Academic Ceremonies - Commencement
Commencement 2009 Speaker
and Honorary Degree Recipient
Dr. Howard Dean former governor of the state of Vermont and former chair of the Democratic National Committee to Speak at 205th Commencement Ceremony
Howard Brush Dean III
Doctor of Laws
Photo: Nick Davis, 2006
Howard Brush Dean III served the State of Vermont as a six-term governor, 1991-2003, and was chair of the Democratic National Committee for the past four years. Dean took the national stage as a candidate during the 2004 presidential primaries, drawing wide voter interest with his strong stand against war in Iraq, and running a campaign that revolutionized presidential politics through its use of the Internet as a tool for building grassroots support and financial contributions.
Dean first moved to Vermont in the late 1970s for a medical residency at the UVM College of Medicine and Medical Center Hospital of Vermont. While Dean’s career path would soon also include politics, he maintained a part-time medical practice during his years as a state representative and lieutenant governor, and health care policy has remained a priority throughout his rise as a state and national leader.
A native of Long Island, New York, Dean earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University in 1971. He continued his education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, from which he earned his MD in 1978. Dean and his wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg, met during medical school, married in 1981, and established a family medical practice together in Shelburne, Vermont.
Dean’s initial foray into Vermont politics was inspired by grassroots work on a local development issue. Soon after, he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1982. Four years later, Dean became Vermont’s lieutenant governor. When Governor Richard Snelling passed away in 1991, Dean became governor of Vermont and would be re-elected for five consecutive terms.
During his years as governor, Dean helped lead Vermont out of a recession and a $60 million deficit and into an era of balanced state budgets. He championed the effort to provide Vermont children and pregnant women with universal healthcare. And, in 1991, Governor Dean signed a bill granting gay and lesbian couples the right to civil unions, the first law of its kind in the nation.
Though Dean’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 was not successful, the campaign vaulted him into a national leadership role for his party. As chair of the DNC, Dean spearheaded the “50 State Strategy,”which sought to put grass-roots political organizations on even ground in American politics. This move is widely credited with helping the Democratic party gain seats in the Senate and the House and also with helping to elect the first African-American President of the United States.
Governor Dean currently works in the private sector, making public speaking engagements, and continuing his advocacy on health care policy issues.