UMES puts on another 'Oscar-worthy' party
PRINCESS ANNE - (March 6, 2011) - As dessert plates from the sumptuous meal at UMES' annual Gala were cleared away, mistress of ceremonies Maggie Linton invited students working behind-the-scenes at the 2011 event to step forward and take a bow.
An endless stream of undergraduates – many wearing white apprentice chef hats and matching smocks – circumnavigated the Student Services Center ballroom Saturday night. The sell-out crowd of nearly 500 rose to its feet in applause that built to a crescendo, and then into rhythmic clapping. The smiles on the students’ faces said it all – Hollywood on the Shore was another resounding success.
The event marked the second year in row friends and supporters of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore had a chance to mingle with celebrities on home turf. Entertainers Tyne Daly, David Alan Grier, Pam Grier and Sharon Stone graced the university with their presence for an occasion that is arguably the lower Eastern Shore’s premier social event.
Each celebrity guest addressed attendees seated in a ballroom transformed with decorations into a scene that could have been inspired by a big-budget musical.
Stone, who travels the world raising awareness about poverty, political oppression, environmental and health problems, touched on those subjects during her speech. She also singled out President Thelma B. Thompson for praise as a strong female role model.
Her voice full of emotion, Stone said she “could not be more honored” to receive an honorary degree from UMES. “I feel accepted, understood and loved,” Stone said.
Pam Grier said the evening brought back memories of role models, now deceased, who inspired her as a young woman: the Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president, and her friend and fellow actress Tamara Jones. Grier, who used sign language to express thanks and love to the crowd, described receiving the honorary degree a humbling and empowering experience.
As the quartet’s designated comedian, David Alan Grier, did not disappoint. He produced the biggest laugh with a story about attending a fund-raiser several years and being mistaken for LeVar Burton. Burton was scheduled to attend the UMES Gala, but had to send his regrets because of a last-minute professional obligation.
Daly confided she was nervous about speaking without notes, and then eloquently talked about the value of education, reading and her disappointment with America’s failure to tell the complete story of the role blacks and women have played in the nation’s history.
Laughter erupted when Daly said, “I’m talking so much because I’m now a doctor” referring to the honorary degree she had just been awarded. Like her fellow celebrity guests, Daly challenged UMES students to take advantage of the college experience.
As Thompson pointed out in her welcoming remarks, UMES students often fall short of earning their degrees because they cannot afford tuition and fees. The Gala will generate an estimated $280,000 toward the university's $14 million Campaign for Academic Excellence to raise funds for scholarships so some of those students can reach that goal. Thompson thanked the celebrities and the guests for supporting that worthy cause.
Photo: (Top left) Dr. William Pender and his wife, Minnie, applaud as HRM students take a congratulatory lap around the ballroom. Sharahn Boykin is pictured at right.
Photo: (Bottom right) Celebrities attending "Hollywood on the Shore" pose with UMES President Thelma B. Thompson after receiving honorary degrees for their successful careers and philanthropic efforts. Pictured, from left, are Sharon Stone, Pam Grier, Thompson, Tyne Daly and David Alan Grier.
Take a few minutes to view these video and still images produced by The (Salisbury, MD) Daily Times newspaper, a 2011 Gala corporate sponsor, and free-lanc photojournalist Patty Hancock of Crisfield.
VIDEO (16 minutes): Tyne Daly, David Alan Grier, Pam Grier and Sharon Stone share their thoughts about their visit to UMES.
SLIDE SHOW (31 images): Catch a glimpse of some of the sights and sounds of UMES' "Hollywood on the Shore" 2011 gala.
DiscoverUMES: Watch student-broadcasters' report on "Hollywood on the Shore."