Academic Ceremonies - Commencement
Honorary Degree Recipient
Ann Pesiri Swanson
Doctor of Laws
Field ecologist Ann Swanson ’79 has served as the executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission since 1988, and a member of the Board of Advisors for UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources since the mid-1990s.
Providing leadership to the commission, a legislative assembly representing Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Swanson has received high praise for her innovative and astute efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay, the largest and most productive estuary in the world—but one troubled by pollution and overharvesting.
Widely known for her expertise on the 64,000-square mile bay and its tributaries, Swanson is a persuasive, orator, writer and negotiator. She is passionate about her work, having been involved in virtually every major piece of environmental legislation affecting Chesapeake Bay at the state and Federal levels for nearly three decades. She assisted in the creation of the interstate blue crab advisory committee, and helped draft and champion the important Chesapeake Bay Agreements that laid out the framework for watershed-wide ecosystem management. She also was central in the formation of the Chesapeake Bay Funder’s Network and has worked with federal, state and local officials and leaders to coordinate efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Swanson received her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from UVM in 1979 and completed a master’s of environmental studies at Yale in 1983. She has received many awards and accolades including the YWCA Twin Award in 2011, commendations from the Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania legislatures in 2008, UVM Alumni Achievement Award in 2007, an award from the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club in 2004, and Conservationist of the Year from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2001. She delivered the keynote presentation at the Stokholm Water Festival in 1997.
Overseeing one of the most complex restoration projects in U.S. history, Swanson has been guided by the best available science and a deep understanding of the interdependent communities of people and wildlife that live in and around the Chesapeake Bay.
Swanson served as Vermont’s assistant state naturalist for two years after graduating from UVM and has continued to have a strong connection with the state and university. She was a founding member of the Rubenstein School’s advisory board and served as its chair for nine years, working as a tireless advocate.
This year she will be meeting with Vermont and other regional officials and leaders working to protect Lake Champlain. Swanson will be sharing lessons she has learned from her work, in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency, to help establish the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load agreement, a historic and comprehensive “pollution diet” to compel action to restore clean water to the Chesapeake Bay region.
Through this work, and many other efforts, Ann Swanson has helped usher in fundamental improvements in the way water quality and habitat protection is addressed throughout North America. “I know of no one more committed to the public life, community service, and mission and values of UVM,” said Mary Watzin, dean of the Rubenstein School.
Last modified February 27 2012 12:51 PM