University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Names Honorary Degree Recipients for 2017 Commencement

UVM Commencement photo

The University of Vermont will award honorary degrees at the May ceremony to Diane Greene, Martha Pattee Heath, David R. Nalin, M.D., Alexander Nemerov, and Patrick Wong. The university will also award an honorary degree to James Fallows, the 2017 commencement speaker.

James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, is a preeminent journalist, author, and commentator. He brings a keen perspective to a wide range of topics across the spectrum of American and international politics and culture, including U.S foreign policy and international relations, global and domestic economics, and emerging trends in American civic life. In addition to The Atlantic, Mr. Fallows has also served as editor of U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Monthly, and Texas Monthly. He has written ten books, including the National Book Award-winning National Defense, and hundreds of articles for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The American Prospect, and other leading publications. His 2002 story “Iraq: The Fifty-First State?” warning about the consequences of invading Iraq won the National Magazine Award, an award for which he has been a finalist five other times. His current “American Futures” series, a collaboration with his wife, writer Deborah Fallows, describes the economic reinvention and community rejuvenation vitally and unmistakably present in their repeated visits to nearly fifty small cities and towns across America over the past three years. “American Futures” is another in Mr. Fallows’ long bibliography of immersive reporting projects that have offered nuanced analysis and informed legions of readers across the political and social spectrum and around the world.

Diane Greene, University of Vermont Class of 1976, is Senior Vice President of Cloud Computing at Google and a member of the Alphabet, Inuit, and MIT Board of Directors. An early Silicon Valley entrepreneur and technologist, she has long been a leader in the burgeoning technology field, developing streaming-media platforms and computer virtualization. In 1998 she co-founded VMware with her husband, Mendel Rosenblum, introducing the revolutionary concept of virtualization, an underpinning of cloud computing that provides security, availability, and manageability benefits in the corporate world. Her impact in the technology world grew along with her reputation in the late-2000s, when she advised and invested in several startups that have become Silicon Valley successes. In 2012 she founded another startup, Bebop Technologies, focused on the enterprise SaaS (software as a service) market. When Google acquired the company in 2015, Ms. Greene joined Google as Senior Vice President of Cloud Computing in addition to her Alphabet board role. The Google Cloud division was created to bring Google’s technology assets and engineering prowess to all companies. Ms. Greene continues to play an active and influential role in developing the technology sector as one of the great success stories of American business today.

Martha Pattee Heath, University of Vermont Class of 1969, is a longtime education advocate and public servant. A member of the Vermont State House of Representatives from 1992 to 2014, Ms. Heath was inspired to run for office to address Vermont’s school funding system. She served for six years on the House Committee on Education, followed by sixteen years on the influential House Appropriations Committee, which she chaired from 2005 to 2014. Under her leadership, state lawmakers passed balanced budgets during one of the most severe economic downturns in Vermont’s history. Ms. Heath is widely recognized for her creative, solutions-based approach to complex issues. She was a primary architect of Vermont’s Equal Educational Opportunity Act, a funding formula that balances per-pupil spending across the state’s school districts. A former member of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, Ms. Heath currently chairs the unified board of the Essex Westford School District and serves on the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation board. She is also a trustee of Camp Thorpe, a camp in Goshen, Vermont, founded in 1927 for campers with disabilities and developmental challenges. Through her work in improving access to educational resources, championing a comprehensive plan for a robust statewide food system, and serving the University and her regional school district as trustee and multi-year board member, Ms. Heath exemplifies the role of an engaged citizen. Her vision and dedication have improved the quality of education and life for so many in our state.

David R. Nalin, MD, pioneered oral rehydration therapy, a life-saving remedy for treating patients with cholera and other severe diarrhea illnesses estimated to have saved over 70 million lives worldwide. In 1978, the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet described oral rehydration therapy as “potentially the most important medical advance of this century.” As a consultant for the World Health Organization from 1969 to 1990, Dr. Nalin helped to establish highly successful oral rehydration therapy programs in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Jordan, and Pakistan. From 1979 to 1982 he directed the University of Maryland Pakistan Medical Research Center in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1983 he became Director of Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories; from 1998 until his retirement in 2002, he was the Director of Vaccine Scientific Affairs at Merck’s Vaccine Division. He is currently professor emeritus at Albany Medical College, and continues to advocate for vaccine safety research. Dr. Nalin is an avid collector of Asian art; his substantial art collection includes works from India, Bangladesh, Tibet, Nepal, and China. He and his brother, Dr. Richard Nalin (UVM ’63), have donated over two thousand pieces to U.S. museums, including to UVM’s Fleming Museum of Art; Dr. Nalin serves on the Fleming Museum Board of Advisors. Through his work as a medical ambassador and pioneer, and in his vision of preserving cultural legacies, Dr. Nalin has distinguished himself throughout his career by his dedication to humankind and his lived belief in making the world a better place for all.

Alexander Nemerov, University of Vermont Class of 1985, is a celebrated author, public speaker, curator, and professor of art history. His close readings of visual artworks open pathways of personal understanding and meaning-making for his students and readers, underscoring the relevance of the humanities in our civic and personal lives. Professor Nemerov graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts in art history and English. Upon earning his doctorate in the history of art from Yale University in 1992, he began teaching at Stanford University. In 2001, he returned to his graduate school alma mater, where his class “Introduction to Western Art” grew to attract one of the largest enrollments of any undergraduate class at Yale. In 2012, Professor Nemerov accepted the position as Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. Over the course of his twenty-year career, Alexander Nemerov has published seven highly regarded books and authored more than thirty articles and essays for peer-reviewed journals. Leading his audiences to a rich and nuanced understanding of historic eras through analysis and appreciation of aesthetic expressions in a wide range of genres, his work encourages us to look for those connections ourselves. His teaching, writing, and curating reflect a profound belief in the enduring importance of the arts and humanities to a thoughtful and deeply felt life.

Patrick Wong received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Vermont in 1975. Mentored by lipid biochemist and former UVM associate professor of biochemistry Roy Wuthier, Ph.D., it was in working with Professor Wuthier while a doctoral student at UVM’s College of Medicine that he discovered a class of lipids now known as prostaglandins. Dr. Wong is a pioneer in elucidating the role of prostaglandins in inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. A consummate researcher, Dr. Wong is credited with twenty discrete discoveries related to eicosanoids, prostaglandins, lipoxygenase products, RNA, and others. For more than 30 years, his research in eicosanoids and clinical pharmacology was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. He has more than 135 publications in peer-reviewed journals and is the chief editor of several books and monographs on prostaglandin and leukotriene investigation. In 2015, Dr. Wong received the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award. His dedication to scientific discovery and pursuit of advancements for human health distinguish Dr. Wong as an exemplary researcher, scholar, educator, and humanitarian.

UVM’s main commencement ceremony will take place on the University Green on Sunday, May 21, at 8:20 A.M.