Two hundred and nineteen students graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Saturday, May 18, during the 2013 Commencement Exercises – the University's 104th Commencement ceremony. President Linda Schott conferred degrees for the 2012-2013 academic year upon 145 students who participated in the ceremony held in Wieden Gymnasium.
John Cariani, the accomplished playwright and award-winning actor, addressed the graduates as this year's commencement speaker. During the graduation event, Cariani was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree.
Cariani, who has performed on Broadway, in the movies, and on the small screen, and hails from Presque Isle, has been a strong proponent of and contributor to the arts throughout his career. His first play, Almost, Maine, is featured in Smith and Kraus' New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2006, has become one of the most frequently produced plays in the United States, and has been translated into eight languages. His two other plays, Last Gas and LOVE/SICK, premiered at Portland Stage Company and are currently in negotiations for Off Broadway engagements in the coming season.
As an actor, Cariani got his start on Presque Isle stages—including the one in Wieden Auditorium—and has since performed on Broadway. His performance in the Broadway Revival of Fiddler on the Roof earned him an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination. He's also appeared on the silver screen with film legends Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Ed Asner. Cariani is probably best known, though, for his work on television, where, from 2002 to 2007, he played CSU Tech Julian Beck on NBC's long-running drama, Law & Order. He now lives in New York City.
During UMPI's commencement exercises, University of Maine System Board of Trustees Vice Chair Samuel W. Collins delivered greetings. Stephen D. Richard, UMPI Board of Visitors Chair, and Keith Madore, UMPI Director of Alumni Relations, offered remarks on behalf of each organization, respectively. Rena Kearney, a member of the University's Class of 1963, was present and recognized on the 50-year milestone of her class.
This year's event served as President Schott's first UMPI Commencement.
"We are so proud of our graduating class and the hard work they have done to get to this special moment," President Schott said. "We have such a wide range of graduates, from traditional students who are looking forward to careers as environmentalists, teachers, and law enforcement officials, to our non-traditional students who have successfully balanced home and work as they've strived to make a better life for themselves and their families. We wish them every success as they leave here, and we hope to see them return to us many times, both for fellowship and to share their expertise with future classes."
This year's Commencement also included a new feature—the event was live streamed on the University's website so family and friends around the world could see the Class of 2013 graduate. Viewers from as far afield as China, England, Canada, Venezuela, Israel, and Somalia were expected to tune in for the ceremony.
A reception for graduates, family and friends was held in the Campus Center immediately following the ceremony.