CALAIS _ It was a day to honor those who have given so much to either education or their community and on Friday a popular WCCC instructor received Faculty Emeritus status while four area residents were given honorary degrees during the 44th annual Commencement Exercises at Washington County Community College.
And it was a day of surprises because three of the honorees did not know until their names were announced by WCCC President and President Emeritus Bill Cassidy. The fourth recipient, who was unable to attend graduation, was told prior to the ceremonies.
Instructor Vinton Cassidy received Faculty Emeritus while honorary degrees were presented to Marianne Moore, the Rev. David Sivret, Dr. Bob Chagrasulis and Bob Moholland.
Robert Clark, Maine Community College Trustee presented Vinton Cassidy with the honor of Faculty Emeritus. On the stage with Cassidy, along with his brother, Bill Cassidy, was Vinton Cassidy’s son WCCC Instructor Joseph Cassidy.
In his nomination letter to Dr. John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System,
Cassidy talked about his brother’s distinguished career both in education and in his dedication to the college, the region, and the local communities.
“Throughout Vinton’s 33 years at WCCC as an instructor he has also held multiple roles while continuing to do what he loves most, teach,” Cassidy wrote in his nomination letter. “For many years he held various positions such as president of the faculty association, team leader, department chair, faculty mentor, student activities advisor and he was selected by students to be the 2012 WCCC distinguish faculty speaker.”
The community-minded instructor also serves as a Washington County commissioner. He also has been a State Senator for District 4, mayor of Calais, chairman and member of the Calais City Council. He also has also received the Maine JayCees State Outstanding Young Man Award and has been a member of the American Legion Post #3. In addition, he also has served as director of Calais Regional Hospital and was a member of the board of the Calais Chamber of Commerce.
But it was not President Cassidy alone who heaped praises on the instructor. Past presidents also have had high praise for the man. “He is an administrator’s dream, a positive individual who is task orientated with the Institute’s best interests always in the forefront,” said Ron Renaud, former President Emeritus WCCC.
“He is fiercely loyal to this institution and strongly dedicated to the proposition that, in order to do the best job possible for the school, he must do the best teaching job possible for the student,” George Lehigh, former WCTC assistant director, added. “He is unfailingly cheerful and infectiously enthusiastic about his students, his classes, and the institution as a whole. He is highly esteemed by his fellow faculty members, students, and the greater community.”
The nomination letter went on to say that after his retirement, Vinton Cassidy will “continue to be ‘that person’ we can call upon in many facets whether it is to counsel a new faculty member or solicit committee support for a College initiative.”
Cassidy then received a standing ovation from faculty, graduates and their friends and family. A very emotional Cassidy told everyone, “Thank you.”
During the graduation ceremonies, honorary degrees also were conferred.
The first honorary degree was given to the Rev. David Sivret who recently retired from St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Calais. Sivret was unable to attend the WCCC graduation ceremonies because he was in Bangor where his wife was receiving her degree in Divinity studies.
Prior to being ordained as an Episcopal Priest in 1998, Sivret joined the Maine Army National Guard eventually joining the Chaplains Core where he has served as chaplain for a number of Maine’s units.
Sivret’s unit saw combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-05 and while in Mosul, Iraq he was wounded in action on Dec. 21, 2004. He received the Purple Heart.
He is a member of the VFW, American Legion, and Military Order of the Purple Heart. He also is a member of the Disabled American Veterans.
“Although officially retired, the priest continues his stewardship and currently serves as president of the Irene Chadbourn Ecumenical Food Pantry and continues to play a major role in the VFW,” Cassidy said. “Quite simply put, the Reverend David Sivret is a holy man, a decorated soldier; loving husband and father who has given much too many and asks for little in return.”
A second surprised recipient was Calais Mayor Marianne Moore. Moore has a Bachelor of Applied Science from Dallas Baptist University and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Before moving to Calais, she had a long and distinguished career in the telecommunications industry with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, where she retired as an area manager. In 2004, she joined the faculty at WCCC and remains on staff as an adjunct professor. She is currently the owner/manager of Curves for Women Fitness Center in Calais.
She has been on numerous boards in the county including the executive board for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Municipal Association and Washington Hancock Community Agency.
“She has been a mover and shaker for the annual Relay for Life event held in Calais,” Cassidy said.
The third honoree is known locally as Dr. Bob formerly a graduate of Vanderbilt University Trauma/Critical Care Unit and currently practicing general surgeon at Calais Regional Hospital.
Beyond his distinguished medical career, Cassidy said, Chagrasulis has distinguished himself as a consummate steward to others in public service. He became a Charter Member of the Bridgeton Rotary Club in 1991 and is currently a member of the Calais Rotary. “The Rotary motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ and if there were ever was Rotarian who lived up to that motto it would be Bob,” Cassidy said. “Because about this time Dr. Bob started his stewardship in the Dominican Republic taking Rotary and church teams with him installing a water filter system in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Laramana, and conducting medical clinics in the hospital and the regional prison.”
Chagrasulis has been recognized a number of times by various Rotary Clubs for his service. He also is recipient of the most prestigious award granted by Rotary International, the Paul Harris Fellow .
The final honoree was Calais’ own educational leader, Bob Moholland.
Moholland graduated from Calais Memorial High School and received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the University of Maine at Machias. He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State College.
Moholland operated a trucking business in the area for a number of years before he joined the St. Croix Regional Technical Center in 2000. He became its director in 2003. “And even given all his previous successes this is really what we are celebrating Bob for today for in this capacity he has touched the lives of literally thousands of students, staff and the surrounding communities,” Cassidy said. “Bob exemplifies the attributes we all seek as an educator, leader, mentor and good citizen. Although in the shadows by his choice we all know Bob is there ready and willing to lend a hand to others wherever and whenever he can.”
Joining Moholland on stage was his wife, Gayle. They have been married 44 years.