Honorary Degree Citation: Peter Shumlin
For 30 years, your dedication to public service has exhilarated Vermonters and those who love our state. We celebrate your special commitment to education as an integral part of Vermont’s bright future.
You were born and raised in the neighboring town of Putney, of parents who were educational entrepreneurs and who launched Putney Student Travel agency in their renovated barn. Although as a child you, as you like to say, “learned differently,” your work with inspired teachers sparked a lifelong engagement with education.
You graduated from Wesleyan University, took over the family business with your brother Jeff, and, starting at the tender age of 24, served as a select board member in Putney. There you championed the founding of Landmark College, designed for students with learning differences, over a rival plan to build a prison.
You served three years in the Vermont House of Representatives and then eight terms as state senator, including leading the senate as President Pro Tem, before being elected governor in 2010, and then again in 2012. Through your years of service, education has been a central theme of your ambitious agenda, along with creating jobs, controlling health care costs, and making crucial investments in Vermont’s renewable energy future.
You have said Vermont could “provide the brainpower, make the products, and seize the job opportunities a lower carbon economy requires.” You were the first sitting governor in the United States to preside over a same-sex wedding ceremony, and probably the first to be nearly mauled by bears, joking that you were within “three feet of getting ‘arrh.’”
You are convinced, and have been very convincing, that Vermont can become known nationally as the “education state” in the coming years, asserting that Vermont’s education system is “the state’s greatest economic development tool.” In your inaugural address this year you called for the creation of a Vermont Strong Scholars Program, supporting students who stay to work in the state. You have a deep appreciation for the liberal arts, having fostered the global perspective that is in our mission statement.
Peter Shumlin, you are keenly aware of the talents Marlboro graduates possess and the importance of utilizing those precious skills in a democratic society. For your support of higher education and many other social and environmental concerns aligned with the mission of Marlboro College, it is our honor to confer upon you the degree: Doctor of Humane Letters.