NewsHonorary Degree Citation
You were born just up the road in Newfane, the son of the owners of the general store. You say that you learned early in life that for all the good we get from our communities, we should give much of ourselves back to them. Coming from you, these are not empty words; you have lived that sentiment your entire adult life.
After earning your bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont, you returned to your hometown, and at the age of 25—an age at which many young men’s fancies turn to adventure, travel and tilting at windmills, you became…the zoning administrator.
Your public service continued on the Newfane selectboard and beyond to Montpelier, where at the ripe old age of 34 you were elected Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives. In this time of political extremes, it’s difficult to imagine an era when partisanship could be set aside for public policy, but as a Republican House Speaker, you worked with the people—be they Democrat or Republican—whose abilities could best accomplish the state’s goals.
You left the legislature at the height of your political career, intending to run a business for a few years and then return to politics. That was 23 years ago. The problem was, you didn’t run just any business; you became CEO of the Windham Foundation in Grafton. The Windham Foundation had been created by a man who, like you, believed in giving back to community. He created a philanthropic entity that empowers villages, towns and cities around Vermont to better themselves.
You have thrown yourself into enhancing and expanding the Windham Foundation’s businesses, businesses that fund the Foundation’s many social programs. At the same time, you founded Vermont’s first public policy think tank, the Grafton Conference Project. The project regularly brings together the state’s best minds to examine issues ranging from maternal and infant health care to economic development and environmental protection. The ideas emanating from these conferences regularly inform key public policy decisions in Vermont.
We at Marlboro, who maintain community involvement and academic achievement are critical elements in developing engaged citizens, salute you, Stephan Morse. Your work creates communities that are more than just a place to live; they are a place to thrive.
We are pleased to confer upon you the degree
Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary