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.

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!

 

Preventing Winter Emergencies

Nobody is prepared for an emergency.  A person can, however, take preventative measures to minimize the dangers.  In an Aroostook winter, even a simple skid can turn into an emergency situation in an instant.  Heavy amounts of snow combined with temperatures well below freezing can trap unprepared motorists.  This article will inform people of five items to keep in their cars in the winter, and how each of the items could save their lives.  Though these steps can prepare motorists in the event of an emergency, telling someone else where you’re heading before you leave is the most effective.

The first item that should be in every Aroostook County vehicle is a blanket.  Whether the blanket is shoved in the trunk or folded in the back seat, a blanket ensures there will always be heat, and they use up little space.  When a motorist calls for a tow in the winter, it takes a lot longer for the tow truck to arrive, and when it does, the tow truck driver’s priority is the vehicle.  Waiting with the vehicle is always the smartest course of action, and without a blanket it could be a very long and very cold wait.  Waiting inside a vehicle trapped in the snow as it idles can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  The passenger compartment will fill with carbon monoxide if the exhaust of the vehicle is plugged with snow.  For this reason, running the vehicle for heat may not be an option.  It’s best to have a blanket.

The next item is actually a few items: a warm hat, pair of gloves, and insulated and waterproof footwear.  Vehicles leave the roadway in winter, largely due to ice and limited visibility.  A short walk from where a car stopped back to the roadway is almost inevitable.  Without the proper clothing, people could find themselves treading through mid-January, waist-deep snow wearing gym-shorts or a crop top.  It takes seconds for snow to soak a pair of sneakers, and a North Face coat only can keep you so warm in -10*F wind chills.

See the pattern here?  Keeping warm is going to be the toughest challenge and risking carbon monoxide poisoning is too risky.  The third item all motorists should have in their winter kit is hand or foot warmers.  They are inexpensive and provide heat for hours.  Hopefully the tow truck arrives before then.  Hand or foot warmers are a cheap insurance policy that can protect a person from frostbite.  All they require is a simple snap with the hands and instantly the warmer makes heat.

All previously mentioned items are in the car.  The idea is that the vehicle went off the road and all occupants are safe and warm while waiting for help.  The next item that should be in all winter vehicles is an external battery for a cell phone.  External chargers are less than $20 and can charge a phone to full rather quickly.  Without a charged cell phone, calling for help is that much harder: some models of external chargers include a flashlight, too.  This would be a necessity at night.  Of course, most smartphones are equipped with a flashlight, so motorists making sure that puppy is charged should be a first priority.  Without a cell phone, there is no way stranded people can let friends or family know that help is needed.  Motorists could find themselves at the disposal of other people driving by.  This opens a whole new set of dangers.  It’s in the best interest of all motorists to charge their phones before they leave the house.  And don’t forget to keep the charged backup charger in the vehicle for emergency use.

The fifth and final item that every car in Aroostook County should contain is a set of booster cables.  Electricity and cold don’t mix well.  Even good cars will not start in the cold and having a set of booster cables, and a generous friend, can save a person a couple of tow-truck calls a season.  There are even mobile battery boosters that motorists can keep in their vehicles to independently boost their vehicles.

Whether people have 20 years of winter driving experience in Aroostook County or two months, they are almost equally likely to have an incident.  Ice knows no master and the best preventative measure you can take is using appropriate precautions before hitting the roadways.  Cars without snow tires are useless on Aroostook roads this time of year: staying in or finding a different way to travel is recommended.  If travel is unavoidable, travelers always should tell a trusted person of their destination.  Taking these precautions will help any motorist stay safe in an emergency situation.

Say Watt? UMPI Maine Policy Scholar Presents on Power Transmission in Maine

You probably don’t think a lot about how your electricity comes to you. Usually you just flick a switch or press a button. We know that the power travels to our homes from power lines, but how does the power reach the power lines on the roads? The answer is transmission lines.

UMPI senior Evan Zarkadas was the Maine Policy Scholar for the campus this past year. He applied for the scholarship last October and was delighted to be announced as the UMPI scholar.

“I felt proud and honored,” Zarkadas said. “It was a great opportunity for me to advance my research and advocate for an issue that I thought the legislature should focus more on.”

The Maine Policy Scholarship is a year-long program where students work closely with a faculty advisor to explore an issue of policy in Maine. The student provides a final report in a memo to the governor or legislature and presents to a panel at the University of Maine. One student from each of the seven University of Maine System campuses is selected for this scholarship.

Zarkadas was assigned Dr. Larry Feinstein, assistant professor of biology at UMPI, as a mentor. “I serve on the Maine Policy Scholar committee,” Feinstein said. “When Evan was selected, the committee chose the faculty member who was most closely aligned with the student’s topic of interest to be their mentor.”

When he started, Zarkadas spent some time deciding what topic he wanted to cover. Although he was a history major, he wanted to explore beyond his expertise and finally decided to study the weak transmission lines in Maine. In his presentation on Friday, Nov. 8, at the University of Maine, he discussed how renewable energy in Maine would be problematic until the transmission lines were either replaced or improved with newer technology.

“At the beginning, I didn’t know I was going to research transmission lines. My initial topic was energy development in the state. After some initial thought and after some comments by the policy fellows, I decided to focus on a more specific topic. As I was researching, I found a lot of complaints about transmission, so I decided to do my topic on that,” Zarkadas said.

“The primary challenge was how to navigate through such a vast array of information and hone in on a specific topic,” Feinstein said. “Evan’s boundless enthusiasm had him reaching out in multiple directions. Each direction he investigated was accompanied by thorough research, so there was a lot of work there and much of it was so that we could understand which directions not to head in. Ultimately, he honed in on a singular pertinent topic.”

Zarkadas was very passionate about his project and took the challenge in great strides. “Because of the extensive research in the topic and trying to learn all the details of it, I felt like an electrical engineering student,” Zarkadas said.

Zarkadas not only learned a great deal about renewable energy and power transmission, but also found it was an excellent opportunity for experience in research and to make new connections. He hopes to continue some of the research in the future.

Evan Zarkadas presenting at the University of Maine for the Maine Policy Scholarship program.

Shopping for Christmas Gifts Without Breaking Your Budget

 

Shopping for Christmas gifts does not have to break your budget this year.

One of the greatest gifts of Christmas is giving to those you love. Everyone would like to buy the most expensive gifts for their family and friends, but it can be too expensive for the average person. There are alternatives for gift giving during the holidays, without breaking your budget. A good gift does not always have to be about the number on the price tag. There is a good chance that your friend will enjoy a gift with more sentimental value than an expensive gift. Gift giving does not always have to be stressful. There are many methods and strategies that you can follow this holiday season. If you follow these next steps and ideas, you could end up saving money and possibly have fun while doing it.

There are some simple methods that can be helpful to shoppers before they even hit the stores. Budgeting, shopping early and combining your shopping can be beneficial. Before you shop, budget your money and set a plan for your purchases so that you know exactly what you will be spending. Go Christmas shopping before everyone else. Get your shopping done early so that you can sit back and relax during December. Instead of shopping at multiple places, make all your purchases in one place so that you can save the money toward store taxes and car gas.

“If I am on a budget when I am Christmas shopping, I like to make as many gifts as I can because I feel like it is more meaningful when you put your time into the gift,” UMPI freshman Emily Blauvet said. “I love shopping for my friends and family. That is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love watching my loved ones open gifts that I get them. I think Christmas is being with your family and friends and celebrating being together because people often overlook what and who they have in their life.”

Electronics and clothes can be great gifts, but inexpensive items can also show someone how much you care. Handwritten notes or customizable items can be great gifts. Shopping at discount stores such as Marden’s or the Dollar Tree can help. Saving money could also mean buying more gifts for the people who otherwise would not make the list.

The Dollar Tree is a perfect place to get smaller items that can be brought together. The store sells candy, decorations, winter gloves, mugs and more. It also sells Christmas cards and crafts that can be signed or customized to create a sentimental feel. A gift is a gift, it does not matter the size. By giving gifts to people, you are telling them how much you care, despite the size of the gift.

Christmas is about the time you share with family and friends. Exchanging gifts is just another small aspect of the day. Shopping for gifts and receiving them is fun, although there is much more to the day than what is under the tree.

“I love shopping for my friends and family for Christmas. I’m not a big fan of shopping, but I like to think of the smile my friends and family will have when they open their gifts,” UMPI freshman Halle Garner said. “Christmas is all about being with your family. It doesn’t matter what you eat or what presents you get, as long as the holidays are spent with loved ones–period.”

The holiday season is about spending time with the ones you love. Gift-giving is just another aspect to Christmas that everyone cherishes. While shopping for gifts can be exciting, it is important to remember the people whom you spend Christmas with. After all, giving is a much better feeling than receiving.

In Search of Real Chinese Food

I believe many American students in our school have eaten Chinese food. But you know what? Most Chinese food in the United States is not authentic Chinese food.  The food here is often adapted to local tastes. For example, it’s sweeter and less spicy than real Chinese food. Now I will introduce some real Chinese food culture.

It is not easy to give a brief description of the civilization of Chinese food in a short message. That is because there are more than 56 distinct population groups inside mainland China, and the large area causes different dining habits among the different districts.

First of all, we need to know that the old China was developed in a farming society and most of the dining habits and meals culture are based on this factor. Chinese are used to having their dinner together with all the family members, sitting around a table and all people will have one set of dining tools in front of them, including two bowls–one for rice and another for soup–one pair of chopsticks and one plate for meat/vegetables. They will share the food dishes that were made and put into the center of the table. Diners will only pick up the food from the dishes they want to eat. They will pick it up and place it onto the small plate in front of them.

There are two special habits. One is, Chinese diners never pick up rice from the bowl but will hold the bowl toward their lips, then poke the rice into their mouths with chopsticks. The other one is, Chinese always have soup during or after dining.

You can distinguish the style of cuisine by region. There are so many traditional and special Chinese foods, according to the folk culture, district, religion and festival. For the famous classes divided by district, there are styles of Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Northwest and so on. Or the food can be distinguished by folk culture. There are Kajia, Yunan, Fujian, etc. These all above mentioned styles are well-known worldwide.

We can divide the farming products of the main food in China into three styles. Those are Rice in southern and eastern China, Wheat in northern China and Sweet Corn in middle, northern and western China. Because of their farming products, the people living in southern China will have rice, congee or rice noodles as their main food. In northern Chinese people will have wheat-made products such as buns, noodles and pancakes. Of course, people can have any food that they want nowadays.

Climate also affects taste. There is a big difference about the diets between northern and southern China, that is, the dishes made by northern chefs are heavier in taste than those that are comparably light in southern chefs’ recipes. Sometimes we say it is tasty as sweet and fresh southern Chinese food. In the northern and western provinces of China, such as Lingxia, Hebei, Sichuan, Shenxi and Yunnan, the diets are made hot and spicy, because of the humid, cold weather and high altitude. Chinese people believe that to perspire is a good method for preventing diseases caused by humidity and cold.

Are you more interested in Chinese food after reading this article? We welcome you to China to taste the delicious food!

Chinese cuisine dinner icon with rice, baked fish with vegetable, noodle, daikon, cabbage salads, shrimp spring roll, soups with chicken, rice, beef, fish, beef tongue, squid ring, cucumber with pork.