ORONO, Maine — University of Maine commencement speaker Doug Hall on Saturday challenged about 1,860 new graduates to lead a revolution against the failed policies of their parents’ generation.
Eliciting frequent laughs throughout his brief, eccentric talk, Hall took serious aim at the widening gap between America’ s wealthiest and poorest citizens, the failure to find a vaccine to prevent AIDS, and a health care industry that has developed “Botox, Viagra and gastric bypass surgery” instead of improving Americans’ actual health.
“It’ s time for a new American revolution, a revolution against conformity and, in particular, a revolution against the thinking of me and my fellow baby boomers,” Hall told the students, faculty and guests crowding Alfond Arena for the university’ s 206th commencement exercises.
He was barefoot beneath his black academic gown.
Hall, who graduated from UMaine in 1981 with a degree in chemical engineering and a “two-point-something” grade point average, told the new graduates to be proud of their Black Bear education and confident of their ability to improve the world.
“Tomorrow is a day of reboot and restart,” he said. “Tomorrow, everyone starts fresh with a GPA of 0.0 as you begin the journey of applying your learning to help make the world a better place.”
Hall worked for Procter & Gamble for 10 years after his graduation from UMaine, then retired to start his own company. That business, Eureka! Ranch based in Cincinnati, helps companies develop innovative ways to improve profits. Hall also gained notoriety as one of three panelists on the television show “American Inventor.”
The University of Maine awarded about 1,860 graduate and undergraduate degrees at two separate commencement exercises on Saturday, both held indoors in Alfond Arena. The two events attracted a total of about 11,000 family members and friends who came to celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments.
Among the graduates attending the morning exercises was 60-year-old Stella Ekholm of Orono, who was awarded a bachelor’ s degree in studio art with minors in art history and English. The Milo native, who had no previous college experience, credited UMaine’ s Onward program with helping her get up to speed with the demands of her coursework. The program provides general orientation and academic support for first-time students, students with disabilities and others who need a little extra help, she said.
Ekholm, who works as a medical assistant at a local hospital, said she always has been interested in art but never believed she could make money as an artist. Her experience at UMaine built her self-confidence, taught her to work with new art mediums and technologies, and helped her get a commission to paint a mural in a private home. She also learned to build a professional Web site to market her work.
“Down deep, I’ ve always wanted to write and illustrate children’ s books,” Ekholm said Sunday. Now, she said, she has the tools to make that dream a reality.
For information about the University of Maine’ s 206th commencement exercises, including the full text of Doug Hall’ s speech, visit www.umaine.edu.