Two hundred and thirty-four students graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Saturday, May 14, during the 2011 Commencement Exercises – the University’s 102nd Commencement ceremony. President Donald Zillman conferred degrees for the 2010-2011 academic year upon 136 students who participated in the ceremony held in Wieden Gymnasium.
Dr. Anthony D. Cortese addressed the graduates as this year’s commencement speaker. During the graduation event, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree was presented to Dr. Cortese.
Dr. Cortese is one of the pioneers 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 with a mission “to develop the national capacity to make healthy, just, and sustainable action a foundation of all learning and practice in higher education”. Dr. Cortese is co-organizer of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), 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. He 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.
During UMPI’s commencement exercises, Samuel W. Collins brought greetings from the University of Maine System and its Board of Trustees. Stephen D. Richard, UMPI Board of Visitors Chair, and Keith Madore, UMPI Director of Alumni Relations, offered remarks on behalf of each organization, respectively. Annie Charles performed the National Anthem, while David Ferrell sang the Canadian National Anthem.
Several members of the University’s Class of 1961 were present and recognized on their 50 year milestone. In addition, WWII veteran and Class of 1943 member Edward F. Holden accepted his Certificate of Graduation during the commencement ceremony.
In addressing the graduating class and the hundreds gathered for the event, President Zillman recounted the exciting year the University has had and highlighted some of the stellar accomplishments of UMPI students.
“It has been another remarkable year at the University of Maine at Presque Isle,” said President Zillman. Achievements noted included a national award for institutional excellence in climate leadership, a $750,000 grant received for the Pullen Hall renovation project, capacity audiences at Wieden Auditorium for the UMPI production of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, qualification of its first skier, freshman Welly Ramsey, for the NCAA National Men’s Skiing Championship, and the announcement that Keren Morin, a 2011 graduate, was selected by the Maine Community Foundation as a member of the Maine Policy Scholars 2010-2011 class. “We are very pleased about the successes we have enjoyed this academic year,” stated Zillman, “and excited for our graduates as they build on their successes here and prepare to follow the thousands of University of Maine at Presque Isle students before them in making their own unique mark on the world.”
A reception for graduates, family and friends was held in the Campus Center immediately following the ceremony.