Maine Memo — Feb. 3

As I begin the second semester of my second year as the President of the University of Maine and its regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias, I am more and more amazed each day with the progress of these institutions, the talented faculty, staff, students and alumni, and the many wonderful experiences that I am afforded. We have a great story and I am constantly exploring ways to keep our university communities and stakeholders informed about the tremendous things that are happening at our institutions from the lens of a still fairly new president.

Hence, this newsletter is designed to provide a snapshot of the many, many great achievements, activities, celebrations and progressive strides for our universities as we define tomorrow and tell the UMaine story.

Take last week, which was big for higher education in Maine.

Sunday and Monday, UMaine hosted the January meeting of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. At that meeting, the trustees unanimously approved a recommendation to transition into unified institutional accreditation for the University of Maine System campuses through the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). I hope you’ve had an opportunity to review the set of guiding principles established by Chancellor Dannel Malloy and the UMS university presidents following town halls and campus discussions Systemwide. More information about unified accreditation is online.

On Sunday, members of the University of Maine Board of Visitors joined us for a discussion of the research, development and commercialization that are critical for quality at UMaine. Later that day, undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty offered poster presentations that eloquently demonstrate the importance and value of experiential learning, and interdisciplinary and Systemwide collaboration led by Maine’s public research university. My thanks to all members of the UMaine community — from our talented students and researchers to our dedicated Catering Services staff — who contributed to the success of the UMS Board meeting.

More major higher education news in Maine came Monday in Portland with the announcement of the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland. The University of Maine will be a collaborator with the Roux Institute at Northeastern University on the exciting new venture to provide educational opportunities in artificial intelligence and its applications in Maine. The institute will provide a great opportunity to extend access to relevant degree programs, advance economic growth and expand research progress throughout the state, region and nation.

I attended a luncheon in Portland after the announcement and had a chance to talk with Northeastern President Joseph Aoun about the great potential going forward. We look forward to developing strong and productive connections with Roux Institute at Northeastern University to benefit the people and economy of Maine. Our point person in the growing collaboration is Interim Provost Faye Gilbert. Feel free to contact her with any questions or ideas on the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland and the University of Maine.

The expertise at UMaine and University of Maine at Machias benefits the state in so many ways. For example, the Portland Press Herald had a great story illustrating Cooperative Extension’s impact on the state’s specialty food industry.

Last Wednesday in Augusta, our climate experts attended the second meeting of the Maine Climate Council, where the focus was on a report from the Science and Technical Subcommittee about the effects of climate change in the state. Professor Ivan Fernandez serves on the Maine Climate Council and co-chairs the Science and Technical Subcommittee. Nearly half of the 28-member Science and Technical Subcommittee members are from UMaine and UMM. The subcommittee’s work supports the development of working group recommendations due later this year. A video of the Maine Climate Council meeting is online.

This week, I want to give a shout-out to the students, faculty and staff at the Witter Center responsible for the UMaine dairy herd’s ranking of third in the nation. Congratulations to the six student-run companies featured in the upcoming “Greenlight Maine” collegiate challenge. And kudos to our UMaine student-athletes for their academic success last fall — 14 of 17 teams with a semester GPA of 3.1 or better; 63% student-athletes with 3.0 or higher individual GPAs; and 31 student-athletes with 4.0s.

I hope to see you at the State of the University address for UMaine and the University of Maine at Machias communities Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. in Hauck Auditorium, followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception. It will be the first of our primary UMaine community events this semester, which also will include a visit from the Chancellor Feb. 5, and a town hall focused on fostering learner success and research learning, and more.

Feb. 6, join us in Augusta when the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture and Cooperative Extension host a joint showcase in the State House Hall of Flags. The annual event provides UMaine faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to connect with policymakers and other leaders to share how Maine’s flagship university is growing the next generation of natural resource and health science professionals, and putting our research to work for the benefit of Mainers and their businesses, farms and communities.

Also that day at the State House, the Legislature is expected to recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Several UMaine female student-athletes and coaches will be there for the celebration and to meet with legislators.

It’ll be another great week for UMaine. And a great February with our Black History Month events.

I want to close this week’s message with words of support for those in the UMaine and UMM communities who have loved ones directly affected by the coronavirus. Our thoughts are with you and those affected in China and other locations around the globe. As indicated by our community health message, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring coronavirus, and the UMaine and UMM communities are vigilant not only in light of this outbreak, but also in this, the height of flu season. Also know that our communities will not allow intolerance or targeting of individuals related to health concerns. We are all in this, together. And we will get through it, together.

Be well.