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Madeleine May Kunin to Keynote Vermont Law School Graduation Ceremony

May 1, 2008

Elizabeth Economy Will Address China's Environmental Crisis During Commencement Week Activities

CONTACT: Diane Derby, Director of Media Relations

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT – Madeleine May Kunin—known alternately as governor, ambassador, war refugee and author—will be the featured speaker at Vermont Law School's 33rd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17. The public is invited to attend the event, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the South Royalton town green.

Kunin's new book, Pearls, Politics, & Power: How Women Can Win and Lead, has just been published by Chelsea Green. The book is described as "a call to political engagement" for the women of America.

"I really want to pass the torch to the next generation," Kunin said in describing her latest book and her motivation for writing it. "We have to change this country, and women and other (political) outsiders, people of color, should be there in proportion to the population of the country. That's what democracy is about."

VLS Commencement Week ceremonies will also feature a guest lecture by Elizabeth Economy, award-winning author, C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her talk, entitled "China's Environmental Crisis: A Global Challenge," will be held at Friday, May 16, at 3:30 p.m. in Oakes Hall 007. The public is invited. Economy is the author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004).

Kunin launched her political career in 1972, when she was first elected to the Vermont General Assembly. She went on to serve three terms as Vermont's first female governor, and later as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education in the Clinton Administration. In 1996, she was named U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland.

Born in Zurich of a German-Jewish family, she fled Switzerland at age 6 as Hitler's rise threatened her homeland. Six decades later in her role as ambassador, she convinced Swiss banks to return the assets of Holocaust victims that were looted by Nazis during World War II, and to publish lists of dormant Swiss back accounts from that era. Much to her surprise, her late mother's name appeared on the lists.

In her 1994 autobiography Living a Political Life (Alfred A. Knopf), Kunin attributed her political activism to the lessons learned by the Holocaust, saying, "I could do what the victims could not: oppose evil when I recognized it."

Both Kunin and Economy will be awarded honorary degrees during Saturday's graduation ceremony. Joining them will be John Hennessey, former dean of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth who has served as a VLS Trustee since 1999.

For more details on the week's activities, please visit our commencement pages.

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