95 Graduates Receive Degrees at UMM's 100th Commencement
MACHIAS, Maine – A total of 95 graduates received degrees at the 100th Commencement of the University of Maine at Machias, held Saturday afternoon at the Frederic A. Reynolds Center.
UMM President Dr. Cynthia Huggins presided over the ceremony at which three students were presented Associate in Science degrees, 92 received Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of College Studies degrees, and two Masters of Science in Education were awarded through the University of Southern Maine. Two students, Aaron Whitman and Ranae McHugh, received both a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.
In her charge to the graduates, Huggins urged the Class of 2011 to go on and make a difference, just as the 23 members of the Class of 1912 did one hundred years ago.
“The students in that first graduating class one hundred years ago, with the help of the staff and faculty, gathered their own sticks and kindled a fire,” she said. “One hundred years later, you are the recipients of that fire that they left burning. So how will you express your gratitude by paying it forward?”
“Don’t be afraid to express your gratitude for the good things that come your way in life, and welcome every opportunity to do something in return,” Huggins said. “Pay it back in a way that makes sense for you, given your unique talents and gifts.”
Dr. William Eckart, Jr., retiring professor of recreation management who has taught at UMM for 31 years, delivered a commencement address that focused on change.
“This institution is here to create change – to take students from where they are and to orchestrate their development to take them to a new place,” said Eckart, as he highlighted several key changes in UMM’s history.
He also spoke about how the pendulum of change often brings things back, like a campus garden, a class in bookbinding, and the Ukulele Club, which were all part of the UMM experience decades ago, then disappeared, and have now returned.
Eckart, who will retire at the end of May, was conferred emeritus rank at the ceremony.
The Distinguished Alumna Award was presented posthumously to Joan Getchell, a 1983 graduate and longtime employee of UMM, who passed away on March 8, 2011. Getchell worked in the Business Office for 42 years, most recently as assistant to the vice president for administration and finance. Several members of her family were in attendance at the ceremony, including her mother, Abbie, and sisters, Barbara McKinley and Alison Savard.
UMM’s Commencement included musical performances by several of the graduating seniors. Craig Oster, who was accompanied by David Spalvieri-Kruse, performed the National Anthem. Michael Giudilli and Anna Adams performed “Don’t Worry, By Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. Connie Harter-Bagley, on drums and lead vocals, performed a driving rendition of “Revolution” by John Lennon. Several instructors and faculty members of the interdisciplinary fine arts program accompanied her.
Dr. Gayle Kraus, professor of marine ecology, was presented the Arthur S. and Frances A. Buswell Academic Enhancement Award, which is awarded annually to a member of the faculty to help provide for equipment, field trips, library materials, or other items that directly benefit students in a class. The award is named after former University President Arthur Buswell, who guided the University from 1971 to 1981.
The UMM Ukulele Club, under the direction of music professor Gene Nichols, closed the ceremony by performing Dale Evans’ “Happy Trails”, a tribute to former University President John Joseph, who passed away on Commencement day in 2003.