Champlain College Awards Honorary Degrees to Commencement Speakers Governor Phil Scott and Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD

Champlain College Students Angela Richard, Robbin Suggs Williams, and Paul Leendertse to Speak During Virtual Ceremony.

Champlain College will award honorary doctorates to its commencement speakers—Vermont Governor Phil Scott and Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD—during its 143rd Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The celebrations will also feature student speakers Angela Richard, Robbin Suggs Williams, and Paul Leendertse. Hilary Delisle, a Champlain College staff member graduating with a Master of Business Administration, will sing the national anthem.

Governor Scott and Dr. Levine will both receive honorary degrees of Doctor of Public Service and Humane Letters for their leadership and lifesaving work during the coronavirus pandemic. Both will address 2021 graduates during two virtual commencement ceremonies on May 15. 

“We’re thrilled to honor Governor Scott and Dr. Levine at our Commencement for their tremendous contributions,” says Dr. Benjamin Akande, President of Champlain College. “Their tireless, steadfast leadership, lifesaving decision-making, and consistent communication have made them beacons of light during this difficult journey. We have deep gratitude for their efforts to protect and promote the health and safety of Vermonters. While we wish we could celebrate Governor Scott, Dr. Levine, and our graduates in person, we look forward to honoring all of our degree recipients virtually in May.”  

Champlain College will celebrate its traditional undergraduate students in a virtual ceremony for students and their families and friends, during which President Benjamin Ola. Akande, Ph.D. is expected to confer 360 bachelor’s degrees. Following the virtual ceremony, small, in-person ceremonies will take place on campus, in which students will cross the stage as their names are read. The in-person ceremonies will follow all health and safety protocols and will include students only; families and friends will watch virtually.  

Champlain will also hold a virtual ceremony for Champlain College Online undergraduate and all master’s degree students, who will be tuning in with their families and friends from locations across the country and around the world. President Akande is expected to confer 114 master’s degrees, 133 bachelor’s degrees and 26 associate degrees during this ceremony. 

The College will provide an online broadcast for both ceremonies at

In addition to the 2021 Honorary Degree recipients, three student speakers will address the graduates: Angela Richard, representing traditional undergraduate students, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education; Robbin Suggs Williams, representing Champlain College Online undergraduate students, is a Bachelor of Science in Business Management graduate; and Paul Leenderste, representing Champlain College Online graduate students, is a Master of Science in Information Security Operations graduate. Hilary Delisle, a Champlain College staff member graduating with a Master of Business Administration, will sing the national anthem. Stephen Wehmeyer, Associate Professor in the Core Division, will give the faculty address.

About the 2021 Commencement Speakers/Honorary Degree Recipients

Governor Phil Scott 

Phil Scott became the 82nd Governor of Vermont in January 2017 and was reelected to a third term in 2020. As Governor, he is committed to making a difference in the lives of Vermonters by growing the state’s economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable. Throughout his years of public service, Scott has listened to, and learned from Vermonters, and is always willing to roll up his sleeves to help get the job done.

Previously, he was elected and served three terms (2011–2017) as Vermont’s 79th Lieutenant Governor. In this role, he launched the Everyday Jobs Initiative—where he worked in 35 different professions around the state—and Vermont Economy Pitch sessions for the opportunity to learn from Vermont’s employers and workers. Prior to that role, he was elected to the Vermont Senate for five terms, representing Washington County. During his 10-year service in the Senate, he was Vice Chair of the Transportation Committee and Chair of the Institutions Committee.

Scott is also active in community service projects. In 2005, he founded the Wheels for Warmth program, which allows Vermonters to donate tires they no longer need. The tires that meet state inspection standards are offered for resale at affordable prices, with all proceeds benefiting heating fuel assistance programs. 

He is a lifelong Vermonter who grew up in Barre and graduated from Spaulding High School and the University of Vermont. 

Dr. Mark Levine 

Dr. Mark Levine was appointed Vermont’s commissioner of health by Governor Phil Scott and began service on March 6, 2017. He has been recognized nationally and internationally for his leadership during Vermont’s pandemic response.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Levine was a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, associate dean for graduate medical education, and designated institutional official at the College of Medicine and UVM Medical Center. He also served as vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine.

At the nexus of Dr. Levine’s clinical, education, public health and advocacy efforts is his heightened interest in improving health at the population level through health policy directed at fostering a culture of health. As Health Commissioner, Dr. Levine takes great pride in leading the Department of Health’s efforts to fulfill its mission—To protect and promote the best health for all Vermonters—and is honored to represent its vision of Healthy Vermonters living in healthy communities.

Dr. Levine received his B.A. in biology from the University of Connecticut and M.D. from the University of Rochester. He completed his internal medicine residency and chief resident year at the University of Vermont, and a fellowship in general internal medicine at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Levine’s general internal medicine practice focused on health promotion and disease prevention, preventative health screening and clinical nutrition, chronic disease management, and solving complex diagnostic dilemmas.

For more information about Champlain College’s 2021 Commencement ceremonies, visit

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