The University of Maine at Presque Isle had quite an extraordinary year in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the institution to close its doors and send its students home for the first time since World War II in 1943. Though this made the delivery of learning differ from regular practice, the UMPI community worked through the transition.
The fall of 2020 brought with it more than online classes, though, as three of the community’s beloved members died. The following articles are in remembrance of the late John Haley, adjunct professor and Director of University Experience; Patrick Baker, Head Athletic Trainer; and Allen Salo, Associate Professor of Psychology.
Allen Salo began working at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1997 as an untenured junior faculty member. But in time, Allen became the senior faculty member in psychology who oversaw the development of the department’s curriculum. This included adding concentrations within the psychology department as well as developing the research-based aspects of the program and a clinical side. Allen felt it was important for students to have both.
“He was critical for really growing the clinical side of the program,” President Ray Rice, Allen’s longtime friend and colleague, said. “And bringing people like Frank Thompson, who teaches a bunch of the clinical courses. He really developed that as well as developing the research side of psychology and really making it an independent program. Because when he got here, it was a part of behavioral sciences, it wasn’t its own degree. So, he really helped make it its own degree.”
Allen and Ray both started at UMPI the same year. “We came with what was the biggest group of faculty they had ever hired at once in years,” Ray said. “And this was 23 years ago. He and I started the exact same summer and had the exact same meetings and all that stuff, along with Michael Knopp. The three of us were the ones who stayed all this time. It was Allen, Mike and me. So, we got to know each other from that point in time because we did a lot of stuff together right off the bat.”
Ray remembers some of the earliest memories with Allen were at house of President Easton, UMPI’s former president. “He had a dinner, or I think it might have been an after dinner hors d’oeuvres thing for the new faculty members,” he said. “And I remember he (President Easton) was welcoming us to UMPI and we were getting to know each other. He and I both got involved with the union, so we went to a lot of meetings and statewide meetings. That’s how we really got to know each other.”
From there, Allen and Ray created a friendship that included some roof shingling on the weekends and dinners at Applebee’s when the colleagues traveled downstate for meetings. Further, senior faculty members invited the two to “choir practice.” Choir practice, as Ray explained, was code for dinner and drinks. The two found the cryptic code for socializing hilarious.
Outside of the psychology department, Allen was a part of several groups at UMPI. “He was willing to be on committees,” Jean Cashman, UMPI’s Associate Professor of Social Work, said. “And he was active in the faculty union, which is called AFUM. He was part of the faculty assembly leadership at different times in his career, and was on other committees, too. So, he was willing to step up and be part of the work that needed to be done on campus.”
Among some of the work Allen completed during his time at UMPI, Jean believes that obtaining a specific certification for the psychology program tops them all. “That’s the MHRT, because it’s not required for psychology,” she said. “And trying to get your program approved through the Muskie Institute.” The MHRT, which stands for Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician, is a certification required in the state of Maine (and many other states) for psychology students seeking work. “It’s beneficial for the students, but I mean you can still graduate with a psychology degree and not have the requirements for that,” Jean said. “I think accomplishing that for our campus, the students, was above and beyond.”
UMPI will continue to remember and miss Allen’s kindness and friendly smile. “Allen was always kind,” Jean said. “He didn’t have a negative word to say about anybody.”
Ray believes his favorite memory of Allen is looking back at his late friend’s wedding photos. “I wasn’t at his wedding because I was out of town,” he said. “But seeing the photos and how happy he was from his wedding: that’s quintessential Allen. And the big smile on his face. He always had one of the best smiles. And the moustache, he always had—he never shaved the moustache. It was pretty hilarious.”
Ray went on to say that he was most happy for Allen’s happiness in his marriage. That happiness permeated every aspect of Allen’s life, as he carried that joy with him throughout his remaining time at UMPI.
Patrick Baker first came to the University of Maine at Presque Isle as a nontraditional student studying health and wellness with the goal of getting a degree in Athletic Training. Barbara Blackstone, dean, College of Professional Programs, remembers what it was like to have Pat in class. “It was fun to have a student who had some knowledge already in the field of fitness and health. Just his natural way of helping people,” she said. “He instantly turned into a mentor to younger students, to his own classmates. He just had a way about him from the very beginning that put people at ease and helped people feel comfortable.” In 2008, Pat graduated from UMPI with a degree in athletic training.
By 2011, Pat had returned to UMPI to fill the position of Assistant Athletic Trainer. He quickly moved up to Head Athletic Trainer when the previous head left. “We instantly moved him up because he was ready to do that position,” Barb said. “He was very skilled at being an athletic trainer and learned the ins and outs of all the administrative roles you have when you’re the head athletic trainer.”
It was during his time serving in this position that he met his dear friend Dan Kane, UMPI’s Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation as well as men’s basketball coach. Dan was visiting UMPI for an interview in April of 2017. “During my on-campus visit, I met one-on-one with Pat,” Dan said. “With just 15 minutes of talking to him, we hit it off right away. What stuck out to me was his knowledge of athletic training and his passion for helping the student athletes and teams achieve success.”
It wasn’t long after his start at UMPI that Dan started to see how devoted to his athletes Pat was. “Athletic training is a tough job with long hours. You have to work long weekends and some holidays,” he said. “And depending on the time of year it can be a seven-day-a-week job. Pat was there every time for every practice ready to go. In my 14 years of being involved in college athletics, Pat has been the best athletic trainer I have been around. His ability to connect with student athletes was one of the many things that made him perfect for his profession.”
Barb shared similar thoughts. “He was always very concerned about the students’ success,” she said. “And in the athletic training program, often times the most important person in the program is the head athletic trainer, because that’s the mentor of your students. That’s the person that’s going to engage them in the day-to-day duties of an athletic trainer, how to learn things and how to do things. So, he was there as a mentor, but he also taught.”
Outside of UMPI, Pat was both a friend to many and father to his beloved Zoey. “His little girl was the light of his life,” Barb said. “They had a very special relationship.” It wasn’t unusual to see Zoey bopping around the AT room, which some student athletes called “Pat’s Spa,” while her Dad worked away.
“It was so fun to see her come in to visit,” Barb said. Pat would occasionally bring her to sporting events, too, introducing his daughter proudly to everyone he knew or was just meeting.
His athletes adored Zoey and could tell how delighted he was to be her father. “He loved her very much and would do anything for her,” Dan said. “He set a great example for our student athletes and others on how to be a great parent.”
Pat will be remembered by his laidback, humorous and caring nature. He will especially be remembered for his kind heart. “Pat was one of the kindest individuals you will come across,” Dan said. “He was willing to do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat and he was always there to pick you up in your darkest hour, often with a perfectly timed joke or movie quote.”
Pat will also be remembered as a legend. “In our last practice together, Pat hit a half-court shot at the end of practice,” Dan said. “It was the first time in four years that Pat had made it and his reaction was priceless, as he lifted his arms and gave a yell in triumph.”
Pat’s department at UMPI hopes to have a plaque placed outside of the AT room in remembrance of his vibrant soul.
John Haley was an Aroostook County native. John received his bachelor’s degree from the Aroostook State Teachers College, which was one of the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s former institutional names prior to joining the University of Maine system. He went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Maine at Orono. John came back to family farm and worked in agriculture for decades. But his true passion was teaching.
John was a mentor and adjunct instructor at UMPI for 15 years. He taught English and first year seminar/university experience classes, where he influenced and inspired others. “He was the kind of professor who helped us outside of the classroom. He could tell if his students were having a bad day, and he would be the first to try and make everyone else feel better,” UMPI senior Marissa Valdivia Reagle said. “As my English professor, he helped us relate our schoolwork to our personal lives. He always made an effort to talk to us about our lives and how we were doing.”
Dr. Lowman, aka Dr. J, was one of John’s colleagues. “He had this great effect on many people,” she said. “Many people shared stories about how if you were talking to John in the hall, you knew that you’d have this very interrupted conversation because students would come along, and John would have to stop and give them a hug.”
Throughout his time at UMPI, he made a lasting impression by his kindness. Whether it was a quick Hello passing by in the hallway or checking in with his colleagues and students, John was a kind man. “Personally, John was always kind to me,” Dr. J said. “He was always helpful.”
Dr. J shared a story of a time John stopped by her office in Spring of 2020 searching for a tissue. “He was teaching in Folsom/Pullen and he stopped at my door and wanted to know if I had any tissues,” she said. “I said that I was down to literally my last tissue. I had one left in this box and I said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ve only got one. I can split it with you’…. But I was happy to share.” Instead of taking her last tissue, John politely declined. Later that day, he returned with a surprise. “He had one of those like, your grandfather’s box of tissues,” she said. “Like, this great big box of 300 tissues and then all these little portable packs so that I could take them in with me to class. I don’t remember how many of these that he got, but he got many of these and this giant box of tissues.”
John, known to his students as Professor Haley, was the type of professor first year students felt lucky to have. Students’ first composition class can feel quite daunting, but John made students feel at ease with his stories and jokes. In class, he would encourage students to voice their opinions, fears and/or anything they felt they wanted to share. Nothing was ever wrong, though. He genuinely just wanted to know what his students had to say. “If I had to describe him in one word, it would be caring,” UMPI senior Roni Shaw said. “He was the type of professor to always keep class light and fun. Everyone was just happy with him around. He was a great man.” Dr. J added, “He didn’t go out and conquer the world. But he was so kind. He really cared about people.”
The temperature is dropping in Maine, and many people are wondering how they are going to heat their homes this winter. The United Way of Androscoggin and Oxford Counties is on a mission to support the local community and increase the organized capacity of people who care for one another. Supporting 2-1-1, Maine’s free, confidential resource for information on assistance programs is one of the many ways The United Way has had an impact this year. With COVID-19, people who have never had to ask for help before, are asking now. The United Way of Androscoggin county supports people in 12 towns, and last year about 1 in 3 people received support. Many people do not realize just how big that impact is. From assisting with childcare and education, to Meals on Wheels and Touch-A-Truck, nearly everyone has a friend or family member receiving help. That number is on the rise this year, with kids out of school, grocery budgets are increasing while unemployment is at an all-time high. The campaign season is usually kicked off by the Day of Caring, which could not be done this year due to COVID restrictions. Julie Mailhot-Herrick worked as a Loaned Executive this year for the United Way of Androscoggin County, she says “I am grateful for the opportunity to work for the United Way through L.L. Bean this year. It’s been more challenging this year than in the past, we haven’t been able to get into businesses face to face to connect with potential donors.” Every year, The United Way receives two Loaned Executives, one from L.L. Bean and one from TD Bank to assist with fundraising for the local area. While they remain employees of L.L. Bean and TD Bank, they can step away from their usual responsibilities and work in the community. Joleen Bedard, Executive Director of the Androscoggin chapter spent some time reflecting on this year verses years past, “This year has been hard, and it’s had a negative effect on fundraising efforts. On the flip side, those that have been able to continue working and received the $1200.00 stimulus package have been thoughtful and generous, many have increased their gift this year.”
To date, the United Way is at 40% of their $1.4 million goal. Please remember that the need is great, and the cost is low.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, everyone is out looking for socially distant, safe activities. The community-based Let’s Go! Program, which focuses on children building healthy habits, suggests one hour of activity per day. This has been more difficult over the last few months. Parents are uneasy bringing their children to playgrounds, and many are home from school. Many children have increased screen time, due to learning and working from home schedules. For many, now is the time to focus on finding physical activities that families can do together.
Getting out of the house and onto the disc golf course has been a moment of relief for many families. Sarah Pettengill, owner of Pin High Disc Golf on Route 202 in Monmouth, said, business has been up in recent months. This is despite restrictions by Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, that have been updated regularly since April. Pin High was closed for about 20 days back in April, but has been able to remain open with minimal accommodations since.
The outdoor sport is helping Mainers stay active. Casual games range from the solo player to a group of as many as 15 and tournaments with up to 50 players.
Mental health is a growing concern, more than ever with the winter months upon us. Sarah spoke to how the game has touched many customers positively. “I think it’s really great for people to get out there and get active. The average game is one to one-and-a-half hours of not having to think about everything else that’s going on in the world.”
Jon Smith, an oil truck driver from Massachusetts, is a regular disc golf player. Thinking back on the last few months, Jon has been in his truck for six days a week getting oil to those who need it. He uses his weekly day off as a time to reflect and get out on the course. “It’s hard being in my truck for long days and then having to be quarantined inside when I’m not working. Getting outside with some friends on the course helps me get fresh air and safe, socially distanced human interaction.”
Disc golfing is one of the many outdoor activities that families have been enjoying recently. Whether you are an experienced player or are thinking about playing for the first time, take the time to get outside and play.
I hope you’re all home safe by now and getting settled in well. I know for many, transitioning back to remote learning from home might not be ideal. Finals are seemingly right around the corner, however, and I’m here to tell you that we’ve got this.
This year has certainly been full of ups and downs, perhaps more downs than ups. Through it all, there is hope that next year might be better and I for one hope this the most. New Year’s cannot come soon enough.
The holidays might look and feel different this year, but regardless of how hard it gets, just know that tomorrow is a new day. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Maybe FaceTime dinners sound silly, but it sure beats getting sick.
No matter the situation, just know that better days will come. I wish you all happy holidays and a safe and prosperous new year.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle will return to fully online on Nov. 23, which means students will need to adapt to a new change in their education. With some UMPI classes already online or hybrid, students will have a head start on transitioning to fully online. Although online learning through Zoom is very flexible and easy-to-use, many students feel they learn best in an environment of in-person classes.
The switch to fully online classes this semester plays a huge role in students’ social lives and their mental health. Students will be taking their classes from home and in their bedrooms, which is a much different experience from in a classroom. There are many tips and tricks students can follow to stay focused during these last weeks of the fall semester.
Students have been using Zoom for many months now, so they should be getting used to the application. Zoom is very accessible and easy-to-use, so students are now more confident using it. Students should know how to work their camera and mute button. It is always important to arrive on Zoom a couple of minutes before class time. When their camera is on, students should have good lighting and pay attention to their body positioning. It can be difficult to speak on Zoom, so patience is key during participation and conversations with one another.
Another tip for students as they switch to online learning is to keep a schedule and stay organized. It is very easy to lose track of time when working on a computer, so making a schedule or to-do list could be helpful. Many students use academic planners to map out their days. Something as simple as Post-it® notes or a sheet of paper can do the job. It is also important to take breaks from your computer screen. Looking at a digital computer screen can be mentally exhausting and physically painful on your eyes. Walking away from your screen is beneficial when you spend long hours on your computer. Take breaks from your computer screen to grab a snack or take a walk during the day.
“I like to make lists of everything I have due each week. I think the most important thing with online school is setting aside time to complete schoolwork,” UMPI sophomore, Emily Blauvet, said. “It’s important to have good communication with your professors and stay on top of your work. I just hope for the best!”
Having a comfortable and pleasant environment is crucial to college students’ educational experience. It is important to find a comfortable workspace to take classes and complete homework in. Students need to be able to feel comfortable and relaxed in their space, whether that is a bedroom or office. Having a cozy chair and a proper desk is something all students should have.
When students take classes on Zoom, it can be very easy to become distracted by their surroundings. They are no longer in a learning environment inside a classroom. They are no longer face-to-face with their classmates, so it is easy to get distracted from their classes on Zoom. Students can take away distractions around them by turning off their phones or other electronic devices. Sometimes when classes have more students, it can be easier to lose focus.
Students also should take care of their bodies and minds during these last weeks of classes. Having good physical and mental health will benefit students and their academics. Students should be getting enough sleep, even if that means taking naps during the day. They should be drinking plenty of water, not just coffee in the morning. Students can also incorporate exercise and a healthy diet into their routine. Taking these steps will allow them to have positive mental and physical health during the rest of the fall semester.
“It’s going to be hard going fully online, but I plan on my making a schedule every day to keep me organized. If I stick to my schedule, it is easier for me to adapt to change,” UMPI senior, Marissa Valdivia Reagle, said. “Last semester when we went online, I had to move a desk into my room. I wanted it to be more of a school environment in my room.”
All of these steps will benefit students in one way of another. Taking classes and completing an education at home is a unique experience. It is definitely not easy. Even real-world professionals are struggling with working remotely and at home. As students travel back home for the holidays, please remember to make your health a number one priority. Having good grades is not as important as taking care of yourself. Finish the semester and year off strongly because we all need a good break for the holidays.
Growing up, my household highly anticipated Christmas morning. My brother, sister and I would wake one another up at 5 a.m., because the anticipation to see what Santa had brought us made it impossible to sleep. Creeping down the stairs Christmas morning, our Nana would always greet us. Coffee in hand, she would lead us to the kitchen for freshly baked Monkey Bread, a tradition the four of us shared. Personally, I think the monkey bread was a distraction she created to give our parents an extra 20 minutes of sleep.
Regardless of how the tradition started, Monkey Bread became a staple of the Davis’ family Christmas. For those of you who don’t know what Monkey Bread is, it’s a doughy, buttery, cinnamon treat. But don’t just take my word for it: try the recipe out for yourself!
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) of Pillsbury Grands™ biscuits
1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup of butter or margarine, melted
Optional: ½ cup of chopped walnuts and/or ½ cup of raisins
1 Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In a large gallon plastic food storage bag, mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
2 Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each biscuit into quarters. Place pieces into bag of sugar and cinnamon, coating the dough in mixture. Arrange the pieces of dough in pan. If desired, add in walnuts or raisins. Sprinkle any remaining sugar over the dough in the pan.
3 In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
4 Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Loosen edges of the pan with spatula. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.
5 Eat the Monkey Bread out of the pan, or turn upside down onto serving plate. Pull apart and enjoy!
This year has been difficult for everyone, including Christmastime’s very own, Santa Claus. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected hundreds of areas worldwide and even places such as the North Pole. Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves at the North Pole have had to adapt to COVID-19 regulations. With Santa’s older age and weight, he is at high risk for Coronavirus, so he has to be extra safe. Yet even in the face of a global pandemic, Santa is still preparing to deliver millions of presents on Christmas Eve so that children around the world can have a good holiday.
People may have seen their local “Santa Claus” in shopping malls or Christmas tree farms around the country. The real Father Christmas has been preparing for months on end at the North Pole with his elves. When COVID-19 took over the world earlier this year, the North Pole was no exception. The elves in the North Pole do not travel much and Santa only journeys outside the area if he has an important meeting. Although there haven’t been any positive COVID-19 cases at the Pole, Santa has all the residents taking precautions as they make toys for Christmastime.
Santa’s Workshop and everyone at the North Pole have been following CDC guidelines. Santa’s elves have been socially distancing and staying six feet apart in the workshop. Due to this regulation, a large number of elves cannot work in the same space, because of the problems with social distancing. The elves can no longer build toys in large groups at the workshop, so they have been working longer hours. These elves are continuing to stay positive, despite the change in their working environment. Their main goal is to make children happy on Christmas Day.
“It has been a very different year at the North Pole. We still drink plenty of hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols, but it hasn’t been the same. Santa has done a great job cheering us up,” Buddy, a North Pole elf, said. “We have been working longer hours, but we do not mind because our ultimate goal is for every child to have a wonderful Christmas. We want to do everything we can to cheer them up from this terrible year.”
Everyone in the North Pole has been wearing masks: Christmas themed ones, of course. Every elf working on toys has been using hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Although elves have had to follow all of these regulations, they are still very energetic and excited for Christmas, as usual.
Santa recognizes that families around the world, especially in the U.S., may be struggling financially. He wants to do as much as he can for these families. Santa plans on delivering to all children across the world who are deserving. Many individuals died from the virus this year. People also lost their jobs throughout this year, so they were unable to provide for their children. With COVID-19 playing a huge role in the economy and health of the United States’ population, Santa and Mrs. Claus want to make this Christmas a special one for families in need.
“When this virus hit, we didn’t know what to do. We could see that the elves were losing some of their Christmas spirit and that the reindeer were upset,” Mrs. Claus said. “Nick has been working endlessly to make everyone feel safe and I couldn’t be prouder of how he has dealt with everything.”
Christmas is a year-round event at the North Pole and when COVID-19 surprised the world, Santa acted quickly. The North Pole was able to continue its progress in the workshop, while following CDC regulations. There haven’t been any parties or gatherings this year at the North Pole, but the elves have continued to show Christmas spirit. Santa will be delivering gifts on Christmas Eve, like any other year. His sleigh will be sanitized and ready to go for his long journey delivering gifts. Despite this eventful year, Santa is doing everything he can to make this holiday season a memorable one for millions of families in the world.