University of Vermont

December Grad Greetings

December Graduates Recognition Celebration
December 18, 2004
Ira Allen Chapel


Frank H. Cioffi, Class of 1977
President of the UVM Alumni Association and University Trustee

Many people will be offering you their congratulations today. While I join them in celebrating what you’ve accomplished in graduating from the University of Vermont, I’m going to go against the grain a bit and offer you words of welcome along with those congratulations.

As president of the University of Vermont Alumni Association, it’s my privilege to speak on behalf of the roughly 80,000 individuals who are your fellow alumni and say, “Welcome to our ranks.” It’s a big family and a diverse one. We’ve seen the university through different eyes and different eras; through our work, we make a difference in our communities in a wide variety of ways; and our careers and life pursuits have taken us to places near and far.

But we are all knit together by this – we are alumni of the University of Vermont. It is the work of the Alumni Association to keep the ties strong that unite alumni to one another and to this University. Among our initiatives is the George V. Kidder Award for Outstanding Teaching, an honor that has been bestowed by our alumni for more than 30 years. For a teacher, can there be a greater honor than to be remembered by former students long after they have left this place? The award has been given in recent years to names that are familiar to many of you, I’m sure. Professors such as Tom Hudspeth, Frank Bryan, Paula Fives-Taylor, Robert Lawson, and Roger Cooke, to name a few.

It’s teachers like these, and the hundreds of other outstanding faculty who have shaped your years here, who you will remember years from now. Trust a member of the Class of 1977 when he tells you that those good memories will endure long after the pain of last week’s final exam, paper, or project has faded.

Ask a UVM alum of the 1940s or 1950s to recall the strong influences of their college years and there’s a good chance that you’ll hear the name that is on our Alumni Association’s teaching award – George Kidder. Professor Kidder’s long association with the university began in 1918 when he enrolled as a student, and spanned more than 70 years as a faculty member, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and liaison to alumni. Let’s put this in perspective— when George Kidder was a freshman, UVM enrollment was 700 students, tuition was $125 per year, and the campus was essentially the buildings that surrounded the Green. We’ve grown just a bit since then.

George Kidder knew this university in many ways and served it in many roles during his decades on this campus. Throughout, he remained grateful for what this institution had given him and committed to advancing its mission. Dean Kidder, who was a classics scholar, once said, “The university has been in every sense to me truly an alma mater. And if you remember your Latin, that means a ‘fostering mother.’”

Professor Kidder passed away in 1995, but his influence lives on at this university in the excellence of our undergraduate education and the strong ties maintained between alumni and our alma mater. On a day such as this one, we do well to look to Professor Kidder for his keen sense of the link between where we’re going and where we’ve been. It’s a truth that holds for individuals and for institutions, alike.

It’s a dynamic era at this university and an exciting time to be an alumnus. In the years ahead, you’ll have many opportunities to continue to be a part of the University of Vermont, whether that means recommending UVM to a prospective student, returning for Reunion Weekend, nominating a faculty member for the Kidder Award, or just turning out to cheer on the Catamounts when they’re in town.

I hope that my welcome to you today will be just the first of many to come.

Last modified December 22 2004 07:16 AM

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