UVM Graduates 2,412 Students on the Green in the Rain
Release Date: 05-22-2005
Graduates cheered Sunday, May 22, when University of Vermont President Daniel Mark Fogel began addressing the Class of 2005 by saying he would abbreviate his remarks as much as possible. But a murmur of disbelief followed when commencement speaker Ruth J. Simmons said, “I cannot stand up here and speak for 20 minutes while you sit out there in the pouring rain.”
And she did not.
Simmons, the president of Brown University and one of the nation’s most visible education leaders, wished them well and sat down.
By then – an hour into the University of Vermont’s 201st commencement ceremony, held on the historic campus green – the estimated 6,000 attendees were soaked by an intermittent downpour and winds that made 50 degrees F. seem much colder.
The highly inspirational speech on the importance of education that Simmons intended to deliver is available at: Commencement Speech.
Simmons stepped up to podium again, however, to receive an honorary degree for her contributions to higher education and her extraordinary rise from a Texas sharecropping family to the first Black woman president of an ivy league college. The university also awarded degrees to F. Herbert Bormann, whose pioneering forestry research led to identification of acid rain as a key environmental problem; Lilian Baker Carslisle, one of Vermont’s most highly regarded local historians; Thomas R. Cech, Nobel laureate and distinguished biomedical researcher and educator; and Adam Clymer, author and political journalist for The New York Times.
Stanley T. “Huck” Gutman, professor of English, received the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty award for excellence in teaching.
Senior Vice President and Provost John Bramley presented the Outstanding Student Leader Awards:
President Fogel noted that this commencement included a number of firsts:
This was the second year that commencement was held on the green since 1962 and the second outdoor rainy graduation day. One mortarboard in the College of Arts and Sciences section sported a mallard decoy. Others resorted to umbrellas, raincoats and plastic bags. University staff provided disposable rain jackets and towels for some guests. The UVM food tent reported that coffee and hot chocolate sales were brisk. The University bookstore sold “probably 250 umbrellas and 100 ponchos,” before graduation, bookstore manager Jay Menninger said.