New Challenges Make Way for New Traditions

It’s hard to find the positives when it comes to COVID-19, especially in education. But the global pandemic has created a new tradition in the Maine Business School. One that we plan to embrace for the foreseeable future.

Each year, the Maine Business School and Graduate School of Business recognize students, faculty, and staff during our annual Honors and Awards Ceremony. The MBS Dean gives out medallions and plaques to our top-performing students and faculty each year. “When we were looking at purchasing medallions in the spring of 2020, a lot of places didn’t have them. We were told by the businesses that the metal required to make the medallions comes from China, and most of the factories were closed due to COVID,” says Corey Watson, MBS Administrative and Financial Officer. “The team scrambled to find something to commemorate the occasion and make it memorable, knowing the event would be virtual.”  Little did the team know they would stumble upon a new MBS tradition.

“There is a special joy in working with people who care about our students and work together to create new solutions,” says Faye Gilbert, Executive Dean of the Maine Business School and Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Business. “The challenge in 2020 has led to new traditions to honor our business graduates and to mark their moments of achievement.”

A Creative Pivot

The MBS faculty and staff started thinking outside of the box and exploring other materials. Forests cover 89% of the land area in the State of Maine. With a rich history and tradition of logging, something made of wood made perfect sense. Jen Larlee, Faculty Support Specialist, found a company that crafts wooden medallions. These woodallions seemed like the perfect substitute to the metal ones typically given out. Ashworth Awards in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, makes these woodallions. This year, Dean Faye Gilbert, Associate Dean Jason Harkins, and Assistant Dean Jamie Ballinger made sure that all BSBA and MaineMBA graduates received a woodallion to commemorate the completion of their degrees.

Instead of plaques recognizing the achievements of the students and faculty, Dr. Patti Miles, Associate Professor of Management, suggested the Maine Business School could give mini canoe paddles made locally by Shaw & Tenney. This Orono business has been crafting fine paddles since 1858. Steve and Nancy Holt are the third family to own Shaw & Tenney. The couple met as students at the University of Maine, and both Steve and Nancy are MaineMBA alums. She earned her MBA in 1990 and he in 1993. While Steve doesn’t know precisely how long the company has been making the wooden paddles, he says they’ve been in existence for more than 100 years.

“The mini paddles have been used for recognition by many organizations, camps, and businesses over the years,” Steve says. “We added custom laser engraving to the mix around 2005.”  The company has and continues to employ UMaine Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students as part of their regular workforce.