Caps and gowns from plastic

Monday May 3 2010


Lynchburg College graduates will be sporting caps and gowns made from recycled plastic bottles during commencement exercises for the Class of 2010 at 10 a.m. May 15 in the Dell. A total of 531 degrees are to be awarded, including 419 bachelor's and 112 master's.

Oak Hall, a leading manufacturer of academic apparel based in Salem, Va., produced the eco-friendly caps and gowns made from 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The "GreenWeaver" fabric is spun from molten plastic pellets. It takes an average of 23 bottles to make each gown.

Connecticut Sen. Robert Duff, D-Norwalk, a 1993 graduate of Lynchburg College, will deliver the commencement address. Duff is the assistant majority leader in the Connecticut legislature.

Duff represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Norwalk and Darien. Re-elected to his third term in the state Senate in 2008, he continues to serve as chair of the Banks Committee and as vice chair of the Transportation and Energy & Technology Committees. Bob also chairs two subcommittees as a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Duff's legislative achievements include a 2008 package of assistance programs and reforms he created to reduce the number of home foreclosures in the state. He has also led efforts in energy conservation and planning, historic preservation, consumer protection and transportation.

Duff is co-chair of the Appropriations Committee's Results-based Accountability Subcommittee, which has started a new program to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Duff has been honored by numerous civic organizations for his leadership, including the Norwalk YMCA, The Workplace Inc., AARP of Connecticut, the Lockwood-Matthews Mansion Museum, the Save Cranbury Association, the Side-by-Side Charter School, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.

In September 2004, Duff was one of only 35 legislators nationwide accepted into the Fleming Leadership Institute. Just two years later, he was one of only two state legislators chosen to participate in the Emerging Leaders' Conference, sponsored by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation.

A native of Norwalk, Duff moved to Virginia to earn his degree in political science from Lynchburg College. He honed his political skills as a student senator, campus leader, and intern for U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn). After graduation, he returned to Norwalk where he took a position as a substitute teacher from 1993 to 1995.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Duff represented the people of Norwalk's 137th Assembly District for three years. He is a real estate professional with William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty. He and his wife Tracey have two sons.

For the complete commencement schedule, check