Marlboro College

NewsNew President to Honor John Podesta at Marlboro's Commencement

John Podesta

Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff John Podesta will serve as Marlboro College's commencement speaker this year at the first ceremony presided over by his longtime friend and former colleague, Ellen McCulloch-Lovell.

McCulloch Lovell, Hillary Rodham Clinton's former Deputy Chief of Staff, relocated from Washington, DC to take over the helm of Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt., just three weeks ago.

The former Director of the Veterans History Project and past coordinator of the White House Millennium Council, McCulloch-Lovell previously headed the Vermont Arts Council and served as Senator Patrick Leahy's Chief of Staff for 10 years before leaving Vermont for Washington, DC.

In addition to working for the Clintons, McCulloch-Lovell served as President of the Center for Arts and Culture, an independent DC-based think-tank which examines the effects of public policy on cultural development.

One of McCulloch-Lovell's first acts as the small Vermont college's new president was inviting Podesta, a longtime friend and colleague who actually recruited McCulloch-Lovell to work with the Senator Leahy, to serve as this year's commencement speaker.

At the private graduation ceremony on May 16, McCulloch-Lovell will bestow on Podesta an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Marlboro College.

“John's intense engagement in public policy and his dedication to helping citizens participate in the political process, along with his wide range of knowledge and sense of humor, fit Marlboro College's emphasis on informed, creative involvement in the world,” said Marlboro's new president.

Podesta has worked in the U.S. Senate for over a decade, first for Senator John Culver and then as Chief Counsel to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). He joined the Clinton Administration in 1992, serving first as Staff Secretary, in charge of the entire information flow to the president, then as Chief of Staff.   

“Podesta is one of Washington's most recognized policy and political activists,” said McCulloch-Lovell. An educator, marathon runner and art lover, Podesta is known for his wit, his acute political instincts, and his grasp of a wide range of subjects from technology to the environment.

Marlboro President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell and John Podesta on U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy's staff in the 1980s

A professor at Georgetown University Law School, Podesta is considered an expert on technology and the law. He is a frequent TV news show guest, has been the subject of numerous articles, and has seen dozens of his opinion pieces published.

Podesta has been dubbed "Mr. Environment” in the past and currently advises Clinton and members of the U.S. Senate. He also serves as president of the Center for American Progress, a new policy think-tank in Washington, DC.

 In addition to Podesta, longtime Marlboro College trustee John W. Straus will be awarded an honorary Marlboro College degree at this year's commencement. “Since joining the board in 1974, John has been passionately dedicated to the college and has brought invaluable expertise to the board,” said McCulloch Lovell.

After graduating from Harvard College with honors and serving as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, Straus pursued a career in merchandising with R. H. Macy & Co., serving as    Vice President of Macy's from 1958-1968.   Afterward he turned his attention to education, serving first as Vice President for Administration and then as Vice President for Visual and Performing Arts at SUNY-College at Purchase before becoming an independent educational consultant.

In addition to Marlboro College, Straus supports numerous other cultural and educational organizations, including service on the boards of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Federation for the Arts, the National Federation for the Arts, the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, and is an Honorary Trustee of the Browning School. In addition, Straus is a member of the Drawing Committee of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, and a member of the SUNY Purchase Advisory Council.

Straus served as Chairman of Marlboro's Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1988.

Founded in 1946, Marlboro College offers its 330 undergraduate students an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community, and a strong foundation in the liberal arts. The cornerstone of Marlboro's academic program is the Plan of Concentration, an in-depth, self-designed exploration of a field or fields of each student's choosing. The Plan culminates in a major independent project involving research, one-to-one study with faculty in tutorials, and a three-hour oral examination with Marlboro faculty and an outside examiner who is an expert in the student's field.

In 1997, Marlboro College created the Graduate Center in n earby Brattleboro. The Graduate Center offers a wide variety of education and training programs, including graduate and distance education, corporate training and joint offerings with other organizations.

At this year's Marlboro commencement, 55 students are expected to graduate, 50 with Bachelor of Arts degrees, two with Bachelor of Science degrees, and three with Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degrees.

Five members of the class are from Vermont: Rebecca Catarelli of South Newfane, Forrest Gardner of North Wolcott, Heather Greenwood of St. Albans and Georgia, Joseph Reed of Springfield, and Jamie Tarajkowski of Chester and Brattleboro.

 Marlboro's commencement is by invitation only. For more information, e-mail or call 802-257-4333.

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