A Timeline of Graduate Education at UMaine

The first graduate degree was granted in 1881, conferred to Walter Balentine who earned a Master of Science in Agriculture.

Walter Balentine was born in Waterville, Maine in 1851. He entered the Maine State College and graduated in 1874 with studies in agriculture. Some of his post-graduate studies included time at the Connecticut State Experiment Center and Agricultural Chemistry in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1880, to which he took on the position of Chair of Agriculture at Maine State College and became the founding director of the first Agricultural Experiment Station in Maine. The Board of Trustees for the University granted Walter his Master of Science degree (M.S.) in 1881 for his satisfactory completion of his thesis, as cited below.

Orono June 28, 1881. Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes.

Walter worked as an assistant professor and then professor for the University of Maine in Agriculture.

The first woman to earn a graduate degree at UMaine was Percia Ann Vinal White with a Master of Science in Literature.

Percia was a native to Orono and one of the first women undergraduates at the University of Maine and later took postgraduate courses making her the first woman to graduate with a Master of Science degree in 1882. She was a writer of many short stories published under the name A. Steele Penn. At the age of 79, her novel “Wearers of the Hemlock” appeared in serial form. She carried on her husband’s insurance business for 15 years after his passing. She originated the idea of forming a Women’s Club of Orono, to which she was a lifetime member. She was a charter member of the and first worthy matron of Good Cheer chapter, O. E. S. She was a charter member of the Maine Writers’ Research club and contributed articles for books published by it. She was a member and former president of the Current Events club of Milbridge and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

The Division of the Faculty of Graduate Studies was formally created as a distinct administrative unit at the university. The following highlights reflect a short selection from archived information about the Graduate School.

The name was changed from the Division of Graduate Study to the Graduate School during the University of Maine’s Centennial Year.