A presentation made by University of Maine nursing students at a Veazie town council meeting was cited in the Bangor Daily News article “Orono-Veazie Water District consumers raise concerns about potential carcinogen.” The students presented on the health effects of trihalomethanes (THMs), which are formed when chlorine and other disinfectants are mixed with organic matter, after residents showed concern over chemicals in their water. The students said exposure can lead to an increased risk of bladder, colon and rectal cancer. UMaine also released a statement about its water, saying the university “has been in contact with the Orono-Veazie Water District and is aware that it is currently in compliance for 2013.”
WVII (Channel 7) reported on the University of Maine College of Engineering’s Francis Crowe Society induction ceremony. Dean Dana Humphrey said “it’s an accomplishment for those graduating to take with them into the world, as well as an honor for those who have become distinguished in their careers.” The society is named in honor of Francis Trenholm Crowe, who earned a degree in civil engineering from UMaine in 1905 and was chief engineer of the Hoover Dam.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 14th annual Maine FIRST Lego League Championship hosted by Maine Robotics and Time Warner Cable Dec. 14 in Augusta. The University of Maine College of Engineering and Cooperative Extension 4-H program were also sponsors as part of Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative to address the nation’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math.
Dennis Costin, a special operations chief for the Boston Fire Department, visited the University of Maine to speak to first responders and town officials about emergency preparedness and lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombings, according to WVII (Channel 7). The event was hosted by Speciality Response Solutions.
Fostering student engagement is therefore important for Dana, who knows a thing or two about longevity and stability. The vice president for student life has been at the state’s flagship university for nearly three decades.
“UMaine truly is a world-class institution and student success is at the top of the priority list,” he says, adding that it’s empowering to help lead the charge for a UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by fiscal year 2017.
From 2011–12, UMaine did just that. Eighty-one percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school. It was a 5-percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research.
The national first- to second-year retention rate for four-year public institutions is 72.2 percent, according to ACT (2013) and the national retention rate for selective public institutions is 77.6 percent, according to Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (2013).
Dana says that UMaine President Paul Ferguson has energized this community specifically through the Blue Sky Plan and his total commitment to student success and his emphasis on our obligation to support students so they can achieve a college education. According to Dana, this orientation creates all sorts of opportunities.
Opportunities, for instance, to create “super-enriched” interconnected academic, cultural and social environments that serve as effective, durable, connected student support structures. It helps, Dana says, that all faculty and staff are “pulling in the same direction.”
He points to several recent developments intended to bolster student academic engagement and success, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Center, the College of Education and Human Development Advising Center and the Unum Black Bear Leaders program.
Advisers, he says, provide academic guidance, personal support and resources and seek to forge authentic supportive relationships with students. The advisers understand that students are complete and complex human beings, and not just an education or engineering major, Dana says.
The Unum Black Bear Leaders program provides selected first-year students with a trained one-on-one coach, team-building activities, as well as yearlong mentoring, seminars, social events and experiences.
The retention rate of the 113 first-year students who participated in the 2011–12 Unum Black Bear Leaders program was 87 percent; 73 percent surveyed said they had gained leadership skills, life skills and knowledge by participating in the program.
Of the students who completed the program, 13 percent withdrew after the first year, compared to 31 percent of first-year students with similar characteristics who chose not to participate.
Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, says it’s key that the multipronged approach to improving both retention and four- and six-year graduation rates is informed by data.
Retention is affected by a number of factors, says Hecker, including affordability, quality of instruction, access to required classes and quality of residential life.
There are more than 200 campus organizations in which students can become socially and culturally engaged and connected, says Dana, whether they’re from Maine, another state or country, are a veteran and/or a nontraditional student.
Dana listed a myriad of ways that students can be a contributor and leader on campus, including through research, volunteering, Greek Life, athletics, theater, music, GLBT advocacy, recreation, the campus newspaper and student government.
“Engagement matters,” he says. “Community matters. Being truly engaged in the world around us provides us with the opportunity to realize leadership. We admit people capable of greatness. It’s true you can do anything you want…teacher, doctor, lawyer, scientist…”
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The UMaine Community is proud to unveil three new University of Maine entrance signs installed this week at the three points of entry of the University of Maine. This installation is a significant event under the UMaine Blue Sky Project Branding Initiative and the Paint, Polish and Plant Initiative of Pathway 3: Embracing a Culture of Excellence: Promoting Spirit, Community and Collaboration and Pathway 5: Restoring the Dream: Renewing Pride and Stewardship of Place. The signs, replacing the nearly 20-year-old University of Maine signs, were designed by UMaine’s Division of Marketing and Communications and were paid for by the Thayer Fund for Campus Excellence, a private gift endowment fund.
The University of Maine School of Performing Arts’ University Singers will perform at two Bangor retail locations on Saturday and Sunday Dec. 14–15. The group will sing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at J.C. Penney court in the Bangor Mall and 1–2 p.m. at Starbucks.
Members of the choir come from a variety of academic disciplines. Under the direction of Dennis Cox, the singers annually perform at multiple concerts on campus, tour New England for a week each spring and perform abroad every four years.
University of Maine students and married couple John Carney and Christine Carney won the Big Gig’s second pitch-off for their promotion of their business, Through Thick and Thin, which offers quirky acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments.
Three businesses had been selected to pitch their products or companies to a panel of judges at the event at Kosta’s Bar and Grill in Old Town.
The winners received $100 and an invitation to compete for a $1,000 grand prize in the Big Gig Finale in April.
The Big Gig is designed to bring together Bangor-Orono area innovators and entrepreneurs and offer networking opportunities. It was started by a partnership between the University of Maine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University and is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth.
Sarah Newcomb, a doctoral student in behavioral economics at UMaine and research assistant at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, won the Big Gig’s first pitch-off event in October with “Who’s Your Daddy?” — a phone app she developed that allows shoppers to scan products to learn more about its parent company.
More about the Carneys and how UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation helped get their company off the ground is online.
Vice President for Research Carol Kim recently appointed Paul Anderson as the new director of the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Maine. ARI is a statewide resource for research, faculty expertise and facilities dedicated to informing the development of sustainable aquaculture.
In Maine, marine aquaculture includes salmon, oysters, mussels and seaweeds with a growing interest in other species of both finfish and shellfish. There is also a small amount of freshwater aquaculture used to raise bait fish and other species.
Since 2001, Anderson has directed the Maine Sea Grant College Program, another one of UMaine’s research centers overseen by Kim. He will continue in that capacity. “Paul has tremendous leadership skills,” said Kim, explaining that the ARI is an important asset to the developing aquaculture industry in Maine, “I expect successful results as he takes the helm.”
During this two-year appointment as ARI director, which began December 1, 2013, Anderson will oversee a strategic planning effort, an external review of the institute, and will work to align the faculty, student and facilities that are involved in aquaculture-related research towards common goals. “This is an important time in the evolution of aquaculture in the world and strong science is needed to help ensure that aquaculture is integrated in the working waterfront and into the food systems in an ecologically sustainable manner,” Anderson said.
A UMaine alumnus, Anderson served as the extension leader at Maine Sea Grant before becoming its director. From 1989–1999, he worked for the Maine Department of Marine Resources where he directed the Public Health Division overseeing all aspects of seafood safety. In 2003, he chaired the Governor’s Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine.
UMaine has aquaculture research facilities at three locations in the state: the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin; the research laboratory at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, and the Aquaculture Research Center in Orono.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on the latest visit by certified therapy dogs to the University of Maine’s Fogler Library. The dogs were on hand to offer stress relief and comfort to students, staff and faculty members as the semester winds down. UMaine students said visiting with the dogs helps them relax.