One hundred and seventy-four students graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Saturday, May 16, during the 2015 Commencement Exercises – the University’s 106th Commencement ceremony. President Linda Schott conferred degrees for the 2014-2015 academic year upon 122 students who participated in the ceremony held in Wieden Gymnasium.
J. Duke Albanese, a national leader in the effort to redesign public education and learning for all student, addressed the graduates as this year’s commencement speaker. During the graduation event, he was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters 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.
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.
Albanese is also an education consultant to schools, state education agencies, and national organizations, and has been a nationally sought-after advisor on education policy and practice. 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.
During UMPI’s commencement exercises, Chancellor James H. Page delivered greetings on behalf of the University of Maine System. As well, Stephen D. Richard, UMPI Board of Visitors Chair; Jacquelyn A. Lowman, UMPI Faculty Assembly Chair; and Victoria Winslow, representing the Class of 2015 (read her remarks here), offered remarks on behalf of each organization, respectively.
“We are so proud of our graduating class and the hard work they have done to get to this moment,” President Schott said. “We have such a wide range of graduates, from traditional students and commuters to adult learners and online students. They’ve balanced jobs, family life, and other responsibilities while attending classes, taking part in student organizations and athletics, and otherwise embracing their college experience. Now they’re ready to spread their wings and fly and we’re looking forward to seeing where their wings will take them. We wish them every success as they leave here, and we hope to see them return ‘home’ frequently, whether it be for fellowship activities like Homecoming or lending their professional expertise as we prepare our students for the workforce.”
This year’s Commencement was live streamed on the University’s website so family and friends who couldn’t attend would have the opportunity to see the Class of 2015 graduate. Viewers from around the world were expected to tune in for the ceremony.
Another special component of this year’s event was the pinning of all marching graduates with 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 “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 in the Campus Center immediately following the ceremony.