University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

The Honorable Peter E. Shumlin, Governor, State of Vermont and Trustee, University of Vermont

Peter E Shumlin

Thank you so much, thank you.  Chairman Cioffi, members of the board, thank you, and thank you so much to president John Bramley, who's had an extraordinary year as president of this university.  Thank you, John, for everything you've done for UVM.  To the faculty, to the staff, to the moms and dads, uncles and aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters, significant others ‑‑ most importantly, to the class of 2012, congratulations, it's an honor to be with you here today on behalf of all Vermonters.  You know, we're proud of you. 

You know, class of 2012, I actually was going to come join you one other time recently.  Probably don't know this, but I'm a big biker.  And I was all dressed to come and join that little night ride you do, and a couple of bears showed up at my house that night.  That's right. 

So I had to choose between joining you or protecting my birdfeeders, and I went with my birdfeeders, but thanks for inviting me today. 

You know, you're graduating from the best university in America.  And I know we've taught you a lot, but I know that one of the things we've taught you is that you should always suspect conventional wisdom.  Always suspect conventional wisdom. 

So I was listening to NPR three or four days ago ‑‑ I bet some of the moms and dads heard this story ‑‑ and it worried me, because I've got a couple of girls in college, and it was going on and about how the economy is so terrible and how you're never going to find a job if you graduate from college today and how you're going to return to the couch to your mom and dad's house because you can't earn a living, and all this doom and gloom, and I thought about the experiences that you, the class of 2012, and I have had together. 

You have watched Vermont, been a part of Vermont as we've endured some pretty unusual climate conditions, today being one of them.  We had the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Vermont history, a year ago in March.  We had the floods of April.  Then we had the floods of May.  The highest levels ever recorded on Lake Champlain in the history of keeping records. 

We had tropical storm Irene, where you watched fellow Vermonters lose their homes and their belongings and their businesses and their dreams, and in some case, their lives.  Now you have today. 

I was reflecting on that NPR story and all that doom and gloom, and the climate change that is so real in your lifetimes, and I had two thoughts that I wanted to share with you this morning.  One is, just a few years ago, when I and your moms and dads were your age, we never recognized or knew that the decisions that we would make in our lives would forever affect the liveability of this planet for future generations. 

That's kind of a big one, team.  That's kind of a big one, our need to get off our addiction to oil, to move to renewables, to find a new way to power the planet, is as big as any question that mankind has faced. 

So I say to those that say doom and gloom in the job market, there's not a lot to do, we don't have things to get done:  Listen, that's conventional wisdom.  Forget about it.  The future of this planet depends on you to find innovative ways to power the future.  And thousands and thousands of jobs are going to be created and huge economic opportunities are before you.  And when you get it right, you'll not only make a great living ‑‑ not living on your parents' couch, but wherever want to live ‑‑ you're going to help make this planet better for our future generations. 

So take the lessons of Irene, take the lessons of our storms, take the lessons of responsibilities this sunny day today that should be Southern California, not Vermont, and carry it with you, carry it with you, because we're counting on you, more than ever in the history of mankind, to get this one right.  And when you do, you will prosper, we will prosper with you.  Let's together make that change.  Thank you so much.

Last modified June 08 2012 02:48 PM

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