Maine Memo — December 22

Dear members of the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities,

Greetings from Orono, where the campus is peaceful and beautiful with a light covering of snow.  I hope that everyone — the staff and faculty who kept learning going this past semester, the students who took responsibility for continuing their educational journeys and for taking care of our community, and the community members and supporters who committed to helping all of us through this semester — will be able now to relax, safely, and enjoy this holiday season and break.

In his On Track for Maine message earlier today, Chancellor Dannel Malloy noted the importance of returning to in-person and on-site teaching, learning and research at our public universities. And doing it safely, together.

At the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias, we did this exceptionally well this fall. We followed public health and safety practices, and had strong and timely guidance from the UMS Scientific Advisory Board. We had three phases of COVID-19 testing on campus that extended throughout the semester. We committed to protecting ourselves and others as part of the Black Bears Care and Clippers Care plans. And we learned from each other, all while addressing our own pandemic-related personal and professional challenges.

We did it in fall 2020 and we’ll do it again in spring 2021.

With our experience in safe planning and return practices, we are preparing for the spring semester. We will have increased on-campus testing for our community members on the UMaine and UMM campuses, and at our facilities statewide. And with the help of the UMS Vaccine Planning and Partnership Task Force announced last week, which I chair, we will be prepared to support the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As we have since the start of the pandemic, we will constantly monitor the latest updates that will inform our safe return to UMaine and UMM campuses for the spring semester that starts Jan. 25. Above all, we will continue to remain vigilant, flexible and compassionate in our approach during this extraordinary time.

As I noted in my Maine Memo July 1 when we announced that we would, indeed, be together in our academic and research sites statewide for fall 2020, we are reshaping our university for now and for tomorrow with new connections, new learnings and new commitments. The undergraduate and graduate students who are continuing their learning at UMaine and UMM during this brutal pandemic will be the resilient, innovative, flexible and compassionate leaders, professionals and civic leaders of tomorrow.

Know that in the coming weeks, we will continue doing the work we need to do to be ready to be together again. We are dedicated to keeping learning going. To fulfilling our research and public engagement contributions to Maine and beyond. And all while being mindful of community health and well-being.

I wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, and look forward to being together again in the new year, on-site for spring 2021.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy