Story by Katy Crooks, Critic Staff
Lyndon State College’s list of 2013 graduates has recently added Dr. Ray Griffin, who will be receiving an honorary degree in teaching from the Vermont State College Board of Trustees and Lyndon State College President Joe Bertolino.
President Bertolino met Dr. Griffin and his wife of 67 years, Olive, at the September 2012 Homecoming event. Dr. Griffin was the only representative of the Class of 1942 who appeared. Dr. Griffin was an unofficial representative, however, as he never received his teaching degree from Lyndon. At one point LSC was strictly a teacher’s college, and a teaching degree was the only program offered. Dr. Griffin spoke to President Joe Bertolino about his desire to obtain his degree from Lyndon, his alma mater.
Dr. Griffin began his studies at Lyndon Teacher’s College in September 1940 and attended until December 1941. At the time, Griffin put aside his studies (and his athletics which he also excelled in) to join a machine company and to join the United States Air Force where he bravely served during WWII. After returning home, Dr. Griffin married Olive and started a family. He received his D.D.S from the University of Maryland and returned to Vermont, settling in Bellows Falls where he practiced dentistry for 29 years. Two of Dr. Griffin’s daughters are graduates of Lyndon State: Rebecca (Griffin) Tobey class of 1983, and Judith (Griffin) McKelvey class of 1990, both of whom are teachers.
After hearing Dr. Griffin’s story, President Bertolino, driven by the hope of granting Dr. Griffin the degree which he so passionately desired, began advocating for Dr. Griffin. President Bertolino, members of the LSC community, and members of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees discussed the idea of awarding Dr. Griffin an honorary bachelor’s degree – something which had never been done before.
On February 7, 2013, President Bertolino sent a letter of request to the Chancellor that said “Dr. Griffin is a delightful gentleman…Given his passion to Lyndon, his life accomplishments, and contributions to the State of Vermont, I believe Dr. Griffin is deserving of an honorary degree…I would be honored to present (it to him).” The Board of Trustees met and voted on February 21, 2013 to grant Dr. Griffin his honorary degree.
Hannah Manley, Director of Alumni Relations & Development, informed Dr. Griffin soon after that he would be receiving his teaching degree from Lyndon State at the 2013 commencement. What was his reaction? Pure joy as Manley writes, “He was very happy and most grateful. He’s a sweet man and a true fan of LSC”.
Dr. Griffin bravely served his country, his community and his alma mater which he is set to graduate from on May 19, 2013.