President Don Zillman has announced that Dr. Anthony D. Cortese will deliver the commencement address during the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s 102nd Commencement Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, May 14. During the event, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree will be presented to Dr. Cortese.
“We are honored to have one of our nation’s longtime and well-known advocates for environmental sustainability address our graduating class this year. Dr. Cortese’s unwavering commitment to and passion for this critical issue is a strong model for our graduates as they enter their chosen careers,” said President Zillman. “We are also very pleased to be honoring Dr. Cortese for his outstanding example of the importance of public service.”
Anthony D. Cortese, ScD, is a pioneer in the effort to integrate sustainability principles and programs into higher education in the United States. He is the President of Second Nature, a non-profit organization he co-founded in 1993 with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz. Its mission is “to develop the national capacity to make healthy, just, and sustainable action a foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.” As an advocate for teaching and modeling sustainability in higher education, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at more than 500 colleges and universities.
Cortese graduated from Tufts University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil and environmental engineering, and earned a Doctor of Science in environmental health from the Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to co-founding Second Nature, he served in the U.S. Public Health Services, the original EPA, followed by five years as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Cortese returned to his alma mater, Tufts University, where he was the Dean of Environmental Programs. In 1989, he founded the award-winning Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute, the first effort in the United States to incorporate environmental and sustainability perspectives into a broad spectrum and number of courses.
In addition, Cortese is co-organizer of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an organization which was launched in 2007 to engage college and university leadership in addressing climate issues. ACUPCC currently has 677 signatories, including the University of Maine at Presque Isle, in its network of educational institutions. All fifty states and the District of Columbia are represented among the signatories.
Cortese is also co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, co-founder and co-coordinator of the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow for higher education, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The University’s Commencement Exercises are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, in Wieden Gymnasium.