University of Vermont

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2013 Honorary Degree Recipients Named

In addition to Wynton Marsalis, previously announced as the 2013 Commencement speaker, the University of Vermont will award honorary degrees at the May ceremony to Governor James Douglas, Kathy Giusti, William Meezan, and Dr. John Tampas.

James H. Douglas served the people of Vermont for nearly four decades, beginning with his election to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1972, the same year he graduated from Middlebury College. He left the Vermont House in 1979 to become a top aide to the late Vermont Governor Richard Snelling. He was elected Vermont’s secretary of state in 1980, and in 1994, state treasurer. In 2002, he was elected the 80th governor of Vermont and was re-elected to this position in 2004, 2006, and 2008. In 2009, he announced that he would not seek election for a fifth term, and in 2011 he became an executive-in-residence at his alma mater, where he teaches a class titled “Vermont Government and Politics.” As governor, Douglas was chosen for several leadership positions by his colleagues nationally. In February 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him co-chair of the Council of Governors. Governor Douglas will be presented an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

In 1996, Kathy Giusti was diagnosed with a deadly cancer, multiple myeloma, and given no more than three years to live. Instead of giving up, Giusti, UVM Class of 1980, fought back. She took her business acumen as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and dedicated her life to overcoming the disease. Today, not only is she a survivor, but she’s also leading a revolution in how cancer-fighting drugs are created. As the founder and CEO of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Giusti has helped raise $225 million, bringing four successful cancer drugs into the market with many others in development. By encouraging collaboration and targeting promising research, her foundation has been instrumental in more than doubling the life expectancy of myeloma patients. Selected by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Giusti is reaching beyond her disease to fund innovation. Ms. Giusti will be presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Born to a musical family in New Orleans, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is one of the world’s great jazz and classical musicians, celebrated for his contributions as a performer, composer, and educator. He has nine Grammy® awards to his credit and is the only artist to win both jazz and classical Grammys® in the same year (1983) repeating the same feat the following year (1984). In 1987, Marsalis co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center, which in 1996 became Lincoln Center’s twelfth constituent, Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio, Blood on the Fields. He has written six books, most recently Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life (Random House, 2008) with Geoffrey C. Ward; and Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (Candlewick, 2012), illustrated by Paul Rogers. Today Marsalis serves as Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Managing and Artistic Director. Mr. Marsalis will be presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

William Meezan, UVM Class of 1967, has devoted his distinguished career as a scholar, educator, and expert consultant to improving the lives of America’s most vulnerable children. He is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, holding the Mary Ann Quaranta Chair in Social Justice for Children. Previously, Meezan served as director of policy and research at Children’s Rights, a national advocacy group working to protect abused and neglected children. After leaving Vermont, Meezan earned his master’s from Florida State University and his doctorate from Columbia University. He has been a Congressional Science Fellow and a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Baltic States, helping launch the first social work programs in the former Soviet Union. Among other honors, Meezan has been the recipient of the Society for Social Work and Research Outstanding Research Award and the 2009 Herbert A. Raskin Child Welfare Article Award. He has recently been named a Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Meezan will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

For half a century, John Tampas, has shown tireless dedication to the UVM College of Medicine both as a professor of radiology and an active alumnus. Dr. Tampas graduated from the College of Medicine in 1954 after receiving his bachelor of science from the University of Vermont in 1951. He joined the UVM faculty in 1962 and chaired the department from 1970 to 1996. Medical students twice named him UVM Teacher of the Year, and he has served for years on several alumni groups and as president and executive secretary for the Medical Alumni Association. In 1995, Dr. Tampas received the A. Bradley Soule Award, the highest honor for a medical alumnus. The award was especially meaningful to Dr. Tampas, for whom Dr. Soule was a mentor. An endowed faculty position—the A. Bradley Soule, M.D.’28 and John P. Tampas, M.D.’54 Green & Gold Professor of Radiology—funded by the radiology faculty, recognizes the contributions of both men and their legacy at the College. Dr. Tampas will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

UVM’s main commencement ceremony will take place on the University Green on Sunday, May 19, at 8:20 a.m.