Maine Memo — Feb. 18

We have had a very full couple of weeks and I want to provide a few brief updates.

My thanks to all who were in the Hauck Auditorium audience or who joined us via live stream for the State of the University address on Feb. 4. The video is now available on the President’s website. Among the many initiatives highlighted was the Grand Challenge focused on rural health and well-being. Learn more about the three projects that have been selected — they will make a difference for Maine through research and development!

Chancellor Malloy and his team spent a day on campus Feb. 5 to talk about the continued progress in unified accreditation, to answer questions and to hear ideas. With great turnouts of faculty, staff and students, we explored ways to take advantage of new opportunities that will be afforded by unified accreditation to expand partnerships and work across universities. We also continued to discuss challenges and opportunities in retention and student success. The conversation with the Chancellor continues today at the University of Maine at Machias.

Four unified accreditation committees have been set up to do the work of preparing a “substantive change” document for our accrediting agency this spring. With University of Maine at Presque Isle President Ray Rice, I co-chair the Academic and Student Affairs/Advising Working group that will be addressing NECHE standards 4, 6 and 8. We will send regular updates and confer with folks across campus on our progress.

We have had some many great successes across our campuses recently; check out the UMaine news and UMM news websites for more:

  • UMaine is one of 12 public universities nationwide selected to participate in a Data Literacy Institute aimed at increasing the use of data to boost student success, including the number of graduates. Over the next two years, a UMaine team will participate in the institute that is part of the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Powered by Publics initiative and offered in conjunction with the Association for Institutional Research. A news announcement about this is online.
  • Congratulations on the U.S. News & World report rankings for the online Maine MBA and online graduate program in education. The MaineMBA ranked No. 47 in online master of business administration programs and the online graduate program in education tied for No. 60. The MaineMBA ranking is up from No. 90 in 2019 and represents the third consecutive year of rankings improvement for the business graduate program. UMaine’s online graduate program in education also is higher in the annual rankings, up from No. 115 last year.
  • The annual Career Fair earlier this month was such a success. This year’s event attracted more than 180 employers and thousands of students. Well done.
  • Also well done: the efforts of the food pantries at UMaine and UMM. Both recently received well-deserved donations from the University Credit Union. UMM’s F.O.O.D. (Food, Opportunity, Outreach, Dignity) Club assists up to 75 community members each week through its campus food pantry. At UMaine, the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism stocks the Black Bear Exchange. In FY19, that food pantry provided 5 tons of food to the campus community.
  • Congratulations to UMaine photographers/videographers Holland Haverkamp and Adam Küykendall, and other members of the UMaine Today magazine team on their latest CASE District I Excellence Awards.
  • UMaine Women’s Basketball held its ninth annual Play4Kay Pink game and reached its goal of raising $500 to support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. In the past nine years, UMaine Women’s Basketball and the community have raised over $40,000 to support the fund. AND women’s basketball has now won five consecutive America East games.
  • Congratulations to Cassandra Mascarenhas (field hockey) and Mitch Fossier (men’s ice hockey), this year’s recipients of the M Club Dean Smith Award, presented annually to the top UMaine male and female student-athletes. They were two of the 289 Black Bears honored at the 31st annual Scholar-Athlete Recognition Ceremony Feb. 10. The honorees represented the highest number of individual scholar-athlete individual recognitions in the history of the ceremony.
  • Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting Joyce Maker of Calais with the 2020 Minerva Award from the Maine NEW (National Education for Women) Leadership Program at the Women of Power Reception in Augusta. The annual event is coordinated by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. Joyce, who attended the University of Maine at Machias, served in the Maine House and Senate from 2010–18, and is an inspirational state and community leader.

I had the opportunity to return to Washington for the National Science Foundation’s 70th anniversary celebration. It was quite special to connect with colleagues who were all part of the NSF Big Ideas for Future Investment development and hear about the progress the field has made in those areas. Video coverage of the 70th Anniversary Symposium is online.

A highlight for me this past Thursday was the interactive Academic Affairs Faculty Forum. What could be better than joining a group of almost 100 UMaine faculty and staff discussing ideas for improving learning and student success? We will be planning more events like this in the coming months.

I’m hoping that faculty and staff who interact with first-year students and seniors will encourage them to take part in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The 15-minute survey available starting Feb. 17 is a powerful way to get student feedback that can inform our decisions and create change at UMaine. Students receive a link to the survey via email. More information about the NSSE on each campus can be found on their respective websites: UMaine and UMM.

I want to close with three important UMaine leadership notes. Kody Varahramyan, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, is working directly with me as we embark on the process to achieve Research 1 Carnegie designation. Robert Dana’s title is now vice president for student life and inclusive excellence, and dean of students, reflecting our unequivocal commitment and active promotion of inclusive excellence. And Christopher Richards is UMaine interim vice president for enrollment management, effective Feb. 3. We appreciate the leadership of Kody, Robert and Chris, and look forward to collaborating for the greater good of our two university communities.