PORTLAND — The University of New England awarded over 1,500 baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degrees during its 188th Commencement on Saturday, May 20 representing the fields of osteopathic medicinedental medicinepharmacyhealth sciences, the humanities, human services, businesseducation, and the natural and social sciences.

The University welcomed Ronald A. Crutcher, D.M.A., a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician, who delivered the Commencement address and who also received an honorary doctor of humane letters from UNE. Elizabeth A. McLellan, M.S.N., M.P.H., DMS ’19, president of Portland-based partners for World Health, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters during the ceremony.

Speaking to the crowd at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Crutcher addressed the many challenges facing the world today, including the deadliest pandemic in a century, the greatest racial reckoning seen in over 50 years, and increased economic disruption and political polarization. In combatting these pervasive issues, he said, people with differing viewpoints must work together to effect positive change.

“I know [these issues] are relatable to you and the state we are in as a society, which, in my opinion, can be perceived as a collective knee on all of our neck — a knee that is preventing ourselves from unifying to solve the bigger problems facing us as we strive to build a sustainable society,” Crutcher stated. “People who are willing to step outside the comfort of their own ideological bubble, who can openly and energetically disagree without acrimony or without threat of retaliation, are now something of an endangered species, and that is disrupting the entire ecosystem of our democracy whose very health and ability to breathe freely depends on the energetic exchange of diverse and competing ideas.”

“All of you have the power to drive positive change and help our country live up to its promise of e pluribis unum — ‘out of many, one,’” he concluded.

Crutcher’s address nicely dovetailed with UNE President James D. Herbert’s own remarks, delivered at the start of the ceremony, that called for graduates to engage with people of differing viewpoints in order to come together and tackle societal issues.

“Seek out and engage in experiences with a wide range of people. Though it may be easier to associate with those who think like you, who vote like you, who share the same cultural background as you, if you step outside your comfort some, you will be rewarded by a life that is endlessly more complex and enriching than it would be otherwise,” President Herbert told the graduates. “Your time at UNE has prepared you for that kind of life. Together, we’ve all worked hard to foster a community that values diversity and inclusivity, while at the same time values open, robust, civil discourse across differences. It is my hope that you will carry the appreciation for both these UNE priorities into your professional and personal lives.”

A folder of images from the ceremony is available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1nV_t3OFDeRbrm4ija5dLAyD1z2SvzyZF?usp=share_link

Read this story and view the ceremony here: https://www.une.edu/congratulations-class-of-2023.