Deborah Bial announced as Commencement Speaker

President and Founder of the Posse Foundation Deborah Bial

This May will mark the graduation of Posse One, the first cohort of Posse veteran students at Vassar. Thus, it seems fitting that the Commencement address for the Class of 2017 will be delivered by President and Founder of the Posse Foundation Deborah Bial.

The Posse Foundation was born in 1989 when Bial had the idea to send students from diverse backgrounds to college in groups, called posses, in order to help more students reach graduation. Posse students currently graduate at a rate of 90% which is above the national average (The Posse Foundation). Although the Posse Foundation has existed for 27 years, the Veterans Initiative was launched in 2012 in partnership with Vassar in order to provide veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces with full tuition and support at selective colleges and universities. The program has since grown to include Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College, and is expected to expand to 12 of the nation’s top institutions of higher education within the next five years.

Bial received her undergraduate degree from Brandeis University. She then went on to get both a master’s degree and a doctorate at Harvard University where she focused on education with a specialty in higher education administration, planning and social policy. Bial also received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1999 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2007. Her work and that of the Posse Foundation has recruited 6,993 scholars (The Posse Foundation, “Quick Facts”).

Vassar’s 153rd Commencement Ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at the Outdoor Amphitheater.

Stay tuned for a longer interview with Bial in the next issue of The Miscellany News.


  1. A 90% success rate is impressive. WTG, Deborah Bial and The Posse Foundation. I am in favor of education, team building, empathy, hard work, and ambition. It sounds like you are too.

  2. Hi Ms. Deborah Bial my son Dakota Sagnelli just graduated Vassar college in 2016 with an economics degree. I am a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran. I actually always had 10% up until 2015 then was given 100%. With the 100% it gave Dakota some money every month toward his Vassar money owned. I wish it came thru sooner. I want to thank you so very much for starting this program for veterans. Dakota did know two of the young men and always told me these two men worked very hard and appreciated the chance to go to a great school. Thank you. Paul

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