University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - May Commencement

Governor's Remarks
The Honorable Peter E. Shumlin, Governor of the State of Vermont

Peter ShumlinThank you so much. Hey, you know, I don't know how I got so lucky. First, I want you to know that as the proud trustee of UVM, President Sullivan made me in charge of the weather. And I delivered! But I've got to say that there are 50 governors in America, and it makes me so proud to be the governor of the best state with the best university in America. [applause]

And I want to thank President Sullivan, I want to thank Ambassador Power for being here today, but mostly to the Class of 2014, we are so proud of you. We have such high hopes for you. Let's give you a shout out for the extraordinary accomplishment that we celebrate today. [applause]

And I wish you could all be up here and see how beautiful you look from this very place that I stand, but I know that your moms and your dads and your grandparents and your uncles and your aunts and your brothers and your sisters and their partners and your steps, join me in being extraordinarily proud of you today.

To the moms and dads yeah, there we go. Come on. Some of you stopped at Starbucks! To the moms and dads, you have a special place in my heart this year, because next week my oldest is going to graduate from college, and I don't know what I'm more excited about: Her bright future, or the fact that I'll never pay another tuition bill for her.

Now, if you're anything like me, you struggled with the decision of what was the right gift to express your pride, or do you wait until after graduation to take the scissors to the credit card?

I'm going to take the scissors first thing and then give the gift. Hope she forgets.

Listen, I want to say this about where we are at this moment and I want to be brief, because I came I know we all came to hear Ambassador Power, and then of course to get diplomas, which is the point of this great day. But I can tell you that what makes me most proud to be here, what makes me so optimistic about your futures, is that UVM has given you the ability to think critically, a well-rounded liberal arts education. But what we've also given you is the ability to connect that great knowledge with your heart.

And I think that is what makes UVM's educational delivery system so special. This is the economic engine of Vermont. The education that is being conferred upon you and the degree that you'll receive today gives you the ability to go forward from this point and make change in a world that needs you more than ever.

You enter a world that we know we messed up. Let's be honest about this. If you do not find other ways to use the knowledge that we've given you, to find better ways to power the future so that our planet is livable for you and your kids and your grandkids, if we don't find better ways to ensure that we're all working together so that every American has a bright future, then we've failed in the mission of getting you to this point.

But we know we haven't. We know that UVM, better than anywhere, has given you the tools that you need to take this degree, to take this experience, and carry it forward. Whether it's food systems or engineering or liberal arts, English lit, whatever it might be that you focused on, here's the point: From this point forward, we're asking you to not only go out and be prosperous, provide for your families, but to ensure while you're at it, that you're connecting those decisions which there will be plenty of with your heart and ensuring that every day you're doing a better job than we did of a livable green future. That's what Vermont is all about. That's what UVM is all about, and that's what you're all about.

Now, I just want to make one plea to you as you go forward: I don't want you to visit Vermont. I don't want you to ever leave Vermont.

I want you to remember that you are in the place right now that has the best quality of life in America.

A place that has the courage to go first, the first state to abolish slavery, the first state to pass marriage equality not because judges were telling us to do it, but because it's the right thing to do.

The first state, as of this year, to allow consumers to know what's in their food by labeling GMOs.

The state with the second lowest unemployment rate in America that needs you working, living, and raising your families here. Thank you, congratulations, get on with it, and do it in Vermont. We love you.

Last modified May 22 2014 03:44 PM