The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates its Class of 2020.

UVM’s 219th Commencement weekend looked a bit different this year, with graduates celebrating with their families, friends and neighbors around the globe rather than gathering on the University Green.

In North Andover, MA, graduate Ally Kilcoyne ‘20 donned her cap and gown for a commencement march down her street while neighbors cheered from the sidewalks. In Burlington, VT, families could be seen taking photos on campus, while following social distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, faculty and staff throughout the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) marked Sunday, May 17 by wearing green and gold and sharing messages of encouragement and good luck for the Class of 2020 on social media. The day also featured virtual commencement remarks from Dean Jean Harvey.

“Throughout these unprecedented times, you have inspired us and one another, risen to new challenges and showed your ability to flex, persevere and grow… Perhaps now more than ever before, the world needs graduates like you – young leaders who have demonstrated resilience and possess a shared commitment to building a better future,” said Harvey, in her last address as dean of the College.

Harvey served as interim dean from 2019-2020 and is succeeded by Leslie Parise, who joins UVM from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and assumed the role of dean on May 17.

Through a video message from UVM President Suresh Garimella and the university deans, degrees were conferred to 419 graduates who studied in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including 370 bachelor’s, 45 master’s and 4 doctoral degree recipients across the life and social sciences.

The Class of 2020 has excelled both in and out of the classroom. More than 50 students received awards from their academic departments and programs in recognition of their scholarship and academic achievements, 21 were members of the UVM Honors College and 15 students completed Distinguished Undergraduate Research. See a complete list of honors and awards.

Two CALS students, Cara Cahill and Michael Chan, were named as recipients of UVM Outstanding Student Leadership Awards. Awarded at the university level, they are among the most prestigious awards presented by UVM, which recognize students for their leadership, scholarship and service to the University.

Michael Chan and Cara Cahill

Michael Chan, a dual degree student in CALS and the Grossman School of Business, is one of two recipients of the Keith M. Miser Leadership Award, which recognizes a student who has contributed to the university through their leadership on campus. Chan was selected represent UVM at the annual Leadership Forum of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society, which brings together student members from the top 5% of business schools from around the world. In addition to his involvement in many on-campus organizations, Chan has served as an Orientation Leader and leader for UVM First Year Experience helping new students transition to life at UVM. His experiences at UVM have prepared him well for his next adventure as a research analyst with Fulcrum Research Group in Waltham, MA. Read more.

Cara Cahill, who graduated with her B.S. in public communication on Sunday, is one of two recipients of the Class of ’67 Award for her leadership and engagement in student activities on campus. In addition to a successful academic career, she has been extremely involved in several on-campus organizations and held leadership roles in nearly all of them. Cahill served as the chief financial advisor and sports chair of Kappa Alpha Theta, vice president of service for Alpha Phi Omega, vice president of Mortar Board, a member of the PR/marketing and catering committees for Rallython, a co-coordinator of CALS Reps, and a team captain for multiple intramural sports teams. This fall, Cahill will begin a Master of Science in Management program on a Presidential Fellowship to the Merrimack College Girard School of Business. Read more.

Also on Sunday, four CALS faculty members formally joined the ranks of emeriti professors, including: Sidney Bosworth, extension professor; Keith Mintz, associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics; Donald Ross, research professor of plant and soil science; and Brenda Tessman, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. 

An in-person ceremony for the Class of 2020 has been postponed to a future date, to be announced in August 2020. View the virtual celebrations.  


Rachel Leslie