Local News
May 6, 2016

Castleton Hosts 2016 Commencement Ceremony

Captain Richard Phillips set to address largest class in Castleton history.

CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton invites the local community, members of the media and friends of the university to attend the first Commencement ceremony as Castleton University on Saturday, May 7 at 11 a.m. in the Castleton Pavilion, featuring guest speaker Captain Richard Phillips.

For five days in April 2009, Captain Phillips became the center of an extraordinary international drama when he was captured by Somali pirates who attacked and boarded his ship, the Maersk Alabama. To protect his crew, Phillips made a conscious decision to put himself directly in harms way, and offered himself as a hostage.

The standoff dragged on until April 12, when members of the US Navy SEALs were able to make the rescue.

“As a Vermonter I look forward to speaking at the 2016 graduation at Castleton University,” said Phillips. “I look forward to addressing the graduates and giving them a terse, to the point, entertaining and memorable talk that they will find meaningful as they start their careers.”

Phillips is the author of A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirated, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, the story of his experiences and his remarkable rescue. This dramatic story was also made into a motion picture by Columbia Pictures titled Captain Phillips, starring actor Tom Hanks.

Philips is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a member of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Union, and a licensed American merchant mariner. He became Captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009. Phillips married to Andrea Coggio in 1987. They have two children, Mariah and Danny, and reside in Underhill, Vt.

“I look forward to informing them of their start, not their finish of their education, a foundation set and firm, and a solid start to their professional careers and lives,” said Phillips.

This year’s event will mark Castleton’s 229th Commencement ceremony, with the largest graduating class in Castleton history, of 533 graduates.

Castleton will be abuzz with activity all day as the baseball, women’s lacrosse, and softball teams all hosting conference tournaments. The baseball and softball players will swap their traditional formal wear for uniforms under their graduation robes and quickly make their way to the diamonds to compete after walking the graduation stage.

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