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News Release

VLS to Host Commencement Exercises May 21

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


Vermont Law School (VLS) will celebrate the graduating class of 2022 when it hosts its 46th commencement exercises Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. on the South Royalton green. 

During the ceremony just more than 200 students will be presented for juris doctor, master of laws, master’s degrees, and graduate certificates. Due to COVID, it will be the school’s first in-person commencement since 2019. 
“The entire VLS community is looking forward to once again being able to come together and celebrate our graduates in person,” said Beth McCormack, VLS's interim president and dean. “The class of 2022 has overcome extraordinary obstacles to reach graduation day, and we are excited to celebrate their accomplishments.” 

Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, who earned her juris doctor from VLS in 2014, will deliver the 46th commencement address and be honored for her contributions to the international community and Vermont with an honorary degree. The school will also confer honorary degrees upon Pat Parenteau, a VLS professor of law and Environmental Advocacy Clinic senior counsel, and Gale Burford, a distinguished visiting scholar of restorative justice at VLS and professor emeritus of social work at the University of Vermont (UVM).

Parenteau will deliver the 2022 Commencement Honorary Degree Lecture – The First Generation of Environmental Advocacy, and Lessons for the Next – Friday, May 20, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. It can be viewed online at 

About the 46th Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients 

VLS alumna and faculty member Molly Gray JD’14 is Vermont’s 82nd lieutenant governor, and the fourth female in the state’s history to hold the position. Prior to her election in 2020, Lt. Gov. Gray served as an assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. She has nearly a decade of experience working in the public and private sectors as a practitioner and researcher in the areas of human rights, international humanitarian law, business, human rights, and national security.

Professor Pat Parenteau is retiring from VLS after 30 years at the school. Currently professor of law and senior counsel at the Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Professor Parenteau previously served as director of the Environmental Law Center for six years. In 2004, he founded the VLS Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, a model for environmental law clinics nationwide. 

At UVM, Professor Gale Burford served as department chair and as director of the University-State Child Welfare Training Partnership. He facilitated the beginnings of the Vermont Community Justice Consortium starting in 2001 through to its formalization. While at UVM, he carried out a multi-year study of the state’s efforts to implement family engagement approaches in its work with children and families.

Professor Burford has extensive experience in public service as a foster and group home parent, caseworker, and social work practitioner, trainer, supervisor, manager, and senior administrator in services for children, young people, and their families. He also maintained a private practice of individual, group, and family counseling for 25 years. 

The development of VLS's restorative justice program is directly attributable to the work of Professor Burford.