Alan Shaw Taylor, two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner, to deliver 2016 Commencement Address at UMF

FARMINGTON, ME (April 20, 2016)—The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to announce that Alan Shaw Taylor, one of the nation’s premier historians and two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner, will be the 2016 Commencement speaker. He will also receive an honorary degree at the ceremony held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 14.

Alan Shaw Taylor

Alan Shaw Taylor

An historian, scholar, educator, author and Maine native, Taylor is only the fourth person to win two Pulitzer Prizes for American history since the establishment of the award in 1917. A notable expert on Colonial America, the Revolution and the Early American Republic, he is known for finding new stories in history and looking at them in ways that other historians might not, according to historians in Maine.

“Alan Taylor has the well-deserved reputation of being an historian’s historian,” said Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president. “He is notable for his extensive knowledge, scholarly research and unique talent to make history come alive again. It is an honor to have him addressing our graduates on this important day.”

Born in Portland, Taylor is a Bonny Eagle High School and Colby College graduate, who returns often to Maine. His first book, in 1990, “Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820,” focused on Maine’s early settlement, before statehood. Just six years later, he received his first Pulitzer Prize in American History for “William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic.” It was also awarded the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes.

In 2014, he received a second Pulitzer Prize for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,” a book about runaway slaves who helped the British military. According to the Pulitzer committee’s citation, Taylor’s book is “a meticulous and insightful account of why runaway slaves in the colonial era were drawn to the British side as potential liberators.” It also won the Merle Curti Prize for Social History (OAH) and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Taylor has taught in the history departments at Boston University and the University of California at Davis, where he was the faculty advisor for the California State Social Science and History Project that provides curriculum support and professional development for K-12 teachers in history and social studies.  Currently, he teaches in the Corcoran History Department of the University of Virginia where he holds the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair.

In addition to his two Pulitzer Prize winning publications, Taylor’s other writings have won the 2001 Gold Medal for Non-Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California, the 2007 Society for Historians of the Early Republic book prize and the 2004-7 Society of the Cincinnati triennial book prize.  “The Civil War of 1812” won the Empire State History Prize and was a finalist for the George Washington Prize. He has published seven books, with the eighth to be published in fall 2016.

Emily Rumble

Emily Rumble

Graduating senior Emily Rumble from York will give the student address. A standout student, Rumble is a George Mitchell Scholar and Honors Student graduating Cum Laude with a major in secondary education. During her time at UMF, she has been active in the UMF George Mitchell Scholars Club and Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. She worked as the student campus photographer for four years and participated in multiple campus community service projects, including Relay for Life and traveling to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina Relief. After graduation her goal is to work as a high school English Teacher.

Foster and Joseph McGinn, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will confer degrees to this year’s graduates. Marjorie Medd, member of the UMS Board of Trustees, will deliver greetings to the graduates from the University of Maine System.

Additional Event Details

The outdoor ceremony will be held behind the UMF Olsen Student Center and is free and open to the public. Guests of graduates are also welcome to watch the ceremony live in C131 in Roberts Learning Center. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the UMF Fitness & Recreation Center. Admission to the indoor ceremony will be limited to those who have already received “Fitness and Recreation Center” tickets. During the indoor ceremony, guests can watch the event live in C131 and C23 in Roberts Learning Center and in the classrooms and Bjorn Lobby in the UMF Education Center. The UMF Commencement ceremony will be webcast live at and broadcast live on Mount Blue TV community access Channel 11 at, whether the ceremony is held indoors or outdoors.

DVDs of the ceremony will be available in early summer for a small fee from the UMF Ferro Alumni Center, which can be contacted at 207-778-7090.

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Photos can be found at:
Photo Credit: Submitted photo
Photo Caption: Alan Shaw Taylor
Photo Credit: UMF photo
Photo Caption: Emily Rumble