Champlain Graduates Largest Class in Its History

Honorary Degrees Given to Burton Leaders and Washington Educator

Related Media

BURLINGTON, VT (05/14/2018) Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman conferred more than 1,300 associate, bachelor's and master's degrees to the largest graduating class in the College's history on Saturday, May 12. Two separate commencement ceremonies were held to accommodate both the traditional undergraduate Class of 2018 and the adult graduates in the Champlain Online degree and Master's degree programs.

In the morning, President Laackman conferred 473 bachelors and 13 associates degrees at 140th Undergraduate Commencement under a tent in the Edmunds Middle School field adjacent to the College.

"Class of 2018, today we celebrate you. As a parent, you cannot have a favorite child and as a college President, that wise sentiment applies to students as well. However, I will admit to having a special fondness for this class, the Class of 2018. As I look at the faces in caps and gowns before me today, I see the first-year students who started at Champlain in the summer of 2014, just a few short weeks after I officially began serving as president," Laackman noted.

"I see individuals who have grown leaps and bounds in the four years here at Champlain, students who challenged what they thought was possible through experiential learning opportunities and expanded their cultural understanding through study abroad. I see students who came as first-year students with their own vision and motivation, who were pushed by our faculty to think deeper, more critically, more creatively," he added.

Honorary degrees in Business were also conferred to Jake Burton Carpenter and Donna Carpenter of Stowe, Vt. at the undergraduate commencement. The husband and wife team who lead Burton were cited for their many achievements including turning a Vermont company into a global leader in the sport of snowboarding.

"Perhaps no Vermonter has had a greater impact on the development of an Olympic sport over the last 30-plus years than Jake Burton Carpenter and Donna Carpenter," noted President Laackman. "Their story is an inspiration to every entrepreneur who has ever dreamed of taking a good idea from the dream stage to reality." Donna Carpenter spoke to graduates focusing on "approaching life sideways," in order to accomplish one's goals.

In the morning, Joe Gaetani '06 Business offered the Alumni Welcome to the graduates and their families. Stephanie Doan '18, a psychology major in the Education and Human Studies Division, delivered the Senior Address. Doan urged her fellow 2018 graduates to help foster equitable access to educational opportunities for diverse populations.

Champlain Online and Masters Degrees

An additional 333 undergraduate bachelor's degrees, 47 associate degrees and 485 master's degrees were conferred in the afternoon at the Champlain College Commencement ceremony for Continuing Professional Studies (Online) and master's degree students. The graduating class represented online students from 47 states and eight foreign countries.

Speaking to the online degree graduates and master's degree recipients, Laackman took a moment to salute the families, partners, and friends who supported the graduating students, "We honor the sacrifices you have made. Your support, encouragement, and patience have helped to ensure that today is possible. Your efforts and care have enabled our graduates to achieve a goal that mattered deeply to them. Congratulations to you and thank you for your support."

At the afternoon ceremony, Eric Jollymore '16, who majored in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigation, gave the Alumni Welcome and Shannon Brewster '18, who majored in Cybersecurity, gave the Student Address focusing on perseverance and the importance of being a lifelong learner.

Educator Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, of Seattle, Washington received an Honorary Degree in Humane Letters and spoke to the Champlain Online undergraduate and master's degree recipients.

In describing her accomplishments to the assembly, President Laackman said "Your vision of a world in which all teachers have the leadership attributes to understand and create learning spaces in which all children thrive, and your advocacy for families and communities to support education, is making a difference that will pay dividends now and well into the future. Your role as a scholar, author and educator have influenced countless others to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable among us. Your insights and leadership have opened classroom doors to support the learning needs of this country's most treasured resource, its young people."

Laackman concluded his remarks to the 2018 graduates by urging them to live their lives in the spirit of the Champlain College motto "Audeamus" - Let Us Dare!

More than 6,000 people attended the two Commencement ceremonies with even more watching the online simulcast in the College's Alumni Auditorium.

Additional information, photos and speeches from the Commencements will be available at

See more photos from both Commencement Ceremonies at