RSENR Graduation 2014 – Congratulations, Graduates!
- By Shari Halik
On the beautiful, sunny Sunday of May 18, 2014, the Rubenstein School celebrated its graduation event with a reception for graduates, families, friends, and faculty and staff at the George D. Aiken Center. The graduation ceremony then followed at the Sheraton Burlington Conference Center adjacent to campus.
Guest speaker Paul Burns, executive director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) addressed graduates, families, and friends. “One of the reasons why I’m so glad to be here,” Paul acknowledged, “is because I’m such a strong believer in what you all can do – as students and as young people in the workforce.”
In reference to GMO-labeling legislation recently passed in Vermont, Paul explained, “You see, about a year ago, VPIRG’s outreach team set out to do something we had never done before – that was to visit every city, town, village and gore in the state of Vermont. On bike and on foot, our canvassers knocked on over 80,000 doors, held about 50,000 conversations and collected more than 32,000 signatures from Vermonters asking their legislators to stand up for their right to know. I’m not aware of another campaign in Vermont that has ever engaged more people face-to-face and door-to-door. That is democracy in action. That was accomplished by you and your peers. And it worked.”
The Rubenstein School graduated 26 graduate students and 147 undergraduate students (including December graduates). For the first time in the School’s history, a posthumous Bachelor of Science degree was awarded to environmental sciences major, Benjamin Mohla, who passed away in November 2013. Ben’s family attended the ceremony and accepted his diploma.
In his concluding remarks to graduates, Interim Dean Jon Erickson stated, “This diploma in your hand isn't just a reward for a job well-done, it's a responsibility to rewrite our story. You are now 1 in 15 on this planet with a college education. But within this 6 or 7% of the world's population, you, the Rubenstein School's Class of 2014, are a small minority who understand the gravity of our environmental and social challenges, and yet hold that magic combination of hard-won knowledge and eternal optimism to turn things around. We look forward to watching your careers and lives evolve. And we know you'll ask the right questions and champion the brave answers that will bring a new age of restoration, resilience, and love for one another and all life on earth.”
A long-time Rubenstein School friend and member of the RSENR Board of Advisers, Crea Lintilhac, was honored with a gift for her leadership, advocacy, and philanthropy in the Rubenstein School, at UVM, and across Vermont. She received a Doctor of Humane Letters at the main UVM Commencement ceremony earlier in the day.
“It is difficult to imagine the State of Vermont or the University of Vermont without Crea’s impact through both her personal effort on boards, committees, and the halls of the State House, and the extraordinary generosity through grants and gifts of the Lintilhac Foundation,” stated Jon Erickson. Please join me in thanking and congratulating Crea Lintilhac for this well-deserved honor.”
Three Rubenstein School retiring faculty members received emeriti status: Associate Professor of Environment and Natural Resources Emeritus Lawrence Forcier, Professor of Environmental Sciences Emeritus Alan McIntosh, and Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences Emerita Leslie Morrissey.