The University of Maine awarded degrees to 2,123 graduates at a pair of commencement ceremonies held Saturday at Alfond Arena in Orono.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins addressed the Class of 2011, offering remarks at both events.

Sixty-eight of the graduates earned doctorates, 361 earned master’s degrees and 24 earned certificates of advanced study.

Collins, who told the graduates she hopes they “apply (their) talent, energy and enthusiasm right here in (Maine),” brought a message encouraging civility and community engagement.

She used the example of Alex Haley, the grandson of slaves, who authored “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”

Haley’s personal motto, “find the good and praise it” could be adapted by this year’s graduates as “find the good, praise it and join it,” Collins said, noting the decline of civility in society and the need for unified, community-based efforts to change the tone of public discourse.

“We each have a responsibility to turn back this destructive tide,” she said. “We all have a stake in a society that can work together to solve problems. We all must do our part to elevate the tone and respect each other as part of our greater community.”

UMaine awarded Collins an honorary doctorate at the morning ceremony. Peter Vigue, the board chair and CEO of Cianbro, Inc., a Pittsfield-based construction company, received an honorary doctorate at the afternoon event.

A total of nearly 14,000 people attended the two ceremonies.


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