UNE announces Jonathan Haidt as 2022 Commencement speaker

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D.
Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D.

The University of New England (UNE) has announced that author and prominent social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., will deliver the Commencement address at its 187th Commencement exercises on May 21, 2022. Both Haidt and David Evans Shaw, founder of IDEXX and visiting lecturer at UNE, will receive honorary degrees.

Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and taught for 16 years at the University of Virginia.

Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality and how morality varies across cultural and political divisions. He is the author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Righteous Mind” (2012) and “The Coddling of the American Mind” (2018, with Greg Lukianoff). His next book, “Life After Babel: Adapting to a World We Can No Longer Share,” will be published in 2023; it explores how social media has altered the social operating systems of people, institutions, and democracies in ways that may lead to failure, unless major changes are made. 

A four-time TED Talker, Haidt was in 2019 inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was chosen by Prospect Magazine as one of the world’s “Top 50 Thinkers.” He will be awarded with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from UNE.  

David Evans Shaw is a prominent American business and social entrepreneur whose career has included extensive public service in science, the arts, conservation, and public policy. Known locally as the founder of IDEXX, Shaw has helped build more than a dozen successful technology companies as a CEO or board member.

Shaw has served on the faculty of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the advisory board of the Center for Public Leadership. He is a founding director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, chair emeritus of The Jackson Laboratory, treasurer emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he has been a global leader in science-based conservation.

Currently the managing partner of Black Point Group, Shaw has been inducted into Life Sciences Hall of Fame, was named a 2013 International SeaKeeper of the Year by the International SeaKeepers Society, and has been awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees by Colby College, Bates College, and The University of Southern Maine. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science from UNE, where he currently serves as visiting lecturer in the Shaw Innovation Fellows program.

UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D., said hosting Haidt, founder of the Heterodox Academy, as Commencement speaker is a testament to UNE’s commitment to the marketplace of ideas — a place where diverse viewpoints are embraced as the building blocks of knowledge and where respectful debate facilitates the pursuit of knowledge.

“At UNE, we believe that free expression, open inquiry, and respectful debate are crucial to our mission,” remarked Herbert, a renowned clinical psychologist. “UNE’s culture of innovation is dependent on free expression and inquiry, and engaging in robust, sometimes controversial discourse is vital to ensuring a diverse and inclusive classroom environment, whereby students are free to share their ideas in a respectful and productive manner. Both Haidt and Shaw embody these important qualities in every aspect of their work, and I look forward to welcoming them both as we celebrate our talented Class of 2022 graduates.”

UNE will award more than 1,800 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, dental medicinepharmacy, health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, human services, education, and management during its Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 21, at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland — the first University-wide Commencement ceremony held since 2019.

David Evans Shaw