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Husson University Honorary Degrees to Go to Partners in Business and Life

Published on: October 14, 2020

Joseph and Suzanne Cyr and Edward and Mary Ellen Darling

BANGOR, MAINE - In response to the current pandemic, Husson University made the difficult decision to move their traditional Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 to an online Zoom format. The ceremony, which typically includes over 800 students and over 6,000 family members and guests, is ordinarily held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine each May.

“When Husson University decided back in March 2020 to postpone Commencement until October, we hoped that the United States would have made significant progress in battling COVID-19 and the limits on public gatherings would have been lifted by then,” said Robert A. Clark, PhD, CFA, president of Husson University. “Understanding how disappointing it would be to all parties to cancel Commencement, we developed an alternative ceremony to recognize our students’ academic achievements.” 

This year, the ceremony was broken up into 11 separate Zoom ceremonies. On October 15, 2020 at 6:30 p.m., at the Gracie Theatre, the Zoom Commencement ceremony for graduates of the business and management programs at Husson University will pay special tribute to Joseph and Suzanne Cyr, as well as Edward and Mary Ellen Darling, as they receive honorary doctoral degrees of business administration from Husson University.

Assisting with the hooding of the honorary degree recipients will be John Rohman, chair of the Husson University Board of Trustees. “Honorary degrees recognize distinguished accomplishments in the professions, public service, philanthropy, and service to humanity. They are the highest honor Husson University can confer,” said Rohman. “This year’s honorees are community leaders whose efforts have helped make our region a better place for all of us.”


Joseph and Suzanne Cyr

Longtime Maine residents Joseph and Suzanne Cyr both attended Husson University where Sue received an associate degree in legal secretarial science. A couple of years after graduating, Sue worked for college President Chesley Husson, Sr. Joe began a career in transportation and eventually became the owner/operator of John T. Cyr and Sons in 1967.

Later in her career, Sue joined Joe at Cyr Bus Lines and began Cyr Northstar Tours. Joe has been an active member of Husson’s Board of Trustees since 1992, while Sue is a member of the University’s Women’s Philanthropy Council. They have both been loyal supporters of growth and scholarship initiatives at Husson. These initiatives have enhanced the University’s ability to deliver a world class, professional education to its students.

Joe and Suzanne have also been active members of the community. He was a founding director of Merrill Bank and the co-owner of Freightliner of Maine, a company that specialized in selling and servicing new and used trucks. In addition, Joe was an active member of the Old Town/Orono Rotary Club for over 40 years. A major project he led for the club was the creation of Sarah’s House in Holden, an organization that provides temporary lodging to cancer patients and their caregivers. Joe was also the President of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.

Besides the Chamber of Commerce, Joe’s dedication to the community includes volunteer work as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way, the Old Town/Orono YMCA Board and the Katahdin Area Boy Scouts of America.

Sue was an active volunteer for Meals on Wheels. She brought hot food to the homebound for several years. Sue has been an active member of the Old Town/Orono YMCA Heritage Club, the Northern Light Healthcare Foundation and the “Remarkable Begins with You” Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems fundraising committee.

In 1991, the couple was named Entrepreneur of the Year, a distinction awarded to them by the Honorable Margaret Chase Smith. Joe and Sue received the Distinguished Citizens Award from the Katahdin Area Council, Boy Scouts of America on November 13, 2007.


Edward and Mary Ellen Darling

Mary Ellen graduated from nursing school in Boston and returned to Bangor to work at the “old” St. Joseph Hospital. Ed transferred to Husson College to obtain an education that would support a family. While in school, he balanced a full course load while working 40 hours a week at his dad’s automobile business. Ed graduated from Husson in 1964 and two years later started Downeast Toyota in Brewer. In 2005, Ed was invited to be a member of the Husson University Board of Trustees. As their business success evolved, the Darlings have “given back” to Husson because they believe in the University’s mission.

Their service to the community includes stints as the chair of the St. Joseph Hospital Board of Directors and volunteer work on the church councils of St. John’s in Bangor and St. Joseph’s in Brewer. Ed served as co-chair of the restoration campaign at St. John’s. In November of 1997, Ed received the Mother Angela Award in recognition of exemplary service to the community and to St. Joseph Healthcare. Eight years later, Ed received the Norbert X. Dowd Award, the highest honor the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce can bestow, in recognition of his community service. Mary Ellen was a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leader and a member of the Board of Trustees of John Bapst Memorial High School for 10 years.



Prior to the graduation ceremony, each student was mailed a diploma cover and a copy of the full Commencement program. In addition, students who earned honor cords received them in the mail. The talented faculty and staff at the New England School of Communications are producing these high-quality Zoom Commencement presentations. Over the course of the 11 separate ceremonies, every 2020 graduate will have the opportunity to be recognized.

Students who graduated in August 2019, December 2019, May 2020 and August 2020 were invited to participate in their school’s Zoom Commencement ceremony.

“Even though our Commencement ceremonies will be on Zoom, we are still encouraging our students to demonstrate the pride they feel in earning a Husson degree,” said Lynne Coy-Ogan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. Everyone is welcome to decorate their mortarboards for the camera. Students and their guests are also welcome to hold up celebratory signs. Our Husson University staff will be taking screen shots of what graduates share and posting the images to social media.”

All Husson University Zoom Commencement ceremonies will be broadcast live from the Gracie Theatre on Husson University’s Bangor campus. A full schedule of days and times for each of the 11 Commencement ceremonies was sent to students and their families.

For more than 120 years, Husson University has prepared future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent superior value in higher education. Our Bangor campus and off-campus satellite education center in Northern Maine both provide advanced knowledge in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. In addition, Husson University has a robust adult learning program. According to a recent analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit

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