Born and raised in East Boston, you call spaghetti sauce gravy - and once compared the mysterious perfection of ingredients and culinary will of your mother's gravy to the art and practice of teaching young children. And amidst the persistent criticism of our public schools, you remind us that each fall "a kind of miracle happens in the United States" as 87,000 schools open their doors to all comers, the smart and the struggling, the rich and poor, the cherished and the neglected, the citizen and the non-citizen.
When Governor Dean turned to you last year as his new Commissioner
of Education, we all said "Too bad for Brattleboro, but great
for Vermont!" You had served as Superintendent of Schools for
Windham Southeast for 11 years and gained community-wide praise
for your leadership. That leadership extended well beyond the boundaries
of the county. You have served in leadership positions at the state,
regional, and national levels. You have been an inspired spokesmen
for children from Montpelier to Louisiana, from San Antonio to San
Francisco, from Washington, DC to Singapore. In the year 2000 you
were voted Vermont Superintendent of the Year.
You are a believer, a defender of public education. But you are also a clear-eyed realist and confident spokesman about the difficult challenges public education faces in Vermont and across the nation, including the paramount importance of teacher quality at all grade levels, high school renewal and innovation, and student support.
As a student of leadership, you know the gravy this time is a mixture of confidence and modesty, innovative initiatives and realistic accomplishments, and networks of people and support.
You said, in a departing letter before moving to Montpelier, that communities that achieve and grow like those in Windham County exhibit an "attitude of expectancy." It is just that attitude that you yourself exhibit, that defines your leadership style, that made you right for us, and makes you right for Vermont.
Raymond McNulty, we are pleased to confer upon you the degree: Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary.