Commencement / Graduation 2017
Saturday, May 13 2017 10:30am
Approximately 373 bachelor’s degree and master’s degree recipients participated in the University of Maine at Farmington Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 13, 2017.
Louis D. Sell, a retired Foreign Service officer with years of experience in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, delivered the Commencement remarks to the UMF Class of 2017. He also received an honorary degree.
Chris Coyne, a Maine entrepreneur, tech innovator and designer, also received an honorary degree.
Zack Peercy, a graduating student majoring in Creative Writing and Theatre: Writing and Performance, gave the student address.
Louis A. Sell
“Louis Sell is a policy historian and diplomat, a voice of calm during a time of great political turmoil in the world,” said University of Maine at Farmington President Kathryn A. Foster. “He has made a valuable contribution to international diplomacy and in the higher education classroom, and we are honored to have him address our Class of 2017.”
Passionate about public service, Louis A. Sell served under six U.S. presidents from 1971 to 1998, beginning with Richard Nixon, a journey that took him to volatile parts of the world that look very different today.
He was present in Moscow at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union and served in Yugoslavia during the political crisis that split the country apart. From 1995-1996, he was political adviser to former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, the first high representative for Bosnian Peace Implementation, and participated in the Dayton Conference that brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sell served as U.S. representative to the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna, as director of the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis, director of the Office of U.S.-Soviet Bilateral Relations, and as special assistant and executive secretary of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.
He was a principal founder of the American University in Kosovo that opened its doors in 2003 and served as executive director of the American University in Kosovo Foundation from 2003 to 2007.
Sell is the author of two books, “Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Duke University Press, 2002) and “From Washington to Moscow: U.S.-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the U.S.S.R.” (Duke University Press, 2016.)
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and his master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has been a part-time faculty member at the University of Maine at Farmington since 2001.
“Since his college days, Chris Coyne has combined the best of math smarts, teamwork and entrepreneurship,” said President Foster. “We are delighted to honor his past and ongoing inventiveness as inspiration for the Class of 2017 and assembled guests.”
A South Portland native, Chris Coyne and his business partners created TheSpark.com, a website acclaimed by Yahoo as “Best of the Web,” and SparkNotes, an online study guide, while attending Harvard University. The study guide and discussion forum proved to be an extremely popular online platform and was purchased by Barnes & Noble in 2001.
Following the success of SparkNotes, Coyne and his partners created OkCupid, an online dating, friendship and social networking website that focused on using mathematical algorithms to match people. Listed in Time magazine’s 2007 Top Dating Websites, the platform was acquired by Match.com in 2011.
Coyne is currently working on Keybase, an open source encryption application that offers online users tools to manage their identity, create secure chats and share files privately.
In 2012, he and his partners received the Harvard Humanist of the Year award.
Office of the Provost/
Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of Maine at Farmington
224 Main Street
Farmington, Maine USA 04938