Martha RainvillleMartha T. Rainville, former adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard will speak at Norwich University’s commencement ceremonies May 14. Norwich University’s 187th commencement begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Shapiro Field House on campus. Rainville also will receive an honorary doctorate of Military Science.

Rainville served nine years (1997-2006) as the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. She was the first woman in the 370-year history of the country’s National Guard to serve in that role.

Rainville was adjutant general during the largest mobilization of Vermont guardsmen since World War II – more than 2,000 in the last two years. During that time, she established Family Readiness Centers across the state to work with families of deployed solders and airmen. Under her leadership, the Army and Air National Guard in Vermont began working more closely as a joint force, which enabled the Guard to provide a more effective and rapid response to major natural disasters in the state, including four floods and an epic ice storm in an 18-month span.

Rainville has worked closely with senior Defense Department and Congressional leaders in overseeing federal military construction funds including $10 million for a Regional Readiness and Technology Center on the campus of Norwich University. This is the first time a collaboration of this kind between the National Guard and a university has been undertaken in this country.

She has served on the Reserve Forces Policy Board, the principal advisory board to the Secretary of Defense and Congress on matters relating to the Reserve. Rainville has received many awards including the prestigious Medallion Award from Norwich University, an honorary doctorate of human letters from St. Michael’s College and, in 2005, the Thibodeau-Wall Award from the Howard Center for Human Services for her “caring and support of members of the Vermont National Guard and their families.”

Rainville graduated in 1979 from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in education. Following graduation, she entered the United States Air Force and was named a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Officer Basic Military Training Program.

“We are extremely pleased to have Martha Rainville as our commencement speaker,” says Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider. “She is extraordinarily well-respected and is an outstanding example of the modern citizen-soldier.”

Norwich University is located in Northfield, Vermont. Norwich has a current enrollment of 1,900 students.