Two hundred and forty-five students graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Saturday, May 7, during the University’s 2022 Commencement Ceremony—UMPI’s first in-person graduation since 2019. During the 113th Commencement ceremony held in Gentile Hall, UMPI President Raymond Rice conferred degrees for the 2021-2022 academic year upon 238 undergraduate students and seven graduate students. UMPI also honored members of the Class of 2020 and 2021, who had the opportunity march in this ceremony.
Former UMPI President Donald N. Zillman and first lady Linda G. Zillman addressed the graduates as this year’s commencement speakers. During the graduation event, the Zillmans were presented with Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees.
Dr. Donald N. Zillman served as UMPI’s 10th president, overseeing the establishment of several renewable energy projects on campus, the addition of its state-of-the-art GIS laboratory, and more than $4 million in renovations to the campus’s major classroom building. He served in several leadership capacities on multiple University of Maine System campuses, including Interim President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent from 2001-2002, Interim Provost and Academic Vice President at the University of Maine from 1999-2000, and the Dean of the University of Maine School of Law from 1991-1998. He also held the Godfrey Professorship of Law at Maine Law from 1990 until his retirement in 2019 and is the Emeritus Godfrey Professor of Law at Maine Law. He previously taught at Arizona State Law School and the University of Utah. Over the years, he has published 80 books and articles on a wide range of subjects.
Linda G. Zillman has been a strong advocate of the arts and higher education in Maine for decades. She served on the Board of Portland Ballet for three years, and has been on the Alliance Board of the Art Museum (now the Zillman Art Museum of the University of Maine in Bangor) for 16 years. Through a naming gift she and her husband made, the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor was expanded and enhanced; the museum was subsequently named the Linda G. and Donald N. Zillman Art Museum. At UMPI, she helped to secure a gift of over 100 works of art from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts through its Photographic Legacy Project, and, together with her husband, saw to the establishment of the Zillman Family Professorship as well as the Zillman Family Greenhouse, the newest building on the UMPI campus.
During UMPI’s commencement exercises, Michael Michaud, of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, delivered virtual greetings on behalf of the University of Maine System. As well, Stephen Richard, UMPI Board of Visitors Chair; Stacey Emery, UMPI Faculty Assembly Chair; and Craig Cormier, UMPI Alumni Association President, offered remarks on behalf of each organization, respectively. In addition, Miranda Washinawatok served as the Class of 2022 Commencement Speaker. The gathering also received a surprise video message from NASA Astronaut and Caribou native, Dr. Jessica Meir.
“This is an incredibly special graduation for us—our first chance in a very long time to come together in-person to celebrate the achievements of our graduates, our first opportunity to have graduates in our new Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program participate, and our first time recognizing each graduating student during an in-person commencement, whether they are able to march or are participating virtually,” President Rice said. “I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this day so special for our graduates and commend all members of our Classes of 2022, 2021, and 2020 for what they’ve accomplished during their time with us. We are proud of our UMPI Owls and, as we often say, we can’t wait to see where their wings take them.”
This year’s Commencement was livestreamed so that graduates who couldn’t attend in person could still participate in the ceremony, and so family and friends would have the opportunity to see the Class of 2022 graduate. Viewers from around the world were expected to tune in for the ceremony, which is now available for viewing on UMPI’s YouTube channel.
A tradition at this year’s event was the presentation, to all marching graduates, of a special symbol of campus. Each graduate was given a lapel pin depicting a snowy owl with its wings outstretched in flight. Meant to symbolize how each of them is spreading their wings and soaring on to great heights, graduates were asked during Commencement, “Where will your wings take you?” They will have the opportunity to share their stories—about contributions they make in their career fields, ways that they serve their communities, and adventures that they have around the world—on the website www.umpi.edu/yourwings. All alums, not just this year’s graduating class, are encouraged to add their stories on this site.
A reception for graduates, family, and friends was held outside Gentile Hall immediately following the ceremony.