Despite Pandemic, College Dreams Come True for 4,588 University of Maine System Students 

Continuity of instruction planning, COVID-19 academic accommodations and student-centered support initiatives make commencement a ‘virtual’ reality for thousands of students this May

Orono, Maine — Maine’s public universities will be celebrating the graduation of nearly 4,600 students in May through virtual commencement ceremonies or coordinated online recognition celebrations. Many universities are also making plans for in-person events in the future.

In-person graduation ceremonies had been scheduled across the System on May 9, but were canceled in accordance with public health guidance.  A summary of plans by campus is provided below. 

Commencement celebrations mark the successful conclusion of an academic year in which campus facilities and residence halls were closed over spring break to limit the spread of COVID-19 and 210,000 credit hours were successfully transitioned to distance instruction.

“It is the dream of every student spending late nights in the library to walk across a stage and grab their diploma with friends and family in attendance,” said Leyla M. Hashi of Portland, Maine, a communications major and the 2020 USM Student Commencement Speaker.  “While we are sad not to have that moment on stage this weekend, our work has paid off and we are not letting COVID-19 take away from our accomplishments and the opportunities we now have as college graduates.

“The Class of 2020 is strong and resilient. We are also aware that we did not get here on our own. We are incredibly grateful for the way our professors and our university community came together this semester to help us make our college dreams a reality.”

Follow this link for a photo of Hashi.

The University of Maine System began considering the potential impact of COVID-19 last year and sharing its plans for coronavirus preparations and continuity of instruction in February.  Nearly $1 million was invested in information technology in support of distance learning, special academic and student accommodations were approved, and faculty and staff committed to providing students with motivation and support needed to finish the semester successfully.     

“Our students finished what they started this semester because of their resolve and the incredible responsiveness of our staff and faculty,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “It took an unprecedented effort to prioritize both community health and student success this semester, but we did it and we are very proud to be celebrating with our 4,600 new college graduates.”  

Commencement Background and Events

University of Maine: The University of Maine is hosting a Class of 2020 Recognition Week, May 4-9, with congratulatory messages and features of outstanding students and faculty members each day at 10 a.m. UMaine also launched a vIrtual yearbook. The Commencement Committee continues to plan for a face-to-face ceremony in the fall. UMaine anticipates conferring approximately 1,900 degrees or awards.

University of Maine at Augusta: UMA will pay tribute to graduating students this May with some of the traditions that accompany the end of the academic year by holding a virtual celebration that will allow graduates to share their stories, thanks, and inspirations for the future through video stories or photos posted on a special webpage. UMA is planning an in-person commencement ceremony for Saturday, October 3, 2020, at the Augusta Civic Center. UMA anticipates conferring approximately 550 degrees or awards.  

University of Maine at Farmington: UMF is proud to announce the graduating Class of 2020. It will host a social media-based Virtual Recognition of the graduates on May 9 on the university’s Facebook and Instagram platforms. The virtual recognition event will begin with a personal message from UMF President Edward Serna. A full, in-person commencement will be held on Aug. 22. UMF will confer approximately 370 degrees or awards.

University of Maine at Fort Kent: UMFK will celebrate its 138th graduating class with a virtual celebration on May 9 at 10 a.m. Commencement in May 2021 will include classes of 2020 and 2021. Graduates are also invited to return to campus for our Homecoming & Family Weekend the third weekend in September to celebrate with alumni. UMFK will confer approximately 235 degrees or awards.

University of Maine at Machias: UMM will hold a virtual recognition ceremony via YouTube on May 30 at 1 p.m. The 109th Commencement Ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Homecoming Weekend in September provided it will be safe to do so. UMM anticipates conferring 83 degrees or awards.

University of Maine at Presque Isle: UMPI’s 111th Commencement Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 9 at 10:30 a.m. on the university’s YouTube channel. The university is providing two other opportunities for the Class of 2020. There will be a Live Celebratory Event for 2020 graduates during Homecoming Weekend, Sept. 18-20, giving participants an opportunity to celebrate with the UMPI community, friends, and family during an official, in-person university event. Graduates are also invited to march in UMPI’s 2021 Commencement exercises. UMPI anticipates conferring 168 degrees or awards to graduating students.  

University of Southern Maine: USM’s 140th Commencement Ceremony will take place virtually on Saturday, May 9, 2020, at 9 a.m. on USM’s YouTube channel. The link will be available starting at 8:45 a.m. on the USM Commencement page. The university is also inviting the Class of 2020 to an in-person ceremony during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 3, giving participants an opportunity to celebrate with the USM community, friends and family. USM expects to confer approximately 1,200 degrees or awards to graduating students.  

University of Maine School of Law: Maine Law’s in-person ceremony will be held on Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. in Hannaford Hall at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland. Chancellor Malloy will be the keynote speaker and Aria Eee, Esq. will receive the L. Kinvin Wroth Alumni Award. Maine Law anticipates conferring over 80 degrees.