Middlebury and Middlebury College.