MACHIAS, Maine — The University of Maine at Machias has announced that longtime recreation management professor Dr. Bill Eckart will address graduating seniors at the university’s 100th commencement on Saturday, May 14.
Eckart arrived on the UMM campus as assistant professor of recreation management in 1980. Over the past 31 years he was promoted to associate professor with tenure and later to his current position of professor of recreation management. Eckart will retire from the University in June 2011.
“Since this will be UMM’s 100th commencement, we wanted a speaker who could somehow bridge the past and future,” university President Dr. Cynthia Huggins said. “Bill has been an important part of UMM for three decades, and he plays a key role in keeping us grounded in our history and traditions. But he will also have an influence on UMM for many years to come because of the strong connections that he has built with so many students. Bill has been a key factor in the strong reputation that our recreation program enjoys today, and I have no doubt that his students will be among the most loyal and successful alumni over the next few decades.”
During Eckart’s tenure, UMM’s recreation program has received the accreditation of the National Recreation and Park Association for an impressive 25 consecutive years. It is the only nationally accredited recreation degree program in Maine.
He has served as faculty representative to the University of Maine System board of trustees, UMM faculty president, and chairman of the Professional Studies Division. He has also served as faculty adviser to the MRPASS recreation majors student club, the hockey club and several Greek organizations.
Each year, Eckart and his students coordinate the Community Haunted Forest and the East River Challenge, two popular events in the Machias area.
Eckart is a certified park and recreation professional and has served as a member of the Maine Tourism Commission, the Maine Recreation and Park Association, the National Recreation and Park Association, the National Education Association and the Maine Education Association. He has served locally on the Sunrise Trail Coalition, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Advisory Committee and the Calais Branch Advisory Committee.
In 2000, Eckart was awarded the Haskell Distinguished Professional Award from the Maine Recreation and Park Association for his statewide and national leadership as well as outstanding performance through innovative programming, facility development and civic involvement.
Eckart earned his doctorate in recreational services from the University of Connecticut. He received a master’s degree in recreational services from Springfield College and a bachelor’s degree in city planning/landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Prior to arriving at UMM, Eckart served as the program supervisor for the South Dakota Division of Parks and Recreation from 1976 to 1980. Before that, he was the director of various parks and recreation departments in Connecticut and New Hampshire from 1973 to 1976.
In his spare time, Eckart is a percussionist with local music groups, including the UMM Ukulele Club, the Orange River Jazz Band, and the Machias Community Band.
Eckart lives with his wife, Deb, in Machias. They have two grown sons, Ryan and Adam.
UMM’s commencement ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14, in the Frederic A. Reynolds Center. For more information about commencement activities at the University of Maine at Machias, contact Michael May at 255-1210.