From left, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout are among the keynote speakers scheduled for college graduation ceremonies around Maine this weekend. Credit: File photos from the AP and BDN

University of Maine Orono

The University of Maine Commencement ceremonies will be held May 10-11 in Alfond Sports Arena, Orono. More than 1,700 undergraduate and graduate students, including upward of 40 doctoral candidates, will be recognized. Graduate School Commencement for master’s degree and certificate of advanced study students will begin at 4 p.m. May 10. Alumnus and inventor Doug Hall, founder of Eureka! Ranch, will address the graduates. The ceremonies for doctoral candidates and bachelor’s degree students will be held 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. May 11. The Commencement address will be delivered by Old Town native and alumna Bridget Ziegelaar, operations manager for NASA’s International Space Station Research Integration Office. All ceremonies will be livestreamed. The Saturday ceremonies are ticketed events. Tips for attending UMaine Commencement are online. Five cadets will be commissioned in an Army ROTC ceremony at 11 a.m. May 10, in Minsky Recital Hall. A midshipman from UMaine Naval ROTC will be commissioned in an 11 a.m. ceremony May 11. The Pinning Ceremony for the School of Nursing begins at 7 p.m. May 10, in the Collins Center for the Arts. For information, .

Unity College

The more than 130 Unity College graduates receiving diplomas beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11, all persevered using the mantra of the college’s 2019 commencement speaker, retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills: “Never give up. Never quit.” Mills lost all four limbs to an IED on his third tour in Afghanistan. He is one of only five quadruple amputees to survive their injuries received in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he documented his road to recovery in his memoir “Tough as They Come,” a New York Times Best Seller. He founded the Travis Mills Foundation based in Rome, Maine, to assist combat-injured veterans. He also worked closely with many victims of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, helping to guide them following amputation, just as other amputees had done for him. Mills will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Sustainability Science before addressing the candidates for graduation from America’s Environmental College. The ceremony, which happens to be Unity College’s 50th May Commencement, is open to Unity College graduates and their guests. The ceremony and speeches will be streamed on Unity College Facebook page.

University of Maine at Augusta

Judith Meyer will address graduates, family, friends, faculty, and staff at University of Maine at Augusta’s commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Augusta Civic Center auditorium. More than 500 students are eligible to graduate this spring and as many as 350 are expected to participate in the graduation ceremonies. Meyer is executive editor of the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel and seven weekly newspapers owned by the Sun Media Group. She has been a journalist since 1990 and is former editorial page editor for the Sun Journal. She was named Maine’s Journalist of the Year in 2003. Meyer serves as vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and is a member of the Right to Know Advisory Committee to the Legislature. She serves on the New England Newspaper & Press Association Board of Directors and was the 2018 recipient of the Judith Vance Weld Brown Spirit of Journalism Award in New England. Randall Liberty, commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections and a 1998 graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta, will receive an Honorary Degree in Humane Letters. He was former warden of Maine State Prison and sheriff of Kennebec County. He is a decorated veteran with a 24-year record of service in Army National Guard and Army Reserve. He taught military history at West Point and served 10 months as a command sergeant major of a transition team embedded with Iraqi infantry in Fallujah.

University of Maine at Presque Isle

State Rep. Harold “Trey” Stewart III will deliver the University of Maine at Presque Isle commencement address and Daniel Ladner — a well-known and much-loved educator and advocate for music and the cultural arts — will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree during the University’s 110th Commencement ceremony, to be held Saturday, May 11. Stewart is a third-generation native of Presque Isle and a 2012 Presque Isle High School graduate. He graduated from UM in 2016 with a degree in political science and sociology. Stewart has twice been elected as the youngest serving member of the Maine State Legislature. He is assistant Republican leader in the House of Representatives. He has served on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and is serving on the Taxation Committee. Stewart is a member of Presque Isle Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the boards of The NMCC Foundation, Aroostook County Action Program, University of Maine Alumni Association and UMPI Board of Visitors. Ladner was born in Presque Isle and graduated from Mapleton High School in 1955 as valedictorian and president of his graduating class. He went on to study band directing at Boston University, but, after a semester, transferred to Aroostook State Teachers College (now UMPI) and graduated as president of his class in 1959 with a degree in education. He served as a fifth grade teacher in Presque Isle for 10 years and as an English and public speaking teacher at Presque Isle High School for 15 years. He helped found Shipmates Playhouse there. He was director of UMPI Upward Bound program and of the Caribou Performing Arts Center, among other local theater roles. He was named a lifetime member of the New England Drama Council in 1987 and recipient of the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maine Arts Sponsors Association, among other awards. He continues to serve as the director of the Caribou Choral Society, a position he has held since 1977, and as the organist and choir director at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Grant Memorial United Methodist Church, both in Presque Isle. He also has been an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Ladner has been married to Barbara (Frick) Ladner since 1995. He has four daughters from a previous marriage: Tammy, Margo, Beth, and Allison, as well as seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The University’s Commencement exercises are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, in Wieden Gymnasium. This year’s Commencement will be live-streamed on the University’s website at

University of Maine at Fort Kent

Keynote speaker for the 137th commencement ceremony for University of Maine at Fort Kent to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at UMFK Sports Center is Carrie Hessler-Radelet, president and CEO of Project Concern International — a global development organization working with families and communities to enhance health, end hunger, overcome hardship and advance women and girls in 15 countries. Prior to PCI, Hessler-Radelet served as director of the Peace Corps (2012-2017) and deputy director (2010-2012), leading America’s iconic international volunteer service organization with programs in more than 65 countries. Before being appointed to the Peace Corps by President Obama, Hessler-Radelet worked as vice President and director of the Washington D.C. office of John Snow, Inc. overseeing the management of public health programs in 85 countries around the world. Her decades of global health work also included serving as the lead consultant on the first Five Year Global HIV/AIDS Strategy for President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, working with USAID in Indonesia on maternal and child health and HIV programming, founding the Special Olympics in The Gambia, and serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer with her husband in Western Samoa. Hessler-Radelet holds a Master of Science in health policy and Management from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Boston University.

University of Maine at Farmington

Elizabeth Strout, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and New York Times bestselling author, will be the keynote speaker for University of Maine at Farmington Class of 2019 and receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at UMF’s commencement at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, on the UMF campus. Born in Portland and raised in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire, Strout was drawn to writing at a young age. Her early experiences provided a rich backdrop for her love of natural surroundings and her insight into the people who lived there. She won the Pulitzer for “Olive Kitteridge.” Strout is the author of “Anything Is Possible,” her most recent book and winner of The Story Prize; “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; “The Burgess Boys,” named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; “Abide with Me,” a national bestseller; and “Amy and Isabelle,” winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She lives in New York City. Graduating senior Jonas Maines of Portland will give the student address. A performing arts major, Maines has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to perform, direct, and write during his four years at UMF. Maines is the president of the UMF chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, and is a member of Theatre UMF. He has also been a long-time member of the Lawn Chair Pirates, the UMF student improvisation group. Maines received the Spirit of Matthew Shepherd Award in 2015. After graduation, he will be living in Austin, Texas, where he will be involved with Hyde Park Theatre and pursuing a career in theatre. The UMF Commencement ceremony will be webcast live at whether the ceremony is held indoors or outdoors.

St. Joseph’s College

Donato J. Tramuto, CEO of Tivity Health, Inc — a provider of fitness and nutrition health improvement programs — will speak at the 2019 Commencement of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, as well as receive an honorary degree. Author of “Life’s Bulldozer Moments: How Adversity Leads to Success in Life and Business” (Hamilton Press), Tramuto is a recognized innovator and industry leader with more than 35 years of healthcare experience and a deep commitment to global healthcare access, patient outcomes, and digital solutions. Tramuto is the founder of Health eVillages, a non-profit organization which provides state-of-the-art mobile health technology in the most challenging clinical environments. He is also the chairman and founder of the Tramuto Foundation, an international not for profit organization providing college scholarships each year to students who have demonstrated compassionate leadership. Additionally, the Foundation has supported hundreds of organizations whose goal is to make the world a more just and fair place, including a partnership with Saint Joseph’s College to create Maine’s first Institute for Integrative Aging and its associated programming. A member of the Board of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Tramuto is chairman of its Leadership Council where he leads a national initiative to address workplace dignity and inclusion. Tramuto is also chairman of the board of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights Europe. In 2014, he was honored with the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award. Tramuto holds honorary doctorates from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Thomas Jefferson University and Lasell College and has received numerous awards for his commitment to healthcare innovation and healthcare access for all. Tramuto also founded Physicians Interactive Holdings (now Aptus Health), a global provider of insight-driven digital engagement solutions for health care professionals and consumers.

Thomas College

Todd Smith, president of TSSD Services Inc. and leader in commercial nuclear industry, will be the keynote speaker at the 125th commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Thomas College, Harold Alfond Athletic Center in Waterville. Smith will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree. Smith provides oversight of business operations for the recovery and completion of the decommissioning of three New England power plants and serving as director of operations for all three sites’ dry fuel storage operations. He has nearly 30 years of professional experience in the heavy construction industry including construction management, contract management, corporate management and project controls. Smith graduated from Thomas College with a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 1992 and an Master of Business Administration degree in 1999. He has been a Thomas College Board of trustee member since 2004, and became co-chair of the board in 2010, a position he still holds today. Red Barn owner Laura Benedict will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of her community service. In 1986, Benedict bought The Red Barn, a seafood restaurant in Augusta. She quickly went into debt trying to survive amid the big chain restaurants moving in. On the verge of her fifth bankruptcy — almost closed the doors for good in December 2010 — Benedict decided to open the doors even more by donating food to charities, with St. Michael School in Augusta being the first recipient. With the help of the community and making philanthropy the centerpiece of her new “business model,” The Red Barn went from a struggling business trying to make money to one trying to make a difference. The Red Barn Cares, a state licensed non-profit, has raised more than $2.7 million for families in need and other charities, with elderly and Veteran’s groups at the forefront. In 2013, the “Red Barn Bill” was enacted that removed previous restrictions on the amount of charitable contributions that a business can give back to the community. Doug Sukeforth will be recognized with an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree at Thomas College’s 125th Commencement ceremonies. Sukeforth founded Winslow-based Mid-State Machine Products in 1968, which provided solutions to numerous industries, including gas and oil, power generation, maritime, and defense. The speaker for Honors Convocation on Friday, May 10, will be Charles (Wick) Johnson, president and former owner of Kennebec Technologies in Augusta.

Johnson spent five years teaching sixth grade in rural Oxford County, when he also worked in carpentry and began building and selling log and post and beam homes. Johnson has been a Thomas College trustee since 2016. He has previously served on a number of other boards including the University of Maine System as Chairman, the Maine State Chamber as Chair, and Augusta’s Lithgow Library Capital Campaign. Johnson graduated with a B.A. in History from Lafayette College. For information on commencement activities, visit

Husson University

United States Sen. Susan M. Collins will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2019 at Husson University’s 120th annual Commencement exercises at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., in Bangor. Larry M. Shaw, president and CEO of MMG Insurance in Presque Isle, will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in recognition of his leadership abilities, his dedication to the people of Northern Maine, and his devotion to ensuring his community’s financial security. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Maine and a Master of Science degree from Husson University. He has also attended the Executive Education Program at the Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of Business. Shaw is a recipient of the Maine CPCU’s Lee Allen President’s Award for Excellence. Shaw was inducted into the Junior Achievement Maine Business Hall of Fame in 2015 and is a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow. Carol Kanar will receive a Doctor of Pedagogy degree in honor of her dedication and leadership in all areas related to student success and academic quality. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, a Master of Education in developmental reading from Rollins College and a Master of Arts in creative writing from University of Florida. Kanar became a communications instructor at Valencia Community College in 1977, a post she held for 18 years. She has also written several college textbooks in her fields of expertise. Kanar served as a member of the Husson University Board of Trustees for 12 years. Kanar received an honorary degree in communications from the New England School of Communications in 2014 and was inducted into the pantheon of Honorary Husson Alumni in 2016. That same year, Kanar was awarded the Husson University President’s Medal of Honor for her service. In 2018, she received the Trustee Emeritus Award. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Council at Husson.

Maine Community College System

Maine’s seven community colleges will hold commencement exercises around the state in May. Speakers at this year’s graduations, as well as the times, dates, and locations, are as follows: Eastern Maine Community College, 6 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor, with keynote speaker Bill Green, producer and host of Bill Green’s Maine and the Green Outdoors, NEWS CENTER Maine; Northern Maine Community College, 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, The Forum, Presque Isle, with keynote speaker NMCC Student of the Year Erik Lamoreau; York County Community College, 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Ogunquit Playhouse, with keynote speaker Bill Cassidy, Washington County Community College president emeritus; Southern Maine Community College, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12, Cross Insurance Arena, Portland, with keynote speaker Alyssa Turnbull, SMCC Class of 2017; Central Maine Community College, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, with keynote speaker Dirk Lesko, president of Bath Iron Works; Washington County Community College, 11 a.m. Friday, May 17, at Calais High School, with keynote speaker

Charley Martin-Berry, director of Community Caring Collaborative; and Kennebec Valley Community College, 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Augusta Civic Center, with keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Woodlee, KVCC president emerita. Details available on schools’ individual websites.

Maine College of Art

Internationally recognized painter, sculptor, illustrator and Assistant Professor of Illustration at Maine College of Art Daniel Minter will deliver the commencement address at MECA’s 108th graduation ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St. in Portland. MECA will bestow honorary degrees upon Minter, Creative Director and arts advocate Marcia Minter and Portland philanthropist Madeleine G. Corson. Minter is a painter, sculptor, and illustrator who uses art as a tool for dialogue with his community. His work reflects themes of displacement and diaspora; ordinary/extraordinary blackness; spirituality in the Afro-Atlantic world; and the (re)creation of meanings of home. A dedicated educator, he has taught students at almost every level, from elementary school to college. He has been teaching at MECA since 2011. Minter and his wife Marcia have launched Indigo Arts Alliance, an artist residency program and incubator space committed to the artistic development of people of African descent. Born in the small rural community of Ellaville, Georgia, and an alumnus of The Art Institute of Atlanta, Minter’s work has been exhibited nationally, from the Seattle Art Museum in Seattle, Washington, to Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, to the Portland Museum of Art here in Maine, and internationally in venues from Africa to Italy to Brazil. MECA also will confer an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree to Marcia Minter, who has been deeply committed to community and social activism, having served on numerous boards representing the interest of under-represented voices, talents and citizen constituents. She has spent her professional career as a creative director for some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Microsoft, Essence magazine, Nordstrom, and others. She currently works at L.L.Bean as vice president and creative director, where she serves as a key member of the executive leadership team and oversees all photography, video, and graphic design. Her achievements have earned her national recognition, including multiple awards from the Retail Advertising Council and the Society of Publication Designers. An Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree will be awarded to Portland philanthropist Madeleine G. Corson in recognition of her leadership and significant contributions to higher education and the arts, including the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, the Greater Portland Boys and Girls Club, the Victoria Mansion, MECA, and many other universities and colleges in Maine. She was the 2002 recipient of the Edmund S. Muskie Access to Justice Award. In 2013, the Maine Association of Nonprofits created the Maddy Corson Community Catalyst Award to honor Maine’s nonprofit champions, describing Corson as a “trailblazer” and a “catalyst.” In 1998, following the sale of her family’s Maine newspapers to the Seattle Times Co., she and her uncle established the Guy P. Gannett Scholarship Fund through the Maine Community Foundation to support scholarships for Maine students pursuing careers in journalism. MECA will confer approximately 73 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in the fields of Animation & Game Art, Ceramics, Graphic Design, Illustration, Metalsmithing & Jewelry, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Textile & Fashion Design, and Woodworking & Furniture Design; in addition to approximately 20 Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art degrees, and approximately nine Master of Arts in Teaching degrees.

University of Maine at Machias

The University of Maine at Machias will hold its 108th Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12, in the Reynolds Center gymnasium. The ceremony is free and open to the public. Ninety-six students will be graduating with degrees or program certificates. The keynote speaker will be Dwayne Tomah, a Passamaquoddy language instructor, and the 2019 Ivy Orator will be graduating senior Colleen Kostovick. For information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 255-1200.

University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Maine’s 139th commencement will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Cross Insurance Arena, with Maine Gov. Janet Mills delivering the keynote address. Approximately 1,000 new graduates will participate. Janet Trafton Mills was born and raised in Farmington. The daughter of a long-time high school English teacher and a U.S. Attorney for Maine, she attended the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the University of Maine School of Law. Mills first entered public service as an assistant attorney general, where she prosecuted homicides and other major crimes. She later won election as district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, making her the first woman to be elected as a district attorney in New England. Mills co-founded Maine Women’s Lobby to advocate for battered and abused women and was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2002. Seven years later, she became the first woman to serve as Maine’s attorney general. She was sworn in as Maine governor on Jan. 2.

Julie Harris

Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle...