From the smallest preschoolers to the eldest lifelong learners, the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gentile Hall was filled on Sept. 13 with campus and community members, as well as dignitaries from throughout Maine and beyond, celebrating the Inauguration of Dr. Linda K. Schott as the University’s Eleventh President. The theme for the special ceremony, which represented the central role the University has played in the lives of generations of learners, was Linking Generations Through Teaching and Learning.
This theme was reflected in two major ways—during the academic processional and during a special recognition of one local family. The ceremony led off with a most unique academic processional that signified the many generations of learners connected with the institution. UMPI faculty, staff, visiting dignitaries, alumni, and emeritus faculty were joined by students from more than a dozen elementary and secondary schools in Aroostook County as well as representatives from Northern Maine Community College and Seniors Achieving Greater Education.
Participating schools and organizations included ACAP Head Start, Fort Fairfield Elementary School, Easton Elementary School, Washburn District Elementary School, Teague Park Elementary School in Caribou, Zippel Elementary School in Presque Isle, Mapleton Elementary School, Cornerstone Christian Academy in Presque Isle, Presque Isle Middle School, Van Buren Middle School, Houlton High School, Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill, Carleton Project, Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, and Presque Isle High School.
After the procession, Dr. Michael Sonntag, UMPI’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed the gathering and provided introductions for Heather Fullen and Allyson Plummer who, respectively, sang the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems. Provost Sonntag then acknowledged the dignitaries of the day—University of Maine System Board of Trustees members, former UMPI presidents, and legislators—and read excerpts of greetings by Maine’s Congressional Delegation.
Following recognition of UMPI’s Faculty Emeriti, Provost Sonntag reinforced the Inaugural theme in a very significant way by recognizing a local family with strong ties to UMPI—three generations of the Jerry and Mabel Desmond family, who are all UMPI alumni. They include Mabel J. (Lenentine) Desmond (1949, 1964), her late husband Jerry Desmond (1954), son Russ Desmond (1974) and daughters Ronnee Desmond Johnston (1976) and Jennifer Desmond York (1985), and grandson Micah Desmond (2005). Ronnee Desmond Johnston’s husband Danny Johnston also graduated from UMPI in 1976. And one last Desmond family member, Jed Desmond, also attended UMPI and later taught for the institution part-time.
After the recognition of the Desmond family, campus greetings were delivered by Barbara Blackstone, Faculty Assembly chair; Leah Rodriguez, Student Senate President; Nancy Fletcher, Head of Access/Technical Services, representing staff; and Sharon Roix, Alumni Association President. Members of the Presque Isle High School Chorus, led by Director Jay Nelson, then provided a musical selection, “We Are The World”. Community greetings were delivered by James Bennett, Presque Isle City Manager; Stephen D. Richard, Chair of UMPI’s Board of Visitors; and Robert Dorsey, President and CEO of Aroostook Partnership for Progress.
University of Maine System Board of Trustees Chair Samuel W. Collins then delivered remarks, administered the Oath of Office to President Schott, and then presented her with the presidential medallion as her family surrounded her.
President Schott then delivered her Inaugural Address, describing how UMPI has linked generations of learners through educational endeavors and the many ways the University contributes to the strength and vitality of the region. She also spoke about the ways the University, and higher education in general, have evolved over time, and where this institution is poised to go from here.
She explained that the institution was founded for two primary reasons: extending education to those who had not previously had access and to develop the region economically and culturally.
“These are part of our ‘firm foundation’ and we will continue to build upon them,” she said.
Going forward, she explained, the University will continue to be affordable, work to better serve adult students, and reach out especially to students who prefer active, experiential learning and who want to have a say in how they best learn and demonstrate their learning. The institution will also use technology to its fullest, and develop a comprehensive approach to preparing graduates for professional careers as well as work closely with the local community to involve students in internships and other work experiences before they graduate.
Following her address and closing remarks from Provost Sonntag, the academic recession took place, signaling the ceremony’s end. Music during the academic procession and recession was performed by members of the UMPI Community Band, led by Director Jon Simonoff.
A reception in the Campus Center followed the official program. To view the Presidential Inauguration in its entirety, please visit www.umpi.edu/inauguration.