More than 10,200 family members and friends attended the University of Maine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena on campus today.
Most of the 1,660 students — undergraduates, master’s and doctoral — receiving degrees from UMaine this year were on hand for one of the two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. In addition, a Graduate Student Recognition Ceremony was held Friday afternoon.
This year’s honorary degree recipients were Maine singer-songwriter David Mallett of Sebec and international best-selling author Dr. Tess Gerritsen of Camden.
As the Commencement speaker for the morning ceremony, Mallett performed two of his legendary songs, “I Knew This Place” and “Garden Song.” He told the audience that he discovered songwriting as a University of Maine student studying theater. He also met his wife at UMaine.
“I wrote my first well-known song two miles from here in Old Town,” said Mallett, whose performance ended with a standing ovation.
Gerritsen’s address focused on creativity — “making connections between things that no one else has tried combining before,” and finding ways to blend unrelated elements into something new and remarkable.
She talked about her creative writing process and encouraged the students to become similar lifelong collectors of information by reading, exploring and cultivating new interests.
“A builder studies an anthill and sees a new design for an underground parking lot,” Gerritsen said. “A musician goes bird-watching, hears a robin sing, and it becomes the melody of his new song. A scientist walks on a beach, picks up a seashell and admires its beautiful internal curves. Years later, as he’s struggling to understand the structure of a protein, he remembers that seashell and suddenly the protein makes sense. When he first picked up the shell, he had no idea that studying it would ever be important until one day, it is.”
Others honored in the Commencement ceremonies were this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian — Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass., respectively. Ventura received a bachelor’s degree in music education. Chalmers, an honors student, received two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She also minored in education and Spanish.
Between the Commencement ceremonies, five faculty members were honored at the annual Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon — Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, as the 2014 Distinguished Maine Professor; J. Malcolm Shick, professor of zoology and oceanography, the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; School of Computing and Information Science Professor M. Kate Beard-Tisdale, the 2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; the 2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award recipient it Bruce Segee, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group; and Sandra Sigmon, professor of psychology, recipient of the 2014 ADVANCE Rising Tide Center Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745