Upward of 12,000 people attended the University of Maine’s 211th Commencement at Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 11 and heard remarks by alumnus Lawrence Bender, the producer of films that have won a total of six Academy Awards.®
This academic year, 1,665 students — 1,333 undergraduate and 332 graduate students — earned degrees from UMaine.
A 10 a.m. ceremony was held for graduates in the College of Business, Public Policy and Health; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Education and Human Development; and the Division of Lifelong Learning. Graduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture were recognized at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony.
UMaine President Paul Ferguson, who presided over the ceremonies, encouraged the students to invest their talent, success and great achievements in enriching the world and improving the quality of life of those around them. The hope, he said, is that the students’ experiences and education at UMaine have inspired them to dare and to “achieve greatly.”
“You can be confident that your UMaine education represents the very best of Maine and that you, in turn, represent the very best of Maine,” Ferguson said. “It is with great pride that I remind you that UMaine is now forever a part of your identity, just as you are the legacy of the University of Maine.”
UMaine awarded an honorary degree to film producer Lawrence Bender, whose noteworthy projects such as “Inglourious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” have been honored with 29 Academy Award® nominations, including three for Best Picture. His film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which raised unprecedented awareness about climate change, won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature.
In his remarks, which included a standing ovation, Bender said he would not have the life he lives today if not for his University of Maine experience, and he urged the students to find success through consistent hard work and persistence.
“How can you achieve greatness? I would say three basic things,” said Bender, who graduated from UMaine in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering. “One, you must find your passion. Two, failure must be a possibility. And three, never give up, especially when you are failing.”
“The ability to allow yourself to fail is the ability to allow yourself to go full on and to break boundaries. Many times it’s only by failing that you find the real truth. And this is not esoteric, this is basic to the heart of all entrepreneurism.”
Other Commencement speakers included students Emma Burgess Roy of Auburn, Maine, a graduating senior in international affairs, with a concentration in women’s studies; and Lindsay LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine, a graduating senior in food science and human nutrition.
LaJoie is the 2013 salutatorian. The 2013 valedictorian is Spencer Hathaway of Turner, Maine, who received two bachelor’s degrees — economics and business administration in accounting.
Also honored at Commencement, as well as at a Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon today, were four faculty members in physics, insect ecology, finance and computer science. Professor of Physics Robert Lad, director of UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology is the 2013 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
Professor of Insect Ecology Francis “Frank” Drummond is the 2013 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award recipient. This year’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Professor of Finance Richard Borgman. Professor of Computer Science George Markowsky is the recipient of the Presidential Public Service Achievement Award.
University of Maine System Board of Trustees members Samuel Collins and retired Adm. Gregory Johnson, a UMaine alumnus, delivered greetings from the board in the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively.
Alumna Samantha Lott Hale, chair of the University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors, welcomed the new graduates to the ranks of the more than 105,000 University of Maine alumni worldwide.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745