The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce the recipient of the Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship for 2017-2019: Shirley Rush, Associate Professor of Social Work and BSW Program Director at UMPI.
The professorship—established in 2013 by former UMPI President Don Zillman and his wife Linda Zillman—is awarded every two years to a UMPI faculty member to assist in research and faculty development. Established with proceeds from a designated fund at the Maine Community Foundation, this is the University’s first rotating professorship. This is only the third time the Zillman Family Professorship has been awarded. Dr. Chunzeng Wang, UMPI Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, was the first recipient of the Zillman Professorship, and David Putnam, archaeologist/climate scientist and UMPI faculty member was the second recipient.
“We are very pleased to have Shirley Rush serve as the third recipient of the Zillman Family Professorship,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “Receiving this professorship speaks volumes about the dedication and service Shirley applies to the many projects she undertakes and it will allow her to continue the important work she’s been doing—both here and in Africa, with our students and with other members of our global community.”
With the Zillman Professorship funds, Rush will work on the development of workforce skills in youth 16 to 24 years of age. In 2017, this included a youth retreat at a local resort campground, weekly dinners and group work, and specific skill development. Since 2011, she has taken 15 students from Maine (14 from UMPI and 1 from Husson University) to volunteer in Moshi, Tanzania. Collectively, they have provided over 2000 hours of international service to vulnerable children and youth. She will use a portion of the funds to continue the weekly dinners and group meetings over the semester break and during the seven weeks UMPI students will be in Tanzania during their trip in 2018.
In 2018, Zillman funds will be used to bring Tanzanian scholars/educators to the UMPI campus to discuss issues of inclusion among students with low vision. Also, a limited amount of the Zillman funds are budgeted to assist UMPI Social Work students in completing their 200 hours of junior field work.
This is one of the many awards Rush has received through the years. In 2013, she was awarded an UMPI Trustee Professorship, where she taught a semester at Stefano Moshi Memorial University College, in Moshi, Tanzania. In 2015, she brought 13 of her former students, plus their director and principal, to Maine where they performed traditional African music in Aroostook County and the Orono area.
“It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of the Donald and Linda Zillman Family Professorship. Having the endorsement and the fiscal support of the Zillman Professorship empowers emerging professionals and scholars to experience cultural immersion while developing their leadership and employment skills,” Rush said. “Of course, I am also grateful to the UMPI administration and my colleagues for their encouragement and support during my times away from my classes. Watching the development of my students’ confidence and the growth of friendships across the continents is the fulfillment of my professional dreams.”