Community Message: January 21

Welcome to the start of the spring 2020 semester at the University of Maine and our regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias. It’s great to see our new and returning students on campus, ready to engage with our world-class faculty and dedicated staff. I want to thank those members of our UMaine and UMM communities who kept the campuses humming while many of us were away — including those working holiday shifts.

Many of you have been very engaged in the past few weeks. More than 100 members of the Residence Life team have been on campus for their extensive spring training. And four Alternative Break teams travelled to Watkins Glen, New York; Wall Township, New Jersey; Lynchburg, Virginia and Niagara Falls, New York to volunteer their services to help groups and organizations with a variety of service projects. I appreciate everyone’s commitment and contributions to student success and to making the University of Maine a great place to learn, work and grow.

UMaine news highlights in recent weeks include the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of two of our online programs — the MaineMBA and graduate education. The MaineMBA is a Top 50 program with a rank of 47; the online graduate program in education tied for No. 60. Both rankings are up significantly from last year and are truly a credit to the faculty and deans leading those programs. Congratulations!

Last month, Maine Harvest for Hunger, a program coordinated by University of Maine Cooperative Extension, announced it had achieved a milestone by distributing more than 3 million pounds of food to citizens grappling with hunger in the past 19 years. This story and so many others illustrating the impact of Maine’s public research university are compiled in a 2019 recap of UMaine news and photography.

More than 300 attended yesterday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration, keynoted by Dr. Joyce Taylor Gibson. Gov. Janet Mills, Sen. Angus King, Rep. Jared Golden and other public officials were among those attending. The remarks and speeches were inspiring, and reinforce that we must focus every day on being an institution with inclusive excellence at the core. Of the many resounding ideas in Dr. King’s speeches and writings, the quotation that is on the wall of our Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Memorial Plaza on the Orono campus — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” — is one that I have been contemplating lately, and that I find especially clear as guidance for us.

Last week, members of the UMaine community gathered for a vigil to remember and honor the victims of the recent airline crash in Iran. The tragedy took the lives of many Iranian students and faculty with ties to Canadian universities. Amid the grief and political unrest, we stand in solidarity with the UMaine Iranian community. In our unified, open and caring community, every viewpoint and every person is dignified, important and part of the whole.

Check out the new website of the University of Maine at Machias. This initiative is the latest in our partnership between our two universities, and was made possible with the help of UMM leadership and the talents of IT experts, the UMaine Division of Marketing and Communication Digital Communications team, and Cara Cushing, UMM marketing and public relations coordinator.

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating the 2020 Distinguished Maine Professor Rich Powell. Rich has been a member of the Department of Political Science for nearly two decades. He is the founding director of UMaine’s William S. Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service. He also directs the Peter Madigan ’81 Congressional Internship and the Kenneth Palmer State Legislative Internship programs, and the interdisciplinary minor in leadership studies.

Expect a busy semester ahead. This spring, we will launch a national search to fill the position of Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Maine. We have engaged an executive search firm and look forward to the input and participation of UMaine community members as the search moves forward. Our community events this semester will focus next phases in the Strategic Vision and Values framework on fostering learner success and research learning. In addition, mark your calendars for Maine Impact Week, April 13–18, that will be highlighted by the Student Symposium, which this year will be held in Alfond Arena. Watch for announcements of campus town halls, fora, and a State of the University address soon.

I will be having monthly office hours this semester in Orono and Machias, with appointments scheduled online. In other President’s Office news, we welcomed executive assistant Josette McWilliams to the staff earlier this month. Josette is a UMaine alumna and a terrific resource for our community.

I hope to see you at the McGillicuddy Center’s showcase of current research and creative projects in the humanities, “2020 Visions: The Humanities at UMaine,” Jan. 31 from 2–5 p.m. at the Buchanan Alumni House. It will be followed Feb. 1 by the 8th Annual Bangor Humanities Day in downtown Bangor.

Finally, the Maine State Archives Bicentennial Moments includes the first of two videos about the University of Maine, this one on the origins of Maine’s land grant university. We have a more than 150-year legacy of leadership as Maine’s public research university and, together, UMaine and the University of Maine at Machias make a difference, every day, in Maine and beyond.

All of us together — faculty, staff and students — make UMaine a dynamic university every day, and I am honored to serve you as president.

Your feedback is always welcome and encouraged.

President Joan Ferrini-Mundy