University of Vermont

217th Commencement Ceremonies - May 19 and 20, 2018

Alumni Greeting and Presentation of the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award
Penrose Jackson, Class of 1970, President of the University of Vermont Alumni Association

Penrose Jackson and Dr Lewis FirstGood morning and congratulations to the Class of 2017 … you made it!

Graduates, it is a true honor to share this special moment with you and your families and to bring greetings on behalf of the entire University of Vermont alumni community.

As the president of the UVM Alumni Association, it’s my pleasure to be the first to welcome you to a lifetime extension of the memories you treasure and the friendships you made on this splendid campus.

While 47 years may separate our graduations, I suspect that you are experiencing some of the same emotions I had at that time. For some it’s nervousness, excitement, fear, and happiness – and for others its sadness as this chapter of your lives comes to a close. I do know one thing for certain, that each and every one of you should be filled with pride for what you have accomplished. Bravo!

UVM is a special place – one that is impossible to capture with a single adjective or the strongest superlative. It is one that has been evolving for 226 years and each of you has contributed to its continuity during the time you spent here. In a world marked with daily turmoil and countless examples of personal and societal injustices, I for one, am proud of the UVM we have created together. We are a community that stands up for what is right and what is just. Students of the Class of 2017 – thank you. Thank you for your commitment to make our University a stronger place; one that all graduates can be proud of.

So as you go out into the world to the next chapter of your life’s adventure, I hope you will be proud of your UVM community. And I hope you will be engaged, like the more than 10,000 alums who participated in UVM-related events this past year.

And as you join the ranks of alumni who are making a difference in their communities, professions, and in the world, please don't forget to give back. Your efforts will make this University, this community, and our world a better place.

In closing, I will ask three things of you.

First, I ask that you proudly display your diploma, whether it’s at home, at the office or with you somewhere around the globe where some of you will serve as a Peace Corps volunteer or as a member of our armed services. When you display your diploma you will let your friends, family and the world know that you are a proud graduate of the University of Vermont. 

Second, I ask that you promote how great UVM is. You know better than anyone that this University blends academic rigor with a quality-of-life and commitment to core values that are second to none. You know what it takes to succeed here. So please -- encourage others to follow in your footsteps and participate in a new undergraduate admissions applicant referral program we are calling “Refer a Catamount.”

Finally, I ask that you stay connected. Today you join the ranks of over 113,000 UVM graduates who live and work in every state in the nation and nearly 100 countries around the world. And a note:  after this ceremony you’ll swell our number of graduates to over 115,000! Our international presence continues to rise and today’s graduates from our Global Gateways partnership will further expand our alumni footprint.  Regardless of where your life and travels take you, rest assured that there will be a Catamount nearby. So please — stay in touch! I hear that you are all quite adept at SnapChat, Facebook and Instagram (to name a few) so keep the Green and Gold spirit alive by attending alumni gatherings and staying in touch with follow Catamounts on social media.

When you come back to Burlington – and we do hope that you return often – please stop by our wonderful UVM Alumni House at 61 Summit Street. It’s a beautiful building, but more importantly, as UVM graduates it is your home on this campus waiting to welcome you back for a lifetime.
Congratulations once again to the Class of 2017 on your outstanding accomplishments. Please take with you our sincere wishes for success in all of your upcoming endeavors.

And now, it is my pleasure to recognize the recipient of the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award.


The UVM Alumni Association is proud to honor Dr. Lewis R. First, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont - Larner College of Medicine, as the recipient of the 2017 George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award.

This award was established in memory of Dr. George V. Kidder, UVM class of 1922 and former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to recognize excellence in teaching and extraordinary contributions to the enrichment of campus life.

Dr. First now joins the select group of UVM faculty recognized over the years for bringing these qualities and abilities to bear, first and foremost in the classroom, where he has ignited the passion for learning and discovery in so many of our students.

Since 1994, Dr. Lewis First, who received his MD and  MS degrees at Harvard,  has served as professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine and Chief of Pediatrics of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.  He is also Editor-in-Chief of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chair of the Medical Education Committee of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, and past chair of the National Board of Medical Examiners.  He has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards locally and nationally. Dr. First also educates the public by offering medical advice to parents through his “First with Kids” weekly radio and television news segments and column in multiple community newspapers throughout Vermont.

In addition to these accolades, it is his gift for teaching and mentorship that inspires and motivates his students and brings us to bestow this honor upon Doctor First today.

For all he has contributed to the lives of his students and to the University of Vermont, on behalf of the UVM Alumni Association, I invite you to join me in recognizing Dr. Lewis First as the recipient of the 2017 George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award.

Last modified June 09 2017 08:52 AM