Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient
Lawrence J. Sterrs
This year’s Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree recipient is Lawrence (Larry) J. Sterrs, former Chief Executive Officer of UniTek and its telecom subsidiary, UniTel, Inc. In his current capacity as Board Chair for both companies, Larry provides executive management and strategic planning functions for UniTek’s consolidated telecommunications operations.
With over 44 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Larry began his career with Continental Telephone (ConTel) companies throughout the Northeast, holding a number of operational, legislative and regulatory positions in project, training, and operations management, progressing to Assistant Vice President with network design and planning responsibilities.
In 1991, Larry joined BerryDunn as Manager of Telecommunications Consulting. He has served at the request of several Maine Governors on a variety of telecommunications issues, including Vice-Chair of the Maine Telecommunications Infrastructure Steering Committee, which created the ConnectME Authority. He is a current board member and former president of the Telecommunications Association of Maine, and former Executive Vice President of the Telephone Association of New England.
Outside of the telecommunications industry, Larry is best known for his role as Board Chair and CEO of the Unity Foundation, a public charity that provides strategic grant making, executive and board development assistance to non-profit organizations throughout Maine. Currently Board Chair of Waterville Creates! and board member of Camden National Corporation, Larry previously served on a number of boards of area non-profit organizations including Thomas College and Good Will-Hinckley.
Larry will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Dr. George Spann, Ph.D.
Dr. George Spann served as Thomas College president from 1989 to 2012, during which time the College prospered under his leadership with enrollment and program growth. In 1999, Thomas launched its Guaranteed Job Program, the first college in the nation to do so. In 2000 under George’s guidance, Thomas expanded its academic programming beyond its highly acclaimed business offerings, and today offers a full complement of additional academic offerings including Elementary Education, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Computer Science, with a number of new graduate and accelerated degree offerings.
From 2000 to 2012, the campus’ physical presence expanded exponentially, including the construction and openings of the Laurette Ayotte Auditorium, Bartlett and Townhouse residence halls, the Harold Alfond Athletic Center, Spann Student Commons, and the Kennebec Savings Bank turf field complex. In 2007, the College had the foresight to purchase 50 additional acres to the south of the main campus to accommodate future expansion plans.
During his 23-year tenure, George stabilized the school’s finances, doubled student enrollment, broadened and strengthened academic programming, oversaw a building boom, and grew the College’s endowment to $6.5 million.
Dr. Spann will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Kathie Leonard is President and CEO of Auburn Manufacturing, Inc., a specialty textile maker with plants in Mechanic Falls and Auburn. A leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of textile products of hundreds of extreme temperature industrial applications throughout the world, AMI employs approximately 50 people in the Lewiston-Auburn area.
Kathie began her career in textile manufacturing at the age of 22 when she took a job as an executive secretary at former fabric maker W.S. Libbey in Lewiston. Kathie realized the potential the market held for new heat-resistant fabrics, and in 1979, at the age of 27, she co-founded AMI. In 2000, Kathie bought out her partner, becoming sole owner of the company. A Thomas College Trustee from 1996-2005, in 2009 she was recognized as one of the six “Women to Watch” by Maine Biz.
Kathie will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Science in Business Administration.