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.
Field Notes recently interviewed University of Maine professor of glaciology Gordon Hamilton about his research. Hamilton plans to use his knowledge of glaciers and their flow patterns to aid the U.S. government in uncovering World War II plane wreckage in Greenland.
Mainebiz spoke to Robert Rice, a University of Maine wood scientist, for an article about the Maine Heritage Timber Co. and its plans to harvest wood from the bottom of Quakish Lake in Millinocket. Rice has worked with the company’s co-founder Tom Shafer.
David Fuller, agriculture and nontimber forest products professional and fiddlehead expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network about fiddlehead characteristics and this year’s harvest.
Lois Berg Stack, University of Maine sustainable agriculture professor and Cooperative Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture, was interviewed for the Portland Press Herald article “Help for salt-damaged lawns.” Stack says road salt can cause serious damage to plants and suggests planting salt-resistant varieties and avoiding salt-sensitive trees. She also suggests using raised beds or fences to protect roadside plants and thoroughly watering to rid salts from soil.
The Portland Press Herald recently interviewed University of Maine Forest Manager Alan Kimball about bike trails on university property. Kimball says a group of community members have recently formed a new chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association and are now more organized when it comes to blazing trails.
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
Frank Drummond, University of Maine professor of insect ecology and entomology, UMaine Extension professor and bee specialist, spoke with the radio station Q106.5 about the decline of honeybees. Drummond said several factors such as pesticides and a mite that spreads a virus are contributing to the decline.
The Morning Sentinel reported apple pruning will be the focus of a May 20 workshop in Farmington. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County is offering the workshop, which will be led by David Fuller, agriculture and nontimber forest products extension professional.
When Mainers hear the term “local seafood,” a few words come to mind more than others — healthy, fresh, good, “Maine” and lobster. But ask those same people what they think when they hear the term “sustainable seafood” and the answers are less clear, varying from “I don’t know” and “nothing” to “it takes a long time to get” and “harvested.”
University of Maine Associate Professor Laura Lindenfeld and doctoral student Brianne Suldovsky, who are affiliated with UMaine’s Department of Communication and Journalism and Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, are conducting a social research project to understand how consumers, especially in inland Maine areas, perceive seafood, and whether they view local and sustainable seafood as important.
The research team, along with Teresa Johnson, assistant professor of marine policy at UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, also hopes to learn what infrastructure exists for Maine’s seafood market, and how communication can be improved between producers, distributors and buyers.
The one-year Seafood Links Project, funded by Maine Sea Grant, focuses on surveys and interviews with consumers, restaurants, culinary schools and grocery stores in the Bangor and Portland areas.
Lindenfeld says the project is targeting the Bangor area and its connections, as well as looking at Portland as a model city supportive of local seafood.
“By comparing the Bangor area with the Portland area, we can look at a city where restaurants and markets are advancing seafood in interesting ways, with a lot of conversation across the industry,” Lindenfeld says. “What could we do in Bangor that would make sense and how could we learn from that experience to transfer that to other inland areas?”
With a large network of people involved in the seafood industry, the researchers decided to focus on looking into the decision-making process at restaurants, culinary schools and grocery stores.
Lindenfeld says it is important to come into the project with an open mind and not presume to know how the network is working and what consumers want. To get a sense of what questions to ask whom, the team started with a round of consumer surveys.
The team found people were interested in the question of where their seafood comes from.
“People said ‘Wow, I’ve never thought of this before. You’re right, we market beef, we market potatoes and vegetables and fruit with an origin, but we don’t talk about where the seafood comes from in our restaurants.’ Why should seafood be treated differently than other kinds of food?” Lindenfeld says.
Lindenfeld and Suldovsky have found the issue of food origin is complicated when it comes to seafood.
“It’s not as simple as this steer came from that farm in The County,” Lindenfeld says.
Suldovsky says from what she has learned of the process, fishermen come to a dock to sell their product to buyers who then send the seafood out to be processed, most of the time to Canada. Packaging then says the seafood came from Canada when it was actually caught in Maine.
“How do you successfully market that or communicate that it’s processed in Canada, but it’s caught in Maine?” Suldovsky asks. “And do consumers even care? To them is Canada the same thing as local?”
The preliminary round of surveys gave the team a look at the public’s perceptions of sustainable seafood, which is seafood that is either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term effects on oceans and the environment.
“There’s just no cohesive understanding or meaning with the word ‘sustainable’ and yet you have grocery stores like Hannaford marketing sustainable seafood because consumers are demanding it,” Suldovsky says.
Lindenfeld stresses the importance of knowing how people feel about terms such as “sustainable” and whether it matters for marketing.
“We may be promoting products in ways that absolutely do not resonate with what people care about most,” Lindenfeld says.
The next set of interviews for the project will include a representative sample of people in Maine’s inland areas that remain underserved as opposed to coastal areas.
Lindenfeld says they hope to understand which terms imply what, and what people value and communicate the findings to the seafood industry.
They also hope these interviews will give them a picture of the network of fishermen, buyers and distributors looks like and how these relationships and communication between them can be improved.
Lindenfeld sees communication within the network, especially in the Bangor area and near coastal communities such as Bar Harbor and Belfast, as a possibility for improvement.
“A lot of people (in the Bangor area) will order from Portland or the midcoast area. Individual trucks will drive up, drop the seafood off once a week and go back down when there are suppliers on the coast right here who may not even know who to talk to,” Lindenfeld says. “So to us it’s this big gap in communication that can be overcome. There’s remarkable resources, there are incredible people, well-meaning people who want to support each other, who care about the state and the region. A little bit of communication research could go a long way.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.381.3747