University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Stanton Dodge '91

Stanton Dodge talking to business students
Photograph by Sally McCay


Stanton Dodge ’91

BACK ON CAMPUS |  Revisiting his academic roots as a guest for the Grossman School of Business Dean’s Speaker Series, Stanton Dodge ’91 likely calmed some student minds. Though the alumnus now has a successful, fulfilling career as executive vice president and general counsel for DISH Network, it hasn’t been an arrow-straight, doubt-free path. Careers seldom are, after all. Key lessons that emerged from Dodge’s candid discussion of his own career—be persistent in finding a path that inspires passion and bring that same persistence to pursuing said path once found. 

Though he had a solid major in accounting during his undergrad days, Dodge recalled that it hadn’t kindled a spark. It wasn't until he took a business law course taught by Burlington attorney Chris Davis that he felt that fire. “In business law, a light went off. I loved thinking that way about issues, problem solving, reading cases, and hearing Chris’s stories. I kind of had this epiphany: ‘What if I went to law school and actually studied something I liked?’”

Convinced he wanted to become a litigator, Dodge moved back to his home state of Massachusetts after a year in Colorado “as a ski bum doing tax returns on the side” and earned a degree from Suffolk Law School. 

But post-law school, working as a law clerk for a judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals, Dodge again had that feeling this wasn’t it either. “There I was, no better off than I was four years earlier with no idea what I wanted to do. I was adrift, but totally committed to finding something that I was passionate about.”

Epiphany II came along one day as Dodge did his daily reading of the Denver Post. “I noticed that I always read the business section first and loved reading about telecommunications, which was really happening in Denver in the mid-nineties. That’s when it hit me that I should be an in-house lawyer for a telecommunications company.”

Part of that realization traced back to a piece of advice he recalled from one of his UVM professors, the late Peter Battelle. “One day, Professor Battelle says to the class, ‘Do you know how to get rich?’ My ears perked up. He says, ‘By having an idea, starting a company, and taking it public.’ I didn’t have a creative bone in my body; so, I decided to pursue being an in-house lawyer with a start-up where I could buy stock options.”

Dozens of rejection letters later, Dodge focused on a new satellite media company named DISH. Even though he’d already been turned down by DISH, he left a message with the person who had sent him the rejection letter. To Dodge’s surprise, he got a return call, albeit a not particularly friendly one. “He says, ‘I’ve got two questions for you: did you get my rejection letter and what the hell do you want?’” Dodge told the UVM students, drawing a good laugh. “I told him that I wanted to work badly enough for DISH that I’d do it for free until I proved myself.”

He got his opportunity—“once I saw the door crack open just a little bit, I jammed my foot in and never took it out.” Since joining DISH in 1996, Dodge has held positions of increasing importance in the legal department leading to his current responsibilities for all legal and government affairs for DISH and its subsidiaries and also overseeing corporate communications. 

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