RUTLAND—Seventy students passed across the stage at the College of St. Joseph’s 58th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13.
CSJ President Lawrence Jensen conferred degrees upon the graduates. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Robert Goddard led the processional.
Former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas addressed students, their families, and faculty and staff in attendance, speaking of some of Vermont’s greatest challenges and how graduates can help to confront them – including the state’s declining population and its effects.
“So, here’s my pitch: We need each of you to be a part of our state’s future. We need you to live and work here, to make Vermont your home,” Douglas said. “To use your education to find meaningful work and perhaps create additional jobs. We need you to raise your families here and to contribute to your community and state.”
Douglas also discussed his views on the decline of civil discourse and how graduates can best use their voice to disagree with the opinions of others
“I urge each of you to listen to different voices, to respect others when they speak and to weigh objectively the arguments they put forth. You may not be persuaded. You may become more confident in your own views,” Douglas said. “But, in a democracy, we can’t delegitimize the thoughts of others. We must allow them to be expressed. As many have said through the years, the remedy for speech you don’t like is more speech.”
The former governor continued, telling graduates that their impact on the college should continue long after graduation.
“That’s consistent with a key pillar of President Jensen’s plan for the College of St. Joseph. He wants to ensure that everyone who studies here, everyone who works here, and everyone who’s been a part of the college’s history will remain engaged in crafting the future of this fine institution,” he said. “You will always be part of the CSJ family and I hope you’ll play a role in what’s to come. And I hope you’ll play a role as well in the future of our state and nation. We’re counting on you.”