Five outstanding individuals will receive honorary degrees at the University Commencement Main Ceremony on Sunday, May 22. Recognized for their vital and important contributions to the state, the university, the nation, and the world, over the course of their distinguished careers are: Erik Weihenmayer, Meghan Walsh Cioffi, Robert Cioffi, Rick Dalton, and Steven Grossman.

Erik Weihenmayer

Commencement Speaker
Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

For world-class adventurers, living on the edge is as exhilarating as it is perilous, adrenaline and relentless goal-setting fueling ambitious quests. It is a dangerous zone to inhabit, requiring keenly honed senses and tremendous fortitude. For Erik Weihenmayer, it is also a proving ground for breaking through notions of what can—and cannot—be accomplished. Erik Weihenmayer, one of the most renowned adventurers of the 21st century, is blind. Read more

Meghan Walsh Cioffi

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

The volunteer mentoring and community service that Meghan Walsh Cioffi ’91 took part in as a UVM student lit the fire of commitment to serving people with challenges, which has been her driving motivation ever since.

An active student leader and member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, Meghan Cioffi spent her UVM years engaged with the Center for Service Learning and the Volunteers in Action student club. She learned early the reciprocal value in mentoring through her work with Big Buddies, a program matching UVM students with Burlington children in need of extra support. She also volunteered at the J. Warren and Lois McClure Respite House. Mrs. Cioffi stood out as a student volunteer, acknowledged for her consistency, commitment, and accountability, especially when working with individuals with special challenges. Read more

Robert Cioffi

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Serving the communities that sustain him is the guiding force in Rob Cioffi’s life.

Rob Cioffi ’90 earned his bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in economics. An active member of the Student Government Association, Mr. Cioffi put his policy interests and governance studies into practice as the student representative to the UVM board of trustees, marking the beginning of an engaged and continuing leadership role in the UVM community. Read more

Rick Dalton

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Though he didn’t know it at the time, Rick Dalton was seven years old when he experienced what would become the inspiration for his life’s work.

As Hurricane Diane made landfall in North Carolina in August 1955 and swept up the coast, it left in its wake the costliest devastation of any tropical storm up to that time. Many of Mr. Dalton’s neighbors in his hometown of Westfield, Massachusetts, were flooded out of their homes. Much like the stark view of socioeconomic divisions in New Orleans laid bare by Hurricane Katrina, that catastrophic event in Mr. Dalton’s community revealed deep inequities between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Read more

Steven Grossman

Doctor of Human Letters, honoris causa

Over the past ten years, Steven Grossman, UVM Class of 1961, has been the philanthropic force behind the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business and its dramatic rise to national and international prominence.  As a result of Mr. Grossman’s generous support, the Grossman School is now ranked among the top nine business schools internationally—and one of the top three in the U.S.—for social impact.

During UVM’s last comprehensive campaign ending in 2019, the Grossman Family Foundation made a historic $25 million gift to the University of Vermont that transformed business education at the University and sparked $18.8 million from other donors through a challenge initiative for a total of $43.8 million in support of the School of Business.  The Grossman Family Foundation’s philanthropic support enabled the School of Business to expand its faculty, revise and strengthen the undergraduate curriculum, and launch a new MBA program, the Sustainable Innovation MBA or SI-MBA.  Propelled by this support, the SI-MBA now sits near the top of national and international rankings.  In acknowledgement of this gift, in 2015 the University named the School of Business the Grossman School of Business.  The Grossman School became the second named academic unit at the University of Vermont. Read more