Office of the President

President’s Message to the Community: Oct. 19

The University of Maine was in its element this past week, and I want to take this opportunity to cite some of the highlights. And most important, I want to thank the countless numbers of UMaine community members whose efforts made Homecoming weekend and the events preceding it such a success.

Nearly 1,000 attended the Cohen Lecture on Friday, and on Saturday, 800 people — including 300 prospective students — were here for an open house, followed by tailgating and the football game that drew an estimated 12,000. Those events alone — and there were so many more, including alumni activities — epitomize the engagement role and value of the state’s flagship university.

In addition, a milestone announcement was made on Friday. At the University of Maine Foundation Annual Luncheon, we launched the public phase of the $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign. Funds raised during the silent and quiet phases brought us a bit more than halfway to our goal, which made this the appropriate time to move into the public phase. It is an exciting time to be envisioning the potential of this next chapter in UMaine history that will be made possible by the leadership of our generous donors.

The campaign has four overarching priorities: Fostering Student Success; Ensuring Access for All of Maine; Catalyzing Maine’s Economy; and Accelerating Discovery to Impact. These priorities are not mutually exclusive, but, rather, synergistic. Success in one area has positive and overlapping implications for the others.

Indeed, each of the four priorities includes increasing scholarships for students. Need-based scholarships help ensure accessibility and affordability. And, merit-based awards help us compete for Maine’s best and brightest students. That’s why it was incredibly gratifying to hear Friday that the first gift of the public phase was an anonymous $1 million matching gift that will leverage $4 million to $5 million in scholarship and other endowment support for Maine students to attend UMaine.

More information about the Vision for Tomorrow campaign is online.

The four comprehensive campaign priorities share a common pillar — student success. That’s important, with our focus as a student-centered university on recruitment and retention. The official October census shows our total enrollment at 11,240, with 78 more degree-seeking undergraduates than last year. Graduate enrollment is at 1,961 — up 65 students from last year.  

The breadth and depth of the UMaine student experience is second to none in Maine because of our world-class faculty and the opportunities available at a research university. Last month, the caliber of our faculty was front and center for all to see when mycologist and associate research professor Joyce Longcore received one of this year’s Golden Goose Awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Joyce is doing groundbreaking research that has identified a frog-killing chytrid and its role in mass die-offs worldwide. A video highlighting Joyce’s work and that of her collaborators at the Smithsonian Institution, as well as footage of the Sept. 27 award ceremony at the Library of Congress are online.

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her at a reception in her honor to be held at the President’s House on Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 4 p.m.

This well-deserved spotlight on one of our researchers reminds us of the important work we do here at the state’s land grant university, making a difference in Maine and far beyond.