Institutional News, In Memoriam

Remembering Danny Michaelson

Today, President Mariko Silver shared the following message with the Bennington College community to commemorate former faculty member Danny Michaelson.

Bennington College faculty, staff, and students,

It is with great sadness that I write to share the news that former faculty member Danny Michaelson died suddenly yesterday from an apparent heart attack.

Danny was a beloved teacher, mentor, and colleague at Bennington for over 35 years. He joined the College in 1981, teaching costume design and later conflict resolution and mediation. He served as Dean of Studies from 1991 to 1994. After his retirement in 2011, Danny maintained a strong connection to Bennington, teaching courses in CAPA and continuing his work with the Quantum Leap program, which he co-founded with Susan Sgorbati in 1999. This cutting edge program–which has reached over 2,000 Bennington area elementary, middle, and high school students–uses the Bennington educational model by starting with what students care most about to re-engage them in their educations.

Danny believed deeply and passionately in Bennington. He was an inspiring teacher and advisor to countless students over the years. I have heard many of his former students describe the magic of his mentorship–how as a first-year student, for example, they would take a course in costume design to “try it out” and finish it having designed a show. He demonstrated that quality of fearless risk taking himself, becoming a playwright for the Belarusian Dream project– including seeking former students as mentors–in order to tell the story of his grandmother’s roots.

He was charming, caring, wickedly funny, a listener, storyteller, and one of the most intrepid travelers any of us has ever known–he was adventurous to the end.

Danny’s family will be making plans for services; we will share information on this page and via the alumni Facebook page when we have it.