Champlain Honors Stiller Foundation Founders, Educator

Graduate at Champlain College

BURLINGTON, VT - Champlain College President David F. Finney will confer 520 associate and bachelor degrees to what will be the largest graduating class in the College's history on May 3 at Edmunds Field next to the College.  

The College's 136th Undergraduate Commencement will include presenting honorary degrees to a nationally known creative educator Fern Tavalin, and two Vermont philanthropists, Bob Stiller, founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and his wife, Christine Stiller, president of the Stiller Family Foundation and Adventure Girls of VT.

Fran TavalineTavalin (at right) will deliver the address to the Class of 2014 on behalf of the honorary degree recipients during the outdoor ceremony at Edmunds Middle School field. She will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts honorary degree. Bob Stiller will receive a Doctor of Commerce honorary degree, and Christine Stiller will receive Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree.

Two of the honorary degree recipients are being honored in part for their support of the College through The Stiller Family Foundation. In 2012, the Foundation announced a major grant to Champlain to help establish the Robert P. Stiller School of Business and a permanent endowment to promote programs in Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology based business and community management approaches.

Bob StillerBob Stiller (at left) founded Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., now Keurig Green Mountain, in 1981 and served as its President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board until 2007. He received Forbes' "Entrepreneur of the Year Award" in October 2001. He retired as Chairman of the Board in 2013 to pursue a new business opportunity, charitable interests and focus work on the Stiller Family Foundation that was formed along with his wife, Christine, and their children, Julian, David and Christian. Last year the family received the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2013 Award for "Outstanding Foundation" for its commitment to education and community locally, nationally, and throughout the world.

 Christine Grennan Stiller, (at right) serves as president of the Stiller Family Foundation, which has helped create scholarship opportunities for local students, supported programs for kids at the local King Street Center, and is a long-time supporter of the Christine StillerSingle Parents Program at Champlain College. She moved to Vermont with her husband Bob in 1983 and later established a sport horse breeding business in Hinesburg, Vt., and was the coordinator of the Area 1 Young Riders Association. She now is president and founder of The Adventure Girls of VT. Before moving to Florida with her husband, Stiller served for six years as a board member of the United Way of Chittenden County and was active on the Allocations Committee. She is the proud mother of three children, two of which graduated from Champlain undergraduate and MFA programs.

Commencement speaker Fern Tavalin is a nationally renowned creative educator and project director. Her work is recognized for technology innovation, using multimedia and telecommunication to improve student learning in the arts and humanities. Tavalin is the director of the WEB Project, an award-winning initiative that created collaborative online processes for reflection and critique of student work in visual art, music composition, civic discourse, shared literature, and cultural exchange.

The WEB project, that she originated and led from 1995-2005, is one of the first 19 US Dept. of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grants. The project focuses on multimedia telecommunications and consists of an extensive network of schools across Vermont. The Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Arts Council, Center for the Book, and the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education all play a key role in shaping WEB Project initiatives.

The College will also welcome James Beams of Richmond, Vt., composer of the Champlain song in 1964, for the 50th anniversary of the school tradition. Beams, a professional opera performer and music educator, will perform the Alma Mater with Registrar Becky Peterson and senior Marketing major Kayla Hedman of Griswold, Conn., at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Commencement Day Details The main gate at the Edmunds Field site will open for guests at 9 a.m. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and should conclude by noon. A reception on campus will follow the ceremony. Admission to the May 3 commencement under the tent or a simulcast live-feed in Alumni Auditorium is by ticket only. Campus and college officials will broadcast the event online at  

Graduation rehearsal is Thursday, May 1, followed by the tradition of parading down to the Burlington waterfront for the senior boat cruise on Lake Champlain.  

Full information about the Commencement/Graduation ceremonies is available at

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit