Southern Vermont College to Honor Three D.C. Officials at Commencement: Former Commissioner of Social Security, CEO of the Special Libraries Association and Brigadier General

April 12, 2013

Southern Vermont College has announced that it will award the Honorary Degree of Humane Letters to three national leaders at its 86th Commencement on Saturday, May 11. The recipients are: Michael J. Astrue, former Commissioner of Social Security; the Honorable Janice Lachance, Esq, Chief Executive Officer of the Special Libraries Association; and Brigadier General Barrye L. Price, U.S. Army.  The announcement was made by SVC President Karen Gross who recently completed a year in Washington, D.C., as a senior policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Education.

Gross said that the school wishes to honor leaders who have encouraged civic engagement through government service and through their own community service work. “Education’s mission, above all else, is to develop thoughtful and engaged citizens in our democratic process,” Gross said. “These three individuals are the embodiment of that mission, serving our nation with extraordinary talent, honor and pride.”  After the robing ceremony, each honoree will address the graduating class briefly in lieu of a single Commencement speaker. 

At past Commencements, SVC has awarded Honorary Degrees of Humane Letters to, among others, former U.S. figure skating champion/diplomat Michelle Kwan, Top Chef/UNICEF Ambassador Marcus Samuelsson and renowned Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.

For more information about Michael J. Astrue:


Michael J. Astrue recently finished six years as Commissioner of Social Security, where he managed over 60,000 employees and served as a Trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. He spearheaded fast-track approval processes for the most severely disabled, introduced an award-winning suite of electronic services, and replaced the agency’s antiquated data center. An honors graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, he served four Presidents, including as Associate Counsel to the President and General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he helped write the FDA’s accelerated drug approval plan and successfully tried the first federal HIV discrimination enforcement case. As a biotech CEO, he led a major turnaround and became widely known as an expert on drugs for rare diseases. He has served as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and on other corporate and nonprofit boards. He is the author of four books, with another due early next year.

For more information about Janice Lachance:

Janice R. Lachance is the CEO of the Special Libraries Association, a 9,000-member organization working in 75 countries throughout the world. Since 2003, she has led staff and volunteers in reforming the organization to meet the needs of information professionals across corporate, academic and government settings. Among her credits are creating Click University, expanding the public policy program and leading research efforts on the future role of information professionals. Lachance was a member of the U.S. delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 and participated in the Internet Governance Forum sponsored by the United Nations. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to work as Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s independent human resources agency. Lachance earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Manhattanville College and a Juris Doctorate from Tulane University School of Law.

For more information about Brig. General Barrye Price:

Brigadier General Barrye L. Price is the Director of Human Resources Policy Directorate, Army G1 in the Pentagon. He is the 1985 Distinguished Military Graduate of the University of Houston’s College of Business Administration. He earned a Master of Arts degree in History in 1994 from Texas A&M University, and in 1997 he became the first African-American to obtain a doctorate from the Department of History at the University. He also earned a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University in 2004. Brig. General Price has earned multiple medals and honors, serving at home and abroad, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal. In 2000, he served on the President and First Lady’s Task Force on “Raising Responsible and Resourceful Teenagers”; he also served on President Clinton’s “Mississippi Delta Task Force,” and is the author of the 2001 volume:  Against All Enemies Foreign and Domestic:  A Study of Urban Unrest and Federal Intervention Within the United States. He is an author and avid lecturer.