Sept. 17 virtual event will launch UMA’s theme for academic year – ‘Race and Social Justice’
AUGUSTA — University of Maine at Augusta Interim President Joseph Szakas is pleased to announce that the Hon. Donna Loring, former senior advisor on tribal affairs to Gov. Janet Mills, will deliver the keynote address at UMA’s virtual Convocation ceremony on Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. The public is invited to view the event on Facebook Live at facebook.com/UMAugusta.
Convocation marks the beginning of a new academic year, and with that, a new academic theme. The UMA Colloquium selected Race and Social Justice as the theme for the 2021-22 academic year.Additionally, a theme-related book has been adopted for use in a number of classes across the curriculum: “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson.
Dr. Robert Bernheim, UMA assistant professor of history, will provide a faculty perspective on the theme and Mohamed Khalid, a business administration student, will give his perspective on race and social justice.
During the Convocation ceremony, UMA will also recognize students identified as Rising Scholars for both academic achievement and promise. Nominated students are those who have excelled in academics, engaged in the UMA community, or are individuals faculty and staff believe show great potential and promise as student scholars. Additionally, UMA Assistant Professor of Mental Health & Human Services Wendy St. Pierre will receive the Distinguished Educator award and UMA Assistant Professor of Biology Con Sullivan will receive the Distinguished Scholar award.
Loring is an elder and former council member of the Penobscot Indian Nation. She held the position of the Nation’s Representative to the Maine State Legislature for twelve years, ending her service in 2008. Her book titled “In The Shadow of the Eagle: A Tribal Representative in Maine” chronicles her experiences in the Maine State Legislature as a non-voting tribal representative.
During her time in the Maine Legislature, she authored and sponsored LD 291 “An Act to Require Teaching Maine Native American History and Culture in Maine’s Schools” which Governor Angus King signed into law in 2001, changing the way Maine views its history.
Most recently, she was a senior advisor on tribal affairs to Gov. Mills.
Her professional background is in law enforcement having served as the police chief for the Penobscot Nation from 1984-1990 and becoming the first woman police academy graduate to become police chief in the State of Maine.
Loring is a Vietnam veteran, serving in Vietnam from November of 1967 to November of 1968, during the TET Offensive.
She hosts her own radio show, Wabanaki Windows at WERU Community Radio in Orland.
She is a graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2017.
Among her many honors, Loring is the recipient of the University of New England’s prestigious Deborah Morton Society Award and the Courage is Contagious Award, part of University of Maine School of Law’s Justice for Women Lecture Series.