I am thrilled to share that the Maine Legislature overwhelmingly supported a bill that authorizes the University of Maine System to go to voters for approval of a $49 million infrastructure investment bond. Several UMPI students had the honor of being on hand when the Governor signed our bill earlier this month and recently the Secretary of State announced the bond would be Question 4 on the upcoming November ballot (as determined by a random drawing).
When it is approved, Question 4 will have a transformational impact here, bringing an unprecedented $4.5 million in direct investment to UMPI as well as more students, jobs and opportunity to our campus and the County. More importantly, it will significantly expand our capacity and that of our sister universities to recruit and retain students and produce more of the nurses and other allied health workers, teachers, business administrators and in-demand professionals the state’s economy and communities need to grow and prosper. Consistent with our campus master plan, we are focusing the funds on renovating Wieden and Folsom Halls to improve classroom and lab space for healthcare programs including nursing, which will be offered here through a collaboration with UMFK as part of our commitment to meeting the workforce needs of Aroostook County.
This bond is the largest ever for the University of Maine System supported by the Legislature and reflects their growing appreciation for our important role in helping Maine address its most critical challenges, including the increasing need for a college-educated workforce.
Now we have to make that case to our friends and neighbors who last approved a University bond in 2013 for a total of $15.5 million, $1.2 million of which came to UMPI. Our students, faculty, alumni and community partners will be invaluable voices in building public backing for this bond between now and November 6 and I hope they will join me in speaking in support of Question 4. Each of us, of course, has the right to vote our conscience, in support or not; I hope it goes without saying–although I will say it here for affirmation–that you know your personal ballot decisions never impact your work here at UMPI.
Over the next three months, I will be on campus and in the community talking about the importance of this investment for UMPI and for rural Maine’s future and will continue to provide you regular updates. More information about Question 4 can also be found at www.maine.edu/invest.
Thank you for all the hard work you have already done here at UMPI that has positioned us for this public investment and the historic opportunities it provides for our students and our state.