ORONO, Maine — Karen Gordon Mills of Brunswick, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be the commencement speaker for the University of Maine graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 9.
Mills will speak during both of UM’s commencement ceremonies which will be held inside Alfond Arena.
The first ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m., is for students graduating from UM’s College of Business, Public Policy and Health, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Division of Lifelong Learning.
The second ceremony, at 2:30 p.m., will be for those graduating from the College of Education and Human Development, the College of Engineering, and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.
UM President Robert Kennedy said in a statement the university is “honored and delighted” that Mills accepted the school’s invitation.
“She has vast experience as a business and community leader, giving her unique and valuable perspectives to share with our graduates as they move into a new stage of their lives,” he said. “Her leadership role in the federal government relates specifically to business development and job creation, issues that will have a tremendous impact on our graduates as they begin or resume professional careers.”
Mills, who was nominated for her SBA post by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month, served in 2007 as chair of Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy. She also led the statewide effort that resulted in voter approval of two research- and development-related bond issues in November 2007.
The Small Business Administration, a federal agency with 2,000 full-time employees, seeks to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs to gain financing, secure technical assistance and training, and pursue federal contracts.
A Harvard graduate, Mills has had a 25-year career as an entrepreneur and has worked with companies involved in consumer products, food, distribution, textile and industrial components. In the late 1990s she was co-founder and managing director of Solera Capital, a firm that focused on investing in small businesses owned by women.