As we move into November, I’m pleased to provide my monthly UMaine Go Blue update reviewing an exciting month of October in our community. As always, the month was characterized by significant achievements by our students, faculty members and staff members.
I would like to start by saying how much I appreciate the ways in which members of our community have responded to my recent announcement of spending control measures, developed in response to the current budget difficulties. Several people have stopped me to say that they understand and that — in the true UMaine tradition — they are chipping in to help make the situation better. I appreciate that and I know that, working together, we can do what it takes to serve our students and state, and to continue UMaine’s momentum.
Our new, shorter Go Blue message format continues to generate positive feedback and I’m glad that people seem to like it. The new Inside UMaine website (http://www.umaine.edu/umweb/insideumaine2/index.htm), features more monthly highlights and an Along the Mall page that focuses on faculty presentations and publications.
In reflecting on October, I think first of last Friday’s wonderful dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Memorial Plaza. I am thrilled with this beautiful addition to our campus. Moreover, it demonstrates our community’s commitment to the ideals exemplified by Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King and it sends a clear message that UMaine is a place that stands for fairness, compassion and justice.
Congratulations to Paul Mayewski, Ivan Fernandez, Betty Lee and everybody else who had a hand in planning Climate Change 21: Choices for the 21st Century, the recent two-day climate change conference at Wells Conference Center. Some 500 people registered for the conference, which featured fascinating discussion of important issues related to climate change. We can all be proud of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, its long history of leadership in climate science and its current stature in that field.
One interesting aspect of the conference was the inclusion of artistic expression related to climate change. UMaine music professor Beth Wiemann presented an original composition on that theme (performed by Athena Consort) and art professor Kerstin Engman described her sculpture, which was on display during the entire conference. I was most impressed by both the composition and the art piece, which really focused attention on the immense artistic creativity that exists in our community.
I’m pleased with the role played by Bob Bayer and Cathy Billings of UMaine’s Lobster Institute in working with Maine’s lobster industry to deal with the difficulties caused by declining lobster prices. The Lobster Institute is involved in developing creative solutions — including a partnership with an online lobster retailer — to support this industry during tough times. Speaking of UMaine outreach, UMaine Cooperative Extension has — once again — stepped up to help Maine citizens deal with challenges related to rising energy costs. In partnership with state agencies, Extension faculty and staff members statewide spent an October Saturday providing weatherization kits to homeowners. Additionally, an excellent series of videos with Extension Prof. Kathy Hopkins providing do-it-yourself energy savings tips is online at http://www.umext.maine.edu/.
I also appreciate the Maine Business School and professors Bob Strong, Harold Daniel, Paul Myer and Ivan Manev. They hosted an informative public forum on Oct. 16, discussing the financial crisis and what it means for the average person. This kind of symposium represents a great way for UMaine to extend it expertise to help people manage a difficult situation.
This election season has, once again, shown the intense interest of UMaine students and the entire community in civic engagement. I appreciate the great efforts of many UMaine faculty members and staff members — especially in the Division of Student Affairs — in presenting opportunities for our students to become involved in the process. It is truly remarkable that more than 1,000 people turned out for the recent one-day early voting activity at Memorial Union.
I really notice an energy in our community that relates to excitement about participation in this process.
Similarly, our students and others are actively engaged in serving the community through volunteer efforts. The recent Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism “UMaine Cares” service event, in celebration of National Make a Difference Day, demonstrated this very clearly. Some 150 students, representing almost 20 student groups, volunteered on Oct. 24 and 25, providing various forms of support for local community organizations.
I was also pleased to participate recently in the Combined Charitable Appeal for University Employees (CCAUE) kick-off event. Sharon Buchanan and Andrea Gifford continue this year as co-chairs, and I appreciate their efforts in organizing this worthy effort, through which UMaine faculty and staff members provide support for local community service agencies. If you have questions about how to participate, contact Sharon, Andrea or your unit’s campaign organizer.
Kudos also go to those volunteers who got together last week for UMaine’s third annual Pink Tulip Garden project to benefit the Maine Cancer Foundation and raise funds for breast cancer research. The group planted 1,000 pink tulips in observance of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This garden will be a lovely addition to our campus in the spring and it’s an important way to raise money for an important cause while increasing awareness about breast cancer.
Elizabeth McKillen of the UMaine history faculty presented the prestigious fifth Gerald J. Myrna and Stuart L. Bernath Lecture at Wayne State University during October. The Bernatl lectureship focuses on American history, diplomacy and foreign affairs. She spoke on “U.S. Labor, the Anti-Imperialist Moment of 1919, and American Isolationism.” The talk was also the plenary session at the annual North American Labor History Conference.
UMaine earth sciences professor Scott Johnson has been elected to the management board of the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America. Scott will cycle through a series of leadership roles and will become the division’s chair in three years. As Scott points out, earth sciences will play an increasingly important role in society as we confront challenges related to energy, the availability of resources and climate change.
A group of Maine high school students visited UMaine during October to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the UMaine Writing Center in the UMaine College of Education and Human Development. Under the leadership of Prof. Rich Kent, the center promotes student-staffed school writing centers where students serve as peer mentors.
UMaine ingenuity was on full display recently when Prof. George Markowsky and the Dept. of Computer Science unveiled the state’s first “green” supercomputer, which uses dramatically less energy than traditional computers of a similar nature. To demonstrate the computer’s capabilities, a team of cyclists, including several UMaine students, powered the computer through bicycle-generated energy.
The University of Maine Foundation is looking for nominees for th 2009 Geddes W. Simpson Lecture, which “presents speakers of prominence who provide significant insight into the area where science and history intersect.” The lecture is scheduled for April 29, 2009. If you have a nominee, contact Judy Round (email@example.com) at the Foundation.
I hope you are enjoying the fall Black Bear sports season. Our student-athletes continue to do well in competition and in the classroom. The Dept. of Athletics has asked me to mention that Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day is scheduled for Saturday Nov. 22 when UMaine hosts UNH in football. The Black Bears, who have won four straight games, are bidding for a playoff spot that the UNH game is the final home contest of the season. Faculty and staff members can receive one free game ticket and purchase additional tickets for just $5. Those who purchase two or more tickets receive free access to the tailagate parking area. If you’re interested, call the ticket office 581-BEAR.
I hope you will visit the Inside UMaine website (www.umaine.edu/insideumaine) for more examples of UMaine scholarship and service during October. It was a month full of such achievements, and I’m certain that November will bring more of the same. I wish you and your families an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday and I look forward to sharing more good news about UMaine at the beginning of December.
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