MACHIAS, Maine — The University of Maine at Machias held its 100th graduation Saturday, conferring 94 bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees.
The keynote speaker was Dr. William Eckart Jr., who also was conferred emeritus rank during the ceremonies. Eckart will retire next month after 31 years at UMM as recreation management professor.
Reflecting on UMM’s 100th anniversary, Eckart’s speech focused on change.
“One hundred years,” Eckart said. “That’s a long time. And for all that time what has been the most important part of it all? It’s the people. The students, the staff, the faculty, the alumni, the community and all the people who serve and support this institution. The UMM family.”
Eckart highlighted UMM’s history in what he called “A Game of Change,’’ reflecting the UMM of the past and its mission and appearance today.
“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,” Eckart said. Yet, he reflected, many of the original concepts at UMM — a 1910 school garden, a 1913 class in bookbinding — have found themselves back in the curriculum. He questioned what the UMM of the future will look like.
“Will students be willing to put on their rubber hip waders and walk in the mud outdoors searching our shores for marine life of all types, and will they be willing to trudge through the woods and the swamp to get to Porcupine Mountain, or will they want to do it all in a dry, warm indoor space using technological simulations?” he said.
The Class of 2011’s Ivy Orator was Michael Hinerman II of Machiasport, who was chosen by his peers to speak at graduation. He said the lessons learned outside UMM’s classrooms carry great weight.
“Don’t forget that our education here at UMM is not only defined by what our professors have taught us in the classroom,” Hinerman said. “It won’t say this on our diplomas but we have all had four or more years of on the job training for what is to come in all of our lives. Seniors, we don’t know what is to come, but I believe were all prepared for it.”
After the degrees were conferred, UMM President Cindy Huggins charged the graduates to make a difference.
“Pay it forward,” she urged. “You have to find your own way, each of you, to pay it forward.
“Don’t make the mistake of taking for granted the benefits and gifts that you have received, not just here at UMM, but throughout your lives,” Huggins said. “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. Pay it back in a way that makes sense for you, given your unique talents and gifts.”
Also holding graduation exercises Saturday were the University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine campuses at Augusta, Farmington and Presque Isle, Maine community colleges in Wells, Presque Isle, Bangor and Fairfield, and the New England School of Communications and Husson University in Bangor.
Southern Maine Community College in South Portland holds its graduation Sunday.
Some of the better-known commencement speakers include fishing boat captain and author Linda Greenlaw, who spoke at the University of Southern Maine, and environmental activist Bill McKibben, who was speaking at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Greenlaw addressed nearly 1,000 graduates in the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.
“Your education can never be wasted. It becomes you; it cannot be taken away,” she said.
She concluded by saying she is most proud of being a fisherman.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.