Graduates encouraged to ask ‘why not?’

12 years ago

Graduates encouraged to ask ‘why not?’

By Kathy McCarty

Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE — The University of Maine at Presque Isle marked its 103rd commencement, with 238 students graduating on May 12. President Don Zillman, marking one of his last official functions as head of the university — he will be leaving in June to return to teaching law in southern Maine — conferred degrees for the 2011-12 academic year upon 161 students who participated in the ceremony held at Wieden Gymnasium.

Staff photos by Kathy McCarty


    LEADING THE CLASS OF 2012 to Wieden Hall Gymnasium from the Campus Center for UMPI’s 103rd commencement is Linda Graves, professor of medical laboratory technology. Directly behind her is M. Kathleen Higgins, class president. Faculty, standing on the library steps, are pictured at right applauding the graduates as they pass.
    CLASS OF 1962 — Members of the Class of 1962 returned to UMPI to mark their 50th reunion, taking part in commencement exercises on May 12. This was one of the largest group of past students to march during graduation. Pictured in front from left are: Albert Smith, Eric Pettingill, Donna Bell-Mullen, Joan Tankey, Ona Byther and Frederick Ross. In back: Carl Hammond, Norman Keefe, Russ Kenney, Douglas McGowan and Ward Ketch.


     COMING AND GOING — Newly-appointed chancellor of the University of Maine System, James Page, formerly of Caribou, is pictured at left, joined by UMPI President Don Zillman, who will be leaving UMPI in June to return to teaching law.
       OLIVIA ZUBRICK, of Presque Isle, shakes hands with UMPI President Don Zillman as guest speaker Laurie Lachance presents her with her degree.


        FOLLOWING HIS MOTHER’S FOOTSTEPS, at right, Nathan DeFelice, at left, takes to the stage as his mother, Gwen DeFelice, at right exits, during UMPI’s commencement May 12. The DeFelices, of Presque Isle, were just two of about 160 to receive their degrees.


    Laurie Lachance, president and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation, addressed the graduates as this year’s commencement speaker. During the event, she was presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

    Lachance has led the MDF, a highly-regarded non-profit membership organization established in 1978, for eight years. She served as Maine’s economist in the State Planning Office for Governors McKernan, King and Baldacci (1983-2004) and has received numerous awards over the years, including the Margaret Chase Smith Distinguished Policy Fellow. Lachance recently was named president of Thomas College.

    Lachance said while today’s graduates face challenges, what they’ve learned at UMPI will better prepare them for the future.

    “The world economy is global, technology driven, knowledge driven and innovation driven. We cannot fight these trends, nor can we afford to ignore these trends. We must fully embrace them and adapt ourselves, our skills, our businesses and our institutions to operate within the new economic framework,” said Lachance, urging graduates to take their education and continue to hone their skills to ensure a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones. “Instead of asking ‘why?’, start routinely asking ‘why not?’” she said.

    During UMPI’s commencement exercises, University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page and Samuel W. Collins, vice chair of the UMS Board of Trustees — both Caribou natives — delivered greetings. Stephen D. Richard, UMPI Board of Visitors chair, and Keith Madore, UMPI director of alumni relations, offered remarks on behalf of each organization.

    Also taking part in this year’s festivities were about a dozen members of the Class of 1962, who returned to campus to celebrate their 50th reunion, joining the Class of 2012 in Wieden for the ceremony.

    The Class of 2012 included many students from both sides of the border, represented by individuals from various states, in addition to Maine, as well as several graduates from throughout Canada. Also earning degrees this year were a number of international students, including three Chinese students whose loved ones traveled many miles to watch their children graduate.

    In addressing the graduating class and the hundreds gathered for the event, Zillman focused on the dedicated efforts of faculty, staff and students to conduct research and work that directly benefits the community.

    “As I look back on the last half dozen years, I’m delighted with the ever-growing campus connectedness of the University of Maine at Presque Isle with its community,” said Zillman.

    Among the work and projects he noted were the partnerships the university has been able to develop with Balance BPO and TxVia, the relationships it has been able to build with local business organizations through its Young Professionals Institute, the educational connections it has been able to make with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, and the collaborations it has been able to establish with the arts community through the Wintergreen Arts Center. He also touched upon the Fit and Fun Days physical education majors put on for area youngsters, the GIS mapping projects that benefit everything from local governments to tourism organizations, and the research criminal justice majors have done to help the Presque Isle Police Department study theft from motor vehicles in the city.

    “That gives you a sense of the University of Maine at Presque Isle — a public university in the best sense of the term,” stated Zillman. “We are proud of our graduates for the work they’ve been able to accomplish in their time here, and excited for them as they build on their successes and prepare to follow the thousands of University of Maine at Presque Isle students before them in making their own unique mark on the world.”

    A reception for graduates, family and friends was held in the Campus Center immediately following the ceremony.