Editor’s Letter

Seasons greeting, folks.

I hope everyone is staying warm in this chilly weather. I know that I’ve pulled out almost every article of warm clothing I own already! If I’m being honest, though, the hat and mittens actually came out in late October. Also, I’ve worn my L.L. Bean boots a lot more than I like to admit (sorry, Birkenstocks).

The holiday season is right around the corner and I know that I’ve already started my shopping. With that in mind, don’t forget to be nice to the retail and restaurant workers this holiday season. Everyone is going through something and a little kindness gets you a lot further than a breath of rudeness.

Be sure to stock up on hot chocolate and fuzzy socks: I feel a snow day is coming sooner rather than later. Stay safe out there on the roads and watch out for black ice! Happy holidays.

Yours truly,

Abi Davis

Abi Davis, editor.

Holiday Celebrations and Thanks

My strongest memories of the holiday season are ones of family and traditions.  My brother and I looked forward to Christmas Eve service, held in a gigantic Cathedral-like Congregationalist church built of brick and stone with a steeple more like a Gothic tower than a New England spire, as much for the fact that it signaled presents would soon be opened as it was the one time a year we could hold a lit candle and not get in trouble.  Years later, when I attended that same service, this time as an adult with my own family, it was almost as if I were returned to childhood, to our son Zachary’s age, only with a forward-looking memory leap-frogging through time, past high school and college and my first teaching jobs and marriage and a family of my own in which I now became my own parent, nervously allowing Zach to hold and light a candle against the darkness of that great, vaulted ceiling.

Holidays, whether they be defined by Christmas or Ramadan or Chanukah or the Solstice, are shaped by traditions of thankfulness for bounty received as well as the hope for renewal and future comfort and safekeeping.  They are touchstones for who we are while also providing visions of who we might be.

And looking back over the past year, we have much to be thankful for as a university.  New faculty and staff, all of whom are contributing to great academic and co-curricular opportunities.  New programs such as Cybersecurity, to be followed next year by Computer Science and Healthcare Administration.  The amazing generosity of donors and supporters, who made possible the construction and opening of the Zillman Family Greenhouse, which is already seeing the fruits of student research after only a few short months in operation.   And, more than anything, UMPI’s students, new and returning, from around the state of Maine, as well as around the country and around the world, who give this institution its purpose and inspiration.

One of my favorite of all UMPI traditions is our participation in the Light Parade—even when it’s colder here than at the North Pole (!).  We’ve had creative and inspirational floats over the years, from elaborate winged owls, to Grinches and sleighs drawn by long-suffering Maxes, but one of my absolute favorites was last night’s (Dec. 7) with Hootie’s Music Box and a group of remarkable students and faculty and staff—and distinguished retired UMPI registrars!—even including youthful Owlettes on the float among all the lights and presents (Zooey and Naomi!).  My great thanks, once again, to the UMPI Art Club, Studio 923, members who provided the vision and dedication to make the Music Box a reality (and Al Levesque, without whose carpentry skills it wouldn’t be possible)!  The Softball, Baseball and Ski teams showed up en masse and synchronized-danced along the entire parade route to everything from the Macarena, to All I Want for Christmas Is You, YMCA, and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.  From Presque Isle to California, from Madawaska to Arizona and from Florida to Shawano, Wis., I can think of no more iconic representation of what all of you mean to UMPI and what UMPI means to our greater community.  You can find a video of the UMPI float and all of our students and participants being introduced on Main Street by Shawn Cunningham of WAGM on Facebook at the “UMPI Softball” page.  But here is a photograph, just prior to the start of the parade, of the team, including a towering Hootie!

Light Parade, 2019.

I hope this holiday season affords you some time to reflect upon and rejoice with your families, friends and your traditions, both new and old.   Thank you, everyone, for your commitment to the University of Maine at Presque Isle—for this truly is your university. I look forward to seeing you all again in the new year.

 

Rolling in the Dough: How UMPI Got the Largest Grant in School History

The university we all call home just got a little more help thanks to UMPI’s being selected to receive a grant worth almost $2.25 million.  The United States Department of Education made the announcement in early October that UMPI had been selected for a 2019 Title III Strengthening Institutions grant to be distributed over the next five years.

Serving as Title III Project Director, Dr. Deb Roark, UMPI executive director for university advancement and external affairs, was instrumental in UMPI’s attainment of the grant.  Dr. Roark mentioned the opportunities that the Department of Education selection brings to campus.  “We have an opportunity over these next five years to build and solidify UMPI’s reputation with respect to the student experience.”  More important to students, faculty and staff, Dr. Roark described the plan for the money’s use.  “These funds are dedicated to increasing access, improving the student experience and providing our students with the tools they need to successfully transition from the campus to their careers.”

In addition to career readiness programs, the grant allows UMPI to introduce two new bachelor’s degree programs in fields in which workers are in high-demand.  The two new majors–Computer Science and Health Administration–weave in smoothly with UMPI’s preexisting course offerings.  UMPI also is developing stronger career readiness programs and more opportunities for students to have on-site experience when they graduate.

President Ray Rice spoke to the significance of the new majors and readiness programs introduced in a campus press release: “The (new) programs here will help us to better meet the workforce needs of our region and state while providing our students with new avenues for prosperous careers…. (The new programs) will allow us to even better prepare out students for future careers.”

The grant allows UMPI to introduce another computer lab as well, as it will be needed for the new computer science major.  Renovations and updates in technology validate “U.S. News & World Report”’s 2020 Best Colleges list as a top 5 Most Innovative School for regional colleges in the North.  The chancellor of the University of Maine System, Dannel P. Malloy, spoke to the innovation offered at Maine’s universities.  “Student-focused innovation attracts investment and is one of the reasons why Maine’s public universities deliver unmatched quality and affordability.”

Receiving this grant brings only good for UMPI and its students.  Growth is what small universities such as UMPI need to survive.  Having a larger variety of majors and innovative technology will attract more students.  No matter what, $2.2 million is a lot of money that will all be used to help UMPI.

Cinemaniacs Premieres Its Newest Project, ‘Cancelled’

UMPI’s up-and-coming film club, the “Cinemaniacs,” is currently working on its second film, called “Cancelled.” Last year, the club created the short film “The Ninth Reward,” a psychological film that its members presented on University Day

“Young college student Erin is currently in the midst of having a reality TV show filmed about his life as a student. When the film crew and members of the cast are kidnapped and thrown into a room together, there seems to be no escape. With one of them dead, nobody can be trusted. It’s a matter of life and death, especially since one of them might be a killer,” Tiffany Smith, founder and president of the Cinemaniacs, explained.

The process of creating a film takes a long time. “By the time we finish filming this semester, we will probably have  spent about 60-70 hours filming. Next semester, it will take the same amount of time or more to edit and market the film.”

Even though the club is only in its second year, it is flourishing. There are 17 club members, six of whom are the cast and two are the crew.

Smith is what keeps this club going. “I’m the president and founder of the Cinemaniacs Filmmaking Club. I wrote the script over the summer for our most current short film in the works. In addition to writing the screenplay and managing the club, I’m also the main camera operator, producer, co-director and editor for the film.”

The goal for “Cancelled” is the same as it was for “The Ninth Reward”: to have it ready to be shown by University Day.

Even though it’s several months out, anticipation is already building.  Abi Davis, UMPI sophomore, is excited to support her peers.  “I look forward to seeing all their hard work in action,” she said.  “It sounds like a really entertaining mystery.”

Julio Garcia, Storm Eirman and Sarah Harris creating a scene in the short film “Cancelled”

VERY IMPORTANT FINANCIAL AID DUE DATES:

1.        As of Oct. 1st you can complete your 2020-2021 FAFSA for next academic year.  We encourage ALL of our UMPI students to go on-line and complete this process by January 1st if they want 1st priority of aid that will be available (www.fafsa.gov – and complete the 2020-2021 year).  Feel free to come into our office for assistance in completing this.  When you do come in, please bring your and your parents FSA ID and both taxes for 2018.

2.       The UMPI Foundation Scholarship Application is now available and due into our office by Wednesday, Feb. 5th **Late Applications Will Not Be Accepted**.  There are over 50+ scholarships to apply for – you can obtain an application in these places:  Student Financial Services Office, at the Library’s Front Desk, Student Support Services, at your Professional Advisors Office, or you can also find the application in PDF format and the listing of different scholarships to apply for here:  https://www.umpi.edu/offices/student-financial-services/financial-aid/scholarships/

Happy Holidays from Gentile Hall!!

The Holidays are approaching fast, and Gentile Hall has the perfect gift ideas for your family and friends.  You can purchase a Gentile Hall gift certificate or a fitness class punch card!

Perfect stocking stuffers for your loved ones!  Also don’t forget about our bookstore in the Campus Center.  It has some wonderful gift ideas for family and friends.  Another perfect stocking stuffer is a Starbucks gift card.  Starbucks is located in the Campus Center as well.

All fitness classes will be free for everyone Dec. 16-20 during finals week.  This is a good time to bring friends and let them try a new fitness class!!  Students, stop by and bring a group of friends to a fitness class and destress during finals week!!

Students who are interested in participating in intramurals, please check with Jonathon Bowman for details at jonathon.bowman@maine.edu.

Students, faculty and staff, don’t forget about all the rentals we have in Gentile Hall.  Once we get a lot of snow, it’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy winter activities.  We have snowshoes and cross country skis, boots and poles.  For any questions concerning our rentals, you can stop by our front desk or email Dick Gardner at richard.gardner@maine.edu  for more information.

If you enjoy downhill skiing, we have Big Rock Mountain in Mars Hill and Quoggy Jo out toward Fort Fairfield.  For those who love cross country skiing and snowshoeing, check out the Nordic Heritage Center and Aroostook State Park.  They both have wonderful trails to enjoy.  If skiing is not your thing, then check out the Forum in Presque Isle for ice skating.  Make sure you bring your student ID card for a discounted rate.  They have skate rentals available if you do not have skates.

Make sure everyone checks out our website at umpi.edu/gentile-hall for any changes in our facility hours during the holidays.

Gingerbread Cookie Protein Shake:

½ scoop vanilla protein powder

½ scoop chocolate protein powder

½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

½ cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp cloves

1 tbsp molasses

Place all ingredients in a blender and then serve.

Easy Gift Idea: Homemade Cookies in a Jar

When giving gifts, it can be hard to determine what people may want. Something you always wonder about may be whether or not said people will actually use whatever you got them. This year, though, consider this: Homemade Cookies in a Jar!

Here’s what you will need before you start:

  • 1-Quart Mason Jar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups (9 ounces) chocolate chips (whatever kind you prefer)
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Here’s how to layer the jar:

In a small bowl, combine your flour, baking soda and salt. Place the flour mixture in the 1-quart jar. Layer the remaining ingredients in order as listed above. Be sure to firmly press down after each layer in order to secure the ingredients and preserve the appearance of each layer. Seal the lid and decorate jar with fabric and/or ribbon when finished.

Recipe to attach to jar:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Beat ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) softened butter or margarine, 1 large egg and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract in larger mixer bowl until blended. Add Mason Jar cookie mix; mix well, breaking up any clumps. Drop by rounded clumps onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Finished product, cookie mix in a jar.

 

UMPI Ranks Up New Awards

 

UMPI proudly displays the ranking badge for most innovative by U.S World News on their website.

UMPI has been making great leaps in innovation in the last few years. They were recently named one of the top 5 Most Innovative Schools for Regional Colleges in the North. In addition to this, they received four other top rankings as a part of the U.S News and World Report 2020 Best Colleges list.

Deborah Roark, Executive Director of University Advancement and External Affairs is proud of the direction UMPI has gone. “It’s really about judging the quality of each of the schools and it’s based on many different factors to determine the rankings,” Roark said. “The retention rates and your graduation rates and all of those kinds of things that look at the college itself.”

As a smaller institution, officials have had to be creative and work hard to get UMPI to the place it is today. Of course, being a small school doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve great things.

“I think that a small school in a setting like Presque Isle, you always have more opportunities than big schools,” said senior Evan Zarkadas. “The reasoning behind that is that there are still the same needs as in a big school but with less students. So when a student is really proactive and wants to do things, he can do them because there is the opportunities available. But on the other side, UMPI is providing the help needed for a student to succeed and pushing towards their success.”

UMPI was also named the 30 Best Regional Colleges in the North, the top 20 Public Schools in the North, and the top 15 Regional Colleges in the North for Graduates with the least debt.

“We’ve really been focusing on the Free-For-Four program with the For Maine Families program that will help our students cover those gaps,” Roark said. The Free-For-Four covers that gap between tuition and fees and what they’re receiving in their pell grants from the U.S government.

In another new ranking, UMPI also was listed as one of the top 25 Regional Colleges in the North for Social Mobility. UMPI ranked fourth on the U.S Innovative Schools list. This is determined by peer evaluation of presidents, provosts, and admissions deans to nominate up to 15 colleges for this ranking.

“I really think it’s a bright example of what our president, administration, faculty, and students have been doing in the past four years,” Zarkadas said.  “There has been a tremendous change at UMPI these last four years with our school taking a step forward in the right direction of higher education.”

UMPI continues to be more progressive by opening doors to new majors, new facilities, and developing the school towards innovation.

Top 10 Must-See Holiday Movies

Must see holiday movies.
  1. The Polar Express (2004).

     This film is based on the popular and beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. “The Polar Express” follows the adventure of a young boy who has a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Great for any age, snuggle up with some hot cocoa and enjoy the magical soundtrack. This movie will make you believe in the magic of the holiday season again.

  1. The Santa Clause (1994).

     After accidently killing a man dressed as Santa on his roof, divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) is transported to the North Pole. Upon arrival, an elf explains that he must fill the role as Santa before the next Christmas arrives. This comical movie will have you laughing at the lengths Scott will go in order to save Christmas. Again, be sure to have the hot cocoa on hand. This movie will have you craving the yummy creaminess of rich hot chocolate.

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

     “It’s a Wonderful Life” follows the story of George Bailey, a small-town man with big dreams to see the world. Before getting the chance to live out his dreams, George faces some hard times that leave him wanting to end it all. Through meeting someone unlikely, George is able to find and remember the importance of his role in his small-town life.

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).

     What started as a simple cartoon story has been marvelously transformed into a live action Christmas classic. Following the original story-line, the Grinch (Jim Carrey) reluctantly befriends Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen). Little Cindy Lou Who then helps the cranky Grinch find his heart amidst preparation for Christmas in Whoville.

  1. Christmas with the Kranks (2004).

     Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) opt to celebrate their first Christmas without kids on a Caribbean cruise. Their Christmas-obsessed friends and neighbors disagree with their plan. The Krank’s plan slowly comes unraveled as their preparations for their trip are interrupted by their lack of Christmas spirit.

  1. Elf (2003).

     Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) was accidentally raised thinking he was an elf at the North Pole. After spending nearly three decades building toys in Santa’s workshop, Buddy finds out the truth about his origins. Venturing to New York City, he takes on the task of finding his dad. This heartwarming comedy will have you belly laughing at all the adult humor.

  1. A Christmas Story (1983).

     This comedy will leave you telling everyone you know, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” The plot follows young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) and one specific Christmas where all he wanted was a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Watch along as Ralphie pleads his case as to why he absolutely needs this present for Christmas.

  1. Home Alone (1990).

     Accidentally left behind from a family trip to Paris, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) finds himself defending his home from two con men. What started as a bratty childish wish to not have a family turns into a comical defense mission.

  1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964).

     Almost everyone knows this classic heartwarming story. Rudolph, born with a glowing red nose, is seen as an outcast among the other reindeer on Santa’s sleigh team. Realizing his dreams of pulling Santa’s sleigh may be too farfetched, Rudolph nearly gives up. It is not until his friends get in trouble that he realizes his glowing nose is a gift. This movie will leave you humming “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” days after watching it.

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989).

     When Clark Griswold’s (Chevy Chase) hick cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) shows up unanounced for the holidays, nothing goes as planned. What Clark had hoped would be the perfect Christmas is quickly derailed. This dysfunctional family’s attempt at Christmas will have viewers laughing until the end.

Christmas Crack

The Perfect. Gift– Yummy Christmas Crack.

With the holidays on their way, surprise your loved ones with a sweet dish. This year for the holidays, enjoy the easy-to-make recipe for Christmas Crack. All that is needed are saltines, 1 cup of brown sugar, two sticks of unsalted butter, 1 package of chocolate chips and bakers choice of any fun toppings.

First preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Evenly spread out the saltines on a lined pan making sure to cover as much of the pan as possible.

Next heat the brown sugar and butter in a medium-sized bowl over a pot of boiling water. Make sure to stir often until the substance turns into a sweet, caramel liquid.

Pour the caramel onto the saltines in a nice, even spread. Then bake for only 6 minutes. After the 6 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and place chocolate chips over the dish and let the chocolate melt.

Any other toppings can be added during this time to create a more fun and unique dish. After this step, place the pan in the fridge for about an hour. The dish can then be cracked apart and enjoyed by the whole family!