Dr. Jeff Hecker, University of Maine Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, is enthusiastic about his role in facilitating implementation of the Blue Sky Plan — the university’s blueprint to become a nationwide leader among America’s research universities in student success, achievement and community engagement.
UMaine President Paul Ferguson named Hecker to this position in July. He replaces Susan Hunter, who was named Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System.
Provost Hecker, the former Dean of the UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says his challenge is to manage the day-to-day operations of the Academic Affairs division while keeping an eye on the big picture — communicating long-range, mission-driven goals, and moving Blue Sky Plan initiatives forward in collaboration with faculty, other Cabinet members and the broader UMaine community.
Hecker describes the Blue Sky Plan unveiled in October 2011 as unified, ambitious, focused and inclusive. He is primarily focused on those initiatives that relate to the academic affairs agenda that are integral to each of the five major Blue Sky Pathways.
“The heart of UMaine’s mission is undergraduate education. As we pursue our research, community engagement and graduate education goals, we can’t lose sight of that core mission,” he says. “The beauty of the Blue Sky Plan is that it is at once aspirational and pragmatic. We are committed to growth as Maine’s land grant research university and equally committed to pursue excellence in our core mission.”
Provost Hecker and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jeff St. John are leading the campus in addressing a number of the Blue Sky Strategic Initiatives related to academic affairs. The newly reconstituted University Teaching Council and several Blue Sky Advisory Teams are assisting them in addressing a number of priority issues.
Faculty Development is at the top of the list. Those initiatives include promotion of best practices in the classroom, labs and studios, creating faculty development opportunities for the more than 100 adjunct faculty UMaine employs every year, enhancing online teaching quality, and launching the new Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program to develop the next generation of faculty leaders and university spokespeople.
Due to significant enrollment increases, particularly in engineering and sciences, Provost Hecker is also exploring a new initiative to bring postdoctoral fellows to UMaine as Visiting Assistant Professors.
During their two- to-three-year fixed-length appointments, the visiting faculty will hone their teaching and research skills to prepare themselves for careers in academia. At the same time, they will help address the need for high-quality instruction in high-demand areas, such as mathematics, English and laboratory sciences.
The idea, Hecker says, is to create opportunities that benefit both the postdoctoral faculty member and UMaine. “These positions could be an important piece of the puzzle,” Hecker says. “We are exploring cost-effective ways of meeting our students’ needs for quality, innovative instruction.”
A second Blue Sky emphasis for Provost Hecker is student success. He is leading a multipronged approach to improve the four- and six-year graduation rates by 10 percent by 2017. “Relative to our peers, we do well,” he says, adding that UMaine’s four-year graduation rate is about 40 percent and its six-year rate is about 60 percent. “But we can do better.”
An advisory group is gathering data about factors that impact whether students remain enrolled, including affordability; timely access to courses they need; and quality of their campus experience.
Dr. St. John, says Provost Hecker, is also working on the UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by 2017. From 2011–12, UMaine succeeded in that effort — 81 percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school, which was a 5 percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research. The challenge is to maintain that improvement.
Lastly, Provost Hecker and Faculty Senate President Harlan Onsrud are working collaboratively to create a process of inventorying UMaine’s academic programs to better define UMaine’s strengths and opportunities. By jointly hosting Academic Affairs Faculty Forums in which faculty members discuss academic initiatives and how to best advance strategic goals, the university is engaging in an open process that will help to guide investments central to future success.
“It’s fantastic having an opportunity like this,” Hecker says. “This is my 28th year of employment here and I am thrilled to be in a leadership role, helping UMaine achieve its goals.”
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has named Karlton Creech director of athletics, effective Feb. 10.
Creech, 41, currently senior associate director of athletics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC), will bring 10 years of senior athletics administration experience to UMaine. Creech was one of three finalists invited to interview on campus by the search committee out of a national pool of 68 applicants. The committee, led by Dr. Robert Strong, professor of finance and NCAA faculty representative, consisted of faculty, staff and community partners.
Since 2012, Creech has been UNC senior associate director of athletics, serving as chief of staff and overseeing the department’s capital projects, human resources and facilities. From 2004–12, he was associate executive director for UNC’s Educational Foundation Inc., where he managed capital projects (including coordination of the $88 million football stadium expansion), the Annual Fund, marketing, fundraising and ticket sales programs, as well as donor stewardship and development. He also worked for the Student-Aid Association at North Carolina State University from 2001–04, coordinating ticket sales and fundraising.
“I am so pleased that Karlton will be joining the UMaine leadership team,” said President Ferguson. “He brings to us a remarkable record of athletics leadership and management at the University of North Carolina, one of our nation’s great public research universities. His level of professionalism, coupled to his strong experience in fundraising and management, will no doubt move Black Bear Athletics to new levels of excellence and community engagement.
“I look forward to welcoming Karlton and his wife, Staci, to campus this spring,” President Ferguson added. “I want to especially thank Seth Woodcock for his superb service as interim AD, as well as the entire Athletics Department for their dedicated work during this interim period. I am enthusiastic about their partnership with Karlton.”
Creech, a native of Chapel Hill, received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from North Carolina State University and will complete a master of arts degree in management and leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in 2014. His wife, Staci, a Pennsylvania native who attended UNC on a golf scholarship, received a bachelor of arts in elementary education and currently teaches at the elementary level.
“I am thrilled to be named the next director of athletics at the University of Maine,” Creech said. “It will truly be a privilege to serve the student-athletes, coaches and staff of UMaine Athletics.
“I would like to thank President Ferguson for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead UMaine Athletics. President Ferguson’s Blue Sky thinking is inspiring, and I look forward to partnering in the achievement of his vision for the University of Maine to become the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American Research Universities.
“Staci and I are proud to be the newest members of the UMaine family, and we are eager to build strong relationships throughout the community.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The 2014 senior capstone art exhibition runs through Jan. 31.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The UMaine Community is proud to unveil three new University of Maine entrance signs installed this week at the three points of entry of the University of Maine. This installation is a significant event under the UMaine Blue Sky Project Branding Initiative and the Paint, Polish and Plant Initiative of Pathway 3: Embracing a Culture of Excellence: Promoting Spirit, Community and Collaboration and Pathway 5: Restoring the Dream: Renewing Pride and Stewardship of Place. The signs, replacing the nearly 20-year-old University of Maine signs, were designed by UMaine’s Division of Marketing and Communications and were paid for by the Thayer Fund for Campus Excellence, a private gift endowment fund.
Six people are being inducted into the College of Engineering’s Francis Crowe Society during a ceremony Friday, Dec. 13, 1–3 p.m., in Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, Engineering Science Research Building at the University of Maine.
In the Distinguished Engineer category, inductees are:
Paul Durocher, class of 1982, Chemical and Biological Engineering
David Kinney, class of 1986, Civil and Environmental Engineering
William Pike, class of 1980, Engineering Physics
Scot MacDonald, class of 1990, School of Engineering Technology
In the Faculty Engineer category, the inductee is:
Assistant Professor of Physics Rob Meulenberg, Engineering Physics
And, in the Honorary Engineer category, the inductee is:
Master Sgt. Thomas Banister, senior military instructor for the UMaine Army ROTC Battalion.
The Francis Crowe Society recognizes UMaine engineering graduates and others who have made considerable contributions to the engineering profession. The society is named in honor of Francis Trenholm Crowe, who earned a degree in civil engineering from UMaine in 1905 and was chief engineer of the Hoover Dam. Crowe also was involved in the construction of 18 other major dams in the United States, facilitating farming in a number of areas.
The University of Maine School of Performing Arts’ presentation of “Ein deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms on Dec. 15, conducted by retiring Professor Ludlow Hallman, is dedicated to the memory of those killed during the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The Oratorio Society Concert will be presented with the University Orchestra in the 900-seat Hampden Academy Performing Arts Center in Hampden, Maine. Kelly Scheetz, soprano, and Justin Zang, baritone, will be soloists.
Brahms’ Opus 45 is a prayer for the souls of the departed. “Brahms’ text addresses those who are left behind, with words of comfort and consolation,” Hallman says. “It is a very personal and heartfelt master work. He envisioned it as a work for all of humanity, transcending specific religious belief or nationality.”
Hallman has conducted the University Orchestra, an auditioned group of 45 musicians, and the Oratorio Society, a mixed choral ensemble of community members and university students. He has also directed the Opera Workshop, chaired UMaine’s Music Department and served as resident director of the New England Universities in Salzburg program — which was the immersion training for students of German. In addition, he has conducted and directed music for multiple operas and musical comedies and served as assistant conductor of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.
Admission is $10, free with a student MaineCard. For tickets or disability accommodations, call 207.581.1755. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to the performance.
Six University of Maine choral groups will ring in the holiday season at the Yuletide Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Collins Center for the Arts.
The University Singers, Collegiate Chorale, Oratorio Society, Athena Consort, Black Bear Men’s Chorus and Euphony will all take part in the UMaine School of Performing Arts’ annual presentation and will join together for a candlelit finale of traditional holiday favorites.
Margaret Radke, a 90-year-old woman from Orono, will be among the more than 200 singers adding their voices to the Yuletide Concert. The 60-year member of the Oratorio Society has been singing since she was 9 years old growing up in Minnesota.
“I had a voice teacher when I was in my 30s who told me I would be singing into my 90s,” she laughs. “I had to prove her right.”
Despite having polio in her throat as a teenager, Radke — who once had a three-octave range — continued to sing. She sang when she attended Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minn., where she majored in biology and chemistry, as well as at the University of California, where she earned a graduate degree in zoology, and at the University of Maine, where her husband, the late Frederick Radke, was a biochemistry professor.
“Music was my outlet and solace,” says Radke, who shared her love of music with her children and grandchildren. Radke’s daughter, Eileen Nokes and son-in-law, Ted Nokes, and their two sons all majored in music at UMaine.
Radke says she cherishes the friendships she developed with directors and singers of all ages during her six decades with the group, and she encourages people throughout Maine who love to sing to join the group. “It’s very open and has dedicated people of varying abilities,” she says.
The Oratorio Society is a mixed choral ensemble of community members and university students; University Singers are members of an advanced concert choir who come from a variety of academic disciplines; the Collegiate Chorale is a mixed ensemble open to all students; the Athena Consort is a select women’s choir; the Black Bear Men’s Chorus includes students, faculty, staff and community members; and Euphony is an innovative contemporary choral group.
Admission is $12, free with a valid student MaineCard. For tickets, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.581.1755. Tickets may also be purchased at the door one hour prior to the show.
The Republican Journal previewed a free two-day conference organized by University of Maine sociologist Kim Huisman to strengthen mother-daughter bonds and create zones where girls can thrive. “Strong Girls: Cultivating Connection, Resilience, and Hardiness in Girls” will be held Nov. 1-2 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.
The Maine Edge previewed a free two-day conference organized by University of Maine sociologist Kim Huisman to strengthen mother-daughter bonds and create zones where girls can thrive. “Strong Girls: Cultivating Connection, Resilience, and Hardiness in Girls” will be held Nov. 1-2 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.
University of Maine sociologist Kim Huisman has organized a free two-day conference to strengthen mother-daughter bonds and create zones where girls can thrive. “Strong Girls: Cultivating Connection, Resilience, and Hardiness in Girls” will be held Nov. 1–2 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, says Huisman, UMaine associate professor of sociology.
SuEllen Hamkins, psychiatrist, co-creator of The Mother-Daughter Project and co-author of “The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence,” will deliver a presentation 5:30–9:30 p.m. Nov. 1. Following her talk about challenges and successes of mother-daughter groups, those interested in starting groups will have an opportunity to interact. Refreshments will be provided.
Huisman modeled the Maine Mother-Daughter Project that she created after the book written by Hamkins and Renee Schultz. Both aim to foster understanding of societal forces that affect mothers and daughters and seek to create opportunities for them to strengthen bonds with each other and their respective communities.
Lyn Mikel Brown and Dana Bushee Hernandez will present Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW) training about creating empowerment zones for girls from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2. They’ll also talk about bringing Adventure Girls — a program for girls to meet female role models who defy gender stereotypes — to midcoast Maine. Brown is a professor of education at Colby College, co-founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, author of “Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls” and co-author of “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes.” Bushee Hernandez is the training institute manager at HGHW. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
The deadline to register for one or both of the free sessions is Oct. 15. Registration is online. To request a disability accommodation, contact Erica Hughes at 207.338.8034. For more information, visit umaine.edu/mainemotherdaughterproject, hghw.org and themother-daughterproject.com/ourbook.htm.