College of the Atlantic president Darron Collins ’92 presents a diploma at the 2015 commencement.College of the Atlantic president Darron Collins ’92 presents a diploma at the 2015 commencement.

A total of 83 students from 24 states and 13 nations are set to graduate from College of the Atlantic on Saturday, June 4.

Award-winning author and environmental justice advocate Barry Lopez is this year’s keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient. Lopez is the recipient of more than a dozen major literary and cultural awards, including the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams, and the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing and a Christopher Medal for humanitarian writing for Of Wolves and Men.

Economists, biologists, botanists, musicians, educators, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, designers, scientists, public policy analysts, and organic farmers are among the candidates for a bachelor of arts and a master of philosophy in COA’s one major, human ecology.

Award-winning writer Barry Lopez is College of the Atlantic's 2016 Commencement speaker.Award-winning writer Barry Lopez is College of the Atlantic's 2016 Commencement speaker. Credit: David LiittschwagerAwards received by students in this graduating class include a Schwarzman Scholarship, a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, a Botanical Society of America Young Botanist Award, a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, and a Projects for Peace award.

COA writing program director Anne Kozak is the 2016 Grand Marshall.

Lopez will be introduced by senior and Davis United World College Scholar Galen Hecht, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Seniors Ariana Rambach, of Ashland, Ore., Will Minogue, of Arlington, Mass., and Natalia Zamboni Vergara, of Guatemala City, Guatemala, will provide student perspectives on the COA experience, while senior Tyler Prest, of Northfield, Mass., will lead off the commencement ceremony along with COA president Darron Collins ’92 and board of chairman Will Thorndike.

As part of the college’s commitment to sustainability, COA celebrations always consider environmental impacts. All paper used at the commencement is recycled, all disposable tableware is composted, no bottled water is served, and as much food as possible is organic and sourced locally. Leftover food from the celebration is delivered to a local food pantry and shelter, and all food waste is composted.

The commencement ceremony takes place on the north lawn of COA’s Eden Street campus beginning at 2 p.m. The event is open to the public.

COA commencement 2015COA commencement 2015College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 by Mount Desert Island residents on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape its future. The college’s transdisciplinary, non-departmental curriculum emphasizes individualized study, independent research, and real-world application of knowledge.

A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA’s distinctive approach to learning—human ecology—develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers necessary to address the compelling and growing needs of our world. Every COA student graduates with either a BA or MPhil in human ecology—the study of the relationships between humans and our natural, social, and built environments—but each student’s path to the degree is unique.