Norwich grad receives diploma - 25 years late!

l-r, President Schneider, Slater, and Registrar BursteinIn a ceremony that should have taken place nearly a quarter of a century earlier, Gifford Slater '79 finally received his official Norwich University diploma.

From his office in Jackman Hall, President Richard W. Schneider awarded Slater his Bachelor of Arts diploma, with Registrar Fran Burstein assisting. The document, which was signed by Loring Hart and should have been issued upon Slater's degree completion twenty-five years ago, was discovered by accident this past summer during a routine closet cleaning session.

President Schneider and Gifford SlaterThe antique sheepskin, still packaged in the original mailing tube in which it was to have been sent, was found in a long-forgotten box in the Registrar's office. When it was brought to Burstein's attention, she checked with Slater to see if he had ever received one, and he confirmed that he had not.

"When my class graduated twenty-five years ago, I still needed to fulfill my foreign language requirement, and so did not receive my diploma at Commencement," said Slater.

In the summer of 1979, after finally receiving the credits he needed in Spanish, Slater was commissioned an Army Second Lieutenant, and immediately reported for active duty in Fort Sill, OK. The diploma, which would have been awarded at Convocation that fall had Slater been present, somehow never made it to the Post Office and has remained at the University ever since.

Slater, upon being notified that the diploma had been found, wondered at first if anyone had checked to see that he had, in fact, met all the requirements for graduation.

Gifford Slater proudly displays diploma"I thought there must be a reason he didn't get his diploma," concurred Burstein, "but his bill was paid, and he passed all his courses. I personally checked the transcript -- and with the Bursars' Office to make sure there wasn't any money owed!"

As an interesting side note, while Slater was out training in the Field Artillery in Fort Sill, OK, his future bride, Connie, was a freshman at Norwich, and was sitting in Plumley Armory when Slater's name was read out during Convocation. They both now reside in Northfield, Vermont, where Slater is a Major Gift Officer, with an office only four doors down from the President.

According to Slater, the long wait to receive his diploma was worth it. "I can now display the official document on the wall to prove that I am a Norwich grad," Slater said.

dweggler@norwich.edu, November 2003

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