Celebrating Work Well Done

     I always look forward to the annual Spring Awards Ceremony here at UMPI, not only because it allows us to celebrate the accomplishments of some of the University of Maine at Presque’s Isle most distinguished and dedicated students, but because it allows us to highlight what is best about UMPI: our collective ability to provide a superior education for people who have the dedication and incentive to take advantage of it.  Academic excellence —curricular as well as co-curricular—is the heart of a university; and, as a university, we are here first and foremost to help students learn as much as they can and as well as they can.  Since 1903, this institution, under evolving names and structures, has dedicated itself not only to meeting the needs of the students and communities it serves, but to help its students succeed when that path to success may itself be a challenge.  Continue reading “Celebrating Work Well Done”

Why I Love NCAA Division III at UMPI

     It’s just about March Madness time, which reminds me of the years I spent as a grad student at UConn, waiting to see what seed the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams would receive.  Back in the ‘90s, the household names were Ray Allen (nearly 2,000 points) and Travis Knight under Coach Calhoun; and Rebecca Lobo (more than 100 colleges tried to recruit her!), Jennifer Rizzotti (point guard for their first national championship!) and Nykesha Sales (Defensive Player of the Year in 97-98) playing for the remarkable Coach Auriemma.  It was never crazier (not always in a good way) at UConn than during the month of March…and probably never more exciting. Continue reading “Why I Love NCAA Division III at UMPI”

Creative Destruction and Higher Ed

    One of my favorite things about teaching has always been learning, which can mean investigating new modes of instruction, or getting advice from friends and colleagues or the good old-fashioned reading of new books.  Since becoming first a provost and then president, I’ve been reading a good number of those books, mostly about higher education and management and business models.  So not always the greatest of page-turners! Continue reading “Creative Destruction and Higher Ed”

Rice’s Ruminations Why Teaching Isn’t a 9-5 Job at UMPI and Why That’s a Very Good Thing!

     I’ve been thinking a great deal over the past several weeks about what I am thankful about for having worked at UMPI for over 20 years now in several different roles—professor, provost, now president.  And as I was thinking about what to write for this end-of-the-semester issue, I looked through columns I had written for the University Times many years ago (I wrote a column for several years that I called “Notes from a Mad English Professor,” thinking that I was quite witty at the time—oh well…).  And one I found is worth reprinting in part because it was about what it was like to teach at UMPI—and why teaching here was at times different from other institutions and why that was a very good thing.  Reading it over again this afternoon, some 15 years later (!), reminds me of how important, how challenging and how rewarding teaching is at UMPI.  And how much I admire the faculty here at UMPI who, day in and day out, do even more than I recorded all those years ago… Continue reading “Rice’s Ruminations Why Teaching Isn’t a 9-5 Job at UMPI and Why That’s a Very Good Thing!”

Rice’s Ruminations Teaching Virtue

     As I write this, our country deals with another tragic incident, this time the mass killings of worshippers in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  This follows the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, a shooting in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, not two years ago, the Orlando night club shooting in 2016, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, as well as countless others across the country that have received less media and political attention.  Some of these occurred in religious institutions, some in schools, some in public arenas.  Our public outlets are filled with near-constant discussion focusing in various ways—and with widely varying quality and integrity—upon the hows and whys of these events, often including who is directly or indirectly culpable and what could have been done to prevent them.  Continue reading “Rice’s Ruminations Teaching Virtue”

Reflections on 9-11

     Sixteen years ago this past Sept. 11, I recall leaving my 9:25 a.m. College Composition classroom in Pullen Hall on a clear blue morning and, as I made my way up to the Campus Center, hearing the first reports of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  The weeks following were filled with fear, sorrow, anger and not a small amount of self-reflection.  Not long after the events, in fact, I began writing a paper (which I later presented at a conference and published in “The Maine Scholar”) that opened with a quote from Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulations,” followed by this: Continue reading “Reflections on 9-11”

An Insider’s Guide to Changing the World


When I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts during the 1970s, we spent a lot of our classroom time under our desks.  This wasn’t some sort of insipid punishment for bad behavior in which we had to look for petrified chunks of gum and candy to scrape clean. Rather it was survival training in the case of nuclear attack—or any other form of mass destruction.  We lived under a constant threat of such attack.  That threat manifested itself–overtly as well as indirectly–in nightly news broadcasts and political speeches as well as the entertainment industry, from cinema to popular music to children’s programming such as Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  This was simply reality for those of us growing up in the United States at the time.  It was one that didn’t truly start to change until Glasnost, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the (unofficial) end of the Cold War in 1989.  
Continue reading “An Insider’s Guide to Changing the World”

Growth, Collaboration, Inclusion… and the Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Grammar!


Most American colleges and universities today are facing difficult choices about how they should allocate—or reallocate—increasingly challenged resources, both in human and fiscal terms, and more broadly, what they will do as an institution of higher learning and how they will do it.  We are fortunate in that, beginning with President Linda Schott, we initiated a process of taking charge of our own institutional destiny—this included both embracing outcomes-based or proficiency education as it is known in Maine as a means of differentiating our academic mission and practices and of addressing critical student success challenges—but also in terms of making conscious and forward-thinking choices in terms of both our budget and infrastructure.  Since her departure, it has been my mission both to accelerate and reinforce these processes as I view them as essential toward not merely meeting our current fiscal and educational responsibilities—but ensuring that our institution is best prepared in terms of its own internal processes and relationships to meet the future needs of our students and the communities we serve.  Continue reading “Growth, Collaboration, Inclusion… and the Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Grammar!”

The Little College That Could

I’ve never particularly liked phrases like that—“the little {something} that could”—because it sometimes seems a backhanded compliment—i.e., “even though you’re small, you can still manage to do good things,” etc.  But this past week saw our university recognized in two very different ways, each underscoring the reality about UMPI that more and more people, region- and-nation-wide, are experiencing: that this is a remarkable institution filled with remarkable individuals. Continue reading “The Little College That Could”