University of Maine students celebrate as they move their tassels and get their diplomas during graduation, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawer Loftus / BDN

The University of Maine celebrated 1,680 undergraduate students in two ceremonies Saturday during the 220nd commencement held at Alfond Sports Arena on campus, which was packed with thousands of friends and family members.

This was the first full, in-person graduation ceremony the university has held since 2019.

University of Maine students walk from the New Balance Field House to the Alfond Arena for their graduation ceremony, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The day’s festivities kicked off with the soon to be graduates marching from the New Balance Field House to the arena.

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy speaks to graduating students during the graduation ceremony, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Joan Ferrini-Mundy, the president of the university and University of Maine Machias, presided over the ceremony. She told the graduates she felt a special connection to them as they both started at the university in the fall of 2018 when she was named the president of UMaine.

“We started here together. You’re kind of my class,” Mundy said. “We had no idea what was to come or that half of your undergraduate experience would be during a global pandemic.”

A University of Maine student stops for a hug on the way to his seat for his graduation ceremony, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

UMaine professor Daniel Sandweiss was named the 2022 Distinguished Maine Professor and told students in a speech that they have earned this celebratory moment.

“You deserve to celebrate, after your long successful years of hard work in our community,” he said. “So, go out and paint the town red, have a ball, raise hell and kick up your heels.”

University of Maine students celebrate as they move their tassels and get their diplomas during graduation, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The commencement speaker for this year’s undergraduate ceremony was Nadia Rosenthal, the scientific director at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and professor.

President Ferrini-Mundy awarded an honorary degree to JoAnn Fritsche who was UMaine’s first director of equal opportunity and director of the Women’s Development Program.

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy (right) hands valedictorian Dominique DiSpirito her diploma, May 7, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Political science major Dominique DiSpirito of Woonsocket, Rhode Island was named the 2022 University of Maine valedictorian. Maxwell Burtis of Brunswick, Maine, a mechanical engineering major and an Honors College student, was named this year’s salutatorian.

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...