Recognizing the Excellence that is UMPI

As we wrap up another academic year at UMPI, I am struck once again by what a great community this is!  Folks are mostly kind and helpful and hardworking–and their efforts often go unsung.  This semester, however, the excellent work of several individuals and the entire campus has been recognized by groups external to our campus.

Just Wednesday I had the pleasure of representing UMPI at the Maine Campus Compact Awards Ceremony. Maine Campus Compact is a coalition of 18 Maine campuses that are committed to leading a movement to revitalize the public service mission of higher education and to create a more just, flourishing democracy.  This year, UMPI won two awards.

First, the Business Program received that President’s Campus Leadership Award.  This award goes to a student organization or campus department that integrates the use of service into the college experience, creates innovative approaches to addressing community issues and affects both the campus and the surrounding community.  Faculty members Carolyn Dorsey, Stacy Emery, Kim Jones, Amanda Baker and Ann Osgood as well as a dedicated group of adjuncts are all committed to serving others through their academic expertise.  They have organized students to help with the SAFE Homes Aroostook fundraising walk and the Titan Challenge, to offer tax preparation assistance to the elderly and to plan and carry out the Biathlon World Cup.

Second, Dr. Lisa Leduc received the Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence.  Only three faculty members from across the state of Maine receive this award each year for making public service an integral part of their teaching.  Many on the UMPI campus and in the local community are familiar with Dr. Leduc’s contributions in this area, but if you aren’t, here are just a few of the organizations with which she and her students have worked: the Women’s Center at the Maine Correctional Center, the Hope & Justice Project, the Department of Corrections, the District Attorney’s office and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Earlier this semester, a member of our science faculty received a major award to advance his research.  Dr. Kevin McCartney, a specialist in micropaleontology, received a Fulbright Award.   The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.   Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership in their fields. The award earned by Dr. McCartney will enable him to travel to the University of Szczecin in Poland to collaborate with other experts in this field.  His research trip will extend over eight months, from September 2016 through early May 2017.   He will return to UMPI before commencement in May 2017, continuing his unbroken streak of attending each commencement since he began working at UMPI!

Finally, the entire campus was recognized in March by the New England Board of Higher Education with the Maine State Merit Award.  This award was given to UMPI in recognition of our new personalized approach to education.  UMPI leads the nation in implementing a student-centered, competency-based approach to education on a traditional college campus with mostly students who have come to UMPI directly from high school.  UMPI faculty and staff have

worked incredibly hard over the last three years to plan and implement this new approach, and this recognition of that work was well-deserved indeed.

As you head out for a summer of relaxation or work or both, take a moment to reflect on the fact that our campus is doing great work, and that great work is being recognized far beyond the boundaries of Aroostook County.  When I first became president of UMPI, folks used to tell me that we were the “best kept secret” in Maine.  Well, we aren’t a secret anymore, and I’m so glad that the excellent work being done here is being appropriately recognized and rewarded.