Dear Campus Community,
As many of you may know, it’s been a goal of mine that communication and inclusion be hallmarks of the UMPI administration and the president’s office in particular. To that end, I have continued a number of initiatives undertaken by President Schott, including semester visits to each of our campus dormitories to get feedback directly from students, maintaining an open door policy for anyone who wants to see me about any issue that may be impacting you (and at your convenience as much as humanly possible), and satisfaction surveys ranging from the quality of our food service to your educational experiences in the classroom. In addition, I’ve charged the University Reorganization Task Force—comprised of students, faculty, and staff alike—to examine our current university structure and make recommendations that will improve services and UMPI’s learning/teaching/working environment for us all. I’ve also held Open Forums at varying times of the working day to ensure that everyone will be able periodically to attend such meetings.
Today, I’m initiating another initiative, and that is providing a weekly communication that highlights issues of importance to campus and the University of Maine System, accomplishments by students, faculty and staff, and web sites or other information of potential interest. I’m initially calling it the “Owl’s Roost,” in honor of our university mascot and informal theme, and you’ll find it likely delivered around 10 AM every Wednesday morning and also posted to the UMPI web site (under the President’s Office–details to follow soon).
In honor of the end of the semester and the upcoming holiday seasons, I’m taking the liberty of reposting a portion of a column I recently wrote for the University Times. Look for the first “Owl’s Roost” of the spring to appear on January 18, 2017. And feel free to send me thoughts about the title—especially if you have better suggestions!
Holidays, whether they be defined by Christmas or Eid Milad ul-Nabi or Chanukah or the Solstice, are shaped by traditions of thankfulness for bounty received or daily life survived as well as the hope for renewal and future comfort and safekeeping. They are repositories of who we are while also providing visions of who we might be.
As we enter the holiday season this year, my thoughts thus turn to ones of thankfulness—thankfulness for what each and every one of you, as members of this university community, contributes to our educational life and mission.
Looking back over this past year, we have much to be thankful for. We received numerous awards and recognitions as an institution for our majors and programs, our affordability, and the overall value of our educational experience and its preparation for future careers and continuing studies. Faculty and students alike have received a multitude of recognitions, from Fulbrights (Dr. Kevin McCartney), to First Team All-Independent Honors in Women’s Basketball (Amanda Hotham), to the Men’s Basketball team beating Colby last week (!!!), to the Maine State Merit Award in Higher Education Excellence in recognition of our Personalized Learning initiatives, which was made possible only by the hard work of all faculty, staff, and students. I’m also, admittedly, extremely thankful for the Starbucks that is now open in the Owl’s Nest!
Along with such thankfulness comes the recognition of our need to continue to grow and improve, to ensure that this is not only a university of strong academic and athletic programming, but a place that is inclusive and welcoming to all of its students and faculty, where we all feel we have a voice that can be heard. For this reason, my thanks to everyone that has filled out all our surveys this fall and agreed to serve on committees and task forces and answered our questions about what can make UMPI a better institution—whether it be about your residential life experiences, the dining hall, what is happening (or not happening) in your classrooms, or simply—but so very importantly—how welcoming and receptive this has been as a community for you.
This is not to say that we have had our share of challenges, both as individuals, perhaps, and as a community. And yet, I find myself just as thankful for the opportunity to work together through such moments of challenge perhaps because it is precisely through such moments that we create new and stronger traditions for ourselves. As we continue to work together respectfully and engage and dialogue with one another openly with a shared desire to move forward, our campus community will only grow stronger.
I hope this holiday season affords you time both to reflect upon and rejoice with your families, friends, and their traditions, both new and old. Thank you again for your commitment to the University of Maine at Presque Isle—for this truly is your university. I look forward to seeing you all again in the new year.
Quick Reminder: An invitation to all (including any students who might be on campus and hungry!) to the Employee Holiday Luncheon this coming Monday, Dec. 19 at noon in the Campus Center– hope to see you all there!