University of New England graduates listen to UNE President Dr. James Herbert during last year’s graduation ceremonies. This year’s main graduation ceremony will be held Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. COURTESY PHOTO

PORTLAND — For the 1,880 graduates of the University of New England this year, the big day is almost here.

UNE will host its 184th annual graduation and commencement ceremonies, including the ceremonies from precursor institutions, St. Francis College and Westbrook College, starting on Friday at the Cross-Insurance Arena and Innovation Hall (dependent on program) in Portland.

These events will be smaller in scale and be specifically scheduled for the various colleges throughout the university and ceremonies will take place throughout the day, starting with the College of Dental Medicine Graduation Ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday and concluding with the College of Arts and Sciences Graduation Ceremony at 5 p.m.

The main graduation ceremony will be held starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cross-Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland with UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine graduation ceremony set to begin at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The speaker for this year’s UNE commencement and graduation ceremonies is Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who was sworn in as the 75th Governor of Maine on Jan. 2.

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.

Friday and Saturday’s events mark another successful graduation to add to the long-storied past of UNE’s history.

UNE’s institutional history dates to 1831, when Westbrook Seminary opened on what is now the UNE Portland Campus. The UNE Biddeford Campus was founded in 1939 when College Séraphique opened as a high school and junior college for boys of Quebecois descent.

In 1952, College Séraphique became a four-year liberal arts college named St. Francis College. In 1978, St. Francis College merged with the New England Foundation for Osteopathic Medicine to become the University of New England and then in 1996, the University of New England merged with Westbrook College.

These ceremonies will be a big day for UNE President James Herbert, who eagerly awaits seeing his second wave of seniors walk the stage to receive their diplomas.

Herbert is UNE’s sixth president and his tenure began on July 1, 2017, immediately following the 11-year tenure of Danielle N. Ripich.

The graduation events also are a milestone moment for the diverse group graduating seniors and their families.

Of the 1,880 degrees and certificates to be awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year, these UNE degrees are spread out across 70 different majors.

UNE’s graduating students have had a large impact on the university and have offered a unique skill set that has been highlighted throughout the past four years.

“This year’s graduating class is notable not only for the talent and creativity its members have demonstrated in our classrooms and labs, but for their level of commitment to the wider world beyond our campuses,” said Josh Pahigian, Professor and fellow of the Center for Global Humanities. “Following in the footsteps of the UNE graduates before them, they are extremely motivated to apply their talents to the challenges facing our world right now and to make a difference.”

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