Go Blue Archive - February 2009
In the span of two hours this past Thursday, I visited two UMaine facilities that really help underscore the progress UMaine is making, despite the budget difficulties we face. On that day, I attended a news event at the Collins Center for the Arts, where an 18-month renovation has yielded spectacular results. The facility will re-open this weekend and I am delighted to have it online again, ready to serve an important role for our students, faculty and staff, and the greater community. Later this year, the Hudson Museum will also re-open, in a significantly improved and updated space in the Collins Center for the Arts. After that event, Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Dana and I went to check out Cutler Health Center, also renovated and now in operation as a public-private partnership with Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Norumbega Medical Specialists. This new arrangement will afford greater access to healthcare for our students and it will lead to expanded services, all for the good of the UMaine community.
So many members of the UMaine staff deserve thanks for their great work and their patience in bringing these projects to completion. It would be dangerous to start mentioning names, because an accurate list would take up the rest of this message. My sincere thanks do go to all of those involved, because their work will have a meaningful, ongoing, positive impact on our community.
January was another busy and successful month at UMaine. I would like to point out a few of the highlights here, and remind you that more are posted online at www.umaine.edu/insideumaine. If you would like to keep up with news like this on a daily basis, you can subscribe to UMaine Today Online at www.umaine.edu/umainetoday and receive updates via email from the Dept. of University Relations.
UMaine philosophy professor Doug Allen has recently returned from India where he was involved in a series of interesting, high-level events. He gave a keynote address on “Gandhi in Times of Terror” at a major conference in Jaipur. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the ongoing tensions involving India and Pakistan led to tremendous interest in Doug’s talk. Media interest was intense, and he gave a large news conference, along with several interviews with the national newspaper and other news organizations, resulting in extensive coverage. During the trip abroad, Doug was also featured at a New Delhi conference on Phenomenology, Globalization and Indian Philosophy, giving a presentation to be published in a forthcoming book. His new edited book, “The Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi for the Twenty-First Century,” was also recently published by Oxford University Press. Doug is truly one of the world’s leading scholars in his field, and his work brings distinction to UMaine.
I am pleased to note that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected UMaine as one of just 76 institutions to receive its Community Engagement Classification, in recognition of UMaine’s curricular engagement, outreach and partnerships. Kathleen March from the UMaine Spanish faculty was the driving force behind UMaine’s application for this recognition, and Audra Grady from the Bodwell Center was also centrally involved in helping UMaine gain this important and well-deserved distinction.
Interesting new research by UMaine Dept. of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute Prof. Dan Sandweiss tells us more about the impact of climate change and natural disasters on ancient Peruvian societies. Dan, who also serves as UMaine’s graduate dean, was the lead author on a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper describes the relationship between the collapse of one such society and natural disasters caused by El Niño.
Climate Change Institute scientists have undertaken an interesting and successful outreach project, bringing their research to the community through a monthly lecture series at the Bangor Public Library. Greg Zaro, who is organizing the lecture series involving his CCI colleagues, made a presentation on “Ancient Civilizations, Archaeology and Environmental Change in South America” in mid-January.
Congratulations to UMaine professors Mark Wells and Carl Tripp. Working with a colleague from Colby College, Mark and Carl have received a $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant to continue developing a sensor that will measure iron and copper in ocean water. Those elements help sustain the growth of phytoplankton, which are important to marine ecosystems and also sequester carbon dioxide. Mechanisms for measuring their presence have wide-ranging scientific implications.
My thanks to Bonita Grindle, UMaine’s associate director of equal opportunity, who has spearheaded the development of an online campus map (Accessibility Map) that depicts all the building entrances that are accessible for people with handicaps. This is a wonderful service, which speaks volumes about the commitment of Bonita and others to creating a university environment where accessibility for all people is a priority. Bonita worked with Mike Hermann, senior cartographer in UMaine’s Canadian American Center, to develop the map.
Congratulations to Patty Counihan and the rest of the staff at the UMaine Career Center on another successful career fair, held just the other day at the Student Recreation Center. Despite snowy weather and tough economic times, almost 100 employers showed up to talk with an estimated 1,000 students about career and internship possibilities. This is a wonderful annual event, which means a great deal to our students and to the statewide business community.
It was great to see more widespread recognition on Jan. 28 for the R&D work in UMaine’s Advanced Engineered Wood Composites (AEWC) Center. A National Geographic Television program, “Hi-Tech War on Terror,” featured AEWC work on secure shipping containers. The program included an interview with Prof. Habib Dagher, the program’s director.
Stephen Gilson, UMaine professor of social work and interdisciplinary disability studies, deserves congratulations for receiving the prestigious 2008 Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity from the National Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Stephen’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies colleague Lu Zeph received another high honor at that meeting, clearly demonstrating UMaine’s national leadership role in this field of study.
I would also like to recognize Prof. Harlan Onsrud from the UMaine Spatial Information Science and Engineering faculty, for his selection to participate in the Fulbright Specialists Project in Law. Harlan will be in Australia during February and March, presenting five lectures, known as the 2009 Melbourne Fulbright Lectures on Cyberlaw and Spatial Technologies. UMaine has a long and impressive relationship with the Fulbright program, and Harlan is to be congratulated for his selection to participate in this project.
I encourage all members of the UMaine community to visit the Building a Vibrant Maine Economy virtual conference website at www.umaine.edu/vme. Developed by the UMaine School of Economics, the Maine Business School, Cooperative Extension and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture, this initiative brings UMaine expertise and technological capability together in a way that creates widespread access to research-based perspectives on Maine’s economic future. The first of four video presentations, by Prof. Todd Gabe, was posted on Monday Jan. 26. It will be followed on the subsequent three Mondays by presentations by UMaine professors Gary Hunt, Terry Porter and Phil Trostel, each discussing their own research and conclusions. This is a clever, effective way to extend UMaine resources and expertise to a broad audience.
I hope you will all soon pay a visit to the UMaine Museum of Art in downtown Bangor. Thanks to a generous donation by Machias Savings Bank, admission will be free for all visitors through 2009, creating wonderful access for people of all ages who would like to visit this impressive facility. George Kinghorn, who’s been the museum’s director for less than a year, is doing great things at the museum, which has a new logo (created by UMaine Senior Designer Mike Mardosa), a new exhibit and a new lecture series. There’s a lot going on at the museum, which really helps connect UMaine to the Bangor arts community.
I would also like to commend George and UMaine English professor Steve Evans, who oversees UMaine’s New Writing Series, for a recent collaborative effort that brought together painter and printmaker John Bailly, whose work is on display at the museum, with his long-time creative collaborator, Cuban-America poet Richard Blanco. These two artists participated in events together at the museum and on the campus in Orono, providing exceptional opportunities for our students and others in our community with an interest in these forms of creative expression.
As we move into the last full month of winter, there is certainly a lot to celebrate in our community. I thank each of you for your ongoing efforts and good work on behalf of UMaine and our students. Working together, we are making a positive difference as UMaine continues to serve as a shining light throughout our state.