This website uses cookies to understand how you use the website and to improve your experience. By continuing to use the website, you accept the University of New England’s use of cookies and similar technologies. To learn more about our use of cookies and how to manage your browser cookie settings, please review our Privacy Notice.



2019 Commencement Speaker

U N E President James Herbert poses with Maine Governor Janet MillsGovernor Janet Mills

Janet Trafton Mills was sworn in as the 75th Governor of Maine on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

A fighter for Maine people and a fighter for a better future, Janet Mills ran for governor because she believed it was time for change — a new direction for the state based on bold ideas and courageous, independent-minded leadership.

As governor, she is fighting to see that every Maine person has affordable, high-quality health care, that Maine has a strong economy with good-paying jobs in every part of the state, that every Maine child has access to a world-class education, and that Maine is a place where families can put down roots and raise their kids.

Janet was born and raised in Farmington, Maine, where she still proudly lives today. The granddaughter of Aroostook County potato farmers and the daughter of a long-time high school English teacher and the U.S. Attorney for Maine, Janet learned the value of hard-work at an early age, venturing out early every morning to deliver newspapers along her route and serving meals in the evening at the local diner. She graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and the University of Maine School of Law.

Janet first entered public service as an Assistant Attorney General, where she prosecuted homicides and other major crimes. After a few years, she was elected District Attorney (DA) for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties, making her the first woman to be elected as a DA in New England. Prior to becoming governor, Janet served as the Attorney General of Maine — the first and only woman to hold the job.

Governor Mills is the first woman governor of Maine. In her historic victory, she earned more votes than any governor in state history and is first governor since 1966 to win a majority of the vote for her first term.

Past Commencement Speakers

  • 2018 Catherine A. Sanderson, Ph.D., Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (Psychology), Amherst College
  • 2017 Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
  • 2016 Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University, Director of the Religion Department of the Chautauqua Institution
  • 2015 Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, President/CEO, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England 
  • 2014 Gregory W. Powell, J.D., CEO/President of Dexter Enterprises, Inc, & Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation
  • 2013 Angus King (I), U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 2012 Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D)
  • 2011 Congressman Michael Michaud (D)
  • 2010 Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine
  • 2009 Rita Colwell, Ph.D., Nationally-respected Scientist and Educator
  • 2008 John McKernan, Former Governor of Maine
  • 2007 Robert Shetterly, Maine Artist and Author
  • 2006 Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Gold Medalist
  • 2005 Olympia J. Snowe, United States Senator, Maine
  • 2004 Henry L. P. Schmelzer, President and CEO Maine Community Foundation
  • 2003 Henry L. P. Schmelzer, President and CEO Maine Community Foundation
  • 2002 Daniel Wathen, Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court
  • 2001 Congressman Tom Allen, U.S. Congressman, Maine
  • 2000 Robert McAfee, Former President of the American Medical Association, UNE Board of Trustees member
  • 1999 Susan Collins, U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 1998 Richard MacPherson
  • 1997 Marvin Wachman, Ph.D.
  • 1996 Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senator, Maine 
  • 1995 Judith Isaacson
  • 1994 Rev. John Brooks
  • 1993 Thomas Andrews
  • 1992 Dorothy Cotton
  • 1991 Marie Gadsden, Ph.D.
  • 1990 George Mitchell 
  • 1989 Andrew McGuire
  • 1988 Dr. David Matthews
  • 1987 Dodge Morgan
  • 1986 Douglas Edwards
  • 1985 Assoc. Justice Caroline D. Glassman, Maine Supreme Judicial Court
  • 1984 Joseph E. Brennan, Governor of Maine
  • 1983 Arthur Elliott Levine, Ph.D., President, Bradford College (Bradford, MA)
  • 1982 James Russell Wiggins, Editor and Publisher, Ellsworth American
  • 1981 Honorable William S. Cohen, U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 1980 William J. Caldwell, Columnist, Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram
  • 1979 F. Stephen Larrabee, Ph.D., National Security Council
  • 1978 Benjamin M. Ziegler, Ph.D., Educator, Amherst College
  • 1977 Honorable Sherry Huber
  • 1976 Dr. Elsa M. Meder
  • 1975 Dr. Scott Nearing, Economist, Farmer, and Author
  • 1974 Reverend Paul C. Reinert, President, St. Louis University
  • 1973 Dr. Kenneth E. Eble
  • 1972 Dr. Richard Weigle, President, Saint John’s College (Annapolis, Maryland)
  • 1971 The Honorable Kenneth M. Curtis
  • 1970 The Honorable James L. Farmer, A.B., B.D., Assistant Secretrary, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
  • 1969 The Honorable Frank Licht A.B., and L.L.D., Governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation
  • 1968 Mr. Edwin D. Canham, Editor-in-Chief, Christian Science Monitor
  • 1967 Dr. Donald M. MacKenzie, President, Park College (Parkville, Missouri)
  • 1966 Rev. Bernard Haring, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University
  • 1965 His Excellency The Most Reverand Ernest Primeau, Bishop of Manchester
  • 1964 Dr. John W. McDeVitt, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
  • 1963 Dr. Philip Lambert
  • 1962 Father Juvenal Lawlor
  • 1961 Rev. Edward V. Stanford
  • 1960 Reverend Msgr. Robert J. White
  • 1959 Mr. William B. Mahoney
  • 1958 Reverend Mark Franck
  • 1957 Dr. Harry Doyle
  • 1956 Reverend Kevin Kidd
  • 1955 Reverend Fernand Porter
  • 1954 His Excellency The Most Reverend Daniel J. Feeney