In an effort to celebrate its graduating class in spite of the public health situation that still precludes large, in-person gatherings, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will host a Virtual Commencement Ceremony in place of its traditional commencement exercises for the second time in its history. UMPI’s 112th Commencement Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. on UMPI’s Youtube channel.
“While we look forward to the time when we are once again able to do a live and in-person commencement ceremony, we are grateful to have another way that we can gather—virtually—and celebrate our Class of 2021,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “Because we aren’t able to safely provide for a live, in-person commencement this spring, our Commencement planning committee has been hard at work ensuring that we have alternate ways to celebrate this graduating class, which has persevered through one of the toughest academic years imaginable.”
This year’s Commencement will again feature shortened graduation speeches, the presentation of degrees accompanied by a slideshow featuring each of the graduates, and culminate in a distance-friendly tossing of the caps. UMPI again has arranged for caps and gowns to be shipped to students’ homes. Members of the Class of 2021 are encouraged to don their regalia at home, tune in to the ceremony, host virtual watch parties with family and friends, and share their experiences on social media using #umpigrad2021.
Along with greetings from UMPI and University of Maine System officials, UMPI Student Commencement Speaker Deborah MacCallum Klane will address the Class of 2021, and Kris Doody, CEO of Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services, will deliver the commencement address.
Kris Doody, RN, MSB, FACHE, is a 1983 alumna of UMPI. She has been an outstanding advocate in the realms of healthcare and service to community for more than three decades. She joined Cary Medical Center in Caribou as a certified nurse’s aide at the age of 15. After serving as a nurse and later manager of surgical services, she was named Chief Operating Officer in 1995 and subsequently Chief Executive Officer in 1999. During her time as COO, she also earned a Master’s degree in Business from Husson College.
Doody has served her community in many capacities during her career. She has served on the Aroostook Partnership for Progress board of directors since 2006 and as its chair from 2010-2012, as well as on the boards of the Caribou Chamber of Commerce, County Federal Credit Union, and United Way of Aroostook. At the state level, she has served as Chair of the Maine Hospital Association Board of Directors and Chair of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. She has served at the national level with the American Hospital Association Board of Directors and was appointed Chair of the AHA’s National Committee on the Future of Rural Health Care in 2019.
She has been regionally and nationally recognized for her leadership skills; most recently including being named one of the Nation’s 60 Top Rural Hospital CEOs by Becker’s Hospital Review, American Hospital Association Trustee of the year and Quorum Health Resources CEO of the Year. She was featured in Mainebiz’s Women to Watch in 2009 and was inducted into the Junior Achievement Maine Business Hall of Fame in 2019. She is also the recipient of the Executive Sponsor Summit Award from the Service Excellence Institute, the Alpha Star Award from National Job Corps, and the Business & Professional Women’s Woman of the Year for the State of Maine in 2000.
Both Doody and Larry M. Shaw, President and CEO of MMG Insurance who delivered last year’s commencement address, will be presented with Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees and participate in official hooding ceremonies as part of the Virtual Commencement.
Throughout his tenure, Shaw has been an outstanding advocate for workforce development, the strengthening of positive and mutually beneficial relationships between higher education and the business sector, as well as a great benefactor to Aroostook County, culturally as well as economically.
In addition to these speakers and the traditional elements of a Commencement ceremony, this Commencement promises a few unexpected elements and surprises. There will also be an opportunity for graduates to take part in virtual gatherings with faculty, staff, and the Alumni Association via Zoom video after the ceremony. These gatherings will allow small groups to come together, share the excitement of the day with each other, and celebrate this year’s graduates.
Understanding that this event cannot replace a live graduation experience, the University plans to provide two other opportunities for the Class of 2021. Organizers hope to host a Live Celebratory Event for 2020 and 2021 graduates during Homecoming Weekend in September, giving participants an opportunity to celebrate with the UMPI community, friends, and family during an official, in-person University event. Graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 also will be invited to march in UMPI’s 2022 Commencement Exercises.
“We recognize that this is a graduating class that has experienced such an incredibly different academic year than those students who came before them, so we want each graduate to know that they are cared for and ensure that they are celebrated,” President Rice said. “We are incredibly proud of their efforts to persevere throughout their junior and senior years of college—they’ve shown amazing determination and resourcefulness and we know that, while these experiences have helped to shaped them, they will use them, in turn, to shape a better world.”