University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Fogel Remarks Commencement 2010

Commencement 2010 Remarks

Daniel Mark Fogel,
President of the University of Vermont

President Fogel

Governor Douglas, Chairman Cioffi, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, faculty, staff, family and friends of our graduates—and, above all, members of the Class of 2010, welcome to our 206th Commencement at The University of Vermont.

Today, true to the Latin root of “university,” we come together as one single institution to recognize the achievement of graduates from our seven undergraduate schools and colleges, the Graduate College and the College of Medicine. By uniting to celebrate commencement we are, in a sense, pioneering to the past, returning to an older tradition at the core of our identity as the University of Vermont.

When we reach the truly important part of today’s exercises – that is when each and every one of our graduates strides across this stage—it will be wonderful to see the full range of what we are as a university as we honor the achievement of engineers and nurses, microbiologists and poets, accountants and teachers, to name but a few. Furthermore, we will recognize the accomplishments of those students who have attained the highest degree an university can offer—the doctorate.

Class of 2010, your graduation from the University of Vermont is upon you, this moment that seemed impossibly distant when you first met many of the people who sit next to you today as classmates and friends.

On this day of celebration, there are many people to thank. Let us begin with the families who helped you become the person who earned admission to the University of Vermont, the mothers and fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters who supported you mentally, spiritually…financially, during your years here. Class of 2010, please join me in giving them a hand.

Families, your students have been well cared for during their years here. They have studied with an outstanding faculty. They have been supported by a talented and dedicated staff that is the bedrock of this institution. Class of 2010 and families, please join me in a round of applause in appreciation for this University’s wonderful faculty and staff.

Let us pause, also, to pay respect to the latest in a long and proud UVM tradition of service to the nation. I ask that our ROTC graduates who are being commissioned as officers in the United States Army stand and be recognized with a round of applause.

We are fortunate and honored that the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary degree joining the class of 2010. When President Barack Obama nominated General Shinseki to join his administration as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, it was a nomination widely lauded and swiftly confirmed.

Soon after his graduation from West Point in 1965, Eric Shinseki was on the ground in the battlefields of Vietnam. Twice injured in duty, his foot was severely wounded after stepping on a land mine. As those serving our nation today return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the man at the head of Veterans Affairs knows well the challenges they face.

Through a distinguished military career, Eric Shinseki earned the Army’s honors -- Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart, among many others. He rose to the rank of four-star general and President Bill Clinton appointed him as Army Chief of Staff in 1999.

During his tenure, General Shinseki initiated the Army Transformation Campaign to address both the emerging strategic challenges of the early twenty-first century and the need for cultural and technological change in the United States Army. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he led the Army during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

General Shinseki stepped to the frontlines of a very different challenge when he assumed leadership of Veterans Affairs, tackling a large bureaucracy armed with a long to do list.

He has begun swiftly and with the backing of a Commander in Chief with complete confidence that he has the right man for the job: “No one will ever doubt that this former Army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans,” said President Obama. “No one will ever question whether he will fight hard enough to make sure they have the support they need.”  We are indeed honored and fortunate that you accepted our invitation to celebrate with us today the accomplishments of students. Thank you.

And finally, our entire Class of 2010, we thank you. During your years on this campus you have become woven into the fabric of this institution and enriched us all. It is now your time to build the life you’ve imagined, to go forth as alumni, to take the knowledge and experience you’ve gained at the University of Vermont into the world. Best wishes and congratulations.

Last modified June 20 2010 09:46 AM

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