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UMPI announces Educator, Distinguished Alumni awardees

The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Alumni Association will honor two alumni with awards of distinction during Homecoming 2014 activities held the Sept. 18-21 weekend. The annual alumni award presentations will be made during the Homecoming Alumni and Friends Brunch, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 10:30 a.m. in the Alumni Room, Campus Center.

Alumnus Arthur “Skip” Hanson will be honored with the Distinguished Educator Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has received ongoing recognition as an outstanding educator. This recipient may also have shown active or supportive involvement with the Alumni Association, support of the University, a successful career that reflects well on the University, and outstanding leadership qualities.

Alumna Virginia Joles will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has made long-term contributions to the Alumni Association or the University, or who has received professional recognition that has reflected positively on the University.

Arthur “Skip” Hanson graduated from then Aroostook State Teacher’s College in 1966 with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in education and certification of advanced study in education leadership from the University of Maine, and his Doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. He has done post-doctoral work at Harvard University in the Seminar in Educational Leadership. For the past several years, he has served as the New Hampshire liaison for the New England Secondary School Consortium.

Hanson worked as a teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent in the Maine public school system for 34 years and then became superintendent of School Administrative Union 16 in New Hampshire for 11 years after that. Upon his retirement in 2008, the Arthur L. Hanson Center for the Performing Arts, a 1,000-seat performing arts center at Exeter High School, was named in his honor.

While superintendent of School Administrative Union 21, Hanson oversaw the construction of a 1,500-pupil middle school, a 1,700-pupil high school, and renovations to six of the elementary schools. He also cofounded two alternative public charter schools—the Great Bay Learning Charter School and the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School. From 1993–1997, he also served as an assistant professor of education at Thomas College in Waterville.

Hanson has served on the New Hampshire Commissioner’s Leadership Council, and as a trustee of both the Great Bay eLearning Charter School and the New Hampshire Virtual Learning Academy Charter Schools. His community and professional service include: Rotary International, Stratham Community College President’s Leadership Council, and various state and national education committees. He is the recipient of the Dr. Mary Chandler Lowell Outstanding Alumni Award from Foxcroft Academy and a Hall of Fame inductee of the academy.

Also being recognized is Virginia Joles, who graduated from the University with an Associate’s degree in Business Management in 1986 and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management/Journalism in 1992. She has earned economic development certifications from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute.

Joles’ pathway to a degree was not the traditional one—she went to the Aroostook State Teacher’s College in 1966-67 with intentions of becoming a physical education teacher, then accepted a summer job at Maine Public Service Company that lasted 46 years. Her re-start at UMPI was as a part-time student in 1982 with a new baby, a developing professional career in public relations, and a new focus on business and journalism. Even with some life experience credits, it took her 10 more years to earn her Bachelor’s degree.

Joles worked her way up through the ranks at Maine Public Service, from a clerk typist and consumer services and information representative to Director of Economic and Community Development and ultimately Senior Communications Specialist.

Joles has had an important impact on her community, the region and the State. During her many years at Maine Public Service, she has lived “service to community,” volunteering on many community boards and organizations, including with the United Way of Aroostook, Junior Achievement, Wintergreen Arts Center, Patriot Guard Riders, Maine Winter Sports Center, Aroostook Partnership for Progress, Northern Maine Community College Foundation, Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee, President of Leaders Encouraging Aroostook Development, and a Past Commissioner with Maine Community Service for the State of Maine. She’s also brought the County’s case to Augusta, lobbying for rail service and other issues focused on encouraging economic development in northern Maine. She is the recipient of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement award.

Joles is also a trailblazer–on October 5, 1987, she became one of the first two women to be inducted into the Presque Isle Rotary Club, and she later served as the club’s first female president in 1995-1996. She is the Rotary District Governor Nominee for 2016-2017.

Upon her retirement from Maine Public Service, Joles’ plan was to volunteer even more, splitting her time between the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Northern Maine Community College’s Foundation Board, the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, and Aroostook House of Comfort. However, retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards yet for Joles. Earlier this year, she took on the role of TAMC Philanthropy Lead for the EMHS Foundation.

She and her husband Jerald Joles have co-owned and instructed The Joles School of Combat Self-Defense since 1985. They are the parents of two grown children, Christopher and Joleen.

The Alumni Awards will be presented to Hanson and Joles at the Sept. 20 Homecoming Brunch. During the event, the classes of 2004 (10 years), 1989 (25 years), and 1964 (50 years) also will be honored. For more information about this event, please contact Keith Madore at 207.768.9568.