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Entrepreneur David Shaw Gave USM Graduates an “Ode to Joy”

graduates at 2014 commencement

Business leader and social entrepreneur David Shaw told 900 University of Southern Maine graduates on Saturday morning, “…to be skeptical of conventional wisdom because it can very often be wrong. And the process of challenging it and defying it,” he added, “sharpens your thinking.”   

Shaw, who earned his M.B.A from USM, also reminded graduates that, “The world is deeply dependent on people who have the courage to offer new and thoughtful perspectives on important issues.”   

He concluded his address with a surprise rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” performed as a graduation celebration featuring his harmonica playing and vocals by graduate Carolyn Glaude of Topsham, who sang the national anthem to open the ceremony.

It was one of two surprises at USM’s 134th Commencement, held Saturday morning, May 10 in the Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland. The second was a videotaped message from actor Michael J. Fox, which he taped especially for his late friend, Albert B. Glickman, who was awarded a posthumous honorary degree.

Student speaker Anna Chiu of Portland told the audience of nearly 8,000 that, “For most of my life, I was ashamed of my heritage because I was teased and harassed for being Chinese.”  USM, she said, changed that. “I owe my personal growth to the vast diversity of students and faculty we have at this underrated gem of a school.”

Earlier in her speech, Chiu referenced a small child in rural China who grew up in poverty. “Today I can say that she is sitting in the crowd right now,” said Chiu, “watching her daughter speak in front of thousands. But I wonder, did she ever imagine this could happen one day?”  

Chiu, who was awarded a degree in health science with a minor in biology, looks forward to visiting China for the first time to explore her family history before attending graduate school.

Albert B. Glickman, one of three honorary degree recipients, was a Portland native recognized for his contributions to business and dedication to philanthropy, the arts, public higher education and health. He was a trustee of the University of Maine System and served for many years on the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

USM’s Portland campus library was named the Albert Brenner Glickman Family Library in 1997, commemorating a gift Glickman and his wife, Judy Ellis Glickman, made to the university.

Judy Ellis Glickman of Cape Elizabeth, an internationally recognized photographer, received an honorary degree for her dedication to philanthropy and higher education, her commitment to the memory of the Holocaust and her contributions to the field of photography. Glickman is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, and has exhibited her photographs worldwide. Her work is represented in over 300 private collections, and is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

She has published numerous books, most recently, “Upon Reflection: Photographs by Judy Ellis Glickman.” She also lectures on the Holocaust, a frequent subject of her photography.

Carol Wishcamper of Freeport was awarded an honorary degree for her contributions to leadership and organizational development, her commitment to social justice and her support of education. She chaired the Maine State Board of Education, the Freeport School Committee, and served as a trustee of the College of the Atlantic and of Waynflete School.  She also co-chaired USM’s “Transforming USM” campaign, which raised funds for the Wishcamper Center, an expanded Osher Map Library, and the Dorothy Suzi Osher Promenade.

In 2013, Wishcamper was sworn in as one of five members of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed to investigate the forced assimilation of Wabanaki children.