President’s Message to the Community: Aug. 29

Welcome to the start of the fall 2017 semester that promises to be one of our busiest and most engaging.

I want to extend a warm greeting to our newest UMaine community members — students in our largest incoming class and our nearly 50 new faculty. And I want to thank the hundreds of UMaine community members who turned out for Maine Hello and Welcome Weekend activities, and New Faculty Orientation to help make all feel welcome.

This community really knows how to roll out the welcome mat.

Preliminary estimates put UMaine’s overall fall enrollment at more than 11,300. Nearly half of our new students herald from outside Maine and our overall international student enrollment is 427, including 46 new students.

It is a particularly exciting time to be part of this active, vibrant and diverse university community that values unity, compassion, inclusivity and civility.

In the last several weeks and days, we’ve been reflecting on the increased expressions of hate, incivility, sexism and intolerance reported nationally and locally. Our commitment to each other as members of a caring community is central to what makes this a wonderful place to work and learn. No member of this community should — or will ever — be allowed to be marginalized. We are distinguished by our engagement on difficult issues and as a society of scholars, civil discourse defines us.

As I, Provost Hecker and Vice President and Dean Dana affirmed in a letter to students earlier this week, we hope that these difficult times will strengthen our community. We encourage everyone to continue to work toward a healthy democracy and a unified front where all people are dignified, respected and supported.

We stand together to affirm that harassment or intimidation of any kind will not be accepted. The bottom line is UMaine does not tolerate discrimination in any form.

As we said in November and repeat today, UMaine’s policies and commitment to inclusion and compassion are unwavering. We will not be deterred from the good work we do here.

Let me tell you some of the great news from this summer. The inaugural Stephen E. King Chair in Literature was named, and I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Caroline Bicks to the English faculty.

UMaine also signed an articulation agreement to help Eastern Maine Community College graduates pursue bachelor’s degrees in programs such as construction engineering technology, electrical engineering technology and the leadership track of University Studies. These are in addition to existing agreements with EMCC in elementary education and child development and family relations.

And on July 1, the University of Maine at Machias became a regional campus and our Substantive Change Implementation report on UMM integration was successfully submitted to NEASC this summer. I again thank all those at UMaine and UMM who helped make this partnership a reality, and we look forward to what we will realize, together, to benefit students and the state.

In other developments over the summer, the Humanities Center was renamed to honor Clement and Linda McGillicuddy, and it has a new home in South Stevens, located in proximity to the Maine Folklife Center and Maine Studies Program. Other numerous Paint and Polish Projects campuswide largely focused on classroom improvement. Renovations also included the Bear’s Den and the relocation of the historic Clark telescope to the new observatory at the Emera Astronomy Center. Inside and out, throughout this beautiful campus, Facilities Management crews are to be commended for their amazing work year round.

I hope to see you at some of the great events scheduled for the first few weeks of the semester. They include the 10th anniversary celebration of the New Balance Recreation Center Sept. 6 and the annual Mitchell Lecture Sept. 21. Our fall sports season is underway, led by field hockey and soccer, and our first home football game is Sept. 9.

This semester, we also have important work to do involving assessment forums for the five-year Blue Sky Strategic Plan, and searches for the vice president for academic affairs and head of campus at the University of Maine at Machias, and for the next UMaine president. Also begun is UMaine’s 2019 NEASC self-study reporting process. More on those initiatives next month.

Once again, welcome to fall 2017 at the University of Maine.