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USM to Present Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Achievement Awards at 132nd Commencement on May 12

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, USM's 2012 Commencement Speaker

The University of Southern Maine will present two Distinguished Achievement Awards and four honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees at its 132nd Commencement, on Saturday, May 12 in the Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland. Nearly 900 of the eligible 1,692 graduates are expected to march at the ceremony that begins at 9 a.m.

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe will give the commencement address after being awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of her passionate commitment to public service, a long career dedicated to the highest ethical conduct in government, and her principled approach to leadership. Senator Snowe, who recently announced she would not seek re-election, is the fourth woman in history to be elected to both houses of Congress and the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress. Focusing her attention on efforts to build bipartisan consensus on key issues that matter to our state and the nation, Senator Snowe has built a reputation as one of Congress’s leading moderates. In 2005, she was named the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine, and in 2006, Time magazine named her one of the top ten U.S. Senators. Senator Snowe has been a longtime champion of America’s small businesses, Maine’s fishing communities and protecting our national security.

Dr. Michael LaCombe of Augusta has practiced medicine in Maine for 37 years and is currently in the Cardiology Division of Maine General Medical Center, Augusta. A graduate of the University of Rochester and Harvard Medical School, LaCombe has been a visiting professor at over 60 major universities throughout the world. In addition to his many previous academic accolades, Dr. LaCombe is acting professor of medicine and medical humanities at the University of New England, associate editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine and is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Medicine. Dr. LaCombe has published over 100 pieces of fiction and 12 books, most recently “Bedside: The Art of Medicine” (2012), a book of his own stories about being a doctor in rural Maine. Both he and his wife are active supporters of the Augusta Food Bank and the new regional hospital for Augusta-Waterville, to open in 2013. Dr. LaCombe is recognized for his dedication to both the fields of medicine and humanities.

Kate Cheney Chappell (’83) of Kennebunk co-founded Tom’s of Maine with her husband, Thomas Chappell. She is renown for making a continuing significant societal impact, achieving distinction on behalf of the arts, environmental ethics and philanthropy. At Tom’s of Maine, she led new product development, and championed family-friendly policies such as flextime, parenting leave and volunteering. Kate Cheney Chappell studied art, creative writing and French literature at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, the Sorbonne in Paris, and holds a bachelor’s degree in communication with honors from USM. A passionate Maine artist, Kate Cheney Chappell generously presented USM with a major gift that funded renovations to art studio areas in Gorham, created new studio space in Portland and founded the Kate Cheney Chappell Center for Book Arts at USM.

Thomas M. Chappell of Kennebunk, co-founder of Tom’s of Maine and Rambler’s Way Farm, is a noted environmental entrepreneur, philanthropist and author. A graduate of Moses Brown School, he holds a B.A. in English from Trinity College and a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of two books, “The Soul of Business” (1993) and “Managing Upside Down” (1999), and was the 2003 Dorsett Fellow at Dartmouth College’s Ethics Institute where he lectured on “Leading with Values.” In 2010, he received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award from Harvard Divinity School. Thomas Chappell is recognized for his continuing societal impact on entrepreneurship, theology, environmental ethics and philanthropy in Maine and New England.

Andy Graham (’77, ’08) of Portland earned both his bachelor’s in art and his master’s in public policy from USM. He is the founder of Portland Color, one of the few printing services companies in the country certified by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. Portland Color was recently acquired by DesignTex, a subsidiary of Steelcase, and Graham now serves as its chief innovation officer. His public service activities include serving on the Boards of Friends of Capisic Pond Park, Portland’s Space Gallery, and the Portland Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Committee. He also serves as president of Creative Portland, a non-profit organization created by the city of Portland in support of its efforts to grow the creative economy business sector and enhance the city’s arts district development. Graham is recognized for his efforts to expand the arts in Portland and the state, as well as his commitment to sustainable business practices.

Hannah Holmes (’88) of South Portland graduated with highest honors from USM, receiving a bachelor’s degree in English. She has spent the last 24 years as a science writer, working in locales as diverse as Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and aboard a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean. Although not a scientist, she is fascinated with the science of nature and wildlife, presenting these topics with charismatic humor and accessible language. She now works full-time in Maine, where she writes for national magazines and has authored four popular science books. The most recent, “Quirk,” was published in February 2011 and explores the evolution of personality in mouse and man. Holmes is recognized for her pursuit of new knowledge and understanding of the world around her.