Honorary Degree Recipient
Martha Pattee Heath
Doctor of Laws
Martha Pattee Heath, University of Vermont Class of 1969, is a longtime education advocate and public servant. A member of the Vermont State House of Representatives from 1992 to 2014 representing the town of Westford, Ms. Heath was inspired to run for office to address Vermont’s school funding system. She served for six years on the House Committee on Education, followed by sixteen years on the influential House Appropriations Committee. She chaired that committee from 2005 to 2014; under her leadership, state lawmakers passed balanced budgets during one of the most severe economic downturns in Vermont’s history.
Ms. Heath is widely recognized for her diligence and her creative, solutions-based approach to complex issues. She was a primary architect of Vermont’s Equal Educational Opportunity Act, a funding formula that balances per-pupil educational spending to create a more equitable resource base for students across the state’s school districts. During the 2009 legislative session, Ms. Heath also worked with several lawmakers and two member-based public policy organizations to win legislative approval for Vermont’s Farm to Plate Initiative, the statewide strategic plan and investment roadmap underpinning Vermont’s strong and growing food system.
Ms. Heath is a former member of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees. During her tenure, from 1997 to 2009, she served as Chair of the Academic and Student Programs Committee and the Educational Policy and Institutional Resources Committee; Vice Chair of the Executive Committee and the Subcommittee for Presidential Evaluation; Chair and Secretary of the Vermont Agricultural College Board; and Vice Chair of the Board.
Born in Newport, Vermont, Martha Heath graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of science in secondary education, mathematics major and chemistry minor. She taught high school mathematics for seven years and volunteered as an algebra instructor at Westford High School for ten years. She has served on the Westford School Board and the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union Board since 1985, sitting as chair on both boards numerous times.
She continues to play a leading role in school board governance, representing her town of Westford in the successful effort to create a unified school district with neighboring towns Essex Junction and Essex Town; she now chairs the unified board of the Essex Westford School District. For many years Ms. Heath has served as a board member of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Camp Thorpe, a camp in Goshen, Vermont, founded in 1927 for campers with disabilities and developmental challenges.
Through her work in improving access to educational resources, championing a comprehensive plan for a robust statewide food system, and serving the University and her regional school district as trustee and multi-year board member, Ms. Heath exemplifies the role of an engaged citizen. Her vision and dedication have improved the quality of education and life for so many in our state.
Last modified March 29 2017 12:47 PM