Throughout her career in public service, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has broken barriers and opened the doors of opportunity for future generations.  PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF REP. DEB HAALAND 

COA celebrates 48th commencement 

BAR HARBOR — Barrier-breaking United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will give the keynote address during a hybrid in-person and online commencement ceremony for the College of the Atlantic Class of 2021 on Saturday, June 5, beginning at noon. 

A total of 81 students from 20 states and 14 nations will graduate from COA during the ceremony, which will be held live under a tent on the North Lawn of campus. The ceremony will follow Maine CDC gathering guidelines, with attendance limited to the in-person community. The ceremony will be livestreamed on for those who have not been part of the college’s spring term COVID-19 testing protocols. 

“This has been an academic year like no other in the history of the college, and our entire community has shown incredible resilience and willingness to adapt,” said COA President Darron Collins. “I hope everyone will join me in congratulating our seniors for showing such strength in the face of adversity, and for being committed to learning and living the principles of human ecology during these challenging times.” 

Receiving honorary master’s degrees in human ecology at the ceremony will be Amber Tamm (‘17) and former COA Dean of Administration Andy Griffiths.  

Tamm is best known for her visionary A Farm in Central Park project. 

Griffiths was COA’s chief financial officer for 15 years until his retirement in 2019. His presence and contributions were so appreciated that upon his retirement, COA announced the Andrew S. Griffiths Chair for the Dean of Administration in his honor, with nearly every staff and faculty member at the college contributing to its creation. 

Secretary Haaland will give the keynote address at the commencement ceremony. Secretary Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, she became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a state party. She is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress, where she focused on environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies.   

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