Burton's Jake Burton and Donna Carpenter, and Education Leader Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, to Receive Honorary Degrees At Champlain College

Honorary Degree Recipients at Champlain College

Champlain College will award honorary doctorates to Burton's CEO Donna Carpenter and founder Jake Burton Carpenter of Stowe, Vermont, and education leader Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, of Seattle, Washington during the College's commencement exercises on Saturday, May 12.

Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman will confer 473 bachelor and 13 associate degrees during the morning's 140th Undergraduate commencement. An additional 485 master's degrees, 333 bachelor degrees, and 47 associate degrees will be conferred to eligible students in the afternoon at the commencement ceremony for Champlain Online, Master's in Education, and Master's of Fine Arts degree students.
Donna Carpenter, who will receive an Honorary Degree in Business, will address the graduates at the undergraduate commencement. "Donna's professional achievements leading a global company, advocating for equity in the workplace, expanding the marketplace and promoting women's leadership truly reflects the spirit of Champlain College's mission," said President Laackman.

Jake Burton Carpenter, who started building snowboards in 1977 and by 1988 had helped to make snowboarding a Winter Olympic sport, will receive an Honorary Degree in Business. "Perhaps no Vermonter has had a greater impact on the development of a sport over the last 30-plus years than Jake Burton Carpenter," noted President Laackman. "His story is an inspiration to every entrepreneur who has ever dreamed of taking a good idea from the dream stage to reality."

Sullivan, who will receive an Honorary Degree in Humane Letters, will speak to the Champlain Online undergraduate and master's degree recipients. "Debra has been a leader and visionary in the field of education, with a focus on innovative educational models that cultivate the genius of every child. She has shaped learning environments in ways that change lives," noted Champlain Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics Laurie Quinn.
"All three of our honorees have professional and personal achievements in fields that speak to our educational strengths at Champlain," said President Laackman. "We look forward to having our 2018 Honorary Degree recipients share their inspiring stories with our graduates as they embark on the next great adventures in lives of purpose," he added.


Donna Carpenter
Donna Carpenter has served as Burton's Chief Executive Officer since 2016. She has been a driving force at the world's leading snowboard company since meeting her husband, Burton founder, Jake Burton Carpenter, on New Year's Eve 1981. Her first job included dipping snowboards in polyurethane and answering the customer service line that rang in the bedroom. In the mid-1980s, Carpenter expanded Burton's business to Europe and ran the company's first international office in Innsbruck, Austria. She served as the President from December 2011 until February 2016.

The Burton Corporation, founded in 1977 and based in Burlington, Vermont, provides snowboarding gear, apparel, and related products for men, women, and youth around the world.
In 2003, Carpenter began working to make Burton a brand of choice and employer of choice for women. Thanks to her leadership, Burton now has progressive parent policies, mentoring programs and a diverse leadership team.

Today, she oversees a long list of mission-critical departments at Burton - from human resources, sales and sustainability to women's leadership and Burton's non-profit, Chill, which seeks to build resiliency and self-esteem of under-served youth through board sports. Deemed a ‘Super Woman' by Refinery29 and ‘The Snowboard Ambassador' by The New York Times, Carpenter continues to be a strong advocate for women in the workplace and working to address climate change policies and practices.


Jake Burton Carpenter
Jake Burton Carpenter is Founder and Chairman of Burton Snowboard. Snowboarding has changed a lot in the past 40 years since Jake founded Burton Snowboards. One thing has stayed constant during all that time: Jake still leads the world's most successful snowboard company. He still takes feedback to heart - whether it's from a pro rider, a customer email or a kid who happens to sit with him in the gondola. He still walks Burton's halls, saying hi to the dogs around the office and seeing what's up with his co-workers. He still has team riders over to his house for a four-day roundtable to give the final word on the entire product line. He still weighs in on marketing campaigns and leaves product managers notecards with feedback on luggage design, apparel fits, outerwear fabrication, board flexes and graphics. He still can be found at Stowe almost every day it's open (and plenty of days it's not) hiking for early and late season turns. He is still inspired by the communal spirit of snowboarding. And he still makes many of the company's biggest decisions from a chairlift, not a desk. 


Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan
Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan is the Past President of the Seattle Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute where the primary focus of her work has been around implementing empowering learning environments for Black children and working with families and communities to increase their advocacy for their children.

She is a Past Governing Board Member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children where she served as a Member-At-Large. Her third book, Cultivating the Genius of Black Children, guides teachers in creating classrooms that support the learning needs of black children and many other children with diverse learning styles and preferences. Dr. Sullivan's first book, "Learning to Lead: Effective Leadership Skills for Teachers of Young Children," is a self-directed guide to leadership development for early childhood teachers, aides, assistants, and care providers. Her second book (co-authored with Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, and Luis Hernandez) is titled "Learning from the Bumps in the Road: Insights from Early Childhood Leaders".

Dr. Sullivan has served as the Dean of Applied Behavioral Science at Seattle Central College, providing leadership for the Early Childhood/Family Studies department and Parent Education. Prior to that, she was the Campus Dean of Pacific Oaks College Northwest for six years and was the co-founder and President of the Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education. She is currently working on the founding of Ashe' Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public charter school that will open in 2019 in Skyway, Washington. Ashe' Prep is designed around the research regarding what works best for the most vulnerable, underachieving students and what it looks like when that research is implemented school-wide.

Dr. Sullivan earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, both from Seattle University, and a bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington.


Commencement Day Details
The 140th Commencement will be held Saturday, May 12 at Edmunds School field, adjacent to the College off Main Street. The main entry gate will open for guests at 9 a.m. The undergraduate ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and should conclude by noon. Admission to the May 12 commencement, either under the tent or via the simulcast live-feed in Alumni Auditorium, is by ticket only. Campus and college officials will provide a broadcast link online at www.champlain.edu. Seniors participating in the ceremony are required to attend the graduation rehearsal on Friday, May 11 at 10 a.m.

The Online Undergraduate & Master's commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday afternoon, May 12 at Edmunds School field, adjacent to the College off Main Street. The main entry gate will open for guests at 2 p.m. and the ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and should conclude by 5 p.m. For more information about graduation, visit the commencement website.


About Champlain College Online
At the forefront of one of the most innovative, regionally accredited, not-for-profit colleges in the nation, Champlain College Online prides itself on a long history of providing career-focused education to adult learners. One of the oldest online institutions in the United States, Champlain College Online was established in 1993 by Champlain College, a non-profit private college founded in 1878 and offering a campus undergraduate experience in Burlington, Vermont.

Today, Champlain College Online is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a leader in online higher education and serves more than 3,000 students through more than 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates in high-growth fields like cybersecurity, healthcare administration and human resource management. Through the strategic alliance program known as truED, Champlain College Online has pioneered a bold reimagining of workforce development to create additional opportunities for adults to further their education in Champlain College's award-winning online academic programs aligned to needs in government and industry. For more information, visit Champlain.edu/online.


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 champlain.edu.