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.

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.

UMPI Welcomes Growth With a State-of-the-Art Greenhouse


Those involved in the production of the Zillman Family Greenhouse cut the ribbon at the dedication of the facility.

UMPI kicked off Friday’s homecoming festivities with the dedication ceremony of the Zillman Family Greenhouse. Back in March 2018, UMPI revealed a new bachelor’s degree program for Agricultural Science and Agribusiness. At the same time, UMPI also announced the launch of a fundraising campaign to create a greenhouse that would aid in the success of the program. At this time, the Zillman Family Greenhouse was announced.

The weather was in cooperation with the ceremony, with blue skies and warm temperatures. This helped draw in a crowd of faculty, staff, students, community members and those involved in the production of the greenhouse.

Matt Payan, UMPI junior environmental science major, is in a plant biology class this semester. “The greenhouse will give students a place to enhance the hands-on skills that modern-day employers are looking for,” Payan said.

UMPI senior Evan Zarkadas is proud of the direction UMPI is going. “I decided to attend the greenhouse ceremony because seeing our school develop and expend so much is something I’m very proud of. I wanted to make sure I was there for that very special moment in UMPI history and support the people that spent so many hours and years working on this,” Zarkadas said.

The 2,400-square-foot greenhouse is a state-of-the-art facility. It’s the only smart greenhouse in Maine. The greenhouse includes technologies such as LED lighting, intelligent watering, a ventilation system and an advanced climate control system. This will help support a number of different research projects, such as disease management and soil fertility. The greenhouse will allow for year-around research.

“It will help UMPI by bringing more students to our institution through the sciences and agribusiness program. Also, since it is one of the best in probably New England, it brings UMPI to the forefront of technology and progress,” Zarkadas said.

“This greenhouse will further set UMPI on its path to innovate and give students the best possible opportunities for success,” Payan said.

The greenhouse wouldn’t have been a success without the help and support of many people, including the Zillman family, who helped make this a possibility.

Cupid Is on the Move in the County

A young couple hug each other somewhere in Aroostook County

Although Valentine’s Day has gone past, Cupid is on the move in Aroostook County.

This season’s finale of the reality TV show, “The Bachelor,” may have just wrapped its  previous season, but the producers are on the lookout for a new cast for next season. More specifically, a new bachelor or bachelorette. Continue reading “Cupid Is on the Move in the County”

A Not-So-Traditional Spring Break for UMPI Students

Carolinas Prepare As Hurricane Florence Approaches.

In the summer of 2018,  devastation swept through the Carolinas. The culprit? Hurricane Florence.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle has been organizing a volunteer trip in an effort to help communities in the Carolinas recuperate.

“The trip is about doing community service in an area that can not only help but expose students to different things they wouldn’t normally be exposed to,” Danfry Nieves, the AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator at UMPI, said. “I believe college should not just be about lectures and readings.” Continue reading “A Not-So-Traditional Spring Break for UMPI Students”

Globetrotting From Greece to the States

From Greece to Maine, Evan Zarkadas is always working hard towards his goals.

At 15 years old, Evan Zarkadas boarded an airplane in Greece. A new chapter in his life had begun. Greece had been the place Evan had called home.

Alongside Evan were his father, mother and brother as they entered an airport in Athens.  Evan pulled nothing more than a large suitcase behind him, which held all his possessions. They were leaving everything in Greece. Anything Evan and his family couldn’t fit had been donated or sold. Continue reading “Globetrotting From Greece to the States”

Snowball Dance Kicks Off the Semester at UMPI

Sarah Draper (left) and Tiffany Smith (right) pose for a picture at the Snowball

What better way to kick off the spring semester than with a night of dancing? Students at the University of Maine at Presque Isle brought out their finest suits and dresses for a night of dancing at the UMPI Snowball. As a part of UMPI’s first annual Winter Carnival, the Student Activities Office hosted a semi-formal dance to start the semester off with a bang. Continue reading “Snowball Dance Kicks Off the Semester at UMPI”

Student Entrepreneur is Flipping the Flop


Reed Farrar, 21, worked at a typical summer job during the three months away from college. He could easily recall the hot summer days spent working long hours in a non-air-conditioned warehouse lifting heavy boxes. The air was stuffy and uncomfortable, especially after hours of physical labor.

It wasn’t a job he enjoyed. Continue reading “Student Entrepreneur is Flipping the Flop”

Do You Deck the Halls Before Thanksgiving?

Snowmen playing Christmas music

With Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to deck the halls and blast Michael Buble’s holiday album on repeat. While people are just beginning to celebrate the holiday season with the commencement of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, there’s been an ongoing debate of when it’s appropriate to blare your speakers with Jingle Bells and other Christmas tunes. Continue reading “Do You Deck the Halls Before Thanksgiving?”