Caps Off to 4,923 University of Maine System Graduates

Details and links to hybrid ceremonies and events celebrate the commencement 

of the most resilient and tested class of 21 Century learners to ever earn a college degree

Degree and credential honorees climb 7% in academic year upended by COVID-19

Link to 2021 Commencement Images

Orono, Maine — Maine’s public universities and the Maine School of Law will be celebrating the graduation of 4,923 students in May with a mix of on-line and interactive events coinciding with the May 8 commencement date established in the 2020-21 academic year.  The hybrid ceremonies have been developed at UMS universities to comply with social distancing and group gathering size limitations established by the University of Maine System to align with state guidance and to help limit the threat and spread of COVID-19.

The University of Maine System will be celebrating the accomplishment of 4,923 undergraduate, graduate, and law school students at commencement events in May of 2021.  The Class of 2021 honored this month will be 7% larger than last year despite the year-long disruptions caused by COVID-19.  

“The Class of 2021 may not have its equal in modern higher education,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy and the leaders of Maine’s public universities in a message to graduates. “You’ve been tested in ways not experienced in the last century, requiring an unparalleled resilience to earn a college degree.”

University leaders also credited their colleagues for their support of students.

“We owe our talented faculty and dedicated, student-focused staff a debt of gratitude for the incredible amount of ingenuity, hard work and resolve they displayed in their work with the Class of 2021.  We are proud of the many ways our colleagues helped lead our universities and state forward in a time of great student and public challenge.” 

Commencement Background and Events

University of Maine:  The University of Maine has planned a hybrid commencement experience which includes in-person stage walk events hosted April 23, 26-29 and May 3 for graduate and undergraduate students by college. Virtual commencement ceremonies will be broadcast in late May and includes congratulatory remarks from university administrators, Chancellor Dannel Malloy, representatives from the UMS Board of Trustees, Valedictorian Commencement speaker and a host of other well wishers.  UMaine will celebrate the accomplishments of 2,051 students this May and has announced the valedictorian and salutatorian and outstanding graduating students.  

University of Maine at Augusta:  UMA will conduct separate virtual Commencements this May to honor the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. These virtual ceremonies will incorporate as many of UMA’s traditions as possible, including a commencement address and student speakers, as well as the presentation of awards and honorary degrees and, most importantly, the confirmation of degrees to UMA’s graduates.  UMA expects to confer 585 degrees and awards to 2021 graduates.

The virtual commencement ceremonies will be broadcast on this year’s scheduled commencement date, May 8, 2021, with the Class of 2020 Commencement airing at 10:00 a.m. and the Class of 2021 Commencement airing at 2:00 p.m. via YouTube. After the initial broadcasts, the 2020 and 2021 Commencements will be posted on the UMA website. This will allow graduates to plan “viewing” events with family and friends at a date and time convenient to them. Highlights of the speakers and honorees for each commencement ceremony include:

  • 2020 and 2021 Commencement Address – U.S. Senator Angus King
  • 2020 Student Speaker – Courtney Allen, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • 2021 Student Speakers – Melissa Meserve, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Dylan Morin, Bachelor of Arts in English
  • 2020 Dexter Distinguished Student Award – Courtney Allen, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • 2021 Dexter Distinguished Student Award – Samantha Brown, Bachelor of Arts in Biology
  • 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award – Debra McIntyre ’11
  • 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award – Emily Christiansen ’20
  • 2021 Distinguished Achievement Award – MF Chip Gavin

University of Maine at Farmington: UMF is presenting a pre-recorded, virtual commencement ceremony the morning of Saturday, May 8, that will be available to the public at 10:30 a.m. on the UMF website and YouTube. Links to the video can be found on the UMF Commencement website. The procession will take place in historic Nordica Auditorium in Merrill Hall on the UMF campus and will feature graduates receiving their diplomas from UMF President Edward Serna.  Daniel Gunn, UMF Professor Emeritus of English, will be the commencement speaker.  UMF anticipates conferring 390 degrees or awards.

University of Maine at Fort Kent: UMFK is having a drive-through BSN pinning ceremony at 3pm, May 7th. Its virtual ceremony will begin at 10am on May 8th. Link will be available until late fall (at least). 2020 and 2021 grads are invited back to Homecoming the weekend of September 17, 2021, for a special event. UMFK plans to honor 244 graduates.

University of Maine at Machias: UMM will conduct a stage walk on May 8 followed by a car parade through Machias. The stage walk to be live streamed on Youtube. A full video will be released in June.  UMM expects to celebrate 84 degree or award recipients.  

University of Maine at Presque Isle: Virtual Commencement: UMPI’s 112th Commencement will premiere on Saturday, May 8 at 10:30 a.m. on UMPI’s YouTube page. Afterward, there will be live get-togethers with faculty, staff, and alumni via Zoom; links to these Zoom gatherings will be posted to the UMPI portal main page on graduation day.

Live component: There will be an in-person photo opportunity on May 3 which gives the Class of 2021 students a chance to walk across the graduation stage in their regalia, receive their diploma covers, and get a professional photo taken with President Rice. Currently we have 51 students and 60 faculty and staff signed up to participate.  UMPI will celebrate the graduation of 187 students.

University of Southern Maine:  USM will hold the 2021 Commencement Ceremony virtually on May 8 at 9 AM.  The University is hosting a week of Class of 2021 events that have included cap and gown decorating, crossing the stage commencement photos, and memorabilia give-a-ways, and a safety guidance compliant Block Party.  USM plans to host a celebration for graduates as part of homecoming in October 2021.  USM will celebrate the achievements of 1,300 graduates.

University of Maine School of Law:  Maine Law will broadcast a virtual live graduation ceremony on May 22, 2021 at 10 AM. The virtual graduation ceremony includes student and guest speakers via a live Zoom webinar, as well as the reading of names, honors, certificates, and awards. 

On the afternoon of 5/22, graduates will be honored at an in-person Diploma Salute. At this in-person event, graduates will have the opportunity to receive their diplomas from Dean Saufley, have a professional photograph taken, and complete a stage walk. A limited number of family members will be able to join students as they receive their diploma. (This in-person component is not open to the public.)  Maine Law will honor 82 graduates.


About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites six distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.  

In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system.  Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.

A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty. 

Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.

The System consists of six universities: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMM); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM).  The System also includes the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.    

Please follow these links to the  UMS Logo, UMS and individual university style guides and an image and biographical information for Chancellor Malloy.