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UMaine President Ferguson Taps Six Campus Initiatives in His Visions of University Excellence Program

Six initiatives by University of Maine colleges, departments and programs designed to enhance excellence and campus transformation were selected for funding by the Presidential Request for Visions of University Excellence (PRE-VUE) Program.

A total of 45 proposals were submitted to PRE-VUE, a three-year funding initiative established by UMaine President Paul Ferguson as a companion program to UMaine’s Strategic Planning Process: The Blue Sky Project.

The six initiatives, averaging $300,000 each for funding lasting a total of three years, were rated highest in their potential to enhance excellence and campus transformation with a broad-based impact, employ a cost-effective approach to addressing pressing issues for UMaine, achieve a sustainable impact, and align with the university’s emerging and strategic priorities.

“The goal was to empower and catalyze the UMaine community to come together— faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners — to collaborate and focus on strategies to enable UMaine to achieve a new vision of institutional excellence and realize its position as a leading 21st-century land- and sea-grant university,” says Ferguson. “We want to bridge — to preview — effective short-term problem solving with the long-term problem solving coming out of the formal strategic planning process.”

Like the six funded PRE-VUE proposals, the 39 unfunded initiatives are considered resources for the 25-member UMaine Strategic Planning Leadership Team, chaired by Ferguson and facilitated by Linda Silka, director of UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. All the PRE-VUE proposals will be archived for reference in an electronic library online to be developed as part of the Blue Sky Project Implementation.

UMaine’s strategic plan is slated to be unveiled in early May.

PRE-VUE proposals addressed one or more of UMaine’s high-priority areas, including increasing the number of faculty in high-impact disciplines, balancing and promoting the role and impact of faculty as scholar-teachers, strengthening UMaine’s academic and research program portfolio, enhancing the quality of the undergraduate and graduate student educational experience, and improving campuswide student recruitment and retention programs.

The six funded PRE-VUE initiatives are:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Center: Increasing Student Satisfaction and Retention – A Collaboration Between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs

Team leader: Kristin Sobolik, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

University units represented: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to establish a student advising center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with staffing and best practices from the Division of Student Affairs to increase student access, connection, satisfaction and retention. The advising center will develop programs and resources for at-risk students, and will provide support and programming for all students and faculty advisers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UMaine’s largest college.

Enhancing Undergraduate Academic Experiences Through Student-Faculty Research Collaborations

Team leader: Nancy Hall, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR).

University units represented: CUGR will lead the project, and all academic and research units are expected to participate.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to provide pedagogical and financial support for undergraduates engaged in research by establishing a University of Maine.

Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Academy and Student Research Support Funds for supplies, materials or travel. A second goal is to develop a cohort of faculty mentors and increase activities toward future funding of undergraduate research through the CUGR Fellows Program and CUGR Fellows Assistants.

Pre-Tenure Research and Creative Activity Fellowship Program

Team leader: Jeffrey Hecker, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

University units represented: The colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Education and Human Development; Engineering; Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture; and Business, Public Policy and Health.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to establish a Pre-Tenure Research and Creative Activity Fellowship Program to support pre-tenure faculty in their efforts to secure external funding for their scholarship. The goals of the program are to increase external funding for research and creative activities; develop the next generation of faculty leaders in funded research; grow opportunities for all students to learn through funded-research experiences; and recruit and retain outstanding faculty to build funded-research programs.

University of Maine Humanities Center: Humanities for the 21st Century

Team leader: Scott See, Libra Professor of History and director of the University of Maine Humanities Initiative.

University units represented: UMaine Humanities Initiative; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; departments of English, History, Modern Languages and Classics, Philosophy and Art; Maine Folklife Center; National Poetry Foundation; and Canadian American Center.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to establish a University of Maine Humanities Center to promote the integral role of the humanities and the university in the state by developing synergy among scholarship, research and community engagement. The center will include a Humanities for the 21st Century Program, a Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, Humanities Graduate Student Assistantship, and faculty and development grants.

UMaine Web Standards

Team leader: Chris Smith, Department of University Relations manager of electronic communications.

University units represented: Department of University Relations.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to establish a university-wide online branded Web presence to advance UMaine’s marketing and communication efforts, enhance campus excellence and transformation, and promote the impact of UMaine and its faculty, students and alumni. A consistent, enhanced Web presence will demonstrate and showcase UMaine’s academic and research strengths as a comprehensive land- and sea-grant university, highlighting its world-class centers of excellence and other points of pride, aiding student recruitment efforts, facilitating constituents’ access and alumni interface with UMaine.

Increasing University of Maine Recruitment, Enrollment and Retention Through Black Bear 4-H Science

Team leader: Lisa Phelps, University of Maine Cooperative Extension program administrator.

University units represented: UMaine Extension, Admissions, College of Engineering, Foster Center for Student Innovation and the Aquaculture Research Institute.

The PRE-VUE award will be used to establish Black Bear 4-H Science to increase student recruitment, enrollment and retention by promoting 4-H Science at UMaine. Funds will be used to hire a 4-H youth development science professional and a graduate student to strengthen connections with UMaine resources, including faculty, and to create more opportunities for youth to establish lasting connections with — and aspirations to attend — UMaine.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207-581-3745


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