Friday Futurecast — October 2

Health and safety update for university community members

Welcome to this week’s Friday Futurecast.

Dear members of the UMaine and UMM communities,

As we come to the close of our fifth week of the fall 2020 semester, it is a good time to take stock, cautiously. Right now in our campus communities, we have three active cases of COVID-19 and one student quarantining on campus. The wastewater sampling on the UMaine campus has produced no positive indication of the virus. Everyone’s hard work to stay distanced, use face coverings, and observe the Black Bears and Clippers Care Pacts is making a difference. And, your participation in the current required phase three testing lets us keep track of how the campuses are faring. So thank you, everyone, for all that you are doing.

About 70% of our students at UMaine and UMM are able to be part of one face-to-face course. Most of our faculty and instructional staff are teaching in more than one modality for about 3,000 course sections across both campuses. We have many activities and events available on the campuses, almost all of them in new forms and formats, with technology now omnipresent in so much of what we do together. In our world and in our daily lives, everything is more intense, more demanding, more complicated and more uncertain — and has been for almost seven months.

I urge everyone to find ways to stay connected and to make new connections; to take breaks and find joy; and to treat yourselves and those around you with care and compassion. And, if you need to, seek support and advice. Any members of the UMaine and UMM communities needing assistance can call 207.581.2681 or write

Enjoy what promises to be another beautiful fall Maine weekend. And take good care.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy


Partnering to address health 

  • The UMS Scientific Advisory Board partnered with Team Maine and Bananas to produce a new video: “COVID-19 101: The science of staying safe.” In it, SAB lead and professor Dr. Melissa Maginnis explains the science behind why we take health and safety measures, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance, during this pandemic. 

Transparent and continuing communication 

  • Join us in showing our community that we are #4UMaine. Post a selfie wearing your face covering and use the hashtag. All entries will be given the chance to win a $50 gift card to a local Orono business. The #4UMaine campaign has a new video online.

  • The President’s Envisioning 20–21 Communications and Concepts Task Force will host a student focus group from 6–7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6. The topic: COVID-19 and fall communications, and the 2020–21 campus experience. To participate, students can sign up online. Focus group participants will receive a UMaine-branded water bottle.

  • In our third flash survey, more than two-thirds of respondents indicated they were under more stress this semester, with the highest levels of stress seen among seniors. Many said they did not know how to access services, including Student Life, Student Accessibility Services and the Counseling Center

  • The Counseling Center has initiated a number of support groups, including Surviving & Thriving in COVID-19 (for international students), I Hate COVID! (all student support group), RA Support Group, Solidarity Meeting (for students of color), and LGBTQIA+ Support Group. The center also offers several virtual workshop series (e.g., Cultivating Calm, Mindfulness I, Mindfulness II). A 24-hour crisis hotline is available to everyone: 1.888.568.1112. 

  • The flash survey also showed that students are interested in campus activities. The Center for Student Involvement, Campus Recreation, Career Center and many other offices provide those opportunities. Coming up this week is the initiation of in-person fitness classes at the New Balance Student Recreation Center. In addition, plans are underway to reinitiate UMaine intramural sports activities. 

  • On Sept. 30, UMS IT upgraded the “Preview Learner” function in Brightspace to address a known security vulnerability. With the upgrade, instructors now have a unique Brightspace “preview learner” assigned to them for use in their courses. The error was corrected within one hour of it being detected. UMS IT apologizes for the inconvenience caused by the issue and will make certain to provide advance notice of any Brightspace upgrades going forward.

In-person, on-campus experiences and other learning modes

  • The UMaine and UMM IT support teams have developed Brightspace student tutorials that can be accessed here for UMaine students and here for UMM students.  

  • Save the date for the annual Engineering Job Fair, this year occurring virtually on Oct. 21. Currently, 65 employers have registered. More information is on the Career Center website.

  • The Bodwell Center’s Black Bear Tutors Program, connecting UMaine students with K–12 students for academic assistance, opened youth applications this week. Tutoring will be done virtually this year, which enables outreach to students statewide. Inquiries have already been received from Portland to Fort Fairfield. For more information: 207.581.1786.

  • UMaine Student Life’s Center for Student Involvement has an online list of upcoming activities. Next week’s events include the annual March Against Domestic Violence, which is virtual this year. For people looking to paddle, bike, hike and more, check out the list of Maine Bound Adventure Center events. And here’s a link to the great shows at the Astronomy Center. Information about UMM activities is on the student engagement website

  • Looking for a UMaine student organization to join? Ready to start your own? There’s a website for that

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • Veterans Education and Transition Services is hosting a weekly Virtual Veterans Center where students can “stop in, hang out and have lunch (virtually)” 11 a.m.–1 p.m. every Wednesday. More information is available by contacting VETS coordinator Tony Llerena,

  • The Bodwell Center’s Black Bear Exchange, the on-campus food pantry and clothing exchange, is open for preorders and scheduled pick ups 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.–noon Saturdays. In the first four weeks of the fall semester, BBE distributed 6,500 pounds of food (including 2,500 pounds of fresh produce) to 150 members of our community. Collaborations with Good Shepherd Food Bank, UMaine Dining, and students and staff in the School of Food and Agriculture have dramatically increased the food available through the on-campus food pantry and allowed the program to serve more people. For more information: 207.581.3091.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • UMaine UVote has reached upward of 4,450 students through its voter education efforts this fall. UMaine is hosting an early vote day Oct. 17 in the Field House. UVote information is online.
  • The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is working with the MGT 449 capstone course led by Jason Harkins on several student projects. The projects are focused on opportunities to bridge the gap between current efforts to support businesses in their recovery from the impacts of COVID and the goals identified in the Ten Year Strategic Economic Development Plan. Students will deliver oral and written recommendations in a compressed time frame this month. Completed projects will then be considered by DECD staff in their ongoing strategic efforts. More information on the projects is available by contacting professor Harkins,

  • Upcoming workshops in the Commercialization Training Series offer a window on research commercialization opportunities at UMaine. The next event in the series (Oct. 8) covers idea validation, teaching participants how to use innovation engineering tools to ensure that research innovations targeted for commercialization focus on the end user’s true needs and expectations. Other workshops planned for this semester examine the startup pathway for university innovations (Oct. 29) and explore commercialization opportunities in education, the humanities and social sciences (Dec. 3). The series is open to graduate students, faculty and staff, and all workshops are offered virtually through the UMaine Office of Innovation and Economic Development. Learn more and register online.

  • An NAACP and Civil Rights in Maine Oral History Project featuring interviews with 13 individuals gathered 1990–91 is now online. The collection is available in the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History section of Fogler Library’s ArchivesSpace database, and links have been added to the library’s URSUS Catalog. Each interview includes a complete transcript and audio files. The interviews were conducted by Charles Lumpkins for his 1992 thesis, Civil Rights Activism in Maine from the 1940s to 1971: Black Mainers, Black and White Activists, and the Resistance Against Racism, and his article in Maine History, “Civil-Rights in Maine, 1945–1971.” For more information, contact Special Collections, 207.581.1686;