University of Maine System to award 6,175 in-demand degrees in May

Maine’s public universities are the state’s largest driver of educational attainment and economic development and have conferred 106,362 degrees over the past two decades

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine System (UMS) will graduate thousands of career-ready professionals into the Maine workforce at commencement ceremonies across the state this weekend. 

One week after the Department of Economic and Community Development released a refresh of Maine’s 10-year economic strategy (External Site) that doubles-down on the need to increase the size and skill of the state’s workforce, the University of Maine (UMaine) will kick-off the System’s commencements with the conferral of more than 500 graduate degrees and certificates at a ceremony at the Alfond Arena in Orono Friday. 

Graduations will follow on Saturday, May 4 for UMaine (undergraduate ceremonies), 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 University of Maine at Machias, which is now a regional campus of UMaine, will hold its commencement ceremony on Sunday. 

Maine’s only and public law school, the University of Maine School of Law, is scheduled to confer 82 in-demand Juris Doctor (JD) degrees on May 18 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. 

“I want to congratulate our incredible 2024 graduates and all who supported their success, including their family and friends and our dedicated university faculty, staff and employer partners,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “This milestone is especially meaningful for the undergraduate Class of 2024, whose traditional high school commencement was canceled by COVID and whose college experience has been shaped by the pandemic and tremendous loss in our state and around the world. Nevertheless, these students have persevered and their investment of hard work in their postsecondary education will pay-off for their own social mobility and the future growth of Maine’s economy and communities. College graduates are more likely to be employed, enjoy higher earnings and career security, live longer and are happier, and Maine employers frankly need a lot more of them.”   

Maine has a statutory goal that by 2025, 60% of working adults will hold a degree or credential of value and a key strategy of the State’s economic plan is increasing the talent pool by 75,000 workers by 2029. According to the most recent Measures of Growth report from the Maine Development Foundation (External Site), just 23.5% of Mainers have earned a bachelor’s degree and 12.8% have earned a graduate or professional degree, well below New England’s average rates.

As Maine’s largest education and economic development enterprise, UMS has the greatest impact on improving degree attainment and workforce readiness in the state and will do so this month. In total, 6,175 students are eligible to receive their degrees or certificates from System universities in May, though not all will take part in commencement.

UMaine leads the System in workforce development, with nearly 2,800 students eligible to graduate and more than 2,100 expected to participate in commencement ceremonies this weekend. USM follows with 1,635 students eligible to graduate and 1,063 expected to participate in Saturday’s celebration at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. 

Every graduate has a story. Among those who will be highlighted this weekend are Tanner Meserve, Melissa Meserve and Brenda Plummer, three generations of one Maine family who will receive their degrees together (External Site) this weekend from USM and UMA; UMaine’s co-valedictorians (External Site), Michael Delorge of Biddeford and Lydia Gilmore of Bangor; UMF graduates Avery Whitney and Robin Crockett (External Site), who got to know each through shared service at the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat; and Hamido Hassan (External Site), a new Mainer from Somalia who changed her career path from culinary arts to counseling as a result of the pandemic and will graduate with a master’s from USM and a commitment to care for others. 

Honorary degrees will be conferred this weekend by UMS universities on MELMAC Education Foundation Executive Director and former Maine State Representative the Hon. Wendy Ault (UMA), retired educator and former Maine State Representative the Hon. David McCrea (UMPI), celebrated Maine authors Cathie Pelletier (UMPI) and Monica Wood (UMF), communication industry innovators Neera and Rajendra Singh (UMaine) and national affordable housing developer Lyndel “Joe” Wishcamper (USM).

UMS has awarded 106,362 degrees over the past two decades, led by those in nursing/health professions, business, education and engineering. Consistent with the State economic strategy’s goal of growing wages, working age UMaine alumni earn more (External Site) than double the state’s average median income. 

Contact: Samantha Warren, University of Maine System Director of External Affairs, 207-632-0389,

About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s 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 seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); 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 a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.