By Kevin Coburn, courtesy of Green Mountain College
Photo One: Green Mountain College Graduation Speaker Mindy Lubber
Photo Two: Bagpiper Ian MacDonald leads the procession down Main Street in Poultney. He was followed by international students carrying flags from their native country.
POULTNEY— Green Mountain College awarded diplomas to 151 students during its 178th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16. The graduation speaker was Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, the leading U.S. coalition of investors and environmental leaders working to improve corporate environmental, social and governance practices. During the ceremony she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from GMC.
Lubber said that while energy policy continues to be debated in the halls of power, private industry is already adjusting strategies as a result of global warming, population growth and the promise of renewable energy.
“We will need $1 trillion of new money a year to build a new energy future — but those investments are being made. The clean energy economy is growing, we’re seeing more electric cars, we’re seeing competitive wind and solar industries and with that, an explosion of purchases of wind and solar energy. Coal burning power plants are being shut down… and utilities are starting —because they must —to change the way they do business. They need to buy back solar and wind energy that you all are creating and put it into their systems.”
Lubber told the graduates that clean energy policy and the fight to slow global warming is the great challenge of their generation. “We can’t wait for someone to step in. It is in your hands. It is your time,” she said.
Lubber joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1995 as a senior policy advisor, and was named administrator of the EPA’s New England Regional Office under President Bill Clinton in 2000.
Student speaker Peyton Jones of Asheville, N.C., was the student speaker. An environmental studies major with a concentration in policy, Jones reminded her classmates that their graduation was in part a measure of hard work, but also the result of good fortune. “Michael Lewis once said, ‘don’t be deceived by life’s outcomes,’” she said. “I think what he meant is it’s easy to feel that being here means we deserve to be here. But we have all ‘lucked into plenty.’ And now we owe a ‘debt to the unlucky.’”
Jones will work for the Intentional Endowment Network (IEN) after graduation. She called on fellow graduates to use their education to serve others. “With the luck and privilege that has brought us here today, we have a duty to participate in making the world a better place and not acting as free riders. We have each been given the gift of education. And the burden. Because as the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. And we are leaving Green Mountain College less ignorant than before. But I have no doubt that we will find bliss despite the burden.”