Champlain College to Confer Two Honorary Degrees at May 9 Commencement Ceremony

Champlain College commencement on May 9

BURLINGTON, VT - Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman will confer 424 associate and bachelor degrees on May 9 during the College's 137th Undergraduate Commencement. The ceremony will include presenting honorary Doctor of Commerce degrees to Sara Byers, president of Leonardo's Pizza, and David Binch, former director of the Vermont Information Technology Center.

Byers is a native Vermonter raised in Burlington. Her professional career began with the Gap, Inc., where she worked for 11 years. In 2001, she returned to Vermont and joined her family's business, Leonardo's Pizza.

Byers is now the President of Leonardo's Pizza, a New England pizza delivery company and Leonardo's of Vermont, which distributes wholesale pizza sauce nationally. She serves as President of the Lund Board of Directors; Chair of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Vice Chair of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Board of Directors; and as a board member at Mater Christi School.

She was appointed in 2013 to the Governor's Business Advisory Council on Health Care Financing. Her honors include receiving the 2012 United Way Health Building Block Award; the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Rising Star Award; and the Women Helping Battered Women's 2009 Community Spirit Award. Byers is also a graduate of the Leadership Champlain and Excellence in Executive Leadership program.

In February, Byers spoke to Champlain students on the importance of networking, mentorship, peer-to-peer support, and women's empowerment. She lives in Essex Junction with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

The second recipient, David Binch received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University. He was president and CEO of Champlain Cable Corporation for 20 years, where, among his other duties, he was active in licensing Champlain Cable technology worldwide. He worked with Swiss technology company, Huber+Suhner AG, to establish a division in the US, which was subsequently moved to Vermont. Binch then worked out of Huber+Suhner's Swiss headquarters for two years before returning to Vermont where he is the past chairman of its North American group.

Binch is a board member of the Vermont Information Technology Center, a former president and board member of GBIC, and on the Chittenden County Workforce Investment Board. Other positions he has held are chair of the Vermont Arts Council and of the Jericho Economic Development Committee. He is a past president of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. He served on the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematics Board of Advisors and was a co-founding director of the Champlain College BYOBiz entrepreneurship program.

Commencement Day Details
The 137th Commencement will be held Saturday, May 9 at Edmunds School field, adjacent to the College off Main Street. The main entry gate 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 immediately follow the ceremony. Admission to the May 9 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
Seniors participating in the ceremony are required to attend the graduation rehearsal on Thursday, May 7. The tradition of parading from the College, down Main Street to the Burlington Waterfront for the senior boat cruise on Lake Champlain will follow. For more information about graduation, visit the website 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