President Linda Schott has announced that J. Duke Albanese—a national leader in the effort to redesign public education and learning for all students—will deliver the commencement address during the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s 106th Commencement Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, May 16, 2015. During the event, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree will be presented to Albanese.
“We are honored to have Duke Albanese, who has worked tirelessly to provide innovative educational opportunities in Maine for more than four decades, address our graduating class this year,” President Schott said. “Duke Albanese is a passionate advocate for public education and a powerful example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. We look forward to hearing the message he will share during our commencement exercises and hope they will inspire our graduates as they prepare for the next step in their journey. We are also very pleased to be honoring Duke for his contributions to education in Maine and the United States by conferring upon him an honorary doctorate degree.”
Albanese currently serves as a senior policy advisor for the Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit school-support organization based in Portland, Maine, that works with schools across the nation to redesign public education and improve learning for all students. Originally hailing from East Providence, Rhode Island, Albanese attended public schools before earning a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and graduate degrees in guidance and educational administration from the University of Maine.
His career in education has spanned 44 years, including service as the Commissioner of Education for the State of Maine (1996–2003) and a long tenure as the superintendent of schools for the Messalonskee School District in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. Albanese has served on many boards and commissions, including the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees, the George J. Mitchell Institute, and Educate Maine. For six years, he served as Chair of the Maine Children’s Cabinet, which comprises the commissioners of Health and Human Services, Labor, Corrections, Public Safety, and Education.
Albanese is also an education consultant to schools, state education agencies, and national organizations. He has been a nationally sought-after advisor on education policy and practice in the following areas: assisting schools, school districts, and departments of education with the design and implementation of academic reforms intended to improve educational opportunities and prepare all students to access and complete a collegiate education; defining and implementing healthy youth and interscholastic athletic programs at the middle and high school levels; and advising on the policy and implementation of one-to-one computing technology for teachers and students in schools, districts, and states.
Albanese has received many awards for his service, including the New England Association of School Superintendents’ Association’s President’s Award, the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education’s Leadership Award, and the Maine School Superintendents’ Association’s Distinguished Service to Education Award.
He has been a driving force behind the movement to proficiency-based education in Maine. During the last year, he has worked closely with UMPI as officials have redefined the university’s vision and mission to become a national leader in proficiency-based higher education.
Albanese and his wife, Nancy, reside in Brunswick. They have two grown children, Derek and Kelsey, of Scarborough and Brunswick respectively, and two grandchildren, A.J. and Ava.
The University’s Commencement Exercises are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, in Wieden Gymnasium.