January 23, 2019
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UNE presents Deborah Morton Award to three Maine women of achievement

Community Author: Jennie E Aranovitch
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Jennie Aranovitch | BDN
Jennie Aranovitch | BDN

PORTLAND — The University of New England continues in its tradition of honoring and acknowledging the accomplishments of outstanding Maine women by celebrating this year’s 57th annual Deborah Morton Society Convocation and Awards Ceremony. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday, June 15, starting at 11 a.m. in Innovation Hall on the university’s Portland Campus.

The Deborah Morton Award recognizes incredible Maine women who have become distinguished by their careers, public service and leadership in civic, cultural or social causes. The award celebrates the memory of UNE’s own distinguished Deborah Morton of Round Pond, Maine, valedictorian of the Class of 1879 of Westbrook Seminary, the forerunner of Westbrook College, which merged with the University of New England in 1996. After graduating, Morton served as a longtime faculty member at the seminary, as a teacher, lecturer, reformer and advocate for equal rights on social, political and economic levels.

In her honor, the Deborah Morton Society continues to promote education and the fostering of leadership for future generations of Maine women. It does so by annually providing, not only this renowned award, but also scholarships designed for two female rising seniors in the Westbrook College of Health Professions who, like Morton, represent rich qualities of character, academia, and leadership.

Over the past 56 years, the award has continued to help further the importance of women in our society and serves as encouragement to young women across our state to reflect Morton’s values and service-focused attitude. This year’s award recipients are as follows:

 Anita Stewart, Executive and Artistic Director of Portland Stage

Serving as the executive and artistic director of Portland Stage, Anita Stewart serves as one of the few theater designers in a regional theater leadership role today.

During her tenure, she has kept the theater’s mission alive through her commitment to finding exceptional local talent, as well as gathering artists from around the country, in order to create high quality productions.

Offstage, her work is also evidenced by the theater’s ever expanding K-12 Education and Artistic Development & Dialogue programs. By using the process of theater, Stewart has developed age appropriate education programs that support the Common Core Standards in order to help create the critical thinkers of the next generation. These programs are specifically designed to nurture developing young artists and further the skills of seasoned artists.

Stewart also serves as an integral part of the national arts community where she has been able to participate in grant review panels for organizations across the country including Maine Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Theater Communications Group and Alpert Awards. As such, she remains keenly interested in promoting and cultivating audience involvement in the theatrical process as well as artists’ connections to community programs.


Peggy Rotundo, Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives for the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships

Peggy Rotundo’s career in public service in Maine spans the course of 23 years, 16 of which she served in the Maine State Senate and House. As chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Rotundo led the creation of bipartisan state budgets while advocating strongly for increased educational opportunity and greater social and economic security for Maine families. During her tenure with the State House, she also sponsored legislation that created greater public access to government information, provided a cleaner environment and expanded health care for Maine citizens. She has won numerous awards for her work on these issues and for her work in creating civil and respectful public discourse. In 2014, she was recognized for her work by being named Emerge Maine’s Woman of the Year.

Early in her career, Rotundo directed the Bates College Office of Career Counseling and worked as a volunteer with women reentering the work place. In 1995, she also helped found the Center for Service-Learning at Bates, a nationally recognized program that connected the College to the community through students’ academic work.

Rotundo currently serves as the director of strategic and policy initiatives for the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships. She has served on numerous state and local boards and commissions including the Lewiston School Committee, on which she served for eight years. She was a founding member of the Lewiston Aspirations Partnership with L.L. Bean and a founding member of the Lewiston Education Fund. She and her husband, Loring Danforth, have two beautiful children, Nicholas and Ann.


Danielle Newberry Ripich, Ph.D., Distinguished President Emeritus, University of New England

Danielle Newberry Ripich, Ph.D., became the University of New England’s fifth president in 2006. During her decade of leadership, the university saw unprecedented growth, including the launch of the College of Pharmacy, College of Graduate Studies and College of Dental Medicine as well as five Centers of Excellence for Research and Scholarship and a UNE campus in Tangier, Morocco. The university also saw tripled enrollment, built 14 new buildings and was listed by Princeton Review among the top colleges and universities in the country.

Before assuming presidency, Ripich served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor at Case Western Reserve University and as dean of the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in speech pathology from Kent State University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cleveland State University. Ripich is internationally recognized for her language research, particularly in the areas of child language and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. As a Congressional Fellow, she served Senator Edward Kennedy on the staff of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Labor and Pensions and worked with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation on funding.  Additionally, she has published extensively and served in editorial positions on numerous journals.

Ripich has held many leadership positions in her professional and civic life. She also has been published extensively and served in editorial positions on numerous journals. Maine Ahead magazine called her “the powerhouse behind Maine’s largest private university,” and Mainebiz named her a 2011 Woman to Watch and 2016’s Maine’s Business Leader of the Year.  Additionally, she was named Business Leader of the Year by Junior Achievement of Maine and as Economic Leader of the Year in 2010 and 2016 by the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce.  Ripich has been honored by the American Heart Association and by Cleveland State University for her service and accomplishments.

To learn more about the Deborah Morton Society, visit www.une.edu/deborahmorton


To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions