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.
The University of Maine’s Paint, Plant and Polish Program, which began last year as a Presidential Initiative, continues to improve the UMaine campus as part of the Blue Sky Plan Pathway 5, chaired by UMaine alumnus John Rohman and co-chaired by Stewart Harvey, executive director of facilities and capital management services.
To improve campus infrastructure and appearance, UMaine President Paul Ferguson initially reallocated approximately $2.5 million. This funding was derived from energy cost-savings realized through improved utility and fuel contracts, increased campuswide efficiencies, as well as overall cost reductions on a one-time basis. Paint, Plant and Polish now will be sustained annually by approximately $320,000 from the newly endowed Hosmer Fund in the University of Maine Foundation.
This first year included more than a dozen campus buildings and academic areas identified as improvement and deferred maintenance priorities by the deans of UMaine’s colleges, including the Honors College, as well as staff of Facilities Management. More than $1.6 million is earmarked for classroom upgrades and improving accessibility, and approximately $800,000 will be directed for painting and minor maintenance to preserve the integrity of campus buildings, including UMaine’s “legacy assets.” Much of the work began last summer and employed numerous local Maine painting and construction companies, as well as elevator, furniture and equipment suppliers.
Paint, Plant and Polish is a four-pronged approach to infrastructure improvement, focusing on classroom upgrades, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, energy-saving initiatives and painting projects. Many are aimed at addressing deferred maintenance that has resulted from decades of budget cuts. All will improve the quality of life for students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus, according to Janet Waldron, UMaine’s senior vice president for administration and finance.
“How the campus looks really matters,” Waldron says. “We have a beautiful campus with legacy buildings. The benefit of these investments is improved aesthetics, higher quality classrooms, more accessible facilities, and an enhanced impression of campus for visitors and prospective students.
“Proper stewardship of our infrastructure is important, but also because it makes financial sense. Maintenance costs quadruple if not timely executed,” Waldron says. “Facilities Management is pleased to partner in the initiatives of the Blue Sky Project to care for UMaine’s irreplaceable campus assets, such as Fogler Library.”
Among the buildings slated for improvements:
In addition to the projects associated with the Paint, Plant and Polish Program, several other capital projects are under way that will significantly enhance the UMaine campus, including a $5.2 million Astronomy Center in 2013. Other capital improvement projects:
Regular updates on projects in the Paint, Plant and Polish Program, as well as other major projects associated with Pathway 5 to promote our stewardship of place at UMaine can be found on the Blue Sky Implementation website.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
University of Maine faculty will take part in a series of events surrounding the Penobscot Theatre Co. production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit.”
Jesse Moriarity, coordinator of the Foster Center for Student Innovation, will host “Stories of Survival” at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Bangor Opera House. Offered in partnership with Bangor Area Story Slam, audience members are invited to tell their stories of survival at the free event. Call 207.942.3333 to register. Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies Program Spring 2013 Lunch Series will also hold a panel discussion based on the play and focused on cancer and women’s health from 12–1:20 p.m. March 19 in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union. The play’s cast and director will also visit Mimi Killinger’s Cultural Odyssey class in the Honors College on March 27.
“Wit” was the first play written by Margaret Edson and was inspired by her experience working in a hospital oncology unit. Tickets can be purchased online or through the box office at 207.942.3333.
A University of Maine graduate student and a faculty member have received an international Digital Humanities Award for their work in digital humanities, which combines studies and information in liberal arts and humanities with computer technology for storage, sharing or exploring research. In recognition of their collaborative Digital Humanities Toolbox UMaine history doctoral candidate Rob Gee and Honors College and Maine Studies faculty member Katherine O’Flaherty won first place in the category “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work.” Nominations for the awards, which recognize excellence in digital humanities in six categories, came from around the international digital humanities community. Members of the public chose the winners through online balloting. Gee and O’Flaherty were nominated in two categories: “Best DH Blog, Article, or Short Publication” for their post “Summer Project: Start a Digital History Toolbox,” available online and “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work” for their Digital Humanities Tool Box.
Members of the UMaine community have an opportunity to support the nominations of UMaine history doctoral candidate Rob Gee and Honors College and Maine Studies Program faculty member Katherine O’Flaherty for two international awards in recognition of their work in the digital humanities.
The public may vote until midnight, Sunday, Feb. 17 on the Digital Humanities Award website.
Gee and O’Flaherty are nominated in two categories: “Best DH Blog, Article, or Short Publication” for their post “Summer Project: Start a Digital History Toolbox” available online and “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work” for their “Digital Humanities Tool Box,” also available online.
The 2012 DH Awards recognize excellence in digital humanities in a number of categories. Nominations for DH Awards came from around the digital humanities community and were overseen by a nominations committee consisting of James Cummings at the University of Oxford; Craig Bellamy of the University of Melbourne; Sheila Brennan of George Mason University; Marjorie Burghart at the École des Haute Études en Sciences Sociales, Lyon; and Kiyonori Nagasaki of the International Institute for Digital Humanities.