press release - Collins Commencement

Public Relations | Press Releases


Release date 04-22-14


Maine Senator Susan Collins will be keynote speaker at KVCC 44th Commencement


FAIRFIELD, ME – Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) has announced that Maine Senator Susan Collins will be the keynote speaker at its 44th Commencement Exercises May 17 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Commencement will begin at 10 a.m.Susan Collins official photo 2014

Senator Collins was invited to make the keynote address by Dr. Richard Hopper, KVCC President, during a January trip to Washington D.C. where Dr. Hopper attended the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Annual Meeting.

Dr. Hopper took the opportunity to visit Senator Collins, Maine Senator Angus King, Maine Congressman Michael Michaud, and Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to discuss topics including federal grants, accreditation and college rankings, data collection, the Farm Bill, performance-based financing, and student loans and default rates.

First elected in 1996, Senator Collins is now serving her third term in the United States Senate. Known for her efforts to facilitate bipartisan compromise, Senator Collins is a nationally-respected leader in promoting U.S. interests.

Senator Collins’ record demonstrates significant legislative accomplishments in areas critical to labor force and economic development of mid-Maine – such as agriculture, business development, education, and health care.

Along with former Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Collins led the successful repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that prohibited gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly in the military.

Senator Collins is also recognized as one of the hardest working members of Congress. During her entire time in the U.S. Senate, she has never missed a roll-call vote… casting more than 5,000 consecutive votes.

“We are delighted that the 2014 graduates of KVCC will be addressed by Senator Collins. She is not only a great supporter of higher education, skills, and opportunity for all Mainers, but she is also a role model for students launching careers,” said President Richard Hopper. “Senator Collins has demonstrated a work ethic second to none; her discipline and drive are an inspiration.”

Kathy Corey, Chair of the KVCC Foundation, said, “On behalf of the KVCC Foundation, I am thrilled that the Honorable Susan Collins will be our Commencement Speaker this year. She has always been a strong supporter of education and we are honored to have her join us for our 2014 graduation ceremony.”

The Class of 2014 will look to Senator Collins for insights on their new beginning as graduates as they take the quality and value of the skills they have learned into the workforce.

A recipient of the United States Navy’s highest civilian honor, Senator Collins has successfully fought for increased funding for Navy shipbuilding to support the jobs of the men and women at Bath Iron Works, Maine's largest private employer, and has been recognized and been a strong advocate for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. She has also advocated for the Maine Military Authority and the Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center in Limestone, as well as the Air National Guard base in Bangor and the Maine Army National Guard.

Senator Collins is also known as a tireless advocate for education and has visited and read to children at nearly 200 schools across our state. She has helped to secure critical federal funding for skills development, research, and infrastructure critical for the University of Maine System and Maine’s Community Colleges.

A champion for our small businesses, Senator Collins is very proud of the strong ratings she has received from the National Federation of Independent Business for her support of small business in the Senate.

Currently serving as the ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Senator Collins has had a long-standing interest in health care. In 1997, she founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus and has led the effort to more than triple federal funding for diabetes research. As Senate co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, she has worked to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research and to strengthen support for family caregivers. She also led the fight to restore critical funding to Medicare so that elderly and disabled residents can receive needed care in their own homes.

Senator Collins was born and raised in Caribou, Maine, where her family runs a fifth-generation lumber business, founded by her ancestors in 1844. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Lawrence University, she is married to Thomas A. Daffron and resides in Bangor.

Senator Collins last spoke at KVCC’s commencement in 2003, when the school was still known as Kennebec Valley Technical College. Maine’s technical colleges would not become community colleges until July 1 of that year.

In the decade since, KVCC has been transformed from a small rural technical institution focused primarily on health care and trades to a regional two-campus hub of business, liberal studies, education, trades and technology, health care, computer, and mental health education.

KVCC’s newest programs include Maine’s first two-year program in Sustainable Agriculture, a two-year Culinary Arts program with a strong farm-to-table focus, and a range of renewable energy training and education programs.

Enrollment has grown more than 20 percent in the past decade, to approximately 2300 students in the fall of 2013. Graduate numbers have also risen, from 316 in 2003 to more than 500 in 2013.

During the same period, KVCC weathered the worst national recession in eight decades, as well as fundamental changes in the labor market that have made its programs more vital than ever for those seeking quality jobs in Maine and beyond.

In 2012 the largest expansion in KVCC’s history began with the acquisition of 600 acres of woods, fields, and buildings on what was formerly the central campus of the Good Will-Hinckley School in Hinckley.

Located seven miles north of KVCC’s Fairfield campus, the new property will officially open in the fall of 2014 as KVCC’s Harold Alfond Campus. With a 120-acre farm, a new 16,500 square-foot classroom and laboratory building focused on agriculture, and many upgrades to existing buildings and infrastructure, this second campus will provide unprecedented opportunities for students and relieve space constraints on the Fairfield campus.



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