Champlain's largest class graduates with honors


BURLINGTON -- Champlain College President David F. Finney conferred 520 associate and bachelor degrees to the largest graduating class in the College's history on May 3, under a tent on Edmunds Field adjacent to Skiff Hall.

More than 4,000 people attended the ceremony.

The College's 136th Undergraduate Commencement presented honorary degrees to a nationally known creative educator Fern Tavalin, and two Vermont philanthropists, Bob Stiller, founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and his wife, Christine Stiller, president of the Stiller Family Foundation and Adventure Girls of VT.

Tavalin spoke about the history of the internet and creativity on behalf of the honorary degree recipients. She received a Doctor of Fine Arts honorary degree. Bob Stiller received a Doctor of Commerce honorary degree, and Christine Stiller will receive Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree.

The Stillers were honored in part for their support of the College through The Stiller Family Foundation. In 2012, the Foundation announced a major grant to Champlain to help establish the Robert P. Stiller School of Business and a permanent endowment to promote programs in Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology based business and community management approaches.

Marguerite Dibble '12, founder of Birnam Wood Games in Burlington, offered the Alumni Welcome and Chelsea Hutching '14, president of the Student Government Association delivered the Senior Address.

President David Finney delivered his signature "You" address to students offering up a long list of accomplishments of the Class of 2014 in the classroom, in the community and at play. This was Finney's last commencement as President of the College. He began in 2005 and will retire on June 30. His replacement, Donald J. Laackman of Chicago, will begin on July 1.

The College also marked the 50th anniversary of the school's Alma Mater, composed by James Beams of Richmond who wrote the music in 1964. Beams, a professional opera performer and music educator, performed the Alma Mater with Registrar Becky Peterson and senior Marketing major Kayla Hedman of Griswold, Conn., at the conclusion of the ceremony.

About Champlain College: Since 1878, Champlain College has provided career-focused education to students from its hilltop campus in Burlington. Champlain's distinctive educational approach embodies the notion that true learning only occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain offers traditional undergraduate and online undergraduate courses, along with online certificate and degree programs and eight master's degree programs. Champlain offers study abroad programs at its campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 378 Colleges: 2014 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2013 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit


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