François G. Amar, chair of the University of Maine Department of Chemistry, has been named dean of the Honors College following a national search. His appointment is effective Aug. 1.
Amar succeeds Honors Dean Charlie Slavin, who passed away in July 2012.
David Gross, professor emeritus of English at the University of Oklahoma and a part-time faculty member of the Honors College, has been serving as interim dean.
Amar has been a member of the UMaine community since 1983. In addition to teaching and conducting research, he has served as interim chair and chair of the Department of Chemistry in 1998–99, 2005–06 and since 2011. He is a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center) and Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI).
He has been a member of the Honors College faculty since 2000.
Amar received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1979. His chemistry research focuses on theoretical chemistry and statistical mechanics, including structure and reaction dynamics in ionic, molecular and metallic clusters, as well as catalytic upgrading of biofuels. His other academic interests include interdisciplinary teaching and chemical education research.
“I am delighted that Dr. Amar has accepted the offer to become the next dean of the University of Maine Honors College,” says Susan Hunter, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Dr. Amar is very familiar with the Honors College, having taught in it for over 10 years. He is respected not only in the honors community, but campuswide, and demonstrates the student-centeredness that has been the hallmark of the Honors Program at the University of Maine. François is a remarkable intellectual who embodies the academic qualities that we embrace as a university community.”
UMaine President Paul Ferguson added: “I look forward to working with Dr. Amar and his leadership of the Honors College. François has demonstrated a real passion for honors education and for ensuring our students experience the very best of UMaine. I wish him much success.”
The Associated Press, Bangor Daily News, WABI (Channel 5) and WLBZ (Channel 2) were among several news organizations to cover the University of Maine’s 211th commencement. 1,665 students graduated Saturday and more than 12,000 people attended the ceremonies.
Upward of 12,000 people attended the University of Maine’s 211th Commencement at Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 11 and heard remarks by alumnus Lawrence Bender, the producer of films that have won a total of six Academy Awards.®
This academic year, 1,665 students — 1,333 undergraduate and 332 graduate students — earned degrees from UMaine.
A 10 a.m. ceremony was held for graduates in the College of Business, Public Policy and Health; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Education and Human Development; and the Division of Lifelong Learning. Graduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture were recognized at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony.
UMaine President Paul Ferguson, who presided over the ceremonies, encouraged the students to invest their talent, success and great achievements in enriching the world and improving the quality of life of those around them. The hope, he said, is that the students’ experiences and education at UMaine have inspired them to dare and to “achieve greatly.”
“You can be confident that your UMaine education represents the very best of Maine and that you, in turn, represent the very best of Maine,” Ferguson said. “It is with great pride that I remind you that UMaine is now forever a part of your identity, just as you are the legacy of the University of Maine.”
UMaine awarded an honorary degree to film producer Lawrence Bender, whose noteworthy projects such as “Inglourious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” have been honored with 29 Academy Award® nominations, including three for Best Picture. His film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which raised unprecedented awareness about climate change, won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature.
In his remarks, which included a standing ovation, Bender said he would not have the life he lives today if not for his University of Maine experience, and he urged the students to find success through consistent hard work and persistence.
“How can you achieve greatness? I would say three basic things,” said Bender, who graduated from UMaine in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering. “One, you must find your passion. Two, failure must be a possibility. And three, never give up, especially when you are failing.”
“The ability to allow yourself to fail is the ability to allow yourself to go full on and to break boundaries. Many times it’s only by failing that you find the real truth. And this is not esoteric, this is basic to the heart of all entrepreneurism.”
Other Commencement speakers included students Emma Burgess Roy of Auburn, Maine, a graduating senior in international affairs, with a concentration in women’s studies; and Lindsay LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine, a graduating senior in food science and human nutrition.
LaJoie is the 2013 salutatorian. The 2013 valedictorian is Spencer Hathaway of Turner, Maine, who received two bachelor’s degrees — economics and business administration in accounting.
Also honored at Commencement, as well as at a Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon today, were four faculty members in physics, insect ecology, finance and computer science. Professor of Physics Robert Lad, director of UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology is the 2013 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
Professor of Insect Ecology Francis “Frank” Drummond is the 2013 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award recipient. This year’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Professor of Finance Richard Borgman. Professor of Computer Science George Markowsky is the recipient of the Presidential Public Service Achievement Award.
University of Maine System Board of Trustees members Samuel Collins and retired Adm. Gregory Johnson, a UMaine alumnus, delivered greetings from the board in the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively.
Alumna Samantha Lott Hale, chair of the University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors, welcomed the new graduates to the ranks of the more than 105,000 University of Maine alumni worldwide.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The University of Maine Professional Employees Advisory Council (PEAC) has named Dwane Hutto, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) project manager, and Barbara Ouellette, Honors College coordinator of student academic services and budget, the winners of the 2013 Outstanding Professional Employee Award.
The PEAC selects winners based on the employee’s actions and achievements beyond work responsibilities that positively affect their field, the university and community.
Each winner is awarded $1,000 in recognition of his or her contributions, and will be honored at the Employee Recognition and Achievement Reception and Awards Program May 21.
As project manager, Hutto oversees FBRI’s administrative functions, coordinates project work and collaborates with the institute’s executive director to ensure the efficiency of operations.
Hutto joined FBRI in 2008 after working for three years in the UMaine Process Development Center as group leader in pulping.
FBRI members credit Hutto with being instrumental in helping increase the institute’s support staff from three professionals to six, designing and overseeing the construction of new office space in Jenness Hall, and getting students interested in engineering through department tours and his involvement with the Consider Engineering program.
Hutto is also working with a local middle school teacher to bring engineering principles to the classroom and is designing a workshop to provide hands-on experiences, according to Amy Luce, FBRI technology research center manager who nominated Hutto for the award.
Ouellette, who has served the university for more than 30 years, is responsible for coordinating student academic services and handling the Honors College budget. She has served as an adviser to the dean, and is credited with guiding and supporting the college and interim dean after last year’s unexpected death of Honors College Dean Charlie Slavin. Ouellette also advises and teaches students in the Explorations Program, and acts as a liaison between the Honors College and other colleges on campus.
Ouellette aided in the selection of a new Honors College dean, has served on the Associate Deans and Directors Committee, trained Honors associates, served on Honors thesis committees, worked on the Honors College publication “Minerva,” and coordinated and attended the annual National Collegiate Honors Council Conference.
In addition to her work at UMaine, Ouellette has been involved in the community, volunteering in the NICU at Eastern Maine Medical Center, quilting blankets for children in crisis, serving as a Maine Swimming Association official, and being a United Way team and unit leader.
Ouellette’s professionalism, knowledge, commitment and compassion has greatly influenced the Honors College culture and community, says Melissa Ladenheim, adjunct associate professor in Honors who nominated Ouellette for the award.
Foster’s Daily Democrat recently carried a report on the winner of the 2013 John M. Rezendes Annual Ethics Essay Competition. Gwendolyn Beacham of Farmington won the $2,800 prize for her essay “Ethics of the United States’ Clinical Trials in India.”
Gwendolyn Beacham didn’t have much of a break during the University of Maine winter and spring recesses.
During the three-week respite between semesters in December and January, the sophomore molecular and cellular biology major researched and wrote her entry for the 2013 John M. Rezendes Annual Ethics Essay Competition.
Each night during the two-week March vacation, the Farmington, Maine resident rewrote, revised and tweaked her draft. Her days were otherwise occupied; she and other UMaine students worked on a sanitation system in Dulce Nombre in Honduras for an Engineers Without Borders project.
Her thoroughness paid off. In April, Beacham won first prize, which included $2,800 and an engraved sculpture, for her essay “Ethics of the United States’ Clinical Trials in India.”
“Writing isn’t my main focus of study,” says Beacham, an Honors College student recently accepted for a 10-week summer internship at Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University.
“But I thought it was important that I do something outside of my comfort zone. This forced me to look at an issue from all sides.”
All UMaine undergraduates were invited to submit an 8- to 10-page essay for the annual competition. The 2013 theme was “The Ethics of Globalization.”
Ciarán P. Coyle, a sophomore from Lebanon, N.H., and Gareth Warr, a sophomore from Stonington, Maine, were also finalists; each was awarded $300.
Coyle is majoring in philosophy and Spanish and minoring in history. His essay was titled “Globalization of Reflection: Latin American Experience of Exploitation Justified by Abstraction.”
After graduating from UMaine, Coyle plans to enter a doctoral program of philosophy, either in social and political theory or in phenomenology – the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness as a part of philosophy.
Warr, a second-year political science major and legal studies minor, titled his essay “The Ethics of Globalization: A Marxist Critique.”
The Honors College student from Stonington, Maine plans to join the Peace Corps then perhaps enter law school or work in the criminal justice system.
A financial gift from Dennis and Beau Rezendes provides the university the opportunity to annually offer the John M. Rezendes Ethics Essay Competition in conjunction with hosting the John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics.
Pine Tree Watchdog reported on University of Maine honors student Shelbe Lane’s March 27 testimony of LD 1001, a bill she helped write. “An Act To Improve Laws Governing Financial Disclosure by Legislators and Certain Public Employees and Public Access to Information Disclosed” was proposed by Gov. Paul LePage and sponsored by Democratic legislator Sen. Emily Cain. Lane gave lawmakers a tutorial on the legislation as part of her Honors College thesis.
When Shelbe Lane graduates with honors from the University of Maine in May, she’ll be equipped with a bachelor’s degree in business management, a minor in legal studies and experience as the intern to chief legal counsel in the Governor’s Office.
All of which should serve her well this fall when she enters the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.
Lane’s philosophy helps explain how she accomplished so much in three years at UMaine: “If you see something you want to accomplish you should go after it,” she says.
The scope of her academic accomplishments could soon extend far beyond campus and impact public service in Maine for decades; she participated in drafting proposed ethics reform legislation for Maine politicians and officials.
After Lane completed her draft of the legislation in the fall, she submitted it for review and consideration to Michael Cianchette, chief legal counsel in the Governor’s Office. It then went to the desk of Gov. Paul LePage, the official sponsor.
The result is LD 1001, “An Act To Improve Laws Governing Financial Disclosure by Legislators and Certain Public Employees and Public Access to Information Disclosed.”
Sen. Emily Cain of Penobscot is presenting the bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Beaulieu of Auburn and Sen. John Tuttle of York. Lane says she will testify for LD 1001 on March 27 before the Committee of Veteran and Legal Affairs.
The Patten native helped pen the proposed legislation for her Honors College thesis. “I picked an area that interests me and where I think real change could be made,” she says.
Lane decided to tackle writing ethics reform legislation after The State Integrity Investigation — an assessment of “transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms” — ranked Maine 46th of 50 states with regard to integrity in politics in its March 2011 report.
The investigation, a collaborative effort by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, assigned Maine an F on its Corruption Risk Report Card.
“The fact we’re 46th out of 50 doesn’t mean we’re corrupt,” Lane says. “It means we don’t have the statutes in place to deal with things.”
Maine, she says, lags behind many other states and the federal government with regard to asset disclosure and conflict-of-interest regulations.
LD 1001 seeks to rectify that. If the legislation becomes law, legislators and some executive branch employees would have to include a description of annual income of $2,000 or more on disclosure forms and would have to report ownership interests of 5 percent or more in businesses. They also would be required to file disclosure statements electronically and post the statements on a publicly accessible website. In addition, they would have to report any involvement by them or an immediate family member as a responsible officer of a political party or committee.
“It’s not about being nosy; it’s about avoiding conflict of interest in the voting process,” Lane says of her honors thesis, whose working title was State-Level Government Transparency and the Maine Legislative Process.
“Citizens have an apprehension and concern about politicians and I hope maybe this will ease some concerns,” she says.
Lane, who turns 21 in April, credits UMaine’s Honors College with encouraging her to be analytical and search for solutions as well as providing her with unique cultural opportunities and interesting, varied courses.
Civic service is a priority for Lane, who in the summer of 2012 participated in Maine NEW Leadership — a free, six-day, nonpartisan university training program that seeks to empower and engage college women. It promotes public speaking, coalition building, networking, advocacy and running for public office.
The program strives to provide attendees with “a greater awareness of their leadership potential, skills, and opportunities in civic life and public office” and to prepare them to “emerge as political leaders.”
Lane says the program and its presenters inspired her. She wants to enact positive change in ways other than running for elected office, including perhaps someday working in an attorney general’s office.
Mary Cathcart, co-director of Maine NEW Leadership and a senior policy associate at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, knows about public service. The former four-term state senator and three-time representative believes in the importance of women motivating and supporting each other.
In 1988, Cathcart attended a Winning With Women speech given by Shirley Chisholm, a teacher, activist and congressperson who ran for president in 1972. When Chisholm asked those in the audience to rise if they planned to run for office, Cathcart’s friends encouraged her to stand. Not long after, Cathcart launched her distinguished career in public service.
“Women do make a difference,” Cathcart says, adding that women are buoyed when they can identify with successful role models. Cathcart says Lane is a bright young woman from a small town “who is growing up to be a very strong leader.”
Lane says she strives to be courageous, create opportunities and do her best. In the fall of 2011, she became the first Governor’s Office intern in Gov. LePage’s administration.
Honors College members are encouraged in their junior tutorials to study abroad or take part in an alternate learning experience. As Lane was carrying a 21-credit course load, studying abroad wasn’t feasible.
So she pursued the opportunity for an experience in the Governor’s Office and she landed an internship with Cianchette, Gov. LePage’s chief legal counsel.
Lane recounts a number of highlights, including Pardons Board hearings. She relished the internship so much she extended it for a month and wrote a handbook guide for future interns.
In order to graduate in three years with 120 credits, the commuter has taken as many as 21 credits a semester and enrolled in summer classes. She also earned 10 college credits when she was a student at Katahdin Middle/High School, where she was valedictorian of the Class of 2010.
Throughout her college career, Lane has also worked six to 10 hours a week at her father’s logging business in Patten, where she has been employed since she was 13.
During the 1.5-hour drive to Patten, which is home to about 1,000 people, Lane says she listens to music and frequently composes papers in her head.
A calendar and sticky notes help her keep everything on track.
“If it needs to get done, then it is written down on a list somewhere,” she says. “Sometimes, when things get crazy, that includes a note reminding me to take a little time off. I am a planner, I have an end goal and I like to challenge myself.”
Entering her final semester, Lane’s grade-point average was 3.89.
She says her friends and supporters also occasionally remind her to relax, which for her means cooking, reading magazines, gardening and watching movies with her fiancé.
After law school, Lane is considering specializing in employment law or mediation.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
A University of Maine graduate dedicated to building cultures of peace to prevent new wars and advancing universal secondary education of youth in Africa will deliver the 2013 John M. Rezendes Ethics Lecture on campus April 2.
Arthur Serota, the 2008 winner of UMaine’s Bernard Lown ’42 Alumni Humanitarian Award, is executive director of the nonprofit United Movement to End Child Soldiering (UMECS), based in Washington, D.C.
His free, public talk, “To Look the Other Way or Not: Ethical Choices We Make,” begins at 3:30 p.m. in Hauck Auditorium in the Memorial Union. A reception will follow. For more information or to request disability accommodations, call 581.3263.
In 1966, Serota earned a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences at UMaine and in the ’80s, he lived and worked in the Republic of Zimbabwe, teaching, building schools and taking part in agricultural and reforestation projects.
After witnessing a rebel army invasion in Zimbabwe that included child soldiers, the Brooklyn, N.Y. native helped form UMECS. Its goal, Serota says, is to transition cultures of war to cultures of peace and thereby prevent additional wars, genocides and child soldiering. UMECS provides grassroots, school-based and community-based programs that seek to stimulate access to education, a sustainable culture of peace, female empowerment, environmental management and economic development.
UMECS and the Council on Foreign Relations estimate 300,000 child soldiers are involved in conflicts worldwide — many of them in Africa. In addition, there are many millions more youth directly affected by conflicts.
Millions of traumatized former child soldiers and other youth affected by conflict worldwide need rehabilitation and education in order to reintegrate into society, Serota says. “The decision to provide rehabilitation and education to children and youth affected by conflict and to build cultures of peace to prevent new wars are some of the ethical choices we make,” he says.
Taking part in efforts that save lives, focus on immediate and long-term needs, and transform situations detrimental to human dignity are ethical choices, says Serota, a human rights attorney who earned a law degree from Suffolk University Law School.
In 2000, Dennis Rezendes, ’57, established University of Maine Foundation funds to annually host a visiting scholar in ethics to honor his father, John and to engage staff, students and community members in ethical issues. Honors College and the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Fund sponsor, in part, the John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Members of the UMaine community are invited to hear presentations by the three finalists for the position of Honors College dean. The candidates have been asked to speak on the topic: “Honors Education at the Public Research University.” The candidates’ vitae are online. Their campus presentation schedules: Rhonda Phillips, Associate Dean, Barrett, The Honors College Downtown Campus, Arizona State University, 9:30–10:45 a.m., March 26, Bangor Room, Union; Francois Amar, Associate Professor and Chair of Chemistry, University of Maine, 1:15–2:30 p.m., March 29, Room 3, Wells Conference Center; Steven Shapiro, Professor of Physics and Director of Academic Advising, Guilford College, 9:30–10:45 a.m., April 9, Bangor Room, Union. For more information, contact Dianne Avery, 581.1595.