BURLINGTON, VT - Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman will confer more than 450 associate and bachelor degrees on May 14 during the College's 138th Undergraduate Commencement. The Saturday morning ceremony will include presenting honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to musician Grace Potter, and author Katherine Paterson. Both women will address the graduating Class of 2016.
“Champlain is honoring Katherine Paterson and Grace Potter for their professional achievements and the entrepreneurial spirit with which they have pursued their artistic passions,” said President Laackman. “There is a growing emphasis on the arts reflected in Champlain’s curriculum, as exemplified by the College’s new Center for Communications and Creative Media, and both Katherine and Grace offer strong role models for our students.”
“Receiving a Honorary Degree from Champlain is recognition of extraordinary and lasting achievements that contribute to the community and exemplify the College’s values, goals and priorities,” added Provost Laurie Quinn, who headed the honorary degree nomination committee.
Senior Kirby McThompson, president of the Student Government Association and a member of the selection committee, believes both speakers represent the spirit of the Class of 2016. “Both Grace Potter and Katherine Paterson reflect our character as a graduating class and our culture at Champlain. Every one of us, in our own way, has the artistic and creative nature needed to capitalize on our education,” McThompson said. “As our class prepares to embark on our future paths, we welcome the opportunity to hear from two amazing women and be inspired by their stories of how they have achieved success both within and beyond Vermont.”
Grace Potter, 32, is originally from Waitsfield, Vt., is a nationally known musician. She recently released her first solo album, “Midnight” in August 2015. Before that, she fronted the band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The singer/songwriter’s music has been featured on TV shows, promos, and other media outlets. She has performed with other big name artists such as Kenny Chesney and The Rolling Stones and founded the Grand Point North music festival held in early September at Burlington’s Waterfront Park.
Potter has received the "ASCAP Harry Chapin Vanguard Award" for "her endless work towards defeating world hunger.” She received an Honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in 2014 from St. Lawrence University where she attended for two years before pursuing a career in music full-time. She works with many Vermont companies, including Green Mountain Keurig, Cabot Cheese and Lake Champlain Chocolates to promote responsible local food sourcing. In 2011, she helped to raise more than $300,000 in flood relief funds after Tropical Storm Irene devastated parts of Vermont, including the Mad River Valley.
Katherine Paterson, 83, is the author of more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for “Bridge to Terabithia” in 1978 and “Jacob Have I Loved” in 1981. “The Master Puppeteer” won the National Book Award in 1977 and “The Great Gilly Hopkins” won the National Book Award in 1979 and was also a Newbery Honor Book. For the body of her work she received the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 1998, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006, and in 2000 was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.
She is a vice-president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and is a member of the board of trustees for Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is also a honorary lifetime member of the International Board of Books for Young People and an Alida Cutts lifetime member of the US section, USBBY. She is the 2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
The Patersons have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Katherine currently resides in Barre, Vt., with her faithful dog, Pixie.
Commencement Day Details
The 138th Commencement will be held Saturday, May 14 at Edmunds School field, adjacent to the College off Main Street. The main entry gate will open for guests at 9 a.m. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and should conclude by noon. A reception on campus will immediately follow the ceremony. Admission to the May 14 commencement, either under the tent or via the simulcast live-feed in Alumni Auditorium, is by ticket only. Campus and college officials will provide a broadcast link online at www.champlain.edu.
Seniors participating in the ceremony are required to attend the graduation rehearsal on Friday May 13. For more information about graduation, visit the website at http://www.champlain.edu/current-students/academic-information/commencement-2016