I hope you had an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving break. As we close in on the end of the fall semester, I have a few items to share, representing the UMaine achievements of the past month. As always, I hope you will visit www.umaine.edu/insideumaine for more stories about UMaine faculty and staff members, along with other information of interest to our community.
I would like to begin with a couple of comments about the budget situation. My three previous community messages, along with other related information, are on a new website at http://www.umaine.edu/budget09. We also plan to add much more information as we work toward establishing the budget for the fiscal year that begins next July 1.
While we were certainly all grateful that Gov. Baldacci moved to reduce the amount of our current-year budget reduction, we are now faced with the daunting task of building next year’s budget based on the assumption that the state appropriation will not increase from its current level (approximately $5.4 million less than when the current fiscal year began). Lost investment income, both at the System and the University of Maine Foundation, adds more pressure on the revenue budget, creating the most difficult budget landscape we have seen in many years.
We are fortunate that Chancellor Pattenaude and the Board of Trustees are providing excellent leadership at the System level. While we have a difficult road ahead of us, I am certain that we will find a way to continue to serve our students and our state according to our unique responsibilities and mission. We will establish our future budgets by following an extensive, inclusive process based on working to minimize the impact on our students.
I will continue to communicate with our community on a regular basis on this subject, especially if circumstances change or there are other developments to report.
Now, here are a few faculty, staff and student highlights from November. These achievements each reflect the excellence that exists throughout our community.
- Liz DePoy, professor of social work and coordinator of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies in UMaine’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies has received a prestigious honor from the American Public Health Association’s Disability Section. That organization recently presented Liz, who is an outstanding researcher and advocate, with its 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award.
- I was also pleased to learn that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education have named UMaine Prof. Ivan Fernandez 2008 Maine Professor of the Year. This is a great honor and Ivan is most deserving of this recognition.
- Congratulations to Terry Porter and her Maine Business School faculty colleagues on the new Master of Business Administration Business and Sustainability Program. This MBA track includes additional education in business sustainability and business ethics. It is a great addition to UMaine’s graduate curriculum and it reflects the university’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.
- The first event in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Maine Heritage Project, a lecture by Prof. Jim Acheson of the UMaine anthropology and School of Marine Sciences faculty, was well-received. Jim discussed his long-term research related to Maine’s lobster industry, in the context of the 20th anniversary of publication of his book, The Lobster Gangs of Maine. The Maine Heritage project is designed to showcase the college’s research and scholarship directly related to Maine culture, traditions and history.
- UMaine Cooperative Extension continues to provide unique, invaluable service to Maine communities. Extension’s Plant a Row for the Hungry program, coordinated by Barbara Murphy in Oxford County, was a huge success during the 2008 growing season. All told, the program collected 69,895 pounds of produce, 70 dozen ears of corn and 60 loaves of bread from generous Mainers for donation to community agencies.
- Congratulations to Karen Boucias and everybody else in UMaine’s Office of International Programs on another successful Culturefest event, held in the Field House on Nov. 8. More than 1,000 people visit this great event every year, learning about international cultures from members of the UMaine community who share various aspects of their native cultures, making Culturefest a unique and important way UMaine connects with the greater community.
- We appreciate a recent gift from the Acadia Hospital in Bangor that will establish a professorship in the UMaine School of Nursing to focus on psychiatric-mental health nursing education. This project represents a unique partnership with a wonderful community agency, and we look forward to the collaboration and the opportunities it will create for our students.
- It was a pleasure for UMaine to host Donna Loring, a UMaine graduate who has represented the Penobscot Nation in the Maine Legislature for many years, for a recent talk on her new book, Shadow of the Eagle: A Tribal Representative’s Experience in Maine. UMaine’s Wabanaki Center and Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center hosted the event.
- While the result in Iowa was not quite what we had hoped it would be, I congratulate the Black Bear football team on an outstanding season, highlighted by a six-game winning streak that led to a return to the NCAA playoffs. I enjoyed the fall sports season and congratulate all the student-athletes, coaches and others in the athletics department on a job well done.
- I also want to congratulate the UMaine club rugby team for an outstanding season. Coached by economics professor George Criner, the rugby team had a great fall and qualified for the 2009 USA Rugby College Championships, to be held next spring.
As always, the holiday season brings out the best in UMaine’s people, who continually show their generous spirit. Dozens of UMaine organizations organized in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to help our friends and neighbors who are having difficulties in these difficult economic times. Working with great local community agencies, UMaine groups always contribute in significant ways, making our communities stronger and helping those who can really use our help.
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