Press Herald, BDN interview President Ferrini-Mundy

The Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News interviewed new University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy about her first weeks on the job and how she is bringing prior experience to her current position to ensure future success for UMaine and the members of its community. Ferrini-Mundy has been given the task of developing new ways to meet Maine’s growing workforce needs, especially in engineering and computer science, the Press Herald reports. “Today’s world is calling on people to be able to work across some of the traditional boundaries,” Ferrini-Mundy said. She sees a connection to her experience developing new ways to teach science and math. Ferrini-Mundy was most recently the chief operating officer for the National Science Foundation, where she led a division that researched and developed STEM curricula for all ages. She also has worked in academic and leadership positions at Michigan State University and the University of New Hampshire. “One of the great things that attracted me to Joan’s candidacy was her decades of experience in math education … on how to reform and refine teaching processes to make them more effective. I think it’s an area that no higher education institution can ignore,” said University of Maine System Chancellor James Page. Ferrini-Mundy has held the position of president for less than two months, so she’s focusing on learning as much as possible. “My leadership style is by a lot of communication, a lot of listening and a lot of collaborating. It’s how you get to a place where you are then able to take a bit of a risk to move toward something,” she said. “I want to be sure we’re not afraid of boldness.” And she has spent time getting to know UMaine’s fundraising projects and research facilities. “Our strength is our very, very good integration of research and education here. We can see leading scientists and scholars across all fields in their labs and their studios and their work engaging students very closely and giving them the opportunity to learn about those fields,” Ferrini-Mundy told the Press Herald. “A lot of what I’ll be doing is learning where people are most proud of their work, where we already have strengths, how we want to keep growing and learning from those. You want people to be able to imagine anything is possible,” she told the BDN. One of Ferrini-Mundy’s planned initiatives is continuing to make higher education more widely available, beginning by strengthening partnerships with K–12 schools in Maine, according to the BDN. “It just seems like a natural, systemic way of making sure we’re all working in complementary directions,” Ferrini-Mundy said. Her nonstandard journey to the position “shows she’s always pursuing the path she believes would allow her to have the maximum impact on the problems, challenges and opportunities that were of interest to her,” said Page. “I am as excited as our football team would be if Tom Brady came to play for the Black Bears,” said Habib Dagher, the executive director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “You can imagine how exciting it is for engineers and scientists to be working with President Ferrini-Mundy, and the increased impact we can have on research, education and jobs in our state.”