UMPI’s Very Own Secret Society

    For all of those Riverdale junkies, mystery fanatics and elite conspiracy theorists out there, have no fear for I have the inside scoop on UMPI’s very own secret society. Have you ever wondered who’s behind the scenes at the University of Maine in Presque Isle? Who holds all the secrets and mysteries of your beloved college? Well, today’s your lucky day! Before I can get into the details of this Secret Society, we have to look back to the past so that we can look forward to where this mystery organization is today. 

     The college was founded in 1903 and back then was referred to as the Aroostook State Normal School. From the 1890s to the early 1900s, the residents of Presque Isle were working toward creating the post-secondary school. Over the years, the university has changed its name four times. In 1952 it was called the Aroostook State Teachers College. In 1965, it was the Aroostook State College. In 1968, it was named the Aroostook State College of the University of Maine. And last, in 1971, it was renamed what we proudly call it today:  the University of Maine at Presque Isle. But, something that not many know about is that the college’s very own secret society were members of that same community that pushed for the college’s creation, founding the college and controlling things behind the scenes. How could they do this and why? 

     Let’s take a step back and look into the mysterious Secret Society. The Secret Society came together a few years before the college was founded. In 1895 some local citizens decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands for creating a secondary school in Aroostook County. The records are slim and the names are almost all lost, but we still have some secondhand accounts of what happened during the first few years of the Secret Society’s creation.

     “My great grandpappy used to tell me stories about how he and his fellow Secret Society members made IBIS. He was always all serious like when talking about those days. Never really got into the finer details while still sharing the real fun stories,” retired dog walker, Annabel Cranberry, said. 

     “ I never really understood why they named it IBIS until they invented Google translate. Some even say that the college’s mascot was named after them. They were always a secret bunch of people. I guess that’s kind of in the name description if you know what I mean.” 

NAC Conference Meeting Overview: Spring Athletics

   Usually the North Atlantic Conference meets every year so that the athletic directors from all the schools can come together and create their schedules for the season ahead.

     This season is unique. As everyone already knows, COVID took the world by storm last year and all spring sports were canceled. The advantage we have this year is that we know that COVID is still a pretty big deal. Thus, we can plan for it.

UMPI: 2019 Year in Review

2019 was a special year for the University of Maine at Presque Isle as lots of success and memories were made on campus with students, staff, faculty and community members. Students excelled in the classroom, resulting in a great deal of recognition for the university. UMPI gave back to its local and global community. Comedians, musicians and more visited campus during the year, creating many memories that people would not forget. Select students around campus not only did well with their academics, but succeeded with extracurriculars. UMPI’s athletic teams also had an exciting year during their first season competing in the North Atlantic Conference. Through these accomplishments and milestones, UMPI definitely had a year to remember.

The year started strong with UMPI’s Medical Laboratory Technology program receiving a $200,000 training center on Jan. 10 in Pullen Hall. The men’s basketball team made history with the university’s first ever appearance in a NAC playoff game. Griffin Guerrette was named NAC Rookie of the Year and Shyquinn Dix was named 1st Team All-Conference during the 2018-2019 season. Justin Rupple hosted UMPI’s first variety show, which included entertainment from students, faculty and community members. This event proved so memorable that UMPI decided to host another variety show this semester.

The university held Planet Head Day, a cancer fundraiser, in Wieden Hall on March 16. Guest speaker Shay Stewart-Bouley spoke on March 26 at a campus diversity dialogue discussing racism. Faculty member Michelle Mishaan exhibited her art in the Reed Gallery with her painted landscapes of Aroostook County. UMPI celebrated the 18 annual University Day on April 10 with a variety of student presentations. Star basketball player Shyquinn Dix was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” following his life-changing experience before UMPI. On April 5 “Free Hugs” motivational speaker, Ken E. Nwadike, Jr., gave students a night to remember during his discussion. The Cinemaniacs Film Club presented screenings of their original film “The 9th Reward.”

“The 9th Reward was the first full film that I ever made. It was very successful on campus, but I was also really proud of the accomplishment because the movie was a team effort. Everybody worked really hard to make it happen,” producer of the film, Tiffany Smith, said. “2019 was a big year, because I co-produced The 9th Reward and a documentary on the History of UMPI. It was also the year that my videography business really took off.”

The Art Club held the 4 Annual Trash to Fashion Show on April 22, creating innovative fashion pieces from recycled goods. The highly anticipated Zillman Family Greenhouse was welcomed to campus during the groundbreaking ceremony on April 25. The greenhouse will benefit the agriculture science program on campus. The women’s softball team competed in the NAC conference tournament, finishing third. Later in the month, former Owl softball player, Alissa Edwards, was hired as head coach for the program. Aaron Marston was officially hired as the head women’s soccer coach and Shea Cushman took over UMPI’s Nordic ski program.

The university held its 110 Commencement ceremony on May 11, with 112 students participating. Bringing in the new academic year, UMPI announced a new Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree starting in the fall of 2019. Cross Country coach Christopher Smith was honored for his 30 plus years of service with the athletics department. UMPI was recognized as one of the top 5 Most Innovative Schools for Regional Colleges in the North, along with four other top rankings in the “U.S. News and World Report 2020 Best Colleges” list.

Homecoming 2019 was a success as usual, filled with entertainment and fireworks for students and community members. The end of the year was especially bright when news came that UMPI had won one of the largest grants in university history. The U.S. Department of Education’s announced that the University was selected for a 2019 Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant worth nearly $2.25 million over a five-year cycle. The 8 Annual Purple Pinkie event was held on campus and through Aroostook County, raising over $3,000 for efforts to eradicate polio around the world. UMPI’s History Club established the Little Free Library on Nov. 22 in the Owl’s Nest, a large bookcase used for book exchanges with people on campus and around the community. The club’s president and well-known student on campus, Evan Zarkadas, not only founded the library, but also had other accomplishments through the year.

“The Free Little Library was an idea that I had over the summer and a project that I thought would be a great addition to this campus. I was following a few social media pages from the Free Little Library foundation and the idea was very appealing to me, and I was admitting the incredible work they do, so I decided to establish one here on campus,” Evan Zarkadas said. “One word that would describe my 2019 is Inspirational. From all of these experiences, awards, projects, learning curves, etc. I have become even more inspired to keep moving forwards, gain as much experience and enjoy life even more and keep doing great things, while at the same time give back to my community, family and friends.”

UMPI finished out the year strong with another national ranking. The university was recognized in “Washington Monthly” magazine for 2019 college rankings, earning spots in the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges: Northeast and Top 50 Best Bang for the Buck: Northeast.

Through student success, university awards, guest speakers and more, 2019 was one of the university’s strongest years. Many memories were made during the year that will be carried into 2020 as UMPI hopes to have an even better year as it continues to grow as an institution. The university’s success in 2019 was represented by individuals across the county, nation and world who embody what it means to be an UMPI Owl.

A Year to Remember for UMPI in 2019.

This Is Totally Free Advertising


UMPI’s UTimes club!

Have you ever considered writing for a newspaper but not known where to start? At UMPI, University Times is the go-to for this! The club, advised by Dr. Lowman, meets every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Pullen 116. In their weekly meetings, staff writers are brought up to speed with work going on behind the scenes by the club’s editor. There are many laughs and friendly smiles, as the atmosphere is laidback. Whether you are nervous or simply shy, the U Times’ door is always open.

Not many people on campus even know that UMPI has a school newspaper. If you’re reading this and are thinking about your own interest in writing, we have a staff who would love to meet you! Even if you just drop in and find out that you don’t really think it will be a fit, maybe you’ll meet a new friend.

First year student Kylee Mejia (Presque Isle) is an undecided major. After her friends encouraged her to join U Times iends, she took the offer. “While attending my first U Times meeting, I felt the sense of welcoming and especially by Dr. J,” she said. “It was like walking into a room full of people I already knew.” Mejia went on to boast about the encouragement she received on her first piece. “Like, when I thought the first piece I wrote wasn’t actually very good,” Mejia recalled. “Dr. J actually said she liked it. It makes you feel good to be a writer for the school newspaper.”

Not convinced you should check out a U Times meeting yet? “For someone on the fence about joining, join,” Mejia said. “I didn’t think I would like it, but I have ended up actually really liking being a part of the UTimes. Even if you don’t think you’re capable of writing an article, you can. All it takes are simple sentences. This has taken me out of my comfort zone, and I am so happy I joined.”

U Times meets every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Pullen 116. For more information or questions about how or where to join, contact the UTimes editor, Abi Davis, at

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”

UMPI Alumni Back in the Spotlight


Kati Christoffel’s Mountain Piece, This Makes it Worthwhile. This is on display in CC 112 and for sale on her website

University of Maine at Presque Isle’s annual homecoming is designed to bring people near and far and of all ages together.  And that’s exactly what the Alumni Art Show did  Three different UMPI alumni showed work in the art show this year.

“I had my BFA sesior Show at UMPI, as well as a few other student shows, but this is my first show there as an alum. I was excited when Rowena proposed the idea of this show,” Kati Christoffel said.

Christoffel, Rowena McPherson, UMPI’s graphic designer, and Karrie Whisler displayed work in the show.

Christoffel received her BFA from UMPI in 2014. She submitted a small collection of lighthouses and a painting of mountains. “I made the lighthouse series because I was living in Portland and wanted to make a new series of 12 pieces for a calendar, and I figured that locals would like it,” Christoffel said.  “I chose to display the lighthouses in this show because I like them, and they are small so relatively inexpensive to frame and ship.”

Christoffel particularly liked her painting of the mountains, “Nature, and where I currently am, generally inspires my work. I particularly like painting mountains and wild landscapes,” she said, “I like to be able to express my feelings about a place through my work, and it’s fun to take a gorgeous landscape and play with the lines and colors.”

McPherson’s work took up the majority of the show. She had a few different collections: some bigger, more abstract pieces and a more intense and raw series of small and close up watercolors. “The current work up now is a cross-section of my practice since I graduated. I’ve made it a point over the last few years to teach myself something new,” McPherson said. “Each individual piece is inspired by something different, from raw emotion to peoples’ faces, to just the little interactions in life.”

McPherson is very busy and has a hard time finding time to create art, but she manages to do it. “We can all find reasons not to do something. I catch myself making excuses too,” McPherson said, “If you don’t have opportunities like that, find an art buddy and keep each other accountable for whatever goals you set. Or join a Facebook group. I don’t actively participate much, but I’m part of a few groups that are wonderful inspiration.”

Whisler displayed some more abstract pieces in this show and found inspiration in a unique place for the pieces she displayed in the show. “These particular pieces are part of a bigger collection I made inspired from a poem I wrote on an airplane ride home from Virginia.  The poem was very informal, more stream of conscious, and I titled each piece in the show after the line it was inspired by,” Whisler said. “I like how these two pieces play off of each other when they’re shown side by side.  I think there is something interesting about the color palette and the applied techniques.”

Whisler was excited was she was asked to be a part of this show.  “I graduated with a BFA with concentrations in drawing, painting, photography and 3D design, and a BA in Art Education certified to teach K-12….  I truly loved my time at UMPI and love to come back any chance I can get.”

These collections of work are up until the end of October is CC112 Gallery. If you get the chance, go admire the art.

Student Support Services

Concerned about your grades?  Organizationally challenged?  Having difficulties due to a documented disability?    Have questions regarding to whom you should speak about a problem?  Our friendly crew would like to meet you, so please come visit us at Student Support Services on the ground floor of the Center for Innovative Learning for assistance.

Seek help the minute you experience a problem!  Our Tutor Coordinator, Anne Chase, will speak with you about your academic struggles and arrange for a FREE tutor for your academic classes or to help you structure your class work and supplies.  Stop by the CIL, contact 768-9615 or email to discuss tutoring options.

Mary Kate Barbosa, the Director of Student Support Services, encourages students with documented disabilities to seek appropriate accommodations on campus.  Each student requesting services must provide appropriate documentation.  Contact 768-9613 or to arrange an appointment, obtain the appropriate forms and request accommodations.
In addition to these important areas, we are also happy to provide personal, financial, career and academic counseling and referrals for students needing additional services as well as proctor make-up quizzes and exams or proctor proficiency assessments.  Contact 768-9615 to meet with any of our SSS staff.

See our web pages for resources, websites and workshops at:

Greetings from the Office of Safety and Security


View of UMPI’s campus and parking lots.

My name is Fred Thomas and I’m the Director of Safety and Security on campus. On behalf of the Security personnel, I would like to personally welcome you to the University of Maine at Presque Isle.  Our staff of security officers are tasked with enforcing the parking regulations on campus and in addition we monitor and patrol the campus to ensure your security and safety. We have a “Safety Walk” program that is available for students, faculty and staff anytime day or evening by calling 760-2199. If for any reason you feel unsafe, do not hesitate to call us and we will walk with you to your vehicle or Residence Hall.

All vehicles are required to have a parking decal in order to park on campus.  Parking decals for the 2019-2020 academic year are available at our office located in Emerson Annex or at the Student Financial Services office located on the second floor of Preble Hall.  Be sure to fill out the vehicle registration form online, located on the Security web page, or in person at either Emerson Annex or at Student Financial Services.  Cost of the parking decals will remain the same this year: $10 for the first vehicle and $2 for each additional vehicle.

There are several items of interest on the Security web page that may be helpful to everyone. We have up-to-date information on the university’s’ Clery Report, how to react to an “Active Shooter” incident and a registration form that allows both students and faculty/staff to register their valuables, such as cell phones, computers, cameras or any other personal items.

Please don’t hesitate to stop by or call our office if you have any problems, complaints or concerns about safety or security on campus.  We can be reached at 768-9580.  Once again, welcome and I hope to see all of you very soon.  Enjoy your year.

You Should Go to Bingo!

Courtney Cote making sure she had BINGO with Jaden Gosselin and Bianca McGirt.

     Keep an eye out for Bingo nights here on campus. They are a student favorite and for good reason. There’s a different prize for each of the eight games played.  “Moving forward all of the bingo events will be themed.” Coordinator of Student Engagement Violet Washburn said.          Continue reading “You Should Go to Bingo!”

Astronomy in Aroostook County

Hello everyone and welcome to the University of Maine at Presque Isle.  If you are interested in astronomy, we have several treats for you in and around the Presque Isle area.  The University Times runs this ongoing article about astronomy and the university has an astronomy club that works closely with the local Aroostook County Astronomy Club to provide educational opportunities and occasional observing nights throughout the year. Continue reading “Astronomy in Aroostook County”