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4/7/2020 – Message from President Rice to campus

Dear UMPI community,

As we enter the third week of our return to (distance!) classes, and aim to transition as well as we can to our “new normal,” I wanted to provide you with an update on a few items impacting us this week.
You may be seeing this in local and state news, but I wanted to make sure our entire campus community was aware that work is underway to transform UMPI’s Wieden Gym into a temporary wellness shelter for local individuals experiencing homelessness. The project, being led by ACAP, will provide services for up to 20 men and women who are not showing any signs of the virus. This work is in direct response to the COVID-19 public health emergency; social distancing guidelines have led to spacing issues and, in some cases, that has left the homeless population with no place to go.
Our aim at UMPI and across the University of Maine System has been to help whenever and however we can in response to this pandemic. Our team, led by Ben Shaw, and supported by Facilities, Sodexo, and others, is working incredibly hard with ACAP and other community partners to get this project off the ground in record time. I want to reassure everyone that steps are being taken to best ensure health and safety and limit exposure. Guests at the wellness shelter will undergo regular health screenings and we’re working with ACAP to ensure that a buffer is maintained between our remaining on-campus students and those utilizing the wellness shelter. We’re looking forward to seeing this space open, hopefully later this week, and are pleased to be able to play a part in this impressive effort to meet an urgent community need.
Additionally, I wanted to make sure you knew about the upcoming Presidential Tour livestream being hosted by UMPI tonight at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be serving as the show “host” and am very pleased to have UMPI students Dacian Robert and Ines Ngoga join us, as well as Education Program Director Dr. Alana Margeson, Associate Director of Advising Shara Page, and Executive Director of Enrollment Management Jason Towers. We’ll be talking about Saving Money, Planning for Academic Success, and On-Time Graduation, so we hope you’ll tune in and encourage others to do the same. You can catch the show tonight by watching the Facebook Live Event or YouTube Live Stream.
Finally, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for the hard work you’re all doing–whether it be persevering through your classes in a completely online/distance manner, providing an incredibly wide range of support to members of campus, or finding ways to celebrate success and strengthen our community.
There’s a great story in the Bangor Daily News this morning about teaching in unprecedented circumstances (focusing on a family of educators, one parent being a high school teacher, the other a college instructor, both of course teaching from home) and the acknowledgement that the greatest concern for everyone right now, inside and outside our “classrooms,” needs to be each other’s overall well-being.
All of you are helping us to get through this challenging time together, and it is so very appreciated.
Ray