University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Convocation

President's Remarks

President's Remarks

[Below are the remarks of President Daniel Mark Fogel delivered at Convocation 2008. Please note that the remarks were captioned live at the event, to the best of my ability at the time, and have been subsequently slightly corrected for errors in translation. -- Norma J. Miller, RPR]

Thank you, Professor Warhol-Down, thank you very much Governor Douglas, and by the way, thank you, Bob Tyzbir, who will be calling out his herald on the day that I hope each and every one of you graduates in 2012.

Thank you everyone for joining us today as we celebrate once again the opening of a new academic year at the University of Vermont. We are fortunate in the academy to work and study in an environment where renewal comes frequently. Semester to semester, graduation to graduation, convocation to convocation. And so today, we renew and reaffirm our commitment to the endeavors of the classroom, the laboratory, the studio, the concert hall, the teaching hospital, the lake, the streams, the forests and the farms, all of the places where we teach and learn, study and create and serve, advancing the discovery, transmission and application of knowledge for the good of our state, our nation, and our world.

Welcome to the leaders of the university, community, and our state who join me on the platform today. Welcome to our exceptional faculty and staff, and today's distinguished guests, and, of course, a special welcome to the University of Vermont class of 2012. You are an impressive group. Your diversity promises to make the UVM community richer, your academic excellence promises to make the intellectual exploration in our classrooms deeper. Your originality, commitment and energy promise to shape this university and to make us stronger.

You join us at an auspicious moment. The tide is high for the University of Vermont. Over the past several months, our university has been lauded on a variety of fronts for leading environmental ethics and practices, for outstanding primary care training in our College of Medicine, for overall excellence in undergraduate education -- and, a promising prospect for the class of 2012, several years from now -- the Wall Street Journal ranks the University of Vermont among the top 20 public universities for success in placing students in the nation's most prestigious medical, law, and business graduate programs, and business week has just placed Vermont 7th among public universities nationwide in a list of colleges whose bachelor's degree graduates earn the highest salaries. We love that, but money ain't everything, folks, it's really about the life of the mind, remember. Now, that is just a glimpse of the good word about UVM today, and while we're very pleased to find ourselves on a list such as the one that just came out in Sierra magazine of the 10 coolest schools in 2008, our pride runs deeper at the university of Vermont, 217 years deep to our founding in 1791.

Growing from Vermont's 18th Century roots, the achievements of our university and our alumni have changed the world. Today you become part of the fabric of this university where 19th Century president James March helped revolutionize American higher education, where UVM faculty nurtured the mind of Burlington native and alumnus John Dewey, father of progressive education, where the abiding social conscience of the university of the Green Mountains flowered in a remarkable run of two alumni connections to the Nobel peace prize in 1997 and again in 1999, not to mention a faculty co-winner of the prize with many other scientists and Vice President Al Gore, in 2007.

Later today, following the ceremony, we will gather on the university green for the twilight induction ceremony. As we do, I invite you to look around, fully absorb the setting, the beauty of the college green, the historic halls of university row, the views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains. Consider that UVM's first president worked together with UVM's first students on that very piece of land to clear the towering white pines and begin to carve out a campus on the hilltop. It was much harder being a president back then. More than 200 years ago, president Sanders wrote that to his mind, the site where he cleared that wilderness, and where you will gathering this evening, was the most healthy place on earth.

Much has changed across two centuries, of course. But the core of that truth holds firm: This university, this livable, vibrant city, this cherished state, are indeed among the healthiest places on earth to learn, to explore, to thrive, by opening yourself up to the myriad opportunities of the undergraduate experience. I encourage you to make the most of your years at UVM, to delve deeply into your studies to connect meaningfully with the life of Burlington and the Green Mountain State beyond, to care for yourselves, and one another, in the spirit of a university family that is open and affirming to all.

Now it is my privilege to introduce today's speaker. We are honored to be joined by Ron Suskind, author of A Hope In The Unseen: An American Odyssey From The Inner City to the Ivy League, the thought-provoking, inspiring book that was this summer's reading experience for the class of 2012. Mr. Suskind is among our country's most distinguished investigative journalists. A Hope In The Unseen originally took form as a series of articles during his years as senior national affairs writer for the Wall Street Journal, a series that earned him the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
Mr. Suskind received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. He went on from there, after some political activities, to the Columbia School of Journalism. He has followed A Hope In The Unseen with many articles and books. I think he's finished five books in the last three years. They include; The Price of Loyalty, George W. Bush, The White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill in 2004. The One Percent Picture Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies since 9/11 -- I think I've got that wrong. The One Percent Doctrine. My messy handwriting -- in 2006, and The Way of the World in 2008.

These books and articles have explored landmark people, places and issues of our time, terrorism, the war in Iraq, international security, and the inner workings of the Bush White House, among others. Ron Suskind's work is the product of a deeply curious thinker, a dogged investigator. Please join me in welcoming him to the podium for the University of Vermont's 2008 convocation address.

For more information about Convocation, please contact Leslie Logan, Chief of Protocol and Administrator of University Events, at 656-4205 or by email to:

Last modified September 04 2008 05:39 PM