FARMINGTON, ME (April 29, 2019)—The University of Maine at Farmington proudly announces that Elizabeth Strout, winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and New York Times bestselling author will be the Commencement Speaker for the UMF Class of 2019. She will also be the recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at this year’s ceremony, which will take place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 11, on the UMF campus.
“Elizabeth Strout’s extraordinary career has its roots in a deeply abiding sense of Maine’s unique spirit,” said Eric C. Brown, UMF interim president. “Her writing is authentic, unabashed in its rendering of the full range of human experience, from the troubled to the triumphant, and a wonderful example of the power of story in shaping life’s meaning. We are thrilled to have her address our 2019 graduating class.”
Born in Portland, Maine, and raised in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire, Strout was drawn to writing at a young age. Her early experiences provided a rich backdrop for her love of natural surroundings and her insight into the people who lived there.
Her work has garnered critical acclaim for its “distinctly New England” stories and powerful characterizations. “Olive Kitteridge,” winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, was lauded by the judges for packing, “a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating.”
In addition to the Pulitzer, Strout is the author of “Anything Is Possible,” her most recent book and winner of The Story Prize; “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; “The Burgess Boys,” named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; “Abide with Me,” a national bestseller; and “Amy and Isabelle,” winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize.
Strout has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.
Graduating senior, Jonas Maines from Portland, will give the student address. A performing arts major, Maines has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to perform, direct, and write during his four years at UMF.
He has performed in five of the University’s main stage productions, including the leading role in a recent production of Hamlet. He has also participated in the theater department’s student directed One-Act Play Festival and the Festival of New Plays that features original works written, produced, directed and performed by UMF theatre students.
Maines is the president of the UMF chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, a national theater honor society, and is a member of Theatre UMF, the on-campus student theatre organization. He has also been a long-time member of the Lawn Chair Pirates, the UMF student improvisation group, which he credits with helping him to become a more confident performer.
Maines received the Spirit of Matthew Shepherd Award in 2015. After graduation, he will be living in Austin, Texas, where he will be involved with Hyde Park Theatre and pursuing a career in theatre.
Brown and Kathryn W. Yardley, acting provost and vice president for academic affairs; Nicholas A. Koban, associate provost; and Jonathan R. Cohen, professor of philosophy will confer degrees to this year’s graduates.
Trevor Hustus, member of the University of Maine System, Board of Trustees, will deliver greetings to the graduates. The National Anthem will be sung by Joshua A. Beckett, a graduating senior from Warren, Maine.
Additional Event Details
The outdoor ceremony will be held behind the UMF Olsen Student Center and is free and open to the public. Guests of graduates are also welcome to watch the ceremony live in C131 in Roberts Learning Center. 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 who have already received “Fitness and Recreation Center” tickets. During the indoor ceremony, guests can watch the event live in C131 and C23 in Roberts Learning Center and in the classrooms and Bjorn Lobby in the UMF Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center. The UMF Commencement ceremony will be webcast live at www.umf.maine.edu whether the ceremony is held indoors or outdoors.
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Photo Caption: Elizabeth Strout
Photo Credit: Leonardo Cendamo
Photo Caption: Jonas Maines
Photo Credit: UMF Image
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations