Maine Memo — January 29

Welcome back! I hope that everyone’s first week of semester 2021 is going well.

There is much that is notable and new about this semester. It is our third semester living with COVID-19 and its new routines and daunting challenges. It is the first with a new, historic administration in Washington. And already this semester we are seeing the implementation of a vaccine on a global scale to subdue this pandemic. New energy is directed at righting the wrongs of centuries of racial injustice, and there is urgency to protect our planet as the climate changes. Here at UMaine and UMM, newness is not an addendum. It is part of who we are and how we operate. It has already reshaped, reformed, and reinvigorated our collective work and activity together for the good.

We see faculty incorporating the COVID-19 realities into their research, their teaching, and their public service — taking up new work, new studies, and new partnerships, and stretching into new territory. Others are integrating racial justice perspectives and inclusion into their teaching in innovative ways. And still others are translating their research to help the state address climate change and its challenges.

The people who keep our campuses safe, in repair, and equipped with technology have proven to be particular heroes in recent months. They are experts on the details of gathering limits and space configurations; on traffic flow and distancing in all buildings; and on accessing the wastewater samples with the UMS Scientific Advisory Board. They’re helping to set up the Shield T3 mobile lab at the rear of the football stadium bleachers so that in a week it will be functioning for the entire University of Maine System. Their jobs have morphed and expanded, and yet they still clear the snow, help a student, and respond to calls to unlock doors and repair whatever breaks.

UMaine is a caring and compassionate community, even as it adapts, expands its view, and leads the way. For over 10 months now, caring has included additions to our daily routines — wearing face masks, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, testing and Zoom meetings. Beginning next week, we add required weekly visits to our on-campus testing centers for all who are on-site regularly.

We are back together, changed and changing, to embrace what is changed and changing in the world around us and moving forward at UMaine and UMM.

Best wishes for an enriched and rewarding semester.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy