Fall 2022 Convocation

University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias

Transcript available

Fall 2022 Convocation Program

Define Tomorrow

August 26, 2022 ~ 5:30 p.m.
Alfond Arena, University of Maine

Keynote Speaker

Sarah Risley is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine. Sarah completed the dual master’s degree program in Marine Biology and Marine Policy at UMaine in 2022.  She is a recipient of a Doctoral Flagship Fellowship at the Darling Marine Center. Her research is interdisciplinary, linking social and ecological science approaches and knowledge, and directly engages shellfish harvesters, high school students and other community members in midcoast Maine.

Stage Party

Joan Ferrini-Mundy
President of the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias

Heather Ball
Interim Dean and Campus Director at the University of Maine at Machias

Ersilda Cako
First-Year Resident Assistant and Sophomore in Computer Science

Alyssandra Ciasullo
President of University of Maine Student Government

Robert Dana
Vice President for Student Life and Inclusive Excellence and Dean of Students

Connor Firth
Senior in Mechanical Engineering

Chris Markwood
University of Maine Men’s Basketball Coach

Sarah Risley
Ph.D. Student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences

MJ Sedlock
President of Faculty Senate, Lecturer in Theater and Production Manager and Technical Director

John Volin
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost


Fall 2022 Convocation Program

Processional (weather dependant)

Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band
directed by Christopher White

Indigenous Drumming by the Burnurwurbskek Singers


John Volin, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Land Acknowledgment and Greetings

MJ Sedlock, President of Faculty Senate and Lecturer in Theater

New Student Welcome

Alyssandra Ciasullo, President of University of Maine Student Government

Introduction by Heather Ball, University of Maine at Machias Interim Dean and Head of Campus


Joan Ferrini-Mundy, President University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias

Introduction by Chris Markwood, University of Maine Men’s Basketball Coach

Keynote Address

Sarah Risley, Ph.D. Student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Introduction by Connor Firth, Senior in Mechanical Engineering

Musical Performance

Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band


Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life and Inclusive Excellence and Dean of Students

Introduction by Ersilda Cako, First-Year Resident Assistant and Sophomore in Computer Science

Recessional and Class Photo

Stein Song

Stein Song

Fill the steins to dear old Maine

Shout ’til the rafters ring

Stand and drink a toast once again

Let every loyal Maine fan sing


Drink to all the happy hours

Drink to the careless days

Drink to Maine, our alma mater

The college of our hearts always


To the trees, to the sky

to the spring in its glorious happiness

To the youth, to the fire

to the life that is moving and calling us


To the Gods, to the Fates

To the rulers of men and their destinies

To the lips, to the eyes

To the ones who will love us some day


Oh, fill the steins to dear old Maine

Shout ’til the rafters ring

Stand and drink a toast once again

Let every loyal Maine fan sing


Drink to all the happy hours

Drink to the careless days

Drink to Maine, our alma mater,

the college of our hearts always


Appreciation to the Convocation Planning Committee, the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band, Burnurwurbskek Singers, and the program participants.

The University of Maine is an EEO/AA employer and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 Boudreau Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).

Fall 2022 Convocation Transcript

Hearty Maine Hello, and good afternoon. Thank you for joining us for Convocation 2022. My name is Mary Collias, from Wilton, Connecticut, and I am a current senior in Accounting.  I’m a member of All Maine Women, and Team Maine as well.

I will serve as one of your MCs for today’s Convocation Ceremony.

I would like to thank the distinguished members of today’s stage party for their role in Convocation 2022.   They will be introduced as they take the podium.

We would also like to thank the Burnurwurbskek singers for welcoming us with that ceremony.

I am pleased to welcome our first speaker: Dr. John Volin is the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost for the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias. He was named to this position in 2020 after serving as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Connecticut.

His past work shows deep care and concern for natural resources and the environment, establishing the award-winning UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy. He has also served as director for UConn’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences Program, co-founded the Eversource Energy Center, and was director of the Environmental Sciences Program at Florida Atlantic University.  Provost Volin provides leadership for all academic affairs areas at UMaine and UMaine Machias, particularly faculty development and learner success. He makes the learning, well-being, and overall success of our students his primary focus.

He is also the co-leader of the UMS TRANSFORMS Student Success & Retention Initiative, aimed at providing every student the opportunity to pursue their dream, to shape their identity and sense of purpose through education that prepares them to understand and contribute to the solutions needed to define tomorrow – for themselves and the world they live in.

Please join me in welcoming Provost Volin to the stadium.

Good Afternoon and don’t worry my talk tonight — my welcome— will be shorter than my intro, but I do appreciate that thank you Mary. Good afternoon and a hearty Maine Hello to the members of the Class of 2026 and a warm welcome to all the members of UMaine and University of Maine at Machias communities and distinguished guests who are joining us today.

As I enter my third year as Provost, I remain inspired by the resiliency, commitment, and innovative spirit exhibited by our students, faculty, and staff, and the overall community.

The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed extraordinary challenges across our communities, but those challenges also exposed opportunities – to be bold, to consider what previously was believed unthinkable, and to define tomorrow.

Our flagship mission of teaching, research, and public service was on full display in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid deployment of the expertise of our community proved integral in the state’s response.

We will continue to use our collective expertise to advance the health and safety of our community and our state.

As we have with COVID, we take seriously our responsibility to be a community of learners and researchers, and to engage in service opportunities to improve the lives of all in our society across an array of challenges and opportunities.

Whether it be issues of equity and inclusion, climate change mitigation, rural health care services, advancing racial justice, protecting the rights of women, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented populations – we will define tomorrow by rising to meet the challenges of today.

Defining tomorrow is enshrined in our shared values. These are  Fostering Learner Success, Discovering and Innovating, and Growing and Advancing Partnerships. The determination of guiding values for an institution is critical. But so are the development of our own personal guiding values.

As we welcome you and celebrate your inclusion in this extraordinary community today, I encourage each of you to explore how you will make your mark on UMaine or UMaine Machias. What will be your personal contribution?

How will you excel both in and out of the classroom? What lifelong relationships and memories will you form? Through your exceptional educational experiences, through research opportunities, co-curricular activities, and more – how you define tomorrow is up to you.

Looking toward the future, I encourage you to think about your values, what contribution you want to make, and how we can help support you in your endeavors. You are part of our UMaine and UMaine family, and I wish you the best for this academic year and beyond.

Go Blue!

Thank you Provost Volin

Before we continue, lets thank all our planning committee members, the Pride of UMaine Marching Band, and the Burnurwurbskek Singers who provided our welcoming ceremony to this unceded Wabinaki territory.

Please join me in honoring them with our appreciation for sharing their tradition with us.

I now invite MJ Sedlock, professor and Faculty Senate President, to the podium to provide our land acknowledgement.

On behalf of the faculty at the University of Maine, I’d like to open our Convocation today by acknowledging the University of Maine’s presence on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, and the University of Maine at Machias’ location in the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. Both of our universities recognize that in these homelands, issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites, are ongoing.

Penobscot and Passamaquoddy homelands are connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations — the Maliseet and Micmac — through kinship, alliances and diplomacy. UMaine and its regional campus also recognize that the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination.

As we gather this afternoon at our Convocation, I would like to invite us all to consider how we live and work on this land, and to attend carefully to the roles that each of us play as members of the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, in shaping future relationships with the land and among people.

Thank you.

We now welcome Dr Heather Ball Interim Dean and Head of Campus  University of Maine at Machias to the podium.

Good Afternoon. My name is Heather Ball and I am Interim Dean and Campus Director at the University of Maine’s Regional Campus in Machias. I am grateful to be here today to welcome and celebrate the class of 2026. It brings me great joy to celebrate with you as you embark on a new life chapter at the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias. Individually and collectively, YOU will write the story of your college careers over the next four years through your academic pursuits, extracurricular activities, relationships, and practical experiences.

The trajectory of your college career is all yours – you are in the driver’s seat. I encourage you to take roads less traveled – get to know people, places, and traditions that are unfamiliar, new, and different. Embrace experiences and individuals different from your cultural norms. With each of these encounters and experiences, you will grow and learn and, perhaps you will find and travel roads that you never knew existed.

I wish you the best, class of 2026, and now it is my pleasure to introduce Alyssa Ciasullo, from Woburn, MA who is majoring in Business Management. She is the President of the University of Maine Student Government and is also a member of the cheerleading team.

Thank you.

Hi everyone. You might be sick of hearing this but I’d like to give the biggest hearty Maine Hello to UMaine’s class of 2026! Can we get a round of applause for all of the hard work you’ve put in to be able to be here in these seats today? My name is Alyssa Ciasullo, and I’ll be your student body president for the academic year. I feel honored to be able to be one of the first to welcome you all to this wonderful campus and to, in my opinion, some of the best times of your life. I’d like to start my speech off with telling you a bit about what our student government has to offer. You didn’t hear it from me, but we are hands down the coolest club on campus. We have the power to recognize and fund all student organizations, while representing the student body to administration and even the Board of Trustees. We have several opportunities for leadership growth, are the first to know about things happening on campus, plan events for students, including our annual concert (we had Jack Harlow, Waka Flocka, and Grandson last year!), and so on. If this doesn’t sound like the student organization for you, I’m heartbroken, but don’t worry, we have over 150 other student organizations on campus that might pique your interest. If none do, UMaine Student Government is happy to help you start your own! Becoming involved on our campus makes it a better place to be and offers you plenty of opportunity to meet students with similar interests. Sitting in this crowd, I see the future of UMaine. I see the next executive boards of our existing student organizations, as well as the several new ones that will be created in the next few years. I see the future of student government and a future student body president, but none of this is possible without the work that will go into your next few years as a Black Bear. On top of juggling academics, maybe a job, and possibly a sport, I see you all picking up extracurricular activities and excelling because you are putting in the necessary hard work. Your time at UMaine will fly by before you know it, but the legacy you will create here will last a lot longer. Your legacy starts today and goes past the student organizations fair (which I highly recommend going to), to your first day of classes, first extracurricular activity meeting, first time meeting your future best friends, and continues from there. I wish you the best in your future endeavors. If there’s any way I can point you in the right direction of anything campus related or personally be of assistance to you during your adjustment period, come visit me in the basement of the Memorial Union in the Wade Center. My job as student body president is to help make your lives all a little better. I’m always looking for new ways to represent the student body and better our campus, so please don’t be a stranger if you think you might be able to assist. In conclusion, if there’s one thing that you take away from this speech, let it be that getting involved on campus makes your time at college worth all the hard work it takes to be successful. Getting involved helped me meet my best friends, as well as helped open doors for my future in ways I could never have imagined. I can’t wait to watch your UMaine journey that starts today. Once again welcome to the greatest place that we fondly call the college of our hearts always. Thank you.

Before I turn over my MC duties to Team Maine Member and Senior Skull Gabe Labonte I would like to offer a “Hearty Maine Hello”, our traditional UMaine greeting, to all new international students. In your honor, we are displaying the 43 flags representing all of your countries at the sides of the stage. UMaine is now your home and we hope you will find our community welcoming and supportive and your time here personally and academically enriching.

Thank you Mary. My name is Gabe Labonte, I’m from Lewiston Maine, going into my Senior year, double majoring in Accounting and Finance, and I am the president of the senior tradition society, the Senior Skulls.

Please join me in a hearty Maine Hello and Welcome to Maine Native, Former Men’s Basketball player and captain, UMaine Alum and now  Maine’s 23rd Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Chris Markwood

Good afternoon, I am pleased to join you all this afternoon and take part in my first official University wide official function.  I am honored to participate and proudly represent all UMaine athletics.  I am grateful to have the distinct pleasure of introducing our next speaker-  Joan Ferrini-Mundy is President of the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, and Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation of the University of Maine System. She was named president in 2018 and vice chancellor in 2021.

Dr. Ferrini-Mundy was formerly the assistant director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation, where she subsequently served as Chief Operating Officer. She has provided campus-based academic leadership as an associate dean, and served as professor of mathematics at two land grant universities. Dr. Ferrini-Mundy is a national leader in STEM education research and policy. During her NSF tenure, she co-led the development of a government-wide strategic plan for science, technology and engineering education across 14 science agencies that achieved improved coherence and impact in the federal government’s $3 billion STEM education investment.

Dr. Ferrini-Mundy is chair-elect of the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences and chairs the Academic Advisory Team with FocusMaine. She serves on the boards of Maine Center Ventures, Maine and Company, and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Executive Steering Committee. She also is the vice chair of APLU’s Research Intensive Committee, a board member of the Association of Public Land-grant Universities, and co-Pl of a $240 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. This spring, she was appointed to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science by President Joe Biden and to the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board by Governor Janet Mills.

She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Please welcome President Ferrini-Mundy.

Hello Class of 2026! Welcome to the University of Maine. Welcome to the University of Maine at Machias. For those who are watching this on YouTube (or will watch it on YouTube), we’re delighted to have you paying attention to us here in Orono.

We’ve been looking forward to seeing you – all 1,978 of you in the class of 2026 — at UMaine and at our regional campus in Machias. Here, and in person, and it’s great to be back together again. This convocation is the kickoff to the 2022–2023 academic year.

I’d like to begin by thanking every new first-year student, and your families, for making the choice to come to this university, to the University of Maine, to become a Black Bear. For pursuing higher education during a challenging time. When you complete your degrees here that will have profound consequence for your future. You’ve already heard about the vision that we have for you here at UMaine and well beyond. You’ll be the leaders in our state, our country, around the world. And that’s more important than ever, now that we are coming through this pandemic. We understand what you’ve accomplished and what it’s taken for you personally and academically to be successful and to be here today. And we’re here to meet you where you are, and to show you that we believe in you and we’ll support your growth over these next four years.

Through the years, the University of Maine has held convocations to launch the academic year, but when I arrived here in 2018, we learned that it had several years since the previous convocation. We re-instituted this tradition in 2019, and this is now our fourth in recent times. Convocations are a tradition in academic institutions that go back hundreds of years (not usually held in ice hockey arenas) and they have some ceremonial elements (like our regalia that some of us are wearing) and some celebratory elements (like welcoming all of you). And we have added contextual elements that welcome you to, and help you learn about, THIS university, the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, such as the wonderful Indigenous Drumming you heard as we entered.

I believe that working in a university is the best possible job. It is all about hope, the future, ideas, and community. In just the last week, I can’t tell you how many people have said to me “the students are back – I’m happier, excited, energized.”  You do that for us— those of us that are here— year round. Every new class brings us new ideas, new personalities, and new opportunities to learn from, and with, you. And that characterizes the academic community you have joined.

Our learners, including you, are here from all 50 states and as you’ve heard more than 40 countries. This class is a very accomplished group – one of you did research while in high school to create biodiesel fuel from biomass; one of you is a UMaine employee returning to pursue a bachelor’s degree after earning an associate degree years ago. There are Eagle Scouts, accomplished athletes, a music theater house manager, innovators who developed a drone camera to help in plant monitoring. Many who have faced and supported challenging family and personal circumstances; many more who have done service projects in your communities. And so we are humbled to meet you and to welcome you into the community that you will now shape and change.

You’re coming to a first-rate, R1 university that boasts world-class faculty. Their teaching is informed by their nationally and internationally recognized achievements – they are actually superstars – and they look forward to having you join them in the field and in the lab, in the studio and on the stage to make your own contributions and to shape theirs.

This summer, UMaine faculty and students have been to the Arctic Circle to study sheep farming in Greenland and climate change in glacier fields; they have finished groundbreaking books on topics ranging from sea lice biology to the bioactive compounds in berries to promote health, and the NYTimes-reviewed “Night of the Living Rez.” They have brought in millions of dollars for research and instruction, and you will get a chance to be a part of all of that. They’ve launched new studies to examine how various genetic strains of wild blueberries react to various influences. They have seen the completion of a state-of-the-art classroom and research building, the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center, and they have performed their music, exhibited their art, and shared their theater performances across the world.

This university, with our 10,771 students, provides resources and experiential learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom for you to explore so you can find and pursue your passion. That includes adventures in the bold beauty of the great Maine outdoors. And joining Black Bear Nation fans cheering on the state’s only Division I athletics program and its 17 sports. Or finding a quiet place in the historic Fogler Library or the beautiful Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden.

We are counting on you to get involved, to use your talents and find your voice. Get engaged, be innovative, and make a difference here. For the nearly 18 percent of the first-year class that has been here for Bridge Week and participating in the Research Learning Experiences, you are already shaping the academic community. As I looked at posters today, and made notes of all of the great questions that you would like us to pursue, and to help use to change and improve what we do here at UMaine, I can already see the difference you are making.

Last year, I convened a commission of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders to consider how the pandemic, racial injustice, climate change, the state of civic discourse and other challenges should reshape higher education here at UMaine and at UMaine Machias — and how we prepare our students to define tomorrow.

They’ve provided a dynamic perspective about the role of this university to empower, enable and engage students so that you can be all you can and want to be. Stay tuned through the year and you will hear more about UMaine Compass, and how you can get involved, and shape it further.

They challenged us to provide innovative educational approaches and interdisciplinary dialogue  –  to help you become leaders and innovators who can compete in the global environment and make a difference here in Maine.

We have leadership as a green university focusing on the environment, clean energy and climate action. And you can be a part of this.

We also focused on the well-being of the whole person, and a meaningful sense of belonging in a caring community where students find balance, engagement and development in their studies and lives. So, to all of these ends, care for yourselves and for each other, ask for help, offer help, be kind, and remember that, together, we are stronger.

Your UMaine an UMaine Machias educations will shape you, especially if you explore, engage, and enjoy.

I wish you an exceptional experience at the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, filled with endless opportunities to make a difference and shape your future.

Thank you, and welcome to our academic community.

Our next speaker is Connor Firth.  Connor lives in Vienna, Maine – the northwestern corner of Kennebec County, 22 miles northwest of Augusta.  He is a Senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and a Mitchell Scholar, which is an award given to one graduating senior from each high school in Maine every year.

Hi! My name’s Connor – I’m grateful to both the University and the Mitchell Institute for inviting me to be here today. Welcome to UMaine! It’s pretty great here. I hope I’ll see some of you around the halls on campus. And to add to a day that I’m sure has already been filled with a ton of advice already, I’ll give you one more tidbit. Just a brief reassurance, I am somebody who made a lot of poor decisions in my first few years of college and still managed to make it here. You don’t have to know how everything works, and you don’t need to do everything right on the first try, or even the second. I hope you will remind yourselves of that as you start the new chapter of your lives. I’m also pleased to have the honor of welcoming our keynote speaker today, Sarah Risley.

Sarah grew up in Geneseo  NY, and received her undergraduate degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.  She currently resides in Wiscasset, Maine. She has lived in Maine for the last 5 years- during which time she received the dual Master’s degree in Marine Biology and Marine Policy from UMaine School of Marine Science and she is now enrolled as a PhD student in Ecology and Environmental Science.

Please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, Sarah Risley.

Hello everyone, and a warm welcome to the University of Maine! It is an honor to have the opportunity to share my story with you all today and to welcome you on behalf of the students of UMaine. You are at the start of something extraordinary.

If you had told me at the end of my undergraduate degree that in six years time I would be living and studying in Orono, Maine I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Maine where? Or-o what? For me, my path to UMaine was a circuitous one.

Many have a clear picture of what their future holds from a young age. For me, that was not the case. I knew that I wanted to help people and study the natural world, but I could not clearly define what shape my life would take to reach those aspirations. Even after graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies, I struggled to envision my future.

Before finding my way to UMaine, I roamed from New York, to Nashville, TN, to Philadelphia, PA, and finally to Portland, ME, teaching in community gardens and advocating for food justice as an Americorps member. This work was enriching, but it never solidified into something that I could point to and say, “This is what I am meant to do, this is the right fit.”

I saw continuing my education as a way forward. I always had enjoyed science, but when I enrolled in a Marine Invertebrates course at Southern Maine Community College I found something I truly loved. Now, when I say marine invertebrates, I’m referring to the colorful, often squishy, spineless creatures that live from the intertidal to the deep ocean. This group includes species as unique as the mantis shrimp, but also organisms that humans harvest for food, like Maine’s famous lobsters.

This course, and conversations with professional scientists who became my mentors, helped me to redefine my future. I could envision life as a scientific researcher. It was a career path that integrated my love of ecology with my desire to help others. I began applying for advanced degree programs and came across the UMaine dual masters in marine biology and marine policy.

The dual degree program is interdisciplinary and recognizes that humans are a part of marine ecosystems. From forests to oceans, people rely on ecosystems for food, income, and recreation. At UMaine, I could study the interactions between Maine’s coastal communities and marine ecosystems. And, as an R1 research institution, UMaine could provide the training, mentorship, and resources to allow me to generate meaningful research supporting the sustainable stewardship of these environments.

Happily, in 2019 I was accepted into the School of Marine Sciences to study under Dr. Heather Leslie and Dr. Joshua Stoll. Learning under these advisors was an amazing opportunity, and with their guidance I was able to shape my studies at UMaine.

After studying at the Orono campus for a year, I transitioned to the UMaine Darling Marine Center. The Darling Marine Center is a coastal center for marine and environmental research, outreach, and education. It’s located in Walpole, ME, the Darling Center enables scientists and students to study coastal ecosystems and actively engage with fishermen, aquaculture farmers, and community members through collaborative research.

With the support of the Diana Davis Spencer Fellowship and the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, I began to study the shellfish fishery in Maine. In my research, I collaborate with shellfish harvesters, municipal managers, and local students to understand how and why coastal ecosystems are changing, and shellfish populations, like clams and oysters, are shifting through time. This work is community-driven, guided by the knowledge and questions of those who live and work in Maine’s coastal communities.

This research culminated in a community science program in the Damariscotta River estuary. Through the program, I lead students out onto the intertidal mudflats to collect information on shellfish populations and their predators. We also interview shellfish harvesters, documenting harvesters’ observations of change.

Shellfish harvesters and other fishermen spend 365 days a year in coastal ecosystems and, as a result, are experts with deep knowledge of how these systems are shifting through time. Our students then share their findings to help municipal leaders make decisions about how best to care for their local ecosystem.

I am still amazed that a program like this could be developed as part of my masters degree. UMaine and the Darling Center encouraged and supported this process. They allowed me to define my educational experience and forge a path that integrated my interests in education, sustainability, and social-ecological systems.

Yet, this is not an uncommon occurrence at UMaine. UMaine, the Darling Center, and the Mitchell Center have a long history of helping to launch diverse research partnerships seeking solutions for sustainability challenges facing communities across the state of Maine.

Now, after completing my dual masters this past spring, I am thrilled to say that I will continue on at UMaine as a PhD student, supported by a UMaine Flagship Doctoral Research Fellowship. And I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be. UMaine gave me the support to define my own tomorrow, and I see my future here in Maine.

And now you have taken the first step. Defining your tomorrow at UMaine is a journey and will likely not be a simple path. You will learn about yourself and what motivates you along the way. But you are in a supportive place to begin this venture.

UMaine prioritizes mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities–from internships with local organizations and capstone projects working with professors and graduate students, to research experiences like the Semester by the Sea, where you too can explore Maine’s coasts. There are endless opportunities to envision and define the shape your tomorrow can take, and create meaningful change in the process.

Whether you find yourself studying the health of blueberry barrens or state politics in Augusta, at UMaine you can be confident that you are now part of a supportive community that extends well beyond the university. Welcome to the University of Maine!

Thank you Sarah for your inspiring words. We appreciate you being here with us today and the work you are doing in Downeast Maine.

We are now fortunate to have an opportunity to enjoy the talents of the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band as they demonstrate UMaine School spirit.


♫ Band performance medley 🎶

What a great performance- we can all look forward to seeing the band perform at the first home football game on September 10th.  One of many UMaine traditions you will not want to miss.

Next, I would like to welcome Ersilda Cako to the podium.

Hello everyone. My name is Ersilda Cako and I am an international student from Romania. I am a Sophmore,  computer science major, part of the VEMI Lab, and also a first-year resident assistant at Androscoggin Hall.

It’s wonderful to see you all here today. I am pleased to introduce our next speaker, Dr. Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life and Inclusive Excellence.    As Dean of Students, Dr. Dana is dedicated to creating an engaging, exciting, and safe campus where students are empowered to fully develop their capacity as change agents, and to providing support services to students to help them succeed at the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias.

Please welcome Dr. Dana.

You can do better than that, come on! Get on your feet! Come on, Up up up up up! Up you go! Up up up, yeah! All right. I love that stuff! Thank you for that spontaneous show of love, I’m thrilled.

First of all, let’s give it up for all of these people back here and that band up there. We should give it up for all those people too over there, they’ve been busting it all day to get this place ready for you. We’re so thrilled you’re here.

You know as the Dean of Students, there’s nothing more important to me than seeing people like you. Today is the day we wait for. And when graduation happens, which it will happen for all of you, we bid everyone adieu, we wish them all well, and we say we can’t wait for the next class.

I met a lot of you today, I met your parents, I saw a lot of parents crying, a lot of students pushing mom and dad out the door. But I learned all about the wonderous stories that each of you bring here. This is your new home. Tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday you’ll be meeting each other, getting to know each other, you’ll see all sorts of different things. Who you are will be different tomorrow, you’ll be different than that the next day, and by the time you finish at UMaine you’ll be a citizen of the world in a way you can’t even begin to understand today.

Your experience here will set your course for the rest of your lives. Here at UMaine we care for each other, we love each other, we support each other, we have each other’s backs. We take care of each other— if someone needs help, we give it. If someone wants help, we ask for it. Reach your hand out, and people will reach back. You’ll see me on campus, you’ll see my friends on campus. You’ll remember my white hair which I may paint purple one day… but when you see me I expect you to give me a big high five and a hearty Maine hello. We love you, we are thrilled you’re here, congratulations, class of 2026.

Up you go! Up up up! All right, all right.

All right Black Bears, it is now time for you to learn the Stein Song and to wrap up with your class photo. This is my personal favorite UMaine tradition. I hope you all take the time to learn this song.

Fill the steins to dear old Maine

Shout ’til the rafters ring

Stand and drink a toast once again

Let every loyal Maine fan sing


Drink to all the happy hours

Drink to the careless days

Drink to Maine, our alma mater

The college of our hearts always


To the trees, to the sky

to the spring in its glorious happiness

To the youth, to the fire

to the life that is moving and calling us


To the Gods, to the Fates

To the rulers of men and their destinies

To the lips, to the eyes

To the ones who will love us some day


Oh, fill the steins to dear old Maine

Shout ’til the rafters ring

Stand and drink a toast once again

Let every loyal Maine fan sing


Drink to all the happy hours

Drink to the careless days

Drink to Maine, our alma mater,

the college of our hearts always


Give yourselves a round of applause for that, that was a great Stein Song. And please, give a round of applause to Chris White, director of the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band who has done an incredible job this evening so let’s give him a resounding UMaine applause.