Hannah Pingree to be UMF’s 157th Commencement speaker May 15

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FARMINGTON — Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Rep. Hannah Pingree, will deliver the 157th commencement address at the University of Maine at Farmington on May 15.

About 462 students are expected to receive degrees from University President Theodora J. Kalikow and Allen Berger, vice-president for academic affairs. The event is scheduled to be held outdoors at 10:30 a.m. behind the Olsen Student Center.

Also during the commencement, Richard Batt, former longtime president of the Franklin Community Health Network and leader on the issue of comprehensive health care, will receive an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. The student speaker will be 2010 class president Robert Sherman from Johnston, RI.

Pingree, as representative of 10 island and coastal towns, was unanimously elected speaker of the House by unanimous vote in 2008. She served in multiple leadership positions during her four terms in the House including house majority leader, house chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and served on the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee during her first term.

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According to UMF, Pingree is known for her commitment to renewable energy and environmental sustainability; for drafting state laws for safer chemical policies, health promotion and disease prevention; and for working to reduce energy costs, encourage clean energy and to better manage Maine’s fisheries.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, she was a fundraiser for the U.S. Senate campaign of Chellie Pingree, her mother, and worked as the political director for iVillage.com in New York City, a political Internet site for women. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University and is from North Haven.

Batt has worked on comprehensive health care issues throughout his career and started several innovative initiatives while at Franklin Community Health Network, including those that promote healthy living practices, according to UMF. During his tenure, the Network was honored with multiple awards for excellence and innovation and was recognized by the American Hospital Association as one of the nation’s top rural health-care delivery systems.

The outdoor ceremony is free and open to the public. However, in case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the UMF Fitness & Recreation Center. Admission to the indoor ceremony will be limited to those with tickets. The ceremony will also be broadcast live over closed-circuit television in UMF Education Center and in Lincoln Auditorium in Roberts Learning Center, and will be broadcast live on Mount Blue Community Access TV channel 11.

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