Maine Memo — March 25
Dear members of the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities,
On this, our first day of classes following spring break, I want to welcome you to the second half of the semester. And I want to thank you. Across the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias campuses, and at our facilities and offices statewide, members of our communities have done extraordinary work in recent weeks under the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. That work has helped ensure that our students will be able to complete their coursework this semester, and both universities remain in operation.
And I fully recognize and appreciate that all this is being done — nearly 3,200 course sections this semester at our two universities — when students, faculty and staff are facing their own professional and personal challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. You and your loved ones are never far from my thoughts.
It’s been a real inspiration to see the collaboration and dedication of faculty and staff to deliver classes, labs and all other coursework remotely, and ensure our students succeed. The partnership with Faculty Senate and AFUM has been critically important. Stories abound of innovation and willingness to push pedagogical boundaries to explore what’s possible. To find solutions when there not only were issues, but also when the challenges changed by the hour in the past weeks.
COVID-19 has reached Maine, and by the day we have new information and new guidance. We all know the basics by now: Stay home if you are sick; maintain social distance; wash your hands frequently; do not gather in groups larger than 10. For our faculty and staff, all who are able to work remotely are expected to be doing so now. The number of students on campus is already limited to those who must be here for work or have been granted permission to stay. We all are learning to connect in very new ways, from days filled with back-to-back Zoom meetings to creative social media, with more to come.
I am committed to open dialogue about how we can support faculty, staff and students during this time — and how we can all support one another. That’s what our daily UMaine- and UMM-specific updates on the coronavirus website have been about, especially our FAQs. Please also check out the University of Maine System COVID-19 website. I’m interested in hearing directly about our university communities’ stories of triumphs and challenges, partnerships and support to meet needs, kudos and shout-outs. Consider sharing those with me at email@example.com. Just as important, please continue to share any concerns in our communities by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We also will be releasing a survey to all each Friday, as another means for you to tell us how this is going and to make suggestions so that we can continually adjust.
We have so many examples of the state’s only public research university helping meet Maine’s needs during this crisis. Our economists and epidemiologists are on call to help, and are studying the effects of the pandemic in real time to inform the state’s actions. UMaine virologists, molecular biologists and biomedical researchers are gearing up to help Maine health care labs process COVID-19 test kits, and assessing if they can aid colleagues nationwide to validate new assays for COVID-19. Our labs in advanced manufacturing, food science, VEMI, and chemical engineering are redirecting their activities to help the state produce and manufacture a variety of desperately needed materials. University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a website of resources for Maine communities, ranging from online educational resources for children learning at home to a new online Maine farm product and pick-up directory.
I also want to direct you to an important update regarding the University of Maine System guidance for identifying university resources for the COVID-19 response effort. UMS now has a memorandum of understanding with the Maine Emergency Management Agency that will guide and expedite deployment of facilities, and available supplies, services and personnel into Maine’s response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Please follow the instructions there for providing materials and resources to other organizations in the state. More information is online.
As for UMaine and UMM operations, it is not business as usual, but countless numbers of people are ensuring that we remain available. That includes Fogler Library, where the building is closed, but support is ongoing for faculty, staff and the community. Please check out Fogler’s latest FAQ for the details. On-campus operations also include the hard work of team members in Student Life, Facilities Management, the UMaine Police Department, Auxiliary Services and many other units.
The University of Maine Foundation launched the Student Crisis Fund last Friday and raised more $50,000 in the first three days. That amount includes a $25,000 match from the foundation. The Division of Student Life is coordinating the distribution of those funds to students in need. Please contact them at 207.581.2681 and 207.581.1406.
As I reminded you in my previous community message, we are all in this together — from our homes and communities, to the state, the nation and the world public health arenas. Know that our university communities remain focused and committed to serving students and the state. Know that I, and all of the senior administrative team at UMaine and UMM, want you and your families to be well and to succeed in this very challenging time.