Highlights from the State of the University Address — Feb 28
University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy delivered the 2023 State of the University address on February 28 in Minsky Recital Hall.
Guest speakers included MJ Sedlock, president of UMaine Faculty Senate and senior lecturer, production manager and technical director, School of Performing Arts; University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy; Kody Varahramyan, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School; and Katherine Ashley, graduate student in plant science and student representative to the UMS Board of Trustees.
Short videos focused on the anniversaries of the Climate Change Institute and Graduate School, recent research in New Zealand and UMaine Compass.
The recording of this event is available online, below are some highlights and a transcript of remarks.
3D-printed home time lapse video
Short time lapse video of the creation of the world’s first 100% bio-based 3D-printed house by UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Read the story about the home and watch the time-lapse video on its building.
Climate Change Institute at 50
The Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022. Director Paul Mayewski talks about the center’s history and mission, and how it has evolved in the past five decades. Read the story about the anniversary and watch the video on the center.
Graduate School anniversary
The Graduate School of the University of Maine is celebrating the past 100 years advancing graduate education and enhancing the graduate student experience through collaboration with the colleges and schools. Visit the Graduate School Centennial website and watch the video about the school milestone.
UMaine Compass introduction
The UMaine 2025 Commission was created to explore visionary ways to better serve our students, our community, and our state as higher education evolves. Watch the video on the commission.
New Zealand research 2023
In February 2023, graduate students from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute conducted fieldwork in New Zealand, continuing the work of understanding the Earth’s climate system in the past and how it may inform future climate change. Watch the video on the New Zealand fieldwork.
Full transcript of event
(The audio of MJ Sedlock’s remarks were not recorded as the event began, this transcript includes the full introduction)
MJ Sedlock: Welcome to the 2023 State of the University Address. I am MJ Sedlock, senior lecturer in theatre and president of the UMaine Faculty Senate. I also extend a warm welcome on behalf of Eric Jones, faculty president at UMaine Machias, and on behalf of the faculties at both our campuses. It is an honor to be here with all of you as we gather to reflect on and celebrate all that we have accomplished in the past academic year.
I consider it a privilege to be counted amongst the renowned faculty of this university. I am inspired each day by the caliber of talent and intellect that surrounds me whenever I have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with my colleagues from across both campuses.
(The recording of this event begins here)
The students who choose to join us here in learning, researching, and creating are bright, unique, and passionate — a joyful presence to be amongst.
Across our campuses, faculty, staff, and students work together in myriad ways to advance ground-breaking research and tackle the most pressing issues of our time. But, I must say that I am most proud to be a Black Bear because of the caring, interconnected community that is most special and uncommon about the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias. There is a culture of shared growth and success that leads faculty, staff, and students to regularly go out of their way to help each other and connect with each other.
I personally remember a time in my first year here when we were staging a production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and the scenic design called for some real trees and branches across the stage. I contacted some folks in the School of Forest Resources and the next day there were actual black cherry trees and branches delivered to the doors of the theater for our use. This was my first opportunity to even meet a single person in that department, and yet they were immediately willing to give of their time and resources with just a simple ask. Experiences like that have been innumerable over my years at UMaine.
There are so many more stories of impressive accomplishments, collaboration, growth, and caring in store for you in today’s address. It is truly a wonderful time to be a Black Bear.
Will you please rise and join me in welcoming Chana Freedberg, a third-year double major in music education and music performance with a vocal concentration. She is from Bangor and currently lives in Orono.
Chana Freedberg: singing of the National Anthem
MJ Sedlock: Thank you. Please be seated
MJ Sedlock: Next, please welcome Tiana Bucknor, a UMaine women’s soccer athlete who plays defense, to deliver land acknowledgement. Tiana is a graduate student in the Kinesiology and Physical Education Program. Her hometown is Milton, Ontario, Canada.
Tiana Bucknor: The University of Maine recognizes that it is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, and the University of Maine at Machias is cited in the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Nation. Both of our universities recognize that in these homelands, issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites, are ongoing. Penobscot and Passamaquoddy homelands are connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations — the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq — through kinship, alliances and diplomacy. UMaine and its regional campus also recognize that the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination.
MJ Sedlock: Thank you Tiana. It is now my honor to introduce our president. Joan Ferrini-Mundy has been the 21st president of the University of Maine for almost five years. She is also the president of our regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias. Since 2021, she has been vice chancellor for research and innovation for the University of Maine System, leading efforts to make the University of Maine’s research infrastructure accessible to and supportive of all universities and faculty in the System.
Prior to joining the university, President Ferrini-Mundy was the chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation. Her career spans the fields of mathematics education, STEM education and policy, teacher education, and research administration. She has numerous awards and recognitions and currently chairs and participates in groups at the international, national, and state levels.
She is proud to be a faculty member in UMaine’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, an honorary member of All Maine Women, and an honorary Master Gardener volunteer.
President Ferrini-Mundy holds office hours regularly and has been known to visit a math class, give a guest lecture in education, and definitely roots for the Black Bears even when they play her alma mater, UNH. Please welcome President Ferrini-Mundy.
President Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you so much, MJ, and good afternoon, everybody. I’m pleased to be here, and I’m pleased to introduce the next speaker, who is Chancellor Dannel Malloy, the chancellor of the University of Maine System. He is nearly completing his fourth year in that role, came to us from having served for eight years as the governor of the state of Connecticut. Chancellor Malloy’s leadership for this system, for this state and for our university, is just remarkable. I will point to simply two areas where he has made magnificent change already for us here in the University of Maine System. One is in his leadership and role in helping us to secure the historic $240 million gift from the Harold A. Alfond Foundation and the second is in his leadership in enabling us to secure unified accreditation through our regional accreditor NECHE just in a very short time. I will also say that he is an incredible friend to the University of Maine, to what we do here; he recognizes what it means for us to be a flagship, land grant, sea grant and space grant, R1 university. I am very grateful for his colleagueship and friendship and what he’s doing for our system and our university.
Chancellor Malloy: The president was kind enough to invite me to give a greeting, and I do do that, Greetings. But more importantly I want to say “thank you” because you were the folks that have gotten us through our COVID experience and without the sacrifices and hard work and leadership demonstrated in the classroom, by administrators, by our staff and quite frankly by our students has been nothing short of remarkable. But I do want to say “thank you” for all of that. I don’t know what is actually in the president’s address — I, like some of you, am waiting to hear and experience that. But I am aware that we face challenges in our system, we have different levels of challenges based on which institution we’re talking about and we’re likely to dwell on those challenges to a very great extent — perhaps worrying about challenges too much. Because I think that each one of the challenges that we face going forward, demographic or infrastructure, or the incoming size of the incoming class, we might, in our concentration on those challenges, forget about the opportunities that present themselves on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. This is a great university, as is the campus at Machias, the university there. We have great faculty, wonderful students, great possibilities, in one of the finest states to live in, in the nation. Let us take stock of who we are, and what we are, and what those possibilities mean for us in the short run and in the long run. After all, it is our obligation to leave this university, these universities, better for our having participated in their existence, and those students better prepared, and what better way than to demonstrate our willingness to face our challenges and build strength from them. Thank you for having me.
President Ferrini-Mundy: Welcome to the 2023 state of the university address! I am pleased to be with those here in Minsky Hall and to be connecting virtually with others. This is always an exciting talk to prepare because there is so much that goes on, every day, at this great university, and so many accomplishments of the phenomenal students, faculty and staff, to be proud of and to share.
I would like to welcome our distinguished guests and to thank the many people who helped to put this event together today.
Let’s start with athletics and their magical weekend:
- Men’s basketball’s overtime win at Binghamton helped them earn their highest win total since 2012–13. They also clinched a spot in the America East Tournament. They play tonight at 7 at the Pit.
- Women’s basketball clinched the #3 seed in the America East Tournament after defeating Binghamton on senior day. The team earned the right to host a tournament playoff game tomorrow night at 7 p.m., also at the Pit.
- Men’s swimming and diving set multiple new school records in relays at the America East Championships while women’s swimming and diving had two students medal
- Men’s ice hockey swept Boston College at home, in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday, and earned the right to host a Hockey East Playoff game at Alfond Arena after hosting UMass this coming weekend. Congratulations.
Today, as we have done in the past few years, other members of the community will be joining me throughout the next hour here in Minsky, and virtually, to help tell the story of the “state of the University of Maine” — and to look to our future.
We have come far in the past year, and I will say a bit about that. Then I will turn to the introduction of “The UMaine Compass,” which is the exciting result of the President’s Commission on Excellence and Equity UMaine 2025, which completed its work last year.
Last year in my state of the university speech I talked about two major themes: commitment to making a difference and a culture of caring. Black Bears, there is no question that you are MAKING A DIFFERENCE for the people of Maine, for the region, for the nation, and for the world. Here are just a few examples.
The brilliant faculty, staff, and student engineers, computer scientists and technicians in the Advanced Structures and Composites Center built the world’s first 3D printed house made fully of biobased materials. It’s out behind the ASCC right now, being tested for how well it responds to the cold, snow and ice of our Maine winters.
President Ferrini-Mundy: It actually took not 30 seconds but approximately 330 hours to print, but Habib Dagher tells me his goal is to bring that time down to 48 hours. And when you’re done living in the house you can grind it up and recycle it.
This UMaine-developed technology will make a difference.
In the category of making a difference, we should congratulate:
- the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA), which received the 2022 Service Provider of the Year award from the Maine International Trade Center, reflecting SPIA’s contributions to workforce development.
- Professor of biological sciences Brian McGill, whose research focuses on modeling large-scale ecology and global change, has been named one of the most cited researchers worldwide by Clarivate.
- Roberto Lopez-Anido, the Malcolm G. Long ’32 Professor of Civil Engineering, has just been named the 2023 Distinguished Maine Professor by the University of Maine Alumni Association
- Jasmine Saros, professor and associate director of the Climate Change Institute, has received a Fulbright Distinguished Arctic Scholar Award to Norway for next year. Thank you to Jasmine for allowing me to visit your research project last summer!
- UMaine historian Anne Knowles has an NEH grant for “Placing the Holocaust,” a project that will bring 15 years of research to high school and university classrooms nationwide.
- Congratulations to UMaine math major and computer science minor Kaia de Vries, and math team alum from Fryeburg Academy, who won the Edmund Landou award from the American Mathematical Society.
- Jeremy Pena, an alum, won the World Series MVP award.
- Sandy Caron, alumna and professor of family relations and human sexuality, is the 2023 inductee into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame
- Jacquelyn Gill, associate professor of paleoecology and plant ecology, is one of the inaugural recipients of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- 2022 marked a first for UMaine, as five faculty members were selected in the same year for the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
- The whole University achieved the coveted Carnegie R1 status in research
All of that means we are making a difference. The award-winning programs and people are recognized because what they do makes a difference — and we all should be so proud.
We make a difference for our state through UMaine Cooperative Extension — and they have the numbers to prove it. In 2022, their website received 3.1 million pageviews.
Since 2000, UMaine Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger program has mobilized gardeners, farmers, businesses, schools, and civic groups to grow, glean, and donate high-quality fresh produce to food pantries, shelters, and community meal sites throughout Maine. In the past year, this resulted in 168,304 pounds of fresh produce provided to 228 food security agencies located throughout the state.
A second theme I spoke about last year was the culture of caring that we have at UMaine and UMaine Machias — caring for our community, our campuses, our students, faculty, and staff.
In 2022, the university, along with the nation, came to accept an ongoing COVID pandemic as part of the fabric of our day-to-day lives. We continued all efforts to both keep our community safe, national recommendations, and public health established best practice, as well as to educate and inform the community as they assumed more self-direction and personal responsibility about how to manage their health and consider the health of those around them. The University of Maine and the UMaine System have weathered this challenging period with compassion, attention to science, and the caring that characterizes our community.
UMaine and UMM have academic programs that are all about caring. In 2022, the School of Nursing, with several collaborators, implemented a comprehensive, holistic, and inclusive research program called WellNurse to promote resilience and well-being among nursing students, faculty, and staff. Future nurses cannot provide high-quality, evidence-based care if they neglect their own health and well-being. To date, 106 students, faculty, and staff have completed an eight-week evidence-based mindfulness-based stress reduction program. What an incredible model for all of us.
The Downeast Health Research Collaborative based at UMM is a broadly interdisciplinary partnership pursuing community-engaged research. It involves researchers from across the UMaine System and beyond, representing a wide array of disciplines–public health, sociology, geography, healthcare, psychology, communication and more, to address seemingly intractable rural challenges. They recently completed a pilot study on injury, health and substance use among Downeast shellfish and lobster harvesters involving six graduate and undergrad research fellows. This provided new insights into the health challenges facing Maine’s fisheries workers, and innovative ideas to improve healthcare and prevent substance use disorder and overdose.
Students show us how to care every day. Natalie McCarthy is an elementary education major in the College of Education and Human Development who will graduate in May. She recently arranged for a therapy dog — a black lab named Ellie — to visit the fourth-grade classroom at Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono, where she’s doing her student teaching. Fourth graders loved getting to interact with Ellie and see how she works.
There is so much more to say, yet I want to turn to the future now and introduce the UMaine Compass. And we will start by looking at the past. In 2022 we celebrated a very important milestone in the 50th anniversary of the Climate Change Institute. Let’s learn more about that.
President Ferrini-Mundy: And in 2023 we have another important milestone — the 100th anniversary of the UMaine Graduate School. I am pleased to introduce my colleague Dr. Kody Varahramyan, Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School.
Vice President and Dean Varahramyan: Since 1923, the Graduate School has been at the forefront of advancing graduate education in support of the workforce and economic development in Maine and beyond, including in the discovery of new knowledge, solving real-world problems of global impact and local relevance.” As the dean, I am in constant admiration for the successes of our graduates and grateful to the faculty and staff who continue to create excellent research, academic and scholarship opportunities for our students.
Indeed, these efforts will continue as we look into the future. As part of this, we recognize the importance of providing our graduate students with the premier graduate programs and the resources that they need to be successful, both in and out of the classroom. This includes access to top-notch faculty, valuable research and teaching assistantships, great internship opportunities, cutting-edge technology and instructional resources, as well as support to help create opportunities for all, in line with our university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I am confident that with your support and the dedication of our faculty and staff, we will achieve these goals and continue to make a positive impact on the lives of our students and the world.
Vice President and Dean Varahramyan: Katie Ashley is a current doctoral student in Plant Science, working with Dr. Jianjun Hao, Associate Professor of Applied Plant Pathology. Katie also received her MS in Botany & Plant Pathology from the University of Maine in 2020. Her academic pursuits and research interests lie in the field of soil health optimization.
Apart from her research work, Katie Ashley has served as a teaching assistant and volunteers for Orono Giving Garden and the Wilson Center. As the representative for the Graduate Student Government on the Board of Trustees, she is also actively involved in advocating for the needs and interests of the graduate student community. Please welcome Katie.
Katie Ashley: Hello everyone, I am grateful to have this opportunity to share my research and the benefits of UMaine Graduate School. My research focuses on sustainable solutions to improve soil health and increase potato yields for farmers. I am from a fifth-generation citrus-growing family in Florida, but as a young person, I was not encouraged to pursue agriculture. I earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and said I was destined for a career in the health field.
After a few years of searching for my passion in the health field, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps, I decided it was time to pursue a master’s degree. Although I had never visited New England, I took a chance on an opportunity to work in the Maine wild blueberry industry studying a fungal disease. To say my family was surprised is an understatement, but Maine immediately felt like a natural fit for myself and my partner.
After graduation with my master’s degree, I worked at North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. However, when I wanted to pursue another graduate degree, the decision was easy, even if it required a thousand-mile move back to Maine. I knew that a PhD in Plant Science at the University of Maine would grow my skill set and help me enhance my career in Cooperative Extension.
At UMaine, I’ve been able to explore innovative solutions. Including a project which I am very passionate about, uniting the blue and green economies here in Maine utilizing recovered lobster shell waste and repurposing it as a soil amendment to improve plant growth, and potentially suppress soilborne diseases.
The University of Maine gave me the opportunity to build on my natural affinity for agriculture regardless of my economic background or lack of family history in academia. This emphasis on diversity of students is the true strength and future of UMaine graduate education, and will ensure that invaluable perspectives and ideas are heard.
The University of Maine plays a unique role in developing our state’s potential. The future in Maine is bright, because people like my peers and myself, who are innovative problem solvers, are given a platform to shine. Thank you.
President Ferrini-Mundy: So with this reminder about our past, and the foundation it provides, we turn to the future.
This next video is narrated by Dr. Kirsten Jacobson, chair of the UMaine Department of Philosophy. Here you will learn about the UMaine 2025 Commission, which Kirsten co-chaired along with UMaine alumnus Class of 2004 Matt Rodrigue.
President Ferrini-Mundy: I hope you are as excited as I am to be launching our work going forward on UMaine Compass. I am grateful to Professor Jacobson and the members of the commission for their creative and comprehensive response to this somewhat nebulous assignment.
All that we do at UMaine and UMM — from our work over the past several years with the Strategic Vision and Values framework and so many other initiatives — now can be guided by the tenets and focal areas proposed in the UMaine Compass. We will follow today’s release with the launch of the Compass website, opportunities to join Compass Conversations and examine the proposed focal areas, and a communication strategy that engages all of us in shaping, refining, and employing this framework as — well as, a compass — to guide and give direction for what we do and hope to become.
Let me focus briefly next on one of the proposed focal areas for the Compass — establishing UMaine as the Green Action University, drawing on the language and material provided by the commission. Green action, sustainability, protecting our natural resources — this is already a defining identity for UMaine and UMM. Commitment to sustaining the environment, climate justice, clean energy technologies and climate action and adaptation are infused through almost all that we do. Maine is in the position of leading the nation and the world in producing new knowledge and engaging students, from their first semester as undergraduates, in understanding climate, its impacts, how to mitigate them, and build sustainability in a systemic way.
Today, UMaine research, and our faculty, staff, and students, are helping to lead the efforts ongoing in Maine to preserve and sustain our waters, coastlines, forests, forests, fisheries and farms, with new knowledge, technologies, and actions. We can use UMaine Compass to label and market what we are already doing and help us dream about how to grow this foundation in new ways. We know that the students of today and tomorrow want a just and sustainable world they can live in, and they want to understand and shape it.
A sustainability asset map developed last spring shows more than 100 programs, offices, resources for community and climate resilience at the University of Maine. Examples range from the expanded food and nutrition program, the Bodwell Center and the Black Bear Exchange, the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, our 7,894 acres of forested university land, our advanced composting facility, the UMM/GIS Laboratory and Service Center, and dozens more. And the UMaine Energy Center project, in planning stages now, will be a model for how to power our campus sustainably.
The students who have been involved in Divest UMS and its successor group, “UMaine Climate Action, are out ahead of us naming this key priority of green action. Scientists in the School of Earth and Climate sciences have discovered a mechanism that explains rapid glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age, and it may be accelerating glacial melting today. The Zealandia Switch draws from a combination of global atmospheric warming and the poleward shift of westerly winds. These changes likely accelerate the recession of mountain glaciers in the mid latitudes of both hemispheres.
I had the privilege of visiting this research group, including students, at their field sites in New Zealand recently. Led by professors Aaron Putnam and our National Academy of Sciences member George Denton, this work traces the shifting glacial coverage around the globe by measuring rare chemical isotopes that accumulate in rock surfaces once they are uncovered by glacial ice and exposed to cosmic rays. The students I visited with were doing the painstaking, precise work taking these samples. Talk about making a difference, through research, in fundamental understandings of our planet — what better evidence that we are a green action university?
President Ferrini-Mundy: Let me turn now briefly to a second proposed focal area in UMaine Compass — well-being — and the closely related belonging focus. In this area, the commission proposed that UMaine work intentionally on creating a healthy scaffold for the whole student, to help them become a wise member of the world. Compassion, kindness, and empathy are key to student success as UMaine emerges from the pandemic, as our nation and world face challenges of war, gun violence, racial injustice, and as we prepare leaders for tomorrow here at UMaine and UMM.
The Compass work pushes us to do even more, think more deeply, and act more expansively. This would include focus on mental and physical health and well-being, work-school-life balance, support services, relationship-rich education, all with DEI at the center.
We have abundant examples of how these commitments exemplify who we are as a university, and here are a few:
- the signage in the Wabanaki language in place now both at UMaine and UMM
- the naming of Karen Boudreau Hall, with the intention of inspiring Franco-American students to know this university is for them
- The spaces in the Ferland building, for coffee and collaboration
The Maine Day committee met last week and will meet again before spring break. There is good campus support in continuing things we really like about Maine Day, and adding some new, exciting, and fun activities. The committee has representation and buy-in from different departments and groups that have shared their voices. Plans are developing for activities and events from Saturday to Saturday. Thank you to the UMaine campus for your thoughtful and respectful discussions and wide inputs that have gotten us here.
The campus has observed Black History month from start to finish. The Black Lives Matter Flag raising on Feb 1 brought a large group of folks to center and recognize the start of this month. The highlight of the event came from the President of the Black Student Union, Precilia Ngalamulume who empowered her peers to be active in supporting the student organization and the students of color on campus. The following week we held Lunch and Learn with Dr. Judith Josiah Martin where she spoke on empowerment, inspiring and motivating students with her words.
Belonging is at the center of the Dawnland Badge micro credential created by John Bear Mitchell. John is the Wabanaki Center Student Development Coordinator, UMS Native American Waiver and Educational program coordinator, and lecturer in Wabanaki Studies.
The Student Wellness Center is rolling out an opioid/fentanyl prevention program which will include education, naloxone training, fentanyl testing strips and a widespread information campaign. With the rise in opiate-related deaths in the state, students should be aware of the risks and know how to help one another. April 3 will be the spring Fresh Check Day at the Memorial Union — a mental health awareness event that targets wellness, suicide prevention, and promotes happiness and positivity.
At UMaine Machias, the impactful Family Futures Downeast program, is a two-generation college program designed for parents and their children. It’s unique because parents enroll in college preparation and college classes with a cohort of peers, and a coach to help guide them. At the same time, children enroll in high quality education programs. The whole family — parents and children — are working together to achieve their goals.
At a recent visit by Maine State legislators to UMaine, we all heard Lauren Sachs, UMM and FFD graduate, tell her moving story of challenge, resilience, and success, causing the audience to give her two standing ovations.
As part of the UMaine and UMM partnership we launched the Coastal Year program, where admitted UMaine students in certain science majors have the opportunity to study — an belong — on the UMM campus for their first year, and then transition to the UMaine campus after a year or stay at UMaine Machias for the remainder of their degree. Here is what coastal year student Jacob Carter had to say.
See why I am optimistic about UMaine Compass? It fits what we already are and we can use it to move toward where we want to go.
In conclusion, I want to make a few closing observations. One is that I hope you share my optimism about the future success and impact of the University of Maine experience. The people of UMaine and UMM represent the cutting-edge in caring and compassion, excellence and equity, and vision and vitality.
At the same time, we, like so many other institutions of higher education, face challenges. Our location in an aging state in the northeast compounds those challenges.
UMaine has both a strong foundation and momentum, with numerous successes in recent years. Other organizations recognize our excellence and our potential. The State of Maine, our Congressional delegation, the Harold Alfond Foundation and others, and the federal government have shown enormous confidence in our institution. Governor Mills has proposed budget increases for UMS and the legislature sent funds our way in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden helped us receive congressionally directed spending projects. The Harold Alfond Foundation invested $240 million in our System, including significant resources for UMaine and UMM. And multiple other foundations and federal agencies have invested in our faculty, staff and students competing for external grants and awards.
We also have had very healthy financial reserves, a result of the careful stewardship of many who came before us. Yet we are faced with the prospect of declining enrollment. We have rising energy costs, inflationary pressure on goods and services, aging infrastructure, changing student needs and a competitive employment market.
We are not alone in these challenges, and we need to resolve them — with the same commitments guiding us as we have been discussing here today — commitment to making a difference, to caring, to excellence and equity among them. We must focus on our core values – fostering learner success, discovering, and innovating, and growing and advancing partnerships.
We will need to continue what we have started in the past few months, and for which I thank you: thinking about new ways of accomplishing what is most critical to us; looking for efficiencies in our operations and our academic programs; bringing in external funding and spending it, so that the indirect returns come back to us; and doing the very best possible job that we can do in the classroom, the labs, the research sites, the athletics places, and in all of our day to day work, so that the excellence you all create as hallmarks of UMaine and UMM is widely known and appreciated. And, we all need to do our part to recruit new students who will thrive in these incredible places and help to shape and grow our communities to meet tomorrow’s opportunities.
No matter the challenges, the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias remain student-focused, with dedicated faculty and staff committed to making a difference. We know that the experience in and out of the classroom that we provide prepares students to define tomorrow. We are caring, compassionate university communities committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our research, innovation and public engagement in collaboration with our countless community partners not only defines tomorrow, but also makes a difference in the lives of people in Maine and beyond. You are all making significant contributions and for that, I thank you.